Thursday, January 27, 2022

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SmackDown Redux (July 18th, 2017): Putting everyone on notice

The women’s division have their eyes on the prize – and this Sunday one of them shall be one step closer to it. But for now, we need some filler to get us there. Let’s see what happened last night!

The ladies competing in this Sunday’s match are all in Shane McMahon’s office, awaiting their orders for the night. Charlotte Flair insists that she should battle Lana, the woman that cost her the match last week. Natalya then insists that she should fight Lana, for no valid reason though. Tamina soon gets involved, defending her friend from her newfound enemies.

After Shane spends a little time debating on what to schedule, as he needs to show off some competition, Natalya recommends pitting Charlotte against Becky Lynch! Flair denies the offer, insisting that there won’t actually be any competition, as she beat Becky at every opportunity in the past – and this is what sets the Lass Kicker off! Onto the match? Yes!

Natalya remains on commentary throughout the match and constantly digs at the two in the ring for being “fake” BFFs and how she is more deserving to win this Sunday.

The match itself is pretty great. We see a good level of sportsmanship and a lot of heavy attempts of winning. Charlotte attempts the big boot, but is left at a 2-count. She also tries a Natural Selection and a Moonsault, both of which get turned into Dis-Arm-Hers. The closing moments of the match take place as Flair is in the Lass Kicker’s submission, and attempts to grab the ropes. However, Lynch is too quick for the Queen and moves her around the ring, forcing her to tap. So make that a second loss in a row for Miss Flair! The two then end up shaking hands at the end, despite Charlotte’s clear frustrations.

Things take an even more sour note when Tamina and Lana walk to the ring together. Natalya takes advantage of this and knocks Becky down. Flair attempts to help her friend but the numbers game takes over and she is soon tossed out to the ring with her friend. Natalya then takes down Tamina, attempting to insert the Sharpshooter. However she finds her head slammed to the ground by Lana. Quick to get on her feet, though, Neidhart aims to get to the Ravishing Russian but falls victim to Tamina’s boot. Snuka is then the one looking the strongest and walks out of the ring. To Battleground we go!

Naomi is then interviewed by Renee Young, as she is asked about the upcoming number one contenders match. She insists that regardless of the result, she will be the first one to congratulate them. And as she goes on about saying how she will be ready for any challenge, Carmella and her briefcase intervene. The Princess of Staten Island states that wherever the champ goes, ‘Mella and the briefcase also go – like Battleground, for example…

At another point in the night, Maria Kanellis accompanies Mike Kanellis to his first singles match – and it’s against the lovable Sami Zayn! The duo have a decent match, that comes to an end once Maria gets involved. As Sami sets up Mike for the Helluva Kick, the First Lady of SmackDown Live stands in front of her husband. The referee is torn between keeping Maria out of the ring and pushing Sami away. So whilst the distraction is set, Mike quickly punches Zayn to the head and inserts his finisher, pinning him for the three-count. 2-0 to Team Kanellis!

After the match, Dasha Fuentes confronts the two, asking if Mike is really happy about winning his debut match through that method. As Mike is explaining his feelings, Maria grabs ahold of the mic. She says that Sami deserved what he got, and that was a lesson on “the power of love” – and that’s one way to go about it, I suppose.

Also, WWE announced that Mike and Sami will face off at Battleground in a rematch!

Thoughts: SmackDown is the land of opportunity – as anyone that watches for two minutes will be fully aware of. And with the women’s division, a certain approach tends to be trend here.

With the (unofficially named) “SmackDown Six” that consisted of Nikki Bella, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Natalya, Carmella and Becky Lynch, the women were constantly put on an equal level – particularly during the early stages. This worked well for the group as it made every woman viable options to be champions. Just think of how well Alexa worked as a champion because she was given a platform to look just as good as everyone else.

As the new roster finds a bunch of women coming from different levels of their career, a similar construction needs to take place. Women like Charlotte have been at the top of their game, and are quite frankly above almost anybody else. Tamina has gone through years of being mistreated and without much of a character. And Lana has yet to be a proper Singles competitor. So with that being said, there is some work that needs to be done so that the division as a whole can be just as good as its predecessor. It’s understandable that we’re in a place where we’re constantly seeing the division thrown together. This is so we don’t end up having anybody referred to as a “jobber”, despite a losing streak. It makes perfect sense.

What made the previous division work was that there were genuine-feeling feuds threaded between the “every woman gets a chance” matches. We had Carmella and Natalya, Becky and Alexa, Becky and Alexa, Natalya and Carmella, and Naomi and Natalya. Whilst the feuds may not be as entertaining as the former ones, we are still getting them. Charlotte wants to take down Lana to make sure she learns her lesson. Natalya wants to take down Charlotte to prove the dominance of both herself and her family. Becky is there to fight anyone that gets in her way, particularly her long-lasting enemy Natalya. And Tamina is there to take down anyone who comes for either her or her friend Lana. We have these feuds. They’re being built, and for now we need some filler. And although that term isn’t our favorite one to get accustomed to, it is what is sometimes needed.

Sunday’s winner could offer some great feuds. Becky, the woman with the least to do, could benefit in a face versus face battle with Naomi. Natalya could also do with a fresh feud, especially as her chemistry with Naomi is undeniable. It’d also be nice to see former Team B.A.D. members battle it out on a big stage. The opportunities are almost endless – we just need to see creative choose the right one and make it work.

We also have Carmella. Despite this talent having so much potential, she is really being let down here. This is week number two of no Ellsworth, and still, she isn’t being given much to work on. ‘Mella dealt with a short backstage encounter last week, and the same thing happened now. She isn’t being allowed to get over with the crowd and separate herself from Ellsworth. Carmella needs to make her name known, and not to be associated with the man that won the first women’s Money In The Bank contest. And it’s frustrating to see as she has been doing so well lately.

This may just be a ploy to make her inevitable cash-in be shocking, as she doesn’t come across as too threatening. But with how good she is on the mic, it’s a shame that she isn’t allowed to create even more of her own heat through it.

Outside of the women’s division, Maria Kanellis stands by, asserting her dominance elsewhere. This feud with Sami is an entertaining one. I love how despite not competing in the ring, Maria is still a big part of this feud. And with the match now happening again on Sunday, it could be an exciting time to be a Kanellis fan!

Sami is the ultimate underdog, and the Kaneliss’ need to be taken as serious threats. He’ll be able to put them over – and more importantly, Maria – the longer this feud lasts (as long it doesn’t last forever). I can appreciate how Maria isn’t emasculating Mike, and is instead giving him the power to take charge of other people. She commands the movements, but he is still able to dominate. It’s a perfect balance, and it works so well!

What do you think of tonight’s events? Are you excited for Battleground? Will Carmella cash in? Who will win the Elimination match? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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