Thursday, September 23, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (March 12th, 2015): Same Old Song and Dance

Welcome to another SmackDown Redux! Unfortunately, it looks like the WWE is headed back to its old reliable method of booking a Divas feud: have Party A wrestle wile Party B chats distractingly on commentary. This time, Party A consists of AJ Lee and Paige, who are teaming to take on the 2015 version of the Diva JOB Squad/the WWE’s pointless way of co-opting #GiveDivasAChance: Cameron and Summer Rae. Their partner in crime, Brie and Nikki Bella) are seated at the commentary table.

Paige starts the match with a kick to Cameron’s stomach, whipping her into her team’s corner and tagging in AJ, who takes Cameron down. She sends her into the corner, hits her with a clothesline and caps it all off with a neckbreaker. She plants a kick into Cameron’s midsection before being distracted by Summer’s angry flailing.

This gives Cameron the opportunity to attack AJ behind, and she does. With AJ on the mat, Cameron pummels the back of her head a bit before running the ropes and hitting her in the head with a split/kick combination. She goes for the pin, but AJ kicks out.

Cameron brings AJ to her corner and tags Summer in. The two hit AJ with a nicely synchronized double team attack, Summer then dragging AJ to the middle of the ring for a pin attempt, which AJ thwarts by kicking out. Summer immediately locks in a headlock. When she releases it, she heads over to the enemy camp, knocking Paige off the ring apron.

Summer takes AJ to her corner and tags in Cameron, who plants a few boots into AJ’s midsection. She quickly tags back in Summer, but the pause in the action is enough to give AJ an opening. She takes out both Divas and springs over to her corner, tagging in Paige.

Paige comes in guns-a-blazing, taking down Summer with short-arm clotheslines and a dropkick. After disposing of Cameron, Paige delivers a kick straight to Summer’s face. This makes her loopy enough to not fight back when Paige locks in the PTO. Summer taps out, crowning AJ and Paige as your victors.

Post-match, the teams have a little staredown, and things get dicey when AJ and Paige exit the ring. Paige gets set off when Nikki hits her with her baseball cap, and she charges right at the Bellas. Ironically, it’s AJ who plays the coolheaded one, holding Paige back as Brie does the same to Nikki.

Elsewhere in Divaland… We didn’t see Lana on SmackDown, and her very absence was a point of discussion on SmackDown Fallout:

Rusev is asked if Lana’s absence has anything to do with her acception John Cena‘s WrestleMania challenge on behalf of Rusev. He plays cagey, saying that their relationship is none of our business.

Thoughts: The tag match came a little too close to the brain-numbing booking of the Paige/Nikki feud for my liking and was only saved – in my opinion – by the almost-tussle after the match. With four talented, interesting women involved in this feud (a WrestleMania feud, no less), there has to be more creative ways to push this story forward, but I wouldn’t put it past the WWE to do the bare minimum from here on out and have the teams blandly insult each other at a safe distance and win pointless matches until Mania.

It’s things like these that make #GiveDivasAChance so important, and why I hope fans will continue to voice their frustration, even in the face of the WWE’s lukewarm attempts to acknowledge the complaints (without actually making any changes). The Divas deserve to have interesting feuds that aren’t treated in a paint-by-the-numbers fashion.

I can get behind a basic tag match for WrestleMania (even without the Divas Title stipulation I’m hoping for), but it’s an absolute waste of talent and story potential to book their road to WrestleMania as an afterthought. It’s almost if the creative team dumps them into cookie cutter scenarios, switching out the Divas’ names as is applicable. Actually, scratch that. What I meant was “It is as if.”

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