Welcome to another SmackDown Redux! We’re almost a week away from Fastlane, and the WWE has taken a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to this Paige/Nikki Bella feud, as they’re again putting Paige in a singles match as Brie and Nikki sit in on commentary. I’d argue that this feud is far from “not broke”, but we’re heading into a filler PPV, so I guess I shouldn’t waste my breath.
We join the action with Paige’s opponent Summer Rae already in the ring. Brie and Nikki Bella are seated at the commentary table as Paige makes her entrance.
As the bell rings, the Divas tie up, Paige hitting a snapmare on Summer and going for an early pin. Summer kicks out easily. She springs back to her feet, but Paige again takes her to the mat and covers for the pin. Summer kicks out.
Paige tries to whip Summer into the ropes, but it’s reversed into a schoolboy pin. Now it’s Paige’s turn to kick out. As soon as she gets to her feet, she nips Summer’s offensive streak in the bud with a kick to the face. She crawls on top of Summer suggestively, drawing “Oooo”s from the crowd and a threat of vomit from Brie. Paige holds Summer’s shoulders down for the pin, but Summer kicks out.
Summer is quick to her feet and tries for a spinning heel kick, but Paige ducks it, returning with a kick of her own to the midsection. She sends Summer into the corner and nails her head with some back elbows. Meanwhile, on commentary, Nikki defends the Bella’s bullying behavior over the past few weeks, claiming that it’s unfair that people can make fun of them, but get all bent out of shape when they try to do the same thing. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the fans? I can sort of buy that. They should have make that motivation more clear in the feud, though.
Paige keeps an eye on the Bellas as she drapes Summer over the middle rope, barraging her with knees to the chest. Distracted as she reenters the ring, Paige doesn’t telegraph Summer’s spinning heel kick, and is laid out by it. Summer goes for the pin, but it’s not enough, and Paige kicks out at two. Frustrated, Summer pummels her in the head a bit before locking in a leg submission.
Summer increases the leverage of the submission, getting Paige on her back and sticking a boot under his chin. Paige’s shoulders are down, so the referee counts the pin. Paige kicks out. Summer tries again, but Paige kicks out, immediately rolling her into a pin of her own.
When Summer kicks out, Paige tries to hoist her up to carry her to a corner, but Summer manages to roll Paige forward, ending up on top of the exchange and pummeling Paige on the head. She lets Paige get up and whips her into the ropes, but Paige halts her momentum and kicks Summer in the face.
Paige then goes on an offensive tear, taking Summer out with short-armed clotheslines, a dropkick and boot to the face. At this point, it’s all over but the crying, because Paige locks in the PTO. Summer taps out. Paige celebrates her victory and jaws at the Bellas, who smirk at her.
Thoughts: I’d bitch about the shortness of the match, but at this point it’s like shouting into a void: it’s SmackDown, and SmackDown Divas matches are short. I doubt the WWE has an motivation to change that at this point.
It wasn’t a bad match, though. Unexpectedly, it was a nice showcase for Summer. I liked her submission hold. I’m afraid she’s destined to be a heel jobber for the rest of her WWE days, but at least she’ll be an entertaining one.
I did find the Bellas’ explanation for their bullying a bit more realistic this time, pinning the hypocrisy on the fans instead of Paige, who hasn’t done much to deserve to label of “hypocrite”. This isn’t the AJ Lee feud, with its “sexually transmitted talent” pot shots. That sort of defense just didn’t work here, so blaming the fans makes more sense in this case.
I did find the Bellas’ commentary distracting, though. As they carried on like they were in an interview, it became tougher to focus on the match. I laughed my ass off at Lawler and Cole calling them out for it, though, since those two rarely focus on calling Divas matches themselves.
I’d still like a little more clarity in this feud, but with how “paint by the numbers” it’s been so far, and the fact that the match is almost a week away, I’m not counting on it. As it is, this is just a stop on the road to WrestleMania, so the best Diva fans can hope for is a more exciting storyline in the wake of Fastlane. Fingers crossed!