After their amicable split was nixed on SmackDown, Team B.A.D. had a much more explosive break-up on Raw. Naomi and Tamina Snuka left little doubt that Sasha Banks was no longer in their good graces. This week on Main Event, they’ve been given the chance to prove that they can thrive without their superstar partner by showing a new kind of UNITY against the fledgling duo of Natalya and Paige.
Before the team collided, though, Naomi and Tamina spoke to JoJo backstage, addressing the Sasha-shaped hole in their ranks:
Naomi says she and Tamina didn’t betray Sasha – she betrayed them. When the time came for them to show UNITY, Sasha turned her back on them. Her disloyalty had to be dealt with. Tamina uses a color metaphor to describe Sasha’s peril, warning that the “baby bird” can crash hard if she flies too high.
Naomi says their match tonight gives them the chance to prove that Naomina™ has never needed Sasha.
The teams finally squared off in the night’s main event:
Natalya and Tamina start things off, tying up. Tamina backs NAtalya into the ropes and is forced to back off. She nails Natalya in the midsection and tosses her into the corner, where she stomps on her. Tamina pull Natalya to her feet and continues to lay into her, but her running attack is dodged, and Natalya rolls her up for a near fall.
Natalya brings Tamina into her corner, where Paige is tagged in. The two Divas hit a tandem suplex and pins Tamina for a two-count. Paige tries to keep momentum with a headbutt, but Tamina’s hard head takes a lot out of her. Paige mockingly apologizes for the ineffective attack, but finds herself carried to Tamina’s corner, where Naomi tags in.
Naomi continues the offense, but her whip into the ropes is reversed, and she finds herself tripped up by Paige. Paige nails her with a running knee and covers her for a near fall. Paige sends Naomi out onto the ring apron, drapes her over the middle rope and nails her with a barrage of knees. She then brings Naomi back into the ring and bodyslams her, covering her for another unsuccessful pin.
Paige locks in a front facelock and slams Naomi to the mat when she starts to battle out, following that up with a pin. Naomi kicks out. Paige locks in another front facelock. Naomi soon gets to her feet, but is quickly sent into the corner, where Paige comes flying in with a knee strike. Paige stomps Naomi to the mat and then some before going for the cover. Naomi again kicks out.
When Paige drags Naomi to her feet, Naomi starts to battle back, fending off Paige with a series of kicks. When Paige catches one of them, Naomi answers with an enziguri. Naomi runs the ropes, but her attack is caught by Paige, and she’s tossed across the ring with a fallaway slam. She slips outside the ring for a breather. Tamina gives her some company, but when she then climbs back onto the ring apron, she’s met with tandem dropkicks by Natalya and Paige that send her crashing to the outside. With that, we head to a commercial break.
When we return, Tamina’s in the ring, trying to battle out of Paige’s waistlock. She backs Paige into the corner and forces her off, squashing her in the corner. When she tries to whip Paige to the opposite corner, though, it’s reversed, and she’s soon met with a knee to the face. Paige charges at Tamina, but nobody’s home. She fends off attacks from Tamina and Naomi, only to be leveled by a superkick. Paige rolls out of the ring.
Naomi kicks Paige for a bit of payback while the referee’s back is turned. Paige slowly but surely gets to her feet, and as soon as she’s in reach, Tamina grabs a handful of her hair and headbutts her back to the floor. Tamina soon follows and tosses her back into the ring, nailing Natalya while subduing Paige and then tagging in Naomi.
Tamina slams Paige to the mat, setting her up for a legdrop from Naomi, which earns a near fall. Naomi continues the punishment, choking Paige against the middle rope. When Naomi brings her to her corner, Paige starts to battle back. Still, Naomi manages a sunset flip attempt, which is blocked. Paige nails Naomi with a headbutt and tries to tag in Natalya, but Naomi stops her, hitting her with a running bulldog into the corner.
Naomi tags in Tamina, who takes Paige to the mat and locks in a headlock. After a short while, Paige gets to her feet, but Tamina soon slams her back to the mat. Tamian goes for the pin, but Paige kicks out. Tamina wrenches Paige’s neck, but that submission is short-lived, as Paige battles back again. Tamina knocks Paige to the mat, setting her up for a splash. Paige rolls out of the way and tags in Natalya.
Naomi is tagged in as well, and she’s met with a series of clotheslines before running face-first into the corner. Natalya lifts Naomi up for a slingshot maneuver, dropping Naomi right onto her tailbone. She runs the ropes, stepping on Naomi’s back and then laying her out with a low dropkick. She hits Naomi with a discus clothesline and goes for the pin, but Tamina breaks it up.
With Natalya outnumbered, Naomi and Tamina go for a double team move. Natalya ducks it, though, forcing them to hit the ropes, where Paige trips up Tamina. Naomi’s free to charge back at Natalya, and she nails her with the Rear View. She covers Natalya for the pin, and Paige breaks it up with a vicious kick. This allows Natalya to regroup and immediately lock in the Sharpshooter. Naomi fends her off, though, and drops her to the mat. Paige tries to interfere again, but Tamina stops her as Naomi locks in the Slay–o–mission, forcing Natalya to tap out. Naomina are victorious!
Thoughts: While this match seemed a bit longer than necessary (yes, it’s possible in Diva land!), there was an energy to it that kept me interested. Frequent changes in momentum and minimal rest holds go a long way! The ending was unique, with Paige bending the rules to take out Naomi and Tamina one-by-one and still not succeeding. I had forgotten what the spoiler report said, and I fully expected Naomi and Tamina – with how often they’re given the shaft – to lose, so it was a nice twist to see Naomi lock in that awesome submission. Natalya came close to no-selling the effects of the Rear View, given how quickly she locked in that Sharpshooter, but I suppose the 10+ minute match needed to wrap up quickly.
I’m really glad Naomi and Tamina are being played up as a threat instead of being dropped into irrelevancy post-Sasha. That was my biggest fear for them as well as my biggest gripe about splitting up Team B.A.D. (my favorite team of the Diva Revolution storyline), but it doesn’t seem to be happening just yet. I’m not holding my breath, though, because they could easily turn into jobbers within a few weeks. For now, I’ll just be satisfied that they picked up a win that they didn’t have to cheat to get. They looked strong and resourceful.
By contrast, Paige and Natalya don’t seem to have a dynamite partnership yet, but it’s hard to judge based off of a match where Paige was isolated for 95% of its runtime. After all, the standard “babyface gets beaten down until she delivers the hot tag” format isn’t really conducive to great teamwork. Here, despite their two tandem moves, they came across and lone wolves forced to team up. I think, if they played up the “odd couple” aspect of their pairing, it would make a lot more sense and allow their characters to shine.
While her spot-calling was really distracting (SERIOUSLY, WHY WAS THAT SHOT OF HER CALLING “TRIN!” AND SLAPPING THE FLOOR NOT EDITED OUT???), I liked what I saw of Paige here, especially character-wise: she’s not quite a babyface, even though she’s playing with the good guys. I hope she maintains that persona and continues to find ways to implement it in her matches.
This match provided a lot of things each four of these Divas can build on: Paige’s recently rediscovered anti-hero persona, Natalya’s return to the fray and Naomina’s post-Team B.A.D. strategy. If this match were on SmackDown or Raw, maybe I’d have more faith that we’d get swift follow-up on this, but I’m hopeful that we’re seeing the beginnings of an expanded scope for the Divas division.