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SmackDown Redux (August 30th, 2016): The new girls on the block

[media-credit name=”WWE” align=”alignnone” width=”620″]Carmella-steps-on-Nikki-SmackDown-Live-August-31st-2016[/media-credit]

With the inaugural SmackDown Women’s champion being crowned  in less than two weeks, the competition is fierce. And with the match being so close, it seems that the ladies of the blue brand will do almost anything to get to the top.

Our first dose of the night arrives when Nikki Bella joins the Pre-Show to discuss her current story with the panel. When asked about the attacks from Carmella from last week, Bella has a few things to do. She claims that the reason was because Carmella wants to get people talking – as exemplified through the current discussion – and what better way than to attack the longest reigning Divas champion? However, this Total Diva makes her stand by insinuating that the Princess of Staten Island is messing with the wrong women.

The conversation then moves on to Nikki’s twin sister Brie Bella. Nikki says that it will be nice if Brie comes back and if she wants to take a break from the baby making, then there is a chance.

When discussing her injury, Bella praises Lita’s neck story for being her inspiration. She then states that she doesn’t want an injury or another person to decide her ending as she wants to be the one to do that.

The topic soon changes to the upcoming title match at Backlash. Nikki opens up about fan comments on how they only want new additions to the roster, and not “this old Diva”. However, Bella fights back as she wants to show them what “the old Diva can do, and it’ll be to take out all these new women.”

Jumping off of this comment, Booker T asks her whether or not this is her last run as an in-ring competitor. Unfortunately Nikki doesn’t have an answer as she says that she has to “play it week by week.” She does however want this run to be historic by the division being built up into a competitive and interesting one. She knows that she can do it as she once made history as the longest reigning Divas champion, and she aims to mark her name once again – probably in more ways than one.

The show then begins and soon enough we see our women’s match for the night – Alexa Bliss & Natalya vs Naomi and Becky Lynch – with Nikki Bella on commentary! Naomi and Natalya start things off and get some great offence and defense in. Throughout the match each woman gets their moment to shine and either team has a good crowd reaction.

Towards the end it looks as though Becky will take home the win, but out comes Carmella to attack her biggest enemy, Nikki Bella. Nikki attempts to fight back by slamming Carmella into the side of the ring but Carmella gets the last laugh with a few hits and a slam to the barricade. Becky tries to see if Nikki is okay but is quickly rolled up by Alexa to a 3-count, giving Bliss and Natalya the victory.

Whilst the winners vacate the arena, Carmella makes a point to leave by stepping on Nikki to allow herself to climb onto the barricade to gloat.

Thoughts: Nikki’s discussion in the pre-show offers a bit of exciting insight into the upcoming pay-per-view. Through her discussions of making history, building the division and her injury, she truly comes across as a veteran in the division. It’s clear that Nikki wants to raise this group of women to new heights.

Though we don’t have any significant moments in this episode, we do see the women further their storyline – to an extent. What is done well is that in an episode where each woman is given a bit of time in the spotlight, it’s the underdogs that come out looking the strongest. Since being drafted, the likes of Alexa and Carmella have been an afterthought as the focus has always been on the longer lasting talent. However this week, it is the recent call-ups that shine the brightest.

Alexa stands tall as she manages to overtake the fan favourite and score the win. Throughout the match we’re lead to believe that Lynch will win as her momentum constantly builds and builds, but it is Bliss that steals that away and makes the moment about her. And what I appreciate about this win is the delivery. Normally when wrestlers pull the tights, it looks as though it has almost no effect, yet we’re supposed to believe it’s cheating. However Alexa forcefully pulls Becky’s clothing and actually makes it look like a huge struggle to get out of. So praise be to the Small but Fierce!

Carmella also takes hold of the spotlight by coming for another fan favourite, Nikki Bella. Whilst the attack is similar to the work performed last week, it still feels exciting when it occurs. Carmella comes out of nowhere and gets involved in a way that has the crowd cheering – and, more importantly, elevates her position in the storyline. The performance is great, and the extra touch of stepping on Nikki is great too.

When the time comes for the women to move into their own storylines and not be bundled into one, we have to have some kind of reason for them to do so. Though I would have preferred to have a more impactful segment for the women, we do see some hints at the future. Obviously we have the Carmella and Nikki feud, but the contents/ending of the match may be indicating at some more situations.

Alexa stealing Becky’s momentum for herself can easily put the two fiery competitors against one another. And – though this may be a bit of a reach – Natalya’s yelling to the crowd about her disliking of Naomi may start something between these two.

SmackDown is offering us multiple stories at once. We’re seeing characters being built up, and feuds being hinted at. With a fresh division, this is what we need to see. My only criticism would be that more significant moments would be nicer to witness.

When thinking about what will happen at Backlash, Nikki’s pre-show discussion may be changing my mind a little. With Carmella constantly beating on Nikki, leaving her defenseless, could Nikki’s hint at a Brie Bella return come true in the form of Twin Magic? Just a thought and hopeless dream. !

Overall this is a decent episode. We’ve become fairly spoiled with the SmackDown women’s division so one okay episode isn’t going to harm us. And with one more episode to go before the big day, anything could turn the tables.

What do you think of the episode? Who will be victorious at Backlash? Will it be one of the newbies? Or will an “old Diva” take home the crown? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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