It’s usually this time of year that fans begin to tune out in the build up to Christmas. The December pay per views aren’t really remembered as well as the months prior. However just before the year goes out, the SmackDown Divas have delivered a sleeper hit. Women’s Champion, Michelle McCool successfully defended her belt against Mickie James last night but unlike a myriad of past Divas pay per view matches, this bout seems to be only an opener to a brewing feud. Last night’s match seemed to come as close to ‘feature length’ as WWE will allow the Divas to be and also featured an unusually lively crowd eating up the action. Watch below:
The match kicks off with a cat and mouse chase as Michelle jumps out of the ring immediately, staving away from the four-time Women’s Champion. Upon entering once again, the two Divas lock up in a powerful tussle that sees them roll out of the ring. And already, we’re out of the ring! Still locked up, Mickie thrusts Michelle into the barricade and Michelle retaliates, shoving Mickie into the side of the ring. Nice touch there, showing the intensity between the two Divas. Mickie gets in Michelle’s face in a heated verbal exchange and the expression on Michelle’s face says it all, both Divas did a great job of selling that heat. They carefully get back in the ring, eyes still locked on each other. Mickie screams at Michelle: “I know how to play games, Michelle.” And don’t we know it! Perhaps a slight nod to her first WWE feud.
With the Divas now back on their feet, the champion and challenger go for each other’s hair before being separated by the referee. Mickie quickly goes for a jack knife pin but Michelle kicks out. Mickie manages to knock Michelle off her feet a further two times and goes for a further two pin attempts. Michelle now takes charge, clubbing Mickie and throwing her against the ropes, Mickie manages to lock in a Gail Kim-like christo of sorts while Matt Striker on commentary says, “How can she support that weight.” Wow, Vince and co are going hard for Mickie. It seems such words come all too easily out of Striker’s mouth, I do hope Striker [the person] feels somwhat hesitant when saying them.
Michelle backs Mickie into the corner, slamming her into the turnbuckles and Mickie lays motionless for a good few seconds. Michelle takes control with knee drops followed by knees to the back as the pace of the match begins to slow down. Michelle wipes the mat with Mickie’s face before slamming it back down on the canvas rather viciously. Michelle applies a chin lock as Mickie tries to fight back but Michelle just knocks her back down. Michelle effortlessly throws a few kicks Mickie’s way, suggesting she’s not sweating her opponent.
Michelle hits Mickie with a few knees to the back before Mickie fights back with forearm shots, she then goes for a hurricanrana that McCool wisely reverses into a backbreaker. Two count but no three for Michelle. Mickie hits a surprise small package on Michelle but no three count for her either. An angered Michelle throws Mickie through the ropes to the outside and for the second time in this bout, we’re taking the action to the outside of the ring.
On the outside, Michelle throws Mickie head first into the barricade and that really did look vicious. The Women’s Champion then rolls into the ring hoping for Mickie to be counted out. Michelle once again goes to the outside and attempts to hit her vicious knee strike that we’ve seen on Melina and Eve earlier this year. Unfortunately for her, Mickie is much wiser, moving out of the way which means Michelle hits the barricade. [I do hope that wasn’t her bad knee!] Mickie then uses the barricade for her patented hurricanrana, usually performed in the ring corner. Fabulous selling by McCool. Mickie follows through with a Thesz Press that also looks impressive. Layla attempts to intervene but runs away… rather hilariously.
Back in the ring, Mickie hits Michelle with another Thesz Press followed by a low dropkick and a pin attempt. Michelle attempts to come back with a clothesline but Mickie ducks and hits a few of her own on the Champion. Mickie riles up the crowd for the biggest reaction of the match so far. Mickie kicks Michelle in the midsection, attempts to throw her into the corner but Michelle counters. Mickie sets up a headscissors in the corner but is thrown over the top rope by McCool. Mickie knocks down Michelle and goes up top but is knocked off the top by Layla. Mickie hits a round kick to Layla’s midsection. Michelle goes for a big boot to Mickie, but she moves out of the way and McCool hits Layla instead. The crowd goes wild.
The finish sees Mickie attempt a rollup for the win and she very nearly has it but Michelle kicks out. As the two get to their feet, Michelle hits her big boot and takes the pin.
As I mentioned, the year is really over — no one’s expecting much to happen in these last few weeks but then bam! This was a great match with great work from both Divas. They really slugged it out and introduced different elements [using the outside barricade], giving us shades of that McCool-Melina match at Night of Champions. The intensity between the two Divas was visible which makes me that much more excited to see a second match. The time they received was perfect to tell a good story. There was a short period that things got a bit slow but they redeemed themselves by going to the outside for the second time.
Individually, I think this was one of Mickie’s best performances in quite some time — it’s definitely her best of the year. As for Michelle McCool, this girl has consistently delivered in the ring in 2009 and as far as I’m concerned, TLC is three out of three for her in terms of great singles bouts on pay per view this year. Her work this year speaks for itself and this match speaks volumes for not only her, but for Mickie too. I should hope this silences their respective critics, ‘McHaters’ for one and WWE management for the other.