Friday, December 3, 2021

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Vengeance in Review: Eve Delivers, But Can’t Stop the Doom

These days, wherever Beth Phoenix is, chances are Natalya isn’t far behind. That was probably Eve Torres‘s biggest disadvantage if she had any hope of leaving Vengeance with the Divas Championship. However, a pre-show fight between Beth, Natalya, Eve and Kelly Kelly evened the odds a bit as, consequently, Natalya and Kelly were banned from ringside. Will a lack of Natalya be Beth’s undoing? Let’s watch and see:

Eve enters with new theme music, which many of you didn’t seem to love. The match begins with both charging at each other for a tie-up, and Beth’s strength advantage allows her to drive Eve into the ropes. Eve moves quickly, though, and the two fall around the ring, tied-up up and vying for the advantage. Beth eventually wins out, pushing Eve into the corner. Eve works her way to the top, fighting Beth off, jumping from the top rope and hitting Beth with a sunset flip. She rolls Beth into a pin, but the Divas Champion kicks out at 2.

Out of the pin Beth is right back on the attack. She Irish-whips Eve into the ropes and, on the return, knocks her to the mat with a great deal of force. She goes for the pin, holding her hands to the mat. Eve bridges out of the pin, taking advantage of Beth’s lack of cover. Beth knees her in the stomach to break the bridge, and tries for another pin, which Eve bridges out of again. This time, before Beth can try again, Eve kips up, keeping her fingers locked with Beth’s. She breaks one hand free, cartwheels, and uses the one hand she still has connected to Beth to wrench her forearm back against itself.

Beth frees herself from the hold the old fashioned way: shoving her hand in Eve’s face and forcing her against the ropes. She lands a few blows before whipping Eve to the opposite ropes, looking to toss Eve over her back. Eve telegraphs this, though, and flips over Beth back-to-back, hitting an insiguri and sending her against the ropes. Beth leans against the ropes, getting her wits about her, but Eve is already on her, taking her hands and tying them up in a piece from Beth’s skirt. Beth is stuck there, handcuffed by her own gear. Hm.. a heelish move by a babyface? I like it.. I always prefer a little gray area where babyfaces are concerned, so it’s nice to see that Eve is willing to get a little dirty to win the title.

While Beth panics, Eve catches her breath and then lands a few well-placed kicks to Beth’s exposed backside. As Beth frees herself, Eve charges and manages to knock Beth off her feet. Wow, that’s a good deal of momentum! Someone paid attention in Physics class.. Beth seeks refuge outside the ring. Eve follows her, walking right into Beth’s trap, as the Glamazon sweeps her feet out from under her as soon as she steps foot on the ring apron. Beth crouches by the apron, pressing Eve up and walking over to the crowd barricade, dropping her face-first onto it. Beth lands a few shins into Eve’s stomach before she sees fit to pull her to her feet. And, even then, she just whips her into the apron. Beth then climbs into the ring to break the count-out, dragging Eve behind her by an arm.

Beth pins Eve, but she kicks out. Incredulous, Beth decides to hook Eve into an abdominal stretch. Eve tries to fight her way out and manages to get to her feet, hitting a bicycle kick and running the ropes. However, Beth catches her mid-attack, lifts her up, and drops to her knees, driving her shoulder into Eve’s mid-section. Another pin attempt, another kick-out. Beth decides to try another submission, locking her legs around Eve’s middle. To add a bit of insult to injury she smacks Eve repeatedly on the back of the head, urging her to cry, saying “Come on baby, cry!”, referencing Eve’s emotional promo on last Friday’s Smackdown. This is where you see the middle school bully come out: when things don’t go her way. Somehow, it makes her an even better heel, so see that she’s not above the schoolgirl taunts. To her credit, Eve doesn’t cry and instead works her way out of the hold, turning onto Beth and pummeling her in the head.

When both Divas are on their feet, Eve lands a few kicks, a clothesline and her somersault splash before going for the pin. Beth kicks out just in the nick of time. Beth catches her breath against the ropes, and Eve is soon back on the attack. Beth reverses an Irish-whip, but Eve holds onto the ropes, halting her momentum. She hits Beth with an elbow when she tries to attack, using the ropes to prop herself up onto Beth’s shoulders, where she perches precariously and chokes her. Beth flails around the ring like a giant being bothered by a buzzing bee, soon falling to her knees and then to her back. Beth is fighting to get free, but is stuck in the middle of the ring, so she manages to use her leg strength to push Eve backwards until she can reach the ropes for a rope break.

Beth stands up on the ring apron, and Eve reaches across the ropes to grab her head and pound it against the turnbuckle. She climbs on a rope to get a better hold on Beth, and Beth takes the opportunity to hot-shot her against the top rope. With Eve clutching her stomach, Beth climbs into the ring and sets her up for the Glam Slam. But, when the time comes for the “slam” part of the move, Eve rolls forward and sends Beth into the ropes, immediately rolling up her from behind into a pin. Beth kicks out at 2, and she knows how close the pin was, as she immediately springs to her feet and kicks Eve in the face. She whips Eve into the corner, but Eve blocks the attack that follows, kicking Beth in the back of the head and setting her up for a moonsault.

Eve climbs the turnbuckle as Beth falls to the mat, no doubt seeing stars. Hell, she’s probably seeing the entire galaxy. However, as Eve leaps backwards for the moonsault, Beth rolls out of the way, and there’s no water in the pool. Eve hits the mat stomach-first, and Beth is on her immediately, latching her arms and hitting the Glam Slam. She pins Eve for the 3-count and the win, retaining her Divas Championship.

Thoughts: What a great match! I didn’t expect such a long or engaging match, a great deal of that due to the fact that this match didn’t have half the build-up that all of Beth and Kelly’s matches did. This match felt like it should have been just a stepping stone to bigger things for Beth, but the two Divas clearly did not see fit to put on a “stepping stone” match. Instead, they put on a fantastic bout, Eve giving as well as she got, showing a lot of ferocity in trying to counter-balance Beth’s strength advantage. It was the most fiery I’ve ever seen her be and, in consequence, the most interesting. I went from not thinking she had a shot in hell of winning the title to thinking she could actually pull off the upset. Her submission on top of Beth’s shoulders was a stand-out moment, allowing her to scream at Beth the way Beth screamed at her.

Those little moments where Eve was allowed to show some personality outside the typical halo-and-wings babyface archetype, such as that trash-talking moment and when she tied Beth up in the ropes, made me start to root for her to overcome the odds, which is certainly not something I expected to do, going into the match. It just goes to show how little touches can make a match feel so much bigger than it was set up to be. Seeing Eve fight so evenly with Beth made this match feel like it’s had months of build-up instead of a week. Beth, to her credit, was fantastic as well, showing her strength in creative ways and bullying Eve mid-hold. The fact that she was able to decisively defeat Eve with no help from Natalya proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. It makes her title reign seem that much more unstoppable, and consequently makes the Divas of Doom that much more intimidating. Beth doesn’t need Natalya, but will always use her if need be, and that just means more pain for their fellow Divas.

From here, instinct tells me that Beth is going to move on to another challenger, given how cleanly she beat Eve. Still, this match makes me wish this feud had at least as much time as the Kelly/Beth feud did. They really put on a match that exceeded expectations, and I do love a nice surprise.

Match Rating: 4/5

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