Last night’s Divas Title match at Extreme Rules may not have been Paige‘s first defense of her newly-won belt, but it was her first real challenge as champion. She took on Tamina Snuka, who the past few weeks have taught us is more than capable of defeating Divas with killer submission holds (hi, Natalya). Will the honeymoon end early for Paige? Let’s see:
They start with the customary tie-up, Tamina eventually shoving Paige away. Paige isn’t having any of this strong arming, though, and fights back immediately. She doggedly attacks Tamina, backing her into a corner and laying into her with stomps.
Paige dodges and ducks several attacks from Tamina, tripping her up and getting in an early pin attempt. She springs up when Tamina kicks out, hitting her with a dropkick and going for another pin. Tamina kicks out again.
Tamina reverses an Irish whip into a corner, but Paige blocks the attack that follows and hoists herself up onto Tamina’s shoulders into an electric chair position, rolling forward into another pin attempt that Tamika kicks out of.
Paige stays on her game, playing opossum and luring Tamina to the ropes. She sends her into them and heads out to the ring apron, delivering a series of knees to Tamina’s chest. She caps it off with a scream for good measure, heading to the turnbuckle and climbing to the top rope.
Before Paige can do anything, though, Tamina nails her with a kick that sends her falling all the way to the outside. Tamina heads out to claim Paige, taking off her best and throwing it at her. She lifts Paige to her feet and drives her back-first into the ring apron and then tosses her back into the ring, earning a near fall for it.
Tamina starts to toy with Paige a bit, whipping her into a corner with such force that it sends Paige off of her feet. She hits her with three consecutive body slams, punctuated with pin attempts, before Paige starts fighting back, using all of her underdog babyface fury to tackle Tamina through the ropes and to the outside.
She climbs back onto the ring apron, attempting to duplicate the hurricanrana she delivered to Alicia Fox on Main Event, but Tamina stops her mid-way, using Paige’s vulnerable positioning to swing her full-on into the barricade.
Tamina breaks the referee’s count before she retrieves Paige and sends her back into the ring. She hoists the Divas Champion onto her shoulders, climbing to the second rope in search of some sort of high risk maneuver. Paige slips free of her hold and turns it into one hell of a powerbomb. She covers Tamina and earns a near fall.
Though she’s disappointed by the referee’s count, Paige regroups with a scream and hits Tamina with a low headscissors, slamming her face-first into the mat. She gets another near fall, and looks even more frustrated at the result.
Tamina is pulled to her feet and fights off Paige, sending her into the ropes. Paige ducks an attack and attempts to take Tamina out with a crossbody, but gets caught instead. Tamina swings her around into a slam, which lays both women out temporarily. Tamina gets up first, though, and goes for the pin. Paige narrowly kicks out.
Both Divas get to their feet, Tamina getting there first and positions herself for a superkick. Paige telegraphs it, though, and grabs hold of her leg. She sweeps it out from under Tamina and, with some effort, turns her over and captures her in the scorpion cross-lock. Tamina taps out, and Paige retains!
Thoughts: This qualifies as a short but sweet match, in my opinion. There were two memorable spots – the countered hurricanrana and kick off the top rope – that really sold Paige’s resilience. Tamina put her through a lot in a short timespan, and seeing her overcome it absolutely achieved the March’s objective, which was obviously to put Paige over as a true threat, not some flash in the pan.
I do think this match would have benefitted from some sort of stipulation, just to spice it up a bit. Any type of stipulation, aside from maybe submission, would have favored the bigger, more physically intimidating Diva, and would have further sold Paige’s toughness in winning. Then again, having her win in a straight wrestling match may have been more helpful in the long run, as far as establishing her abilities goes.
The one part of the match that lost me was the (seemingly endless) bit with Tamina’s three bodyslams. Honestly, I would have rather seen a rest hold. At least that wouldn’t have been as blatantly repetitive. A body slam just isn’t as devastating enough to do three times and believably wear Paige down. Maybe a backbreaker or three would have felt less time-wastey? I don’t know. It just felt like a part of a different match entirely and killed the momentum for me.
I was hoping to see AJ Lee pop up to deliver her vengeance on Paige when she was vulnerable post-match, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for that. I’m not worried, though, as there’s plenty of time before Payback. Maybe she’ll try some mind games instead? That sure helped her win the Divas Title the last time Payback rolled around..