Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Raw Redux (May 12th, 2014): The Night Alicia Fox Stole Both the Show and a Cowboy Hat

Welcome all you Foxy Rosebuds! It’s time to get back into the swing of things when it comes to Monday Night Raw, and after last week’s misstep for me personally, I’m hoping and praying tonight makes up for that with way more ring time and way less Brie Bella screaming (my dig comes from a place of love Brie!)

Up on the docket tonight, we’ve got… ten million things to discuss. But the best part about that is… we have ten million things to discuss! Most importantly, we returned to our former self by having two actual Divas matches (and neither involved Santino Marella, I swear)! Paige squared off with Alicia Fox, which may inspire groans after how much we’ve seen it, but trust me, you’ll change your tune. In addition to that, Natalya faced Nikki Bella in a SECOND singles match that also saw Naomi, Brie Bella, Eva Marie and Cameron ringside. Throw in appearances from Lana, Layla, The Rosebuds and Stephanie McMahon, and if you honestly think I’m going to get through this with a redux that isn’t thesis paper level size, #ThinkAgain.

Up first…

Excuse me. Is this real life?! Like, you know how hard I’ve been on this master crusade for Paige to get a video package or promo shown during Raw right? I can’t even process what’s happening before my eyes. I mean yes, it’s a shorter version of a video we’ve seen before but do you really think I’m going to be picky in a time like this after I just gave up on my quest to get anything at all last week? Thank you for restoring my faith WWE! I’m now bending backwards and letting out a shriek of happiness.

After I recover from such a moment, we return to the program to see Paige making her grand entrance as Divas Champion. She may tear stars out from the sky and learn to fly before she’ll change, but one thing she isn’t about to do is walk all over Alicia Fox… who has a microphone. ON RAW. She cuts Paige’s theme off and announces that she speaks for all of the Divas when she says that Paige has been here all of six weeks and she’s managed to alienate them. There’s just something about her that they don’t like…

“Ya don’t fit in… so get out!”

Alicia then clocks Paige from behind with her microphone and ambushes the champion, relentless in her attack as the referee tries to check on Paige and get the match started. Fox is flat out screaming for the referee to ask Paige if she’s ready, and a “Paige” chant breaks out! The bell finally sounds as Paige gets to two feet and Alicia goes right back to attack. The crowd is not here for Foxy (in a good way!), but she isn’t phased as she drops Paige with a backbreaker and then… oh my, she picks her up like a sidewalk slam and throws her in between the ropes of the outside. Spot on! Alicia sends Paige flying into the side of the ring, then tossing her inside and going to town as the crowd continues to get behind their champion. Northern Lights for a two! “Let’s Go Paige” chants! I love this crowd. Fox gets a headlock latched on, keeping Paige grounded and hitting a second tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Alicia struts around the ring to huge boos! God bless you, South Carolina.

Alicia now applies a beautiful stretching submission as Paige tries to avoid tapping out. Finally, Foxy slams her face first into the canvas, looking proud of her work as she walks around and then continues to smack Paige face first over and over. Back to the headlock, but Paige finally gets to a vertical base and POW! She nails the Paige Turner out of nowhere for the win! Paige escapes with her title and a great pop from the fans, as Alicia Fox is pissed. Oh my God, wait, she is legit pissed… not even just “show a reaction for three seconds as Paige exits and we go to the next segment” type. Fox is throwing her jacket and breaking up the announce table! She is twirling and squirting a beer into the crowd… what even? Alicia screams that she is championship material and is kicking barricades. She has absolutely had it with the constant mistreatment and I am full on into this meltdown! Send her the Emmy for she is now smacking an assistant at ringside.

“Shut up, I’ve had enough of you!”, she screams to the referee. And as if she couldn’t one up herself even more, Alicia Fox is now strutting around the ring wearing JBL‘s cowboy hat. I repeat… sound the alarms because Alicia Fox… the underused girl who has deserved better for the past four years… is strutting around the ring in JBL’s cowboy hat. May this segment forever live on in history as one of the all time greatest things to have ever happened on Monday Night Raw. And may it also be included in all future DVD’s. Alicia Fox, I bow down.

Gasp… we’re back back back on top of the world with a double dose of Divas matches!~ Naomi, Brie Bella, Cameron and Eva Marie are ringside and they have score cards and I don’t know why but let’s go with it because it’s Divas. Nikki Bella now makes her way to the ring and I take a moment to actually try and take in the fact we’re not only getting a second match, but it’s getting entrances… and a recap of what is leading to it! Her opponent is Natalya, who looks semi-angry at Nikki for her hidden reaction to Nattie’s painted gift on Sunday’s episode of Total Divas. Before we get underway, can I just say that I now absolutely love the fact that they never aired Nikki or Brie telling Nattie how they really felt about her artwork on the episode Sunday? If they did I would’ve been like “Oh, Nattie has known how they felt for months since its been taped and is now angry just because the episode aired”, but because they didn’t, I can see it in storyline as being that Natalya didn’t know how they felt until she saw the actual episode itself. Bonus points for believable continuity!

However… that clip they showed, much like in the episode, really makes The Bellas seem like the villains in this story compared to Natalya. But it’s okay because I want Nattie to go heel so I don’t care. The two lock up as the Total Divas randomly score things and it makes no sense whatsoever. Nikki with a nice flip takeover, but Natalya kicks out. Nattie takes Nikki down sharp now and locks in a leg submission until Nikki counters into a side headlock. The two exchange some nice grapples until Nikki B blasts Nattie right in the face. They’re tearing each other apart, but Nikki hits a nice elbow and a kick off the second rope. Ooh, Natalya gets a slap in… as they now brawl back and forth with smacks. Nattie applies an abdominal stretch, wrenching on the leg for added intensity! Nikki now reverses it into one of her own and these scorecards still make as much sense as Hornswoggle.

Natalya is beating Nikki down, but Nikki drop toe holds her into the ropes and they trade shoves. These two just look to be exchanging moves at this point, now with roll ups until Nattie runs off the ropes with a wheelbarrow type maneuver! She goes in for a victory roll, but Nikki stops it and flips Natalya’s legs back into her own for the win. The other Divas dance with their random scorecards, and Cameron is screaming that Nattie gets a zero. Girl bye, bye bye bye bye. Natalya still looks mad, as Nikki pats her on the head and celebrates with the others. Ooh, Natalya rips up Cameron’s scorecard and shoves her back as it looks like the Total Divas are finished with her. TURN NATTIE TURN.

Up next, we also have Stephanie McMahon in the ring as Demon Kane drags Daniel Bryan (who has to have neck surgery on Thursday) to the ramp. In addition, Brie Bella runs out to be by his side while he is strapped to a gurney:

And following that…

Resident Total Diva by day/Wife by night, Brie Bella, stands by her man as he gets wheeled into the very ambulance Eve Torres once walked herself into while being stalked by The Demon Kane many years ago. Stephanie McMahon is already apologizing and expressing sorrow for what happened, but Brie Bella is probably buying meat based products more often than she is what Stephanie has to say. As Daniel gets lifted into the back of the ambulance, Brie gives Stephanie Tamina levels of bitch face, before screaming “STAY AWAY” and shoving Steph back. The ambulance then wheels away as Stephanie goes for that Emmy in the category of Best Conflicted Stare off into the Distance.

Up next, Foreign Empress, Lana, struts out from the back to interrupt American Loving Legend, Hacksaw Jim Duggan (now to be known only as Hacksaw Jim Doogan). He symbolizes the USA to Lana, citing America and England both as the laughing stock of the world. She then goes on to praise Chyna (in my own head, but really she means China) and… welp, she tries to go on but is cut off by loud “USA” chants two or three times. Her facial reactions are so spot on right now, as she brings in Vladimir Putin once again. This time, however, Hacksaw Jim Doogan cuts her off and starts another USA chant. Lana, though, claims that he continues to prove America’s inferiority, and introduces “Rusev Oodria… Rusev Matchka” to the world. They walk to the ring and Mister Doogan begins to swing his 2×4 around, but Lana delivers such a great line in that she gives him one chance to beg for mercy before he suffers the consequences of not doing so. Doogan refuses, sparking Rusev to break Jim’s stick over his leg.

“That was your one chance… Rusev CRUSH!”

Rusev looks like he is about to do some form of tribal rain dance, but before he can finish the festivities, out comes Big E Langston (surprise, surprise) to save Mr. Doogan from impending torture. Rusev pretty much destroys Big E, however, finishing him off with a sharp kick to the chest as Big E rolls to the outside. Lana looks extremely pleased with their actions, despite the crowd chanting USA at them again. Rusev Matchka himself must love that he has someone like her in his corner because I swear she works this character like no other.

Meanwhile, as Dolph Ziggler and Fandango compete against one another, Layla hops onto the ring apron to distract Dolph in hopes of getting her man a win on Raw. Unfortunately, she gets tripped up in the skirting and ends up costing Fandango… ruh roh. Layla looks terrified for her life, as Fandango grabs a microphone to address what just went down. She starts apologizing, but he tells her to quiet down because while he might have lost… he knows he’s a winner because no woman ever makes him feel the way she has. When she’s in his arms, it feels like the world disappears and then reappears! While Dolph might have won the match… she has won his heart! He tells her that he loves her and the two embrace in a huge makeout session in the ring! Layla better watch out for whenever Summer Rae comes back fresh off that Marine training though…

As Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam is about to begin, the Arabian club theme hits and I instantly get transported to a 90’s rave (you know when I was a whole 5 years old and all). Our Rosebuds come flying out from the back to a still horrible camera angle that captures the sides and backs of their heads, and it looks like we’ve got no more Shanna or Blue Beauty much to my sadness. What we do have though are way more standouts this week! Without any further ado, let me welcome you to the second week of my new Redux gameshow, America’s Next Top Rosebud!~

First up, Goddess Becky Lynch (which she will be referred to from here on out) has been called upon from the depths of Orlando, Florida to guide the hired rosebuds to their greater being. Rise Rosebuds Rise!

And clearly she hasn’t let us down because well, look at the perfection that is Chasity Taylor who advances to the Semi-Finals of America’s Next Top Rosebud for this priceless reaction alone:

We also have a Silver Jacket Girl who I can’t identify yet, but will also be moving on to the Semi-Finals because look:

These two and GBL herself have immediately met my approval, which brings the Semi-Finals as of now to them as well as Shanna and Blue Beauty.

Adam Rose eventually struts out from the back, as known by the ear piercing screams of perfection by Goddess Becky Lynch and her cohorts, Chasity & Silver Coat Girl. The entire posse makes their way down the ramp, and as we reach the ring, I start also gathering a new love for the woman dressed up as Captain America with a silver starfish mask on her face, as well as the jumping lemon, hamburger man, and the NXT males of course. Sweet! He absolutely nailed the crowdsurf fall this week, not only at the perfect spot in his entrance theme, but also by having Jack Swagger just narrowly miss taking him out. They eventually distract Swagger long enough for RVD to kick him and nail a Five Star Frog Splash, as they all celebrate after (well RVD kind of just walks but it’s the thought that counts because they can’t all be Ziggler-ific).

The Good:

Two Divas Matches – We’re back to our old ways! After a misstep last week, the WWE has decided to reward us again. And this time one of them wasn’t even Emma and Santino vs Layla and Fandango #520 in their best of 2000 series!

Paige Video Package – You guys… I thought I was dreaming. It’s all I’ve asked for six weeks and I don’t care how cut up or edited it was from her usual lengthy videos, it filled my heart with a joy that I thought couldn’t be replicated until I saw Alicia Fox in a cowboy hat.

Paige vs. Alicia Fox – This was seriously the best. Not only did Alicia Fox get to speak, but she 100% killed that little promo and made me realize she has come a long way even since the days of “Have a Foxxy Holiday” and the infamous “Undefined Divas Champion”. The match itself was pretty much a showcase for her and just like I’ve been saying, look at what a crowd can do to the Divas when you not only give them anything to latch on to like Paige’s video and Alicia’s mic time… but you put them on EARLY! Giving them a 10:30 slot does nothing but kill any chance of momentum, but not only were they early tonight, they were in about the first thirty minutes and the crowd was so into it.

Paige got a chant early on, but what I loved more was how invested in Alicia they were. And the difference between the crowd reacting to her this time as opposed to last time they faced on Raw is that this time I really feel like they were reacting to her because of her own actions and based on her own merit. Paige had just come off her title win the last time they squared off, and so Foxy’s heat was kind of because Paige was still fresh from such a huge moment and she bounced off of her. This time though, it was all Alicia and I couldn’t be happier. Paige only getting one move in bothered me as I was watching live, but then once I saw Alicia’s aftermath, I completely understood it because Fox dominated that entire thing, and to just lose so quickly like that was exactly what justified her going insane. Speaking of which…

Alicia’s Meltdown – Historic. This was absolutely beautiful and I can’t say enough good things about it. Paige vs. Alicia Fox is basically the Sasha/Bayley or Fandango/Layla vs. Santino/Emma of the main roster solo Diva matches, but this time they actually let Alicia Fox do something memorable afterwards and she owned every second. She made me forget she had just lost, and instead, I finally saw her portrayed as the threat I’ve been begging them to utilize her as for the past few years. Now I can only hope that the fact these two have put on such great matches every time they’ve wrestled as of late is why the WWE keeps repeating it, and after tonight, hopefully it inspires them to make this our next title feud. Foxy has every quality a top Diva could ask for from not only her own ring work, but having the ability to make anybody look incredible, to the promo skills to working a crowd. She’s been the most underrated Diva for so long and to finally see her get something tonight that got fans talking about her was everything. Keep it going WWE! Please don’t act like this never happened next week or I will never again wish your holidays to be Foxy.

Lana – How incredible has Lana been as of late? What I loved most about tonight though, and the reason this escapes the “Somewhat Good” section for the true greatness is that it was finally a different approach to she and Rusev. It wasn’t just a squash match where she walks out to her Super Mario rescues Princess Peach theme song and plugged Vladimir Putin, but it was a confrontation and she was finally able to showcase some new material to boot! I love how domineering she is inside the ring with men… especially in a time where we just had Brie Bella crying and screaming for her life last week. Lana stands up to these male superstars and she doesn’t run away. She gets in their face! She shows no fear! She stands toe to toe with them and insults them because she knows she has nothing to worry about with Rusev behind her. The way they’re booking her is absolutely perfect and she’s turning into such a heat magnet that I even got some Vickie Guerrero vibes from how she had to stop talking mid sentence because they were so vocally against her. Keep it up Lana!

Layla & Fandango – Ha! I love these two together, and it’s not something I ever expected to say. They are so goofy, but know how to turn it up and be sexual when they need to be as well. Fandango has something about him where he can be given the cheesiest material ever and still make it come off 100% serious that I honestly can’t picture ANY other male wrestler doing such a good job with. The line about Layla having his heart would have been so cringeworthy had almost anyone else said it, but he just knows how to make it work so that it’s believable, not embarrassing, and seems absolutely dead on serious. Not to mention how Layla, who knows how to work both serious and comedic roles to perfection, bounces off of it with her reactions as spot on as can be. Can they never break up please?

Plus, with the little preview clip shown before the match, I’m hoping we’re finally getting set for the big Summer Rae return since she’s wrapping The Marine 4! Their Twitter war has given me so much enjoyment that if what airs on TV translates to even 1/4 of it, I’d still be happy.

The Somewhat Good:

Stephanie McMahon & Brie Bella – There wasn’t much advancement tonight, but after last week, I’m perfectly okay with that. Daniel having to get neck surgery is so unfortunate after having such an amazing WrestleMania week, but I did like that they brought Brie out to the stage and had her involved with the actual Divas division again since she’ll probably go back to it if he’s going to be out for a while. Another positive was Brie shoving Stephanie back and showing some fiestyness! This is the Brie Bella I want to see, but I just worry that with how much attention those segments got last week (not for the better, mind you), that it might be a little late to change a lot of people’s minds about her. Nevertheless, I appreciated it as a whole. Nothing really popped out to me like when she called Steph a bitch, but nothing was bad either so it fits right at a nice medium.

Natalya vs. Nikki Bella – Nikki and Nattie performed solidly together, and I really enjoyed how stiff they seemed to be giving it. The match never really seemed to get out of first gear for me though, which is why I’m bumping it to a middling territory overall. I really did like the ending, however, with Nikki just barely managing to counter Natalya’s roll up into her own because it didn’t alter the fact that Natalya is such a veteran in the ring. I mean, seeing Natalya lose to someone isn’t really new for us, but if, say Total Divas fans happened to catch it, they know Natalya as the veteran of the group and so seeing her lose by the skin of her teeth like that doesn’t really do her any damage in fans eyes. Plus, Nikki is/was being built up as the new breed of a powerhouse Diva, and Nattie not being able to overpower her to kick out really shows how strong Nikki has been able to become these past few months considering Natalya has pretty much been known as the toughest Diva they have maybe outside Tamina Snuka. Overall, I thought the match was solid… and I’ll get to the scorecards later on.

Adam Rose & The Rosebuds Week Two – I didn’t have near as many problems with the Adam Rose entrance this week. The rosebuds as a whole were way better than last time (but you were missed Shanna and Blue Beauty), and I only found problems with one or two but they were kept in the background so it wasn’t very noticeable. Chasity Taylor and the girl in the silver jacket beside her have either been coached by Goddess Becky Lynch or they’re just that damn good because I loved the three of them freaking out over Adam as he walked down the aisle between everyone. And he worked out the crowdsurf fall from the middle rope to coincide with a beat in his theme that fits it so I can’t complain!

I’m still having a few problems though, even beyond the fact the crowd isn’t seeming to get as into it as I want them to. First is those camera angles, which are still horrible and do the rosebuds no favors at all. If they’re not going to do the idea I first thought of a few weeks ago by having Adam’s tour bus pull up ala JBL or Alberto Del Rio’s old limo/car entrances, and having them all run out of it dancing, I wish they’d just dim the lights and play the Arabian song like they do at NXT, then have the lights come back on as all the rosebuds are dancing (in sync) on the stage. Having the cameraman off to a side as they all run out is so bleh to me, but we’re making progress and showing signs of improvement so I’m willing to give them some more time before I make a final judgement.

The only other things are Michael Cole embracing it (which… ugh, no, stop please) and while I get them holding his in ring debut, I feel like having Adam just enter and circle around the ring each week is doing neither he or the rosebuds any favors with the crowd. It is what it is, and we’re getting there but those are a few things I still want to see tweaked in the coming weeks. I’ve also decided that the permanent rosebuds need to be Becky Lynch, Girl in Silver Jacket, Chasity Taylor, Captain America girl with the mask, Shanna and Blue Beauty from last week. Becky can be like the Tyra Banks of Rosebuds and be used to guide them because they have all shown enough promise that I want them to continue on. I’m rooting for you… We’re all rooting for you!

The Not-So Good:

Total Divas Scorecards – So that happened. Granted, this isn’t at all affecting how much I liked the match itself or even some other parts of the segment, but I’m just so confused by the scoring. I can normally find some sort of point in anything happening, no matter how hard I have to stretch for it, but… what was the point of this? They finished filming at Brie’s wedding and they haven’t been picked up for additional episodes so I can’t even just think it was filmed as a storyline to be used in an upcoming episode. It made no sense to me and while I love seeing all the Divas I can, having them watch the match with no scoring would’ve been just as effective in my opinion.

All together, if I had to score this Raw for the Divas (since scorecards are the new hip thing and all) I’d give it a solid 8. We got so much good stuff and even the not-so good was very minimal at best that I can’t fault too much. Now can we all just form a prayer circle that the Era of Batshit Alicia Fox graces us every week? I want her throwing popcorn into the crowd and squirting ketchup on JBL!

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