Saturday, September 18, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (May 26th, 2016): The Fall of the Division

Natalya-hit-by-CharlotteWWE

It goes without saying that matches that barely last a minute are from fan favorites. And in the latest addition of SmackDown, we get exactly that. After receiving the promise of a re-branded division with better storytelling, things are simply deteriorating.

Before we get into that, however, let’s take a quick look back at the female oriented action from this week’s SmackDown!

Our first sighting takes place when Lana and Rusev are interviewed by Renee Young. Renee begins by opening a discussion about Kalisto’s United States Championship rematch, in which the Ravishing Russian immediately responds to by neglecting the topic and insisting on calling Rusev “the greatest United States champion of all time.” After Rusev goes on about being a real man that is going to “crush” Kalisto, “the little mosquito,” the pair walk away to attend to title match. Lana then introduces Rusev to the ring for a match in which he wins by making Kalisto submit to The Accolade.

After this match is over we see a video package reviewing Monday night’s antics regarding the Women’s champion, Charlotte. Here we see some of WWE’s Superstars, including Summer Rae and Becky Lynch, give their verdict on what the champ said to her father earlier this week. Once the package is over with, we see Charlotte walk down the ramp to sit at commentary for the following match between Dana Brooke and Natalya.

Jerry Lawler questions why Charlotte would disrespect her father the way that she did but is shut down once the champion says that it’s funny to hear something like that come from a man that spent his whole life away from home too.

Moving swiftly back to the action we see Natalya storm down to the ring – notably not paying attention to the fans – as she aims to go straight for Dana, though the referee gets in the way before anything can happen. The bell then rings and the Queen of Harts locks her opponent in an aggressive hold before throwing her to the ground and remaining on top. Dana pulls on Natalya’s hair but is then brought up to her feet and shoved to the corner for a few punches to the head. Brooke then manages to knock Natalya to the ground but soon finds herself in the Sharpshooter as her knee-to-the-face fails to connect. As Dana is about to tap, however, Charlotte interrupts the match by attacking Natalya, causing a disqualification. The pair try to remain on top but Natalya manages to put Charlotte in the Sharpshooter and then attack Dana with some punches. The numbers game then comes into play and we see Flair and Brooke standing tall by the end of the segment.

Our final match of the night is the Intercontinental Title match between Cesaro and the champion, The Miz (with Maryse by his side). The match involves Cesaro and Miz battling each other, with The Miz reinforcing his cowardice ways throughout – to the point where he tries to take apart the turnbuckle, and has Maryse finish the job once the referee catches him out. After his attempt of cheating backfires, we see the champion leave the ring and take both his title and Maryse with him. This is then stopped by Cesaro, but the turnbuckle comes into play as the Swiss Superman is smashed against it and is eventually pinned by The Miz.

Thoughts: WWE has a problem regarding continuity with their characters. Over the weeks of Dana’s debut she’s been built as a tough competitor whom despite being conniving, is definitely a threat in the ring. So despite the weeks of this being her build up, it’s a little strange that suddenly she’s ready to tap out after a minute of action. It’s just like how Charlotte won the Divas championship on her own, yet somehow is unable to defend it without help. WWE refuses to acknowledge the characters that they build. Instead, they rely on repetitive tropes with next to no reason behind them being used to tell their story. We’re currently watching Dana team with Charlotte despite no explanation for why Dana is exactly here.

Viewers are constantly expected to just go with the flow because at the last minute, suddenly it’ll all make sense. Why bother building characters up as individuals when we can just as easily be given the same stories we’ve had for the past few years?

The women’s division was headed in the right direction at around Wrestlemania time, but as the mainstream spotlight is no longer on the company, the fight for equality and decent storytelling is no longer necessary. If we want to see something worthwhile, it’s probably best to return this summer for the SummerSlam build-up – or if you’re still unsure, March may be the next time you should tune in again. We do get a decent feud here and there, but at this point, everything is so repetitive, lackluster and full of unanswered questions (i.e. why the heck is Dana suddenly focused on Natalya and not Becky?!).

WWE’s female roster is by far the most talented it has been in years. Pretty much every woman is a sure contender that can be taken seriously yet, the company refuses to allow more than one of them to have decent booking (if that).

And of course, I can’t complete this redux without discussing the length of the one women’s match we’re given. It’s a two hour show… and instead of offering a bit of explanation on the feud or even giving the women a decent amount of time in the ring, the only wrestling action is finished with after just a few moves? Is this 2012? Are the women back to being filler matches for when the creative team can’t book a full show? It’s understandable that the timing is part of adding heel heat on to Brooke and Flair, but when the only women action we get is reduced to just a minute, things start to get problematic. This is supposed to be the era in which women are equal to the men, so why do we see male rematches lasting ten+ minutes and then the only female oriented contest ends up being the shortest on the card?

This is a terrible night for the division. We can only just hope that things will improve by the time the brand split takes place…

What is your opinion on tonight’s show? Should the match have been longer? Do you like the feud? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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