Saturday, September 18, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (September 10th, 2015): Turning Up the Heat


Welcome to another SmackDown Redux! This week, we had a surprisingly stacked show overall. It probably had something to do with that little NFL kickoff game. Regardless of the reason, we had two pretty cool Diva segments that set us up for a potentially explosive week to come.

In a rematch to their sort-of-inconclusive match on Raw, Paige and Sasha Banks again squared off.

Meanwhile, Charlotte had another sort of face-off with Divas Champion Nikki Bella ahead of their huge Divas Title match this Monday. Tensions are high all around, and they’re fit to erupt here. Let’s watch!

Team PCB make their entrance first, Paige leading the pack. After we’re reminded of what happened on Raw, PCB pop up in the corner for a promo. Paige says Sasha can’t play games in her house. Playtime is officially over. Time to tap!

As Team B.A.D. enters, they too appear in pop-up video form. Sasha says she’s proven she’s head of this household. Tonight, she’s going to prove why she’s the boss of this house.

A pre-match tussle breaks out, and the referee isn’t having this. He tosses Becky, Charlotte, Naomi and Tamina from ringside!

This leaves just Paige and Sasha to square off, and they do, Paige tackling Sasha to start things off. She scores three quick pin attempts, but nothing’s doing this early. On the third, Paige and Sasha’s arms are hooked, so they stand together in that position, Sasha taking control of the hold and getting in a pin attempt of her own. Paige kicks out.

Sasha whips Paige into the ropes, but she returns with a sunset flip into a pin attempt. Sasha kicks out, but then gets kicked square in the face, prompting another pin from Paige. Sasha kicks out and hightails it out of the ring, looking for a few moments to recover.

Paige isn’t going to give it to her, taking her out with a senton off the ring apron. She tosses Sasha back into the ring, but before she canter reenter the ring herself, Sasha kicks her away, sending her back to the outside. This buys Sasha the time she needs. We head to a commercial.

When we return, Sasha has Paige in the corner, stomping her in the midsection. She pulls Paige by her legs, dragging her away from the ropes and going for the pin. Paige kicks out. Sasha chokes Paige against the second rope for as long as the referee allows, and then follows Paige to the neighboring corner. She props her up on the middle rope and drops double knees onto her. Another pin attempt, another kickout by Paige.

Sasha locks in a chinlock, but she can’t hold it for long. Paige starts to fight out, so she slams her to the mat and covers her for another pin attempt. Paige kicks out. Sasha mocks Paige as she slowly gets to her feet, sending her back to the corner, kicking her and choking her with her boot. She then comes charging at Paige, drilling her knees into her face. That prompts another pin attempt, but Paige again kicks out.

Sasha grabs hold of Paige, propping her up, kneeing her in the back and locking in a straightjacket hold. Paige slowly gets to her feet, but before she get free herself, Sasha lets go of the hold, tossing Paige into the corner. She gloats a bit before going for the attack, and that costs her, because Paige is ready with a back elbow. She fends Sasha off, dodging her follow-up attack and nailing her with a knee to the chest. She tosses Sasha to the center of the ring and plants her with a kick to the face.

After a follow-up kick to the chest that flattens out Sasha, Paige goes for the pin, but Sasha kicks out. Paige pulls Sasha to her feet, but is shoved away, Sasha slapping her across the face. Paige starts to sell an injury and wants a few seconds to deal with it. The referee allows it, and Paige gets Sasha to back off. She’s playing possum, though, because she then comes charging at Sasha, taking her out with a spear! She pummels Sasha in the head, and the exchange turns into an all-out brawl.

They roll out of the ring, Paige tossing Sasha into the barricade and Sasha doing the same. She scrap a bit before Paige makes it back into the ring. Sasha follows, but the match is off the rails at this point. They continue their brawling in the ring. By then, a team of referees are at ringside, and they pry the Divas apart.

Naomi and Tamina spy an opening here, and they run in, pulling Paige off of Sasha. Becky and Charlotte are there shortly after, looking to protect their teammate. This turns into a huge fight, the teams fighting with each other as they try to separate Paige and Sasha before they kill each other. Eventually, they get some distance between them, and though Paige threatens to get back into the ring, Sasha relents, making her exit with Naomi and Tamina.

But it’s not over! Paige comes chasing after her, restarting the fight. It’s quickly quelled, though, and Team B.A.D. soon makes it backstage. Whew.

Later on, Charlotte came face to face with the Divas Champion, Nikki Bella:

Team Bella were approached by Renee Young, who asked Nikki about her upcoming title defense. Nikki tells Brie and Alicia to continue on so she can take this interview solo. Once alone, she claims that Charlotte is jealous and afraid of her. On cue, Charlotte appears. She promises Nikki that she’s neither jealous nor afraid of her.

She mocks Nikki, telling her that she’s about to become the woman who almost became the longest-reigning Divas Champion of all time. Nikki calls Charlotte delusional. Charlotte says Nikki can call her anything she likes, but after Monday, she’ll be calling her “champion”. Woooo!

Thoughts: Paige and Sasha are fantastic together: you can really feel tension there. They don’t let up with each other. I’d love to see what those two could do in a TakeOver match. Speaking of: congratulations, Sasha!

I really liked the pre-match tussle. It sold that these teams really don’t like each other. We hadn’t really gotten that sense over the course of the Diva Revolution – it’s been a lot of posturing and one-upsmanship.

I’m not sure why the referees decided to break up the match when neither did anything that would get them DQed, but I appreciated how it elevated the tension. We know from Trish Stratus‘s early babyface feuds how much a good old fashioned tear-away brawl can sell the intensity of a feud, and this was a great one. I like that Becky, Charlotte, Naomi and Tamina weren’t really interested in fighting, instead trying to cool things down. It showed that the Divas aren’t just hot-blooded women. They realize that a fight isn’t going to prove anything. Paige and Sasha just went through a hard-hitting match, though, so it’s understandable that their blood’s boiling. I appreciate touches like that – it refrains from painting them all with a broad brush.

This was one of the first times since the Diva Revolution started that I felt true excitement in a segment. It felt more organic than most of the matches we’ve had, letting the anger spill over. That’s what the Revolution has lacked so far: fire. We’ve been told how big and important the storyline is, but leading up to SummerSlam, it all felt rather hollow. Now, with Charlotte’s eyes on the Divas Title and Paige and Sasha ready to claw each other’s eyes out, there’s actually life in the Revolution. Something’s actually happening!

But what will this lead to? I guess that depends on what happens on Raw. I don’t think Charlotte has any chance of winning the title on Monday – there’s no way they’ve strung out Nikki’s title reign this long, only for her not to break AJ Lee‘s record. But, if Charlotte loses, what happens at Night of Champions? It’s all so uncertain, but in a good way: it’s been a while since the Divas Title picture was unpredictable.

I get the sense that Paige might turn heel soon, her frustration in being eclipsed by Charlotte bubbling over here and indicating that she might not be interesting the playing PCB much longer. We’ll see. I wouldn’t hate it. It would at least get us out of this merry-go-round of team matches. I just hope Team B.A.D. doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. They’ve sort of been in the background lately, and that’s unacceptable.

Maybe this Revolution can fracture into two feuds, Charlotte and a newly-heel Paige squaring off while Sasha takes aim at Nikki’s title. That would be interesting, seeing Sasha unexpectedly emerge from it all with the belt. She’s been outright dominant so far, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I’m sure WWE would love for TakeOver’s main event to be Champion vs. Champion (not be confused with Title vs. Title), just to add even more hype to the bout. It would be poetic, in a way, for the Diva Revolution to return to where it began, helping to elevate a NXT Women’s Title match. That way, when Divas Champion Sasha returns to the main roster, all the hype earned from her main event match can spread to that division. Maybe then the Revolution can truly begin.

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