Monday, September 20, 2021

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Raw Redux (March 2nd, 2015): The Divas Take Their Chance and Run With It

Why hello everyone and welcome to this week’s majorly positive Raw Redux. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and little did we know that after last week’s absolute shambles, we had started a revolution that has resulted in a really, really good episode of Raw tonight. It was Divas galore tonight and on the docket, we had: AJ Lee (SPOILER!), Brie Bella, Cameron, Eva Marie, Lana, Lilian Garcia, Naomi, Natalya, WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella, Paige, Rosa Mendes, Renee Young, Stephanie McMahon and Summer Rae – that’s quite the bounty of Divas. Poor Alicia and Emma though. Womp womp.

Nikki Bella and Paige will be main attractions within the above list as they are having a WWE Fastlane rematch for the WWE Divas Championship, a match announced pretty early into the show. How nice of WWE to try and make us Diva fans stick around!

The first Divas sightings of the night are Cameron, Eva Marie (ugh!), Rosa Mendes and Summer Rae, who are all gathered backstage along with WWE Superstars and Rosebuds to witness the screening of The Miz’s new TV commercial. How the mighty fall. From straight-to-DVD movies to erectile dysfunction commercials. This was pretty funny, yet I hate how WWE act totally non-PG when they want to, and rarely stretch those boundaries for the Divas. Oh well. This was cool seeing a lot of Divas get a chance to be on TV for the night.

Mixed tag team action is next on tonight’s agenda as Natalya, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro face off in six-person action against The Usos and Naomi.

After Jey Uso and Cesaro mix things up a little, Naomi is tagged in and she whacks Natalya right around the head with a nifty little kick. I much prefer Naomi’s trousers also. The other attire was just weird. The former Funkadactyls both can’t seem to get it right. I hate to say it, but I might be Sandra‘s fault!

Athleticism is on show in a tremendous back and forth between these two Divas as Natalya floats up from a jack-knife pinning predicament, Naomi reverses a backslide with a back flip and Natalya floats over Naomi in the corner. The final move I just listed ends badly though for Natalya, as last week’s ankle ‘injury’ crops up again. Nattie manages to shrug Naomi off of her and tags out.

After Tyson behaves cowardly later in the match, Natalya is tagged back in. She is not impressed. She is flipping out like she is worried about a drugs test after eating one bite of a pot brownie. Naomi takes advantage of Tal and Tyson’s dysfunction and the match is over. After the bout, Natalya is seriously mad with both of her partners, and then she starts crying again. Not sure what is going on with this booking. And I’m not sure I like this state of unknown.

Next up, Stephanie McMahon interrupts John Cena, who discusses his plans for WrestleMania 31 in the ring. Stephanie calls John out for entering himself into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He is no Teddy Long, he can’t call the shots and insert himself into any match he wants. Cena then mocks and jokes at the other people who have entered themselves into the match, and Steph asks whether he is trying to disparage the memory of Andre. Mrs McMahon brings up a picture of her and Andre after WrestleMania I, and she says that although Cena is trying to belittle the match, she won’t stand for it. Amazing combination of heel tactics from Steph, yet also respectfully honouring Andre and hyping the match. She is a goddess that woman!

Stephanie says that if John thinks he’s going to be in the battle royal, he’s not. The answer is no. That lovely two-letter word Cena has been hearing a lot of recently. Cena responds with a five-letter word of his own, and he gets his sass on by saying that she clearly wasn’t as much of a bitch then as she is now!

DAYUM!

John gloats about his title reigns and WrestleMania acumen and he figured that would be enough for him to take a spot in the Andre memorial match.

“I guess you figured wrong,” exclaimed Stephanie, as blunt as they come. She said that although successful, Cena isn’t a friend of The Authority, and she then teases him regarding his loss to Rusev. John says to cut the crap, this is about WrestleMania. “They day you leave me out of WrestleMania…”

“IS THE DAY YOU WHAT?!” Stephanie barks at Cena like the three-headed Cerberus. She goes on a major tirade, telling John that he doesn’t define WWE. The likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock thought that WWE would crumble once they left, and it didn’t. WWE “thrived”. Stephanie says that Cena is exactly the same. She thinks the fans want to Cena ‘sit this one out’, which gets major cheers from the crowd. It is not a question of where WWE would be without John Cena. It is where would John Cena be without WWE? Cena isn’t unique or special and he needs to get that into his thick head.

Stephanie is keeping it 100 and I bow down to her. Phenomenal mic work.

Following Cena’s win over Curtis Axel, Rusev and the Ravishing Russian, Lana make their way to the ramp. Lana utters one line before Rusev rounds off the rest of the promo. At least she looked good. I feel like after that, I need to start the #GiveLanaAChance hashtag movement. It’s not like she has been given top feuds, mic time every week and interactions with present and future Hall of Famers. Oh wait…

It is time for our WWE Divas Championship match now. DUN DUN DUN! Will WWE answer our plea or will they make fun of us and give us thirty seconds again? The in-ring introductions by Lilian Garcia are a really nice touch – we’re off to a good start! Lilian didn’t botch, yet Michael Cole did. It sounds like he said that Nikki was accompanied by “whore sister Brie” instead of “her sister Brie” – awkward!

The match starts with a collar-and-elbow tie-up that Nikki gets the best of. Nikki knocks Paige to the ground with a shoulder tackle, yet the challenger returns the favour by sweeping the champion’s leg. Paige throws Nikki into the ropes for some whiplash action (not the Madonna at The BRITs kind!) and she follows that unique move up with a headbutt. Paige tries to lock-in the PTO for a quick win, yet Nikki gets to the ropes as we got to commercials.

After the adverts, we see that Nikki has gained control after she hit a stiff Alabama Slam on the Anti Diva. The future Mrs Cena (NOT) works over Paige’s back and neck with a chinlock, and I’ll look over this pretty bland rest hold as I’m trying to be positive this week! Paige eventually breaks free, and her and Nikki clash big time as they deck each other with a double clothesline.

Due to her prior beatdown, Paige is slower to get to her feet than Nikki, yet she determined challenger still is able to shift the momentum and build a comeback! Paige bruises Nikki with her patented connecting clotheslines and she then hits a dropkick for a near fall. Paige tries to lock in the PTO for a second time, yet this time Brie distracts her on the apron. Paige lets her Dr Martens boots do the talking next, as she shoots Brie off the apron with a thrust kick. Another kick is just around the corner, and this one has Nikki’s name on it!

Finally, in the centre of the ring, Paige is able to lock in the PTO. It looks like the third time will be the charm yet then Brie charges into the ring. She assaults Paige, resulting in a DQ. The Bellas beat on Paige until *chills*.

LET’S LIGHT IT UP!

The home-state New Jersey girl, AJ Lee is in the house. AJ makes her return by dashing and clashing left, right and centre like acting like a hellcat is going out of fashion! She unloads on Brie until Nikki stomps on her. Luckily for AJ, Paige has recuperated, and she gets back on the attack. The former frenemies reignite that aforementioned status as they send Brie and Nikki packing!

Backstage after the match, Renee Young catches up with AJ to discuss her return to action. Before AJ can open that charismatic little mouth of hers, Paige rushes into the scene, asking who told her to come out at the end of her match there? AJ says no-one told her what to do, which is a good thing as she always does her own thing anyway. She said she’s back to stop the Bella bullying and “give Divas a chance”. I see what you did there AJ!

Paige says that despite being friends, enemies and frenemies in the past, she has always respected AJ unlike the “Kardashian, Mary Kate and Ashley wannabes”. She asks AJ if she has anything to say for herself. AJ says that as Paige is the enemy of her enemy, “I guess that makes us friends”. The Cuckoo Queen is well and truly back!

Also, LOL at Paige whispering at the end of the segment: “She’s so weird.” And you have all of your marbles of course, Paige!

The Bellas also got their two cents in, “welcoming” back AJ on Raw Fallout with plenty of snark:

Finally, congratulations to Alundra Blayze – the newest WWE Hall of Famer! Watch her Hall of Fame announcement video below. Many fantastic matches and one notorious moment stand out in her historic career. Let’s not talk about her with Evan from 3 Count though!

Thoughts: Well, WWE gave the Divas a chance, and they proved that the crowd can get solidly behind them, and they can perform, not only on the mic in the arena and in backstage segments, but they can also go in the ring.

The cream of the crop – despite not being a part of the group that #GiveDivasAChance was standing for – was Stephanie McMahon. She is incredible on the microphone. She managed to verbally maim John Cena whilst getting a face pop for Andre the Giant and promoting the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in the best way possible. I truly am in awe of her and the way that she has perfected her on-air character, runs a billion dollar business and is a respected mother-of-three. That woman is fantastic!

Another brilliant segment, whilst not perfect, was the WWE Divas Championship match between Nikki Bella and Paige. The match itself got tons more time than most weeks on Raw, which is a major positive. Michael Cole was working extra hard on commentary to be really into the action (in my opinion, he was mostly solid), Lilian Garcia’s in-ring introductions were a neat way of heightening the drama (and giving us vital extra seconds) and the ending sequence with the submission and Brie Bella’s interference was ‘edge of your seat’ stuff.

The rest hold in the match was a little lame, even more so because the more exciting action (Paige’s baseball slide and Nikki’s Alabama-slamming comeback) was during the commercial break. Another negative (sorry!) was Paige’s short comeback. She hit her connecting clotheslines and dropkick, and then went for the pin and stalled before going for the PTO. That seemed a little off.

However, the match was still good, with the ending full of excitement. The hard double clothesline was another nice sweet spot, as was Paige blasting Brie off of the apron. That was rough!

AJ’s return was also excellent, mainly down to the phenomenal reaction she received. Although in her home state, it was so good to hear that the Divas (including those in the match) got a nice reaction on the first Raw since #GiveDivasAChance. The beatdown was a little sloppy, yet I didn’t mind that as it made it seem more realistic. AJ was really excited to be back and kick arse, and that’s what she did. Arse kicking doesn’t normally look pretty!

The backstage interview with Renee Young was also great. Both AJ and Paige demonstrated their unlimited amount of charisma, and their chemistry is amazing. Whilst AJ is fantastic on the mic, let’s hope her in-ring work has improved again.

I was mixed on Lana doing so little tonight. I guess after the verbal dressing down that Cena was given courtesy of Steph, I imagine some noobs would say that Lana was copying Stephanie, or that Cena was buried too much, or more promos would be too many/too boring, so leaving Lana to say one line was fine. On the other hand, Lana is way better on the mic than Rusev and his getting to the point was a little horrible. It was what it was, let’s hope Lana and her power suits get to do more next week.

I was also mixed on Natalya’s altercation with Tyson and Cesaro. Isn’t Natalya a heel now? Whilst I’m all here for more storyline progression, I thought we would see more devilish heel tactics from Natalya tonight, not her moaning and crying yet again. Perhaps it is all a plan to sucker Naomi in and Nattie will begin to ‘take her advice’ regarding Tyson, only for it to lead to Naomi costing The Usos the championships in a match or something. The booking confused me this week, which I guess isn’t a bad thing! I’m still watching this intently.

Finally, well done to all of you, the Diva fan community. We got the girls noticed and they were all over Raw tonight; expressing personality, getting the fans excited, performing solidly in the ring and looking fantastic. Well done Divas, you killed it tonight. Now let’s hope WWE keep the momentum going for you. Fingers crossed!

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