Thursday, September 16, 2021

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WrestleMania 28 in Review: A Night of Injured Ribs, Zack Attacks, Kelly-Go-Rounds and Crazy Headgear

Last night’s WrestleMania 28 pay per view was a surprising one in many ways: Maria Menounos once again upset the Divas Champion, Beth Phoenix, picking up a third consecutive victory over her. (For any other Diva, this would probably warrant a Divas Title shot. That said, I don’t think WWE would be above giving one to a celebrity who’s barely at the shows!) On top of that, WWE blew us away by actually giving the Divas a video package, Beth showed off some seriously out there headgear, Kelly Kelly shocked fans with a Molly-Go-Round, and Eve finally hit Zack Ryder where it hurts.

Before the match begins (and note, it’s not in the pre-main event spot, hurrah!), we are surprised with a really cool video package highlighting the WWE Divas to the tune of Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild”. As I laugh at the irony of Eve saying, “There’s absolutely no limit to what we can do as WWE Divas”, we are taken out to the ring where — speaking of the devil — Eve’s music hits! Out come Eve and the Divas Champion, sporting large bird-feather headgear. First thought: “WTF?!” Oh, dear. Eve, however, looks more toned down, sparking a contrast between the pair.

After a reminder of the altercation between the Divas involved in this match on Menounos’ show, Extra, out come the babyface Divas. Kelly looks gorgeous in gold, while Maria sports a Greek flag. Michael Cole reveals that as well as the aforementioned broken ribs, Maria is also suffering from fractures in her feet. Ouch!

With all of the Divas now in the ring, it’s time to get this bad boy started as former BFFs, Eve and Kelly face off first. The two Divas lock up as Eve takes early control, backing K2 into the ropes and kneeing her in the midsection. Eve whips Kelly into the ropes but Kelly slides through her legs and manages to flip Eve onto her back using her arms. Nice move! Kelly follows up with a hurricanrana and a pin attempt but Eve kicks out.

Eve comes back firing with shots to Kelly and whips her into the corner as the crowd chants “Hoeski”. Eve misses a clothesline in the corner and Kelly takes advantage, smashing Eve’s head into the turnbuckle several times. Kelly riles up the crowd now for her patented handspring elbow but Eve wisely holds up her knees, driving them into K2’s back. Eve goes up top for a moonsault but Kelly manages to get to her feet and cuts Eve off, knocking her down to the mat. Kelly tags in Maria and the pair hit a double stinkface on Eve. Maria then realises why she shouldn’t have worn white, as Eve’s make-up leaves a questionable stain on the butt area of her pants. (Insert childish “He said poo” laugh here.)

As the referee restores order by seeing Kelly back to her corner, Beth hits Maria with a cheap shot, kicking her in her injured ribs. Eve has the advantage now, laying into an injured Maria. As Eve distracts the referee, Beth again hits a cheap shot on Maria. Eve then applies a nice body-scissors, applying pressure to Maria’s injured ribs. The crowd, however, is still not happy about the way the opening contest ended, chanting, “Daniel Bryan” and “YES! YES! YES!” (Either that or they’re just really happy to see the Divas *cough*)

Eve tags in the Divas Champion for the first time as she kicks Maria straight in the ribs. The Dancing with the Stars contestant looks like she’s legitimately struggling in the ring, falling to the mat and holding her ribs. Beth continues to apply pressure before hitting her with forearms and knocking Kelly off the apron. Beth then stomps into Maria while a riled up K2 argues with the referee.

Eve is back in now as the heels pull Maria’s legs apart. Maria, on the other hand, continues to hold her ribs as Eve goes for a booty pop standing moonsault. Menounos manages to scout this and ‘pops’ Eve straight in the booty (see what I did there?), sending her flying out of the ring.

Beth aids Eve on the outside as Maria struggles towards her partner. Maria manages to hit the tag to Kelly just as Eve tags Beth. In comes Kelly full speed ahead with a Thesz Press on Beth, followed by knocking Eve off the apron. Twirly-bird headscissors next, planting Beth into the ring post. Kelly then hits a neckbreaker and goes up top. What move could she be looking to hit? A MOLLY-GO-ROUND! Executed perfectly by the former Divas Champ. As Kelly goes for a pin, seemingly have the match won, Eve breaks up the count and attacks the blonde Diva.

Beth now signals the Glam Slam as Maria continues to hold her ribs gingerly in the corner. Beth hoists Kelly into the air — and I legitimately thought this would be the end of the match when I saw it last night — but K2 manages to counter the move into an impactful bulldog. Didn’t see that coming!

Kelly tries make a tag to Maria, who continues to look really hurt. (Really, Kelly would just be better off finishing the match herself, no?)

In a moment reminiscent of Jaws (you know, when you can’t look away so you watch through your fingers), Maria gingerly climbs the turnbuckles — who thought this would be a good idea?! — only for Beth Phoenix to come and attack her.

Beth hoists Maria into the air for a gorilla press slam. Something’s gotta give, right? And it does — Kelly pulls Maria down from Beth’s grip. The pair collaboratively push Beth into Eve, who is knocked off the apron, and then Maria does what all celebs do at WrestleMania — wins. Maria rolls up the Glamazon for the three count and it’s all over.

Thoughts: Right. Where to begin? I’ve seen a lot of negativity about this match, including many calling it the “worst Divas match ever”, which is a huge over-exaggeration in my opinion. Technically, it wasn’t the worst Divas match I’ve ever seen, but nor was it the most unique, amazing, brilliant match, either. The match was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the Divas involved, with the exception of a couple of spots. This is the perfect time to mention how much I loved Kelly’s epic Molly-Go-Round (herein known as the Kelly-Go-Round). I absolutely did not see that coming and frankly, had forgotten the move even existed. Kelly got a huge ‘Mania moment and this was by far the greatest spot in the entire match.

As for the rest of the match, it was a mixed bag. It got plenty of time by Diva standards, but I’d argue that this time, the match went too long. I would’ve been perfectly happy with the match ending with Kelly’s Kelly-Go-Round from the top. It was an epic moment that took the fans by surprise and frankly, if the match ended there, I don’t think I’d have a complaint. Instead the finish that actually occurred looked cheap.

I give Maria Menounos her props for coming to WrestleMania and competing despite her injuries, but seeing her laid out on the mat and gingerly holding her ribs while slumped on the apron, I question why she went ahead with the match in the first place? Sure, it was announced and advertised, but hey, card is always subject to change. I understand the Hollywood mentality of “the show must go on”, but honestly, it hurt me to watch Maria look hurt. She should’ve gracefully backed out of the match, in my opinion. WWE could’ve easily slotted Alicia Fox or someone else into the match and had Maria accompany them to the ring and then have a spot with Beth that wasn’t too physically taxing. Watching Maria climb up the turnbuckles made me pretty uncomfortable.

The finish was what we’ve come to expect of WrestleMania, but I was really hoping they would give the victory to Beth and Eve, because I felt it’d do more for their characters than Kelly’s. Of course, later in the night, Eve got her real ‘Mania moment so the loss doesn’t exactly hurt her, but poor Beth. I would’ve given them the victory, but if not, Kelly’s Kelly-Go-Round was the perfect way to end it. Kelly now has a finisher that looks conceivably devastating enough to take out someone as powerful as Beth. They should’ve run with it. Of course, the celebrity must have their moment and Maria got hers.

Ultimately, the match was okay, but aside from the Kelly-Go-Round and Kelly’s counter of the Glam Slam, it showed us nothing we didn’t already know the Divas can do in the ring.

Match Rating: 2.5/5

As mentioned above, the Divas match wasn’t even the highlight of Eve’s night, as she accompanied Zack Ryder to the ring for Team Johnny vs Team Teddy bout and cost him the match. Afterwards, in shades of Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 20, Eve double-crossed Ryder, kicking him the Woo-Woo-Woo-You-Know-Whats. That’s our girl! Love it! If I could book where this goes next, I’d have Kelly and Zack take on Eve and a partner.

In that same match, Brie and Nikki Bella proved that they have a career in ring announcing if their wrestling careers don’t pan out. They did a good job on the microphone introducing Team Johnny and Team Teddy respectively.

Plus, a catfight broke out between Teddy’s main squeeze, Aksana, and Johnny’s flag bearer, Vickie Guerrero. Will these two end up having a match this week on TV? I think they might.

Kicking off the show, the voice of the WWE, Lilian Garcia gave a beautiful performance of “America the Beautiful”.

In further Diva sightings, AJ accompanied Daniel Bryan for his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it World Title match and Rosa Mendes guided her team to victory in a pre-show Tag Team Championship match. Something tells me that AJ will be feeling the brunt of DB’s wrath this coming week on SmackDown.

So now that WrestleMania is in the books, what next? Like I said above, I’d like to see Kelly and Eve continue their feud, perhaps having a mixed tag match involving Zack Ryder and perhaps Dolph Ziggler or Jack Swagger.

As for the Divas Title and Beth Phoenix, well, WWE doesn’t seem to know what to do in that situation — or they don’t seem to care all that much. I’d like to see AJ continue her recent push by being granted a Divas Title match. Could you imagine DB’s jealousy if AJ won the title and he doesn’t have his? Or perhaps Layla can return tonight on Raw in her hometown of Miami and begin a storyline with Beth.

What did you think of WrestleMania? What’s next for the Divas involved? Tell us in the comments.

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