Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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WWE Superstars Redux (January 19th, 2012): The (One Sided) Generational War Wages On

Another week and another match between Natalya and Tamina in what must be the most one-sided feud ever. Three weeks, three losses for Natalya, and little to no storyline advancement. Why do we keep seeing the same match over and over? I’m not quite sure, but at least this week we got a lengthier bout between second and third generation Divas compared to the lackluster 1-2 minute matches we’ve seen between them on SmackDown. In fact, this match — if you can look past the canned crowd noise — was pretty darn good.

Check it out below:

Natalya is first out to the ring followed by Tamina in a brand new ring attire. Hurrah! After months of seeing her in the same ring gear, it’s nice to see that she’s changed it up over the past couple of weeks, and I think this attire actually looks good on her and suits her. Kudos!

Fashion aside, the bell rings and the two intense Divas go at it almost instantly, locking up in a very physical way. Tamina gets the upper hand initially, circling behind Natalya and locking her arms around her waist. Natalya tries to bump her way out of it and is soon behind Tamina. Natalya with a blow to the back of the head which does not amuse the Samoan princess in the slightest as she gaves Natalya an “Oh, it’s on now, b*tch!” face. Natalya attempts to hightail it with Tam-Tam (hey, it’s a better nickname than “Tampon”) in hot pursuit. As the referee tries to hold Tamina back, the villainous Natalya runs at her with a big boot to the stomach, followed by a forearm and side headlock. Tamina whips Natalya off the ropes but gets charged down to the mat by the former Divas Champion. Natalya runs the ropes as Tamina first lays on the mat before leaping over the third-gen Diva to avoid collision, but she soon has the upper hand by striking Nattie down to the mat. Tamina channels her father with the pose & “woo”.

Tamina with a pin attempt but Natalya kicks out and then scurries to the corner. Tamina is once again hot on her tail but the referee keeps the pair apart. This allows Natalya to gather her bearings and she manages to take control by cutting Tamina down to size and hitting her head off of the second turnbuckle. The Hart Dynasty Diva picks Tamina up for a suplex and it seems like she’s going for a slingshot off the top rope but perhaps can’t hit it due to Tamina’s weight, so she ends up hanging Tamina over the top rope and laying in a big boot to the midsection.

Natalya begins working over Tamina now with and eventually applies an abdominal stretch trying to wear Tamina down. The second-gen Diva begins to fight back, elbowing her way out of the move and eventually is back on her feet. Tamina with a hip toss on Natalya. However, the former Divas Champ quickly recuperates and hits Tamina with a nice clothesline. Natalya then goes for not one, but two pin attempts before smashing Tamina’s head against the mat out of sheer frustration. Natalya then applies the fantastic Pin-Up Strong submission, perhaps my favorite submission that Natalya has shown us over the past four years or so, as she tires Tamina out. Natalya eventually breaks the hold and again smashes Tamina’s head against the mat with some smack talk. Natalya goes for a legdrop but Tam-Tam moves out of the way as Nattie lands on her glutes. Ouch!

Natalya tries to run at Tamina but the second-gen Diva has this scouted and hits her with a nice big boot. Tamina with some really nice hard chops to Natalya followed by a jumping headbutt which sends Natalya straight to the mat as the Samoan Diva riles up the crowd.

Tamina goes for the superkick but Natalya counters and tries to go for the Sharpshooter, however, Tamina skillfully manages to roll Natalya up into a small package, nearly having the match won, but Natalya kicks out.

Tamina with a Samoan drop. She struggles to get to her feet and after what feels like a lifetime, she finally gets to the top for the Superfly Splash, but by this time Natalya has recuperated and knocks Tamina into a precarious position. Natalya seems to be going for a superplex but Tamina is not budging. The Samoan princess headbutts Natalya off the turnbuckles and this time Tamina manages to hit the Superfly Splash for the 1, 2, 3… Tamina picks up her third consecutive win over the third-gen Diva!

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this match. Compared to their previous matches on SmackDown which have been much shorter, this go around both Divas have been able to show what they can do and tell a story. I particularly loved the final couple of minutes from the Pin-Up Strong submission hold to the final Superfly Splash to take the win. It had excitement and intensity, and I found it enjoyable. Without a doubt, their best match yet — and that’s not hard to say considering their previous matches have been given a fraction of the time that this one got.

Firstly, I want to talk about Tamina. Many assume that because Tamina has a heritage in the business that she’s at the same level of a Beth Phoenix or Natalya, but she isn’t. She was signed by WWE with little experience and brought up to the main roster quite quickly. Because of her strength and size, Tamina is able to look a little more at home in the ring compared to some of the other Divas who have slimmer statures, and I think this could be one of the contributing factors as to why she doesn’t necessarily receive the same criticism as other girls with less experience. However, while somewhat green still, Tamina has shown progression as you can see in this match and really does come across as comfortable in the ring and seems to have a natural aptitude for being a performer. That is a solid base that can be built upon. With more time in the ring and more work with opponents like Natalya or Beth, Tamina can only get better.

It’s also interesting to see Tamina get this big babyface push as we all know WWE tends to push girls like Kelly or Eve in the babyface role. What will come of Tamina’s push? Are they going to pit her against Beth? I’m not sure, but it’d be interesting to see as they usually go for the “model vs model” or “model vs wrestler” feuds. It’ll also be interesting to see just how much the fans get behind her as a babyface. Fans are always saying they want to see the “wrestlers” get storylines and feuds and not the “models”, well, here’s a test. How much will the crowds who attend these shows cheer Tamina as compared to a Kelly or Eve?

Now onto Natalya. Over the past month or so, I’m sure I’m not the only who has noticed that there seems to be something fishy going on with Natalya and Beth Phoenix. While one has disappeared from TV entirely, the other has been losing matches left, right and center. Also, until this week when Alicia Fox appeared on Raw, the talent exchange between Raw and SmackDown was seemingly over. Natalya had been a fixture of Raw and SmackDown for months and now she’s not on Raw and losing every week on SmackDown, while Beth is nowhere to be seen? I think that’s a little odd. And there has also been no mention of the Divas of Doom or the pin-up strong movement on commentary in the past month during Natalya’s matches. It almost feels like the Beth/Natalya partnership has abruptly been dropped. I don’t want to speculate on what the issue could be, but something has been off in the past month or so — and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed.

Sadly, it almost feels like Natalya is being pigeonholed into the role that Victoria (now Tara in TNA) held prior to her departure, putting over the other girls and that’s a damn shame. Natalya is without a doubt the best wrestler on the Divas roster and with her family lineage and naturally positive attitude, I think she could be so over as a babyface. She has a lot to offer the division.

I think the Natalya vs Tamina feud is a great idea, on paper, but in execution it has been far too one sided and not had enough storyline investment. Really, it’s just a series of matches. How about some backstage segments or promos? This could be a great feud, but I’d like it to be more than just Natalya losing every week.

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