Monday, March 27, 2023

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Battleground in Review: The best there ever will be

The next page for the SmackDown Women’s championship takes place here. A new number one contender will be crowned, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. Could the Queen reclaim the opportunity? Could it be the Lass Kicker? Or may be the Ravishing Russian will come out on top? The Queen of Black Harts could climb to the top? Or could the daughter of the Superfly carry on her reign of dominance?

On the Kickoff show, the two-time undisputed Miss Money In The Bank Carmella (as she makes very clear) shows up. Renee Young asks ‘Mella how she feels about not having a match at SummerSlam. The contract holder is quick to correct Young, stating that she could very easily even be the champion at SummerSlam. True that.

She also says that regardless of people crediting James Ellsworth for her win, and the intense match coming up, she isn’t bothered by any of it. She’s beaten the women in the match two times so is pretty confident that she can do it again – whenever she wants.

After being asked about overcoming being the last draft pick, Carmella looks at her briefcase and prepares her answer. She states that she went from being “Miss Irrelevant” to “Miss Money In The Bank” – she definitely has a way with words.

On the topic of her fellow competitors, Carmella says that she is rooting for Natalya to win because of their former alliance within the Welcoming Committee. She also says that she doesn’t care that fans are calling Charlotte Flair “the Queen” of the blue brand as “queens are old” and princesses are young and pretty! caught up with Lana before the night’s events, and it appears that the Ravishing Russian is feeling very ravishing – go figure. Lana states that Philadelphia needs somebody “ravishing” to look up to – and somebody as “ravishing” as her. So of course, they need her as a role model. She goes on to say that despite everyone trying to bring her down, she will go on to face Naomi at what she dubs “RavishingSlam”, to then become the very first “ravishing” Women’s champion. Strong words… fourth time lucky? Well, let’s see what happens!

SmackDown Women’s champion Naomi is on commentary for the match, and gives her two cents as each woman makes their way to the ring. Commentary make it a point to highlight how this is Natalya’s 38th pay-per-view match. Interesting.

The match starts off with a bang as Charlotte goes after Lana, and the rest is pretty much a brawl. We see the beginning of the match continue to be quite rapid as Becky Lynch is tossed to the outside and Lana knocks down Natalya. Tamina and the Ravishing Russian then go back into the ring and are met with the Queen… This is where things (are supposed to) get interesting. Lana and Tamina corner Miss Flair, knocking her down and making her scream in pain. After a little too long of taking her down, Becky comes to the rescue, leading to a Bexploder onto Lana – with Charlotte doing it to Tamina.

The tea-time besties then compete for a little while until Natalya gets involved. Pretty soon we see the Queen of Black Harts hold the Queen in a Sharpshooter. Unfortunately, Lana makes the rookie mistake of knocking Natalya down, meaning Charlotte is still in the match.

Becky manages to get Lana in a submission, but Tamina knocks her down. The same then happens, and Tamina knocks her down again. Tamina then finds herself in the Dis-Arm-Her, and despite Lana being nearby, she doesn’t help out her friend, and leaves her to tap out. Lana then receives the same result moments after, meaning that the duo are both eliminated. Quickly after, we see Natalya roll up the Lass Kicker with a hold of the tights, eliminating her.

And then there were two. The Queen of Black Harts versus the Queen…

Charlotte and Natalya have a heated few moments, one involving a powerbomb by Flair and an arm bar by Neidhart. After a Moonsault reversal, leading Charlotte to be hurt, Natalya slams her opponent’s head into the corner and quickly pins her, giving the Queen of Black Harts the victory!

After her victory, Natalya is greeted by a clapping Naomi. The champ offers her hand, but Neidhart refuses to accept it, and walks away… Enough said. Let the games begin!

An emotional Charlotte is found in a Fallout clip where she discusses the match. Despite being upset about the loss she compliments Natalya for being a strong competitor, and that this defeat gives her the chance to “rebuild and come back stronger.” She also insists that she wants the title so badly that she is willing to take on both Naomi and Natalya at SummerSlam for the title.

On Talking Smack, the number one contender took to the panel, expressing how it “felt good to end tea-time” as everyone was so focused on her opponents Charlotte and Becky. Jerry “The King” Lawler brings up the fact that Carmella chose Natalya as her winner, but Neidhart isn’t buying it. The Queen of Black Harts insists that Carmella is trying to keep her enemies close – could this be hinting at a potential cash-in?

Despite this, Natalya is feeling confident about her win. She always knew that she was the best, but after this win she’s proven it to us all. Neidhart cites how she defeated the multiple time champion Charlotte, the first SmackDown Women’s champion and draft pick Becky, the dominant Tamina and Lana. And, much like Lana, Naomi isn’t in her league – according to Natalya that is.

Later on in the night, Maria Kanellis escorts her husband Mike Kanellis to his match against Sami Zayn. Despite pulling Mike out of the way, and even getting in the ring at one point to avoid Zayn’s Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle, Mike is pinned for the first time in his short time at WWE. I guess the power of love wasn’t enough to overcome the Underdog from the Underground…

Thoughts: It’s 2017 and Natalya Neidhart is getting a one on one opportunity for the Women’s championship at SummerSlam – and it’s against Naomi. I’d ask to be pinched but I’m afraid it’s already too good to be true.

This is a long-time coming for Natalya, and it’s something that will most definitely be interesting to watch. But let’s discuss the match first.

The Fatal-Five-Way Elimination contest could have been better. It had good spots and allowed all of the women to shine, but it also had some bad parts.

We started off with a pretty rapid brawl. Charlotte went straight for the woman she despised the most, and everything erupted from there. The moves were fierce, the speed was good, the beginning was decent. But then we got to the point where Tamina and Lana were dominating Miss Flair.

Snuka is a great talent, as is Charlotte. The two did a very good job. But although she was clearly putting in a lot of effort, Lana failed to impress here with her moves. The Ravishing Russian has a great lock on her character, and she exemplifies it here. She constantly screams in anger, she yells in her opponents faces and she boasts to the crowd. It’s lovely. But her wrestling work has a lot of improvements.

I don’t blame Lana for this match being bad. I mean, I kind of do, but it’s the fault of whomever booked this. Why did they expect a talent as green as Lana to be able to carry a good portion of the contest? This was a very poignant moment, but it felt slow and far too extended. At this point, we could’ve seen a decent bout between Flair and Snuka, with Lana on the sidelines cheering her ally on. This could’ve been a perfect opportunity to highlight yet again how underrated Tamina is by allowing her to have a decent battle with Charlotte. But instead, Lana was made to do things that she isn’t capable to do, and ended up making the match feel slow and look like a botch-fest.

The eliminations for this match are pretty interesting. At first glance, Tamina being eliminated first is frustrating. She’s tough-looking and has been dominating the division for a while now – so why would she be the first to leave? Well, if it’s to increase her anger, it’ll definitely work. Tamina was eliminated after saving Lana multiple times, only to be left for dead by her ally. Could this lead to a feud in the future? Is it an actual feud we want? Who knows? But I just hope that after the weeks of build for Tamina that they aren’t just going to let her drop down the rankings so soon. She’s one to watch, and I’m all for it. And on top of that, Tamina did do well with her wrestling. She may need to retire the spear outside of the ring, but everything else she did was great.

It’s great that Becky is now being rebuilt as a challenger to watch. She eliminated two women with her finishing move, so she’s definitely looking tough. And on top of that she also held her own against Charlotte both here and during last week’s SmackDown. The Lass Kicker is also one to watch, and this match did her justice.

The best part of the match however, is when Charlotte and Natalya are left alone. Whenever these two are in the ring with one another, magic happens. They constantly put on great matches and this short moment wasn’t an anomaly. Charlotte’s impressive powerbomb was great, whilst Natalya held her own with her aggressive arm bar and slam to the turnbuckle. This is a feud that SmackDown Live could possibly do better than WWE did with the pre-draft days, and I’d be all for it.

Charlotte is clearly a great addition to SmackDown. She isn’t the overbearing force she once was on RAW, and is instead giving us good matches and putting over other competitors. She’s still looking strong whilst making others look stronger. So I guess she’s kind of doing what Nikki Bella did.

So in the end, Natalya was finally victorious. Battleground seems to be her pay-per-view, doesn’t it? The little moment at the end with Naomi is a good sign of what could be to come. Natalya is refusing to befriend her ex-friend, whilst Naomi wants nothing but great sportsmanship. We can see this a great way to push Natalya as a heel, and to solidify Naomi as the leader of the division. These two have had some great matches in the past, with a bit of a feud going all the way back to 2014. So this should be a classic!

Overall, it was a decent night. Lana was given more than she can chew but did her best. Tamina and Becky had some great moments, Charlotte proved how great of an addition she is to SmackDown, and we’re now getting a much deserved feud between two women that can always be counted on to put on a show.

What are your thoughts on tonight’s antics? What will happen Tuesday night? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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