Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Raw Redux (May 2nd, 2016): Natalya Takes The Nature Boy to The Dungeon

WWE entered a “new era” at Payback, a spell with both Stephanie and Shane McMahon at the helm of Monday nights. Seemingly they are in charge of Thursday nights too but apparently no one cares about SmackDown.

Anywho, the new era has a lot of fallout from the older one, with some of those loose ends getting tied up last night. Got to clean up some of the mess. And I’m not taking about Ryback. Can’t wait to see him debut for TNA in the summer. #SaidNoOneEver

I am of course talking about the Chicago Screwjob! What a bizarre move that was. For the record, I did quite like it. It plays into history, gets the fans behind Natalya and gives Charlotte major heat, and also protected the girls from a proper loss. As random as it was, it elevated everyone and this entire story. We’ve got more Flair and Hart business to attend to today, plus Becky Lynch squares off with Emma!

Opening the show is Stephanie McMahon, out to present a gift to her new business partner, Shane McMahon! Shane may have all he money money money money money money money money mooonneeeeeyy in the world, but he seemingly couldn’t buy a new picture frame. Alas, Stephanie bought him one, reframing the picture that Vince smashed a few weeks ago. Stephanie has seemingly let bygones be bygones and she lets Shane lead with his ideas for Raw. Kevin Owens interrupts, which means Shane chucks all of his creativity at KO. He wasn’t happy of course. You can’t please everyone!

Before we move to the next segment, Shane is soooo rusty on that microphone. Thank god Steph is always there to carry him. The segment at Payback absolutely tanked. Well, it would have been even worse had it not been for the very cooperative Million Dollar Queen.

Kevin Owens’ punishment for running his mouth was to face Cesaro, all centered around the IC Title. This meant that The Miz and the lovely Maryse were involved. Once again, Miz’s Z-list ass was saved by the Sexiest of the Sexy. Maryse was also on Backstage Fallout. If you’re a fan of her strutting with a scowl on her face, then you’ll be over the moon with this segment.

Stephanie is back again next, hanging backstage with Dean Ambrose. The Lunatic Fringe doesn’t buy Steph’s Mr Nice Guy Mrs Nice Lady shtick. She says she isn’t up to anything, and he can ask her anything he wants on the Ambrose Asylum. She’s even excited to see Mitch. That’s right folks, a plant is getting more exposure than Alicia Fox right now.

Our only match of the night is next, pitting Emma against Becky Lynch. These two have had the WWE Facebook page/YouTube exclusive/MySpace/Tout feud of the year so far, and it all comes to a head tonight. Oh Tout, remember when WWE would try and make that shit happen?!

Emma also appeared on… you guessed it, the YouTube exclusive Backstage Fallout. What I find annoying though, is this: why do all of WWE’s feuds have to be to do with former friends turned enemies? Since when have Becky and Emma been pally on WWE television? Newsflash – they haven’t. It is annoying for this reasoning for a feud be used yet again when it wasn’t necessary.

Steph’s spell inside the Asylum is our next port of call. Unluckily for Dean, Stephanie closes the Asylum’s doors as a way of adding new talk-show life into the new era. She really is letting bygones be bygones and introduces the host of Raw’s newest talk show The Highlight Reel – Chris Jericho! Even more bad luck for Dean follows straight after as Mitch gets bounced off his head by Jericho.

R.I.P Mitch. You will be missed.

Lana is next in the spotlight, although not for long. She looked absolutely FANTASTIC, coming to the ring after Rusev was named Number One contender to the United States title. Lana also spoke alongside Rusev with Tom Phillips on Backstage Fallout. Did everyone see the shade Rich Brennan‘s wife gave him after her husband was released? Apparently Tom is quite the heel if the hearsay is to be listened to! Who knew the announcers could provide such sweet tea?

The Women’s Championship picture is on the agenda next, and way to go WWE for having Natalya tackle the Flairs like no other woman has been able to yet! We’ve got obsessed referees, slap happy dungeon dwellers and sore ol’ backs in this segment. Someone get Ric a hot water bottle!

Finally, Stephanie approached Woolotte and Naitch backstage. She says that something needs to be done at Extreme Rules to right the wrong that happened at Payback. Steph books the girls in that really insane, extreme hardcore stipulation… a Submission match.

Considering both of the women in the match finish every match they do with a bloody submission, this isn’t very extreme. Baby steps though guys. We actually have a storyline so beggars can’t be choosers. Steph isn’t done either. She also respectfully BANS Ric from ringside! Amazing reference to the IWC saying he is a distraction too. Cute touch. Hopefully Shane can now one-up Stephanie like she did him at Payback, and add the word Ultimate in-front of Submission match.

Thoughts: A super strong episode of Raw last night, writing all of the wrongs from last week which had a boring staredown and short match that did nobody any favors really. Starting off with the title feud, Natalya has stuck it to Ric Flair more than any of Charlotte’s challengers so far. Her putting him in the Sharpshooter is an intergender move I didn’t think WWE would play, but I’m so glad they did. Nattie is so over right now and I couldn’t be happier for her. She damn well deserves it, that’s for sure.

The storyline is also progressing really well. Ric and Charlotte sank deeper into the depths of desperation than ever before. Paying someone off to screw Nattie out of the win is a fantastic new twist to their story arc. Ric has finally been banned from ringside for one of Charlotte’s matches, which I hope now means Natalya can finally be the one to stop Charlotte. Even if she just held the title for one day, I’d be so pleased to see her get the recognition she deserves.

Becky vs Emma was also great. Good timing for the match, with both girls showcasing why they are so good. Becky is sickeningly likable – she is the best. I’m gutted that she hasn’t won a title yet in NXT or WWE. Anywho, her infectious aggression is a treat to watch. Emma is also just as good to witness. She is killing it as a heel character. I can’t fault her for anything. She has taken the ball and is running faster than Usain Bolt with it. If only WWE hadn’t had her lose clean last week – how annoying. What isn’t annoying is seeing Emma establish a new finisher. What with so many of the WWE’s women wrestlers having submission finishers, it is nice to see Emma add an extra move to her arsenal that she can pick up wins with. Much like Paige and Naomi, having two potential match winners will only make her even more unpredictable and dangerous.

Looking to SmackDown and perhaps next week’s Raw, I’m sure we’ll see Charlotte pick up a win or two on her own, proving that as much as she wants Ric to be at ringside, she doesn’t need him to be. We may also see Becky and Nattie team up to take on Charlotte and Emma. Throw in Sasha and Summer who have had a tease feud just the once on Backstage Fallout after SmackDown, and we have some nice 6-man tag seeds ready to be sewn. You haven’t listened to my cage or Ultimate Submission match ideas WWE, so at least give me what I want here please!

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