Monday, December 4, 2023

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Fatal 4-Way in Review: Surprise, Surprise

Last Monday’s unofficial preview of the big Fatal Four-Way Divas Championship match didn’t exactly set the bar of expectations too high. Still, the combination of Divas in this match and its fresh feel kept fans hoping for an entertaining match or an unexpected outcome. Did either occur? Let’s watch and see:

With Divas Champ Eve Torres, Maryse, Gail Kim, and Alicia in the ring, we begin. Instantly, the Divas pair off: Eve with Maryse and Gail with Alicia. Eve gets control of her situation while Alicia controls hers. While Eve and Maryse roll around on the mat, Gail irish-whips Alicia to the corner and goes for an attack, but Alicia moves, and the cat-like Gail perches on the second turnbuckle.She goes for a splash off the corner, but is met with Alicia’s knee to her midsection. Alicia suplexes Gail and bridges it into a pin, but by the 2-count Eve runs over and breaks the pin.

Eve goes for a pin of her own and Maryse watches on as Alicia kicks out at 2. Maryse didn’t seem too have much faith in Eve’s pin attempt. As soon as Eve is off Alicia, Maryse tackles her for an awkward, akward pin attempt that Alicia breaks up. Gail goes back on the attack on Alicia and the two trade blows until Alicia spins her into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. With Gail out, Eve battles against Alicia and Maryse until Alicia manages to get a hand full of her hair and stop her offensive streak. Alicia pulls Eve up and holds her prone for a kick from Maryse. The two talk some trash to the champion before charging her back-first into the corner. Maryse takes charage, talking more trash to Eve and pummeling her while Gail tries to catch Alicia by surprise on the ring apron. Alicia fends her off for the moment, but Gail manages to shoulder-blast her midsection, slip over her back into the ring, run the ropes, and go for a headscissors. But wait–she holds it in mid-air and latches on a arm submission, hyperextending Alicia’s right arm while her legs are wrapped around her head. Now that’s innovative. I’m as impressed with Alicia’s steady stance as I am with Gail’s tenacity.

Eventually, that stance breaks down and Alicia drops to her knees, but Gail holds on. Meanwhile, Eve locks in an armbar on Maryse. Gail breaks up her own submission and stops Eve’s, preventing a tap-out by Maryse. She then takes the same arm of Maryse’s and locks in another armbar. You don’t usually see babyfaces being that sly and resourceful, but this is Gail Kim we’re talking about, so I guess she isn’t your typical Diva anyways. Alicia boots Gail and stops her hold, taking the spoils that is Maryse’s injured arm. She holds it for a bit before relenting when Eve comes to break it up, and Maryse exits the ring like a bat out of hell before anyone else can attack her arm.

Eve stands over Alicia and locks her into a camel clutch submission. Gail sees this and decides to get in on the action, taking Alicia’s legs and locking her into a modified Boston crab submission. The two hold her in this unique submission until Maryse comes in (again like a bat out of hell), grabbing both Divas by their hair like an angry teacher, pulling them away from Alicia. Maryse kicks Gail in the stomach and tosses Eve out of the ring, Gail following suit. When Maryse turns around she’s met chest-to-chest by Alicia, and the two have a face-off, exchanging words and otherwise looking like they’d kill each other if they stared hard enough. Eventually Alicia has had enough and shoves Maryse, starting an exchange of blows. Maryse whips Alicia into the ropes and plants her with a kick to the face after she ducks a clothesline. Maryse goes for a pin but Eve slips into the ring and breaks it just in the nick of time.

Eve sets up Maryse for her neckbreaker, but Maryse slips out and both are met with a double dropkick from Gail. Gail whips Maryse into the corner and set her up for a top-rope dropkick (Matt Striker calls it, amongst other things, a double stomp?). Gail goes for the pin but sees Eve coming over to stop it ,and she proactively goes on the attack, pummeling her in the corner and prepping for an attack on the ring apron. Alicia pops up out of nowhere, though, and attacks her. Gail battles back and sets up for a hurricanrana, but Alicia gains control and drops her face-first onto the apron.

Maryse and Eve are left in the ring, and Maryse sets up for the French Kiss, but Eve reverses it into her neckbreaker. She adjusts Maryse’s position on the mat, climbs the turnbuckles and hits a nice-looking moonsault. She goes for the pin, but Alicia slips in, grabbing Eve and tossing her out of the ring before picking the bones of Maryse, covering her for the pin, the win, and the Divas Championship. She celebrates with her first WWE championship.

Wow, now that was unexpected. No, I don’t mean Alicia’s win, which was a surprise in its own right. I’m referring to the fact that that match was very, very entertaining and utilized each Diva very well. I mentioned in the Raw Redux last week that the Divas had it in them to pull off a great match, and it was down to the bookers to give them a good position in the night and decent time frame to do the rest. Thankfully, the bookers did their part, giving the Divas an early spot in the show (instead of their usual “death slot” between the main events) and a decent amount of time–over 5 minutes, which is an eternity in Raw Diva terms. Each girl did their part and pulled off exciting, unique spots and kept the match from becoming a confusing clusterfuck, for the lack of a better term.

Gail wins the resourceful award, pulling off an incredible mid-air armbar as well as bending the babyface rules a bit and taking advantage of Eve’s spoils (both on Maryse and Alicia). She was exciting as always and injected a lot of life into the match early on. She was the workhorse, for sure, and is the match MVP for me. Eve was, while not groundbreaking, good at setting up her opponents for another one to come along and take advantage of her work. While that probably means Eve the character needs to be more aware of her surroundings, it allowed her to pull off her usual moves, looking like a fighting champ that ends up getting screwed over by practically everyone in the match.

Maryse was Maryse–she talked trash with just about everyone and was the punching bag for a bit there, taking armbars from everyone and their mother. She had a sick kick on Alicia and was her cocky best in a confrontation with her, but her lack of aggressiveness in actually wrestling came back to bite her when almost every Diva had control over her over the course of the match. Maryse didn’t look dominant in the least, and maybe that comes down to the fact that she picks her spots, and this match, with its four participants, didn’t leave very many open for her.

Alicia, of course, was the shocking victor. She was probably third on my list of possible winners (it going Eve, Maryse, Alicia, and Gail from most to least likely to win) but she pulled off the upset in heelish fashion, taking Eve’s win away from her. She did well against the champ and Maryse and especially Gail–those two need to feud ASAP. While the match wasn’t exactly her showcase, it demonstrated her ability to play a good, conniving heel, and I’m so excited to see her finally get a title run. Where the go with this is anybody’s guess, but if I may make a suggestion, MAKE HER FEUD WITH GAIL KIM. Seriously, bookers, do it. This brand needs fresh blood, and Alicia as champ does part of that job. The other part is giving her an opponent that hasn’t been in the title feud for the past few months, and Gail is the woman for that job.

Match Rating: 4/5

Later in the night we were treated to another unexpected turn of events–a 6-person mixed tag team match that wasn’t announced until part way into the show. It pits the Hart Dynasty and Natalya against the Usos and Tamina, giving those two Divas their first official face off that, while a bit too early, is still something we’ve been eagerly anticipating. Watch the match below:

Natalya and Tamina start off the match, Tamina getting things going with a rough shove. Natalya soon lets her experience take hold and kicks Tamina, locking her into a side headlock and tossing her over her hip and to the mat. Tamina fights free quickly, locking her legs around Natalya’s neck for a submission hold of her own. Natalya kips up and frees herself, but Tamina maintains control, wrenching Natalya’s arm. To get free, Natalya flips a few times, reversing the hold and pulling Tamina into a schoolboy pin. Tamina kicks out quickly and immediately crawls over to her corner, tagging in Jay while David Hart Smith comes in for Natalya.

The male action goes on until Natalya is tagged into the fray, bringing in Tamina. Natalya ducks a clothesline and hit a series of blows, whipping Tamina into the ropes and hitting her with a back elbow on the return. She hits two suplexes on Tamina and kicks her square in the back and hitting a Michinoku driver, going for the pin, but it is broken by an Uso. The men battle to the outside, Tyson Kidd taking out both Usos. This leaves Natalya and Tamina alone in the ring.

Natalya goes for her spinning clothesline, but Tamina ducks it and hits a Samoan drop. She climbs the turnbuckles and goes for the Superfly splash, but Natalya moves out of the way, and nobody’s home for Tamina. Natalya waits for Tamina to get to her feet, and hits an explosive spinning clothesline, covering Tamina for the pin, getting the win for her team.

The match was unexpected, and on paper I would have said it was too early on in the feud for them to have a match like this. After all, their altercations have only amounted to a few ringside brawls. still, they pulledo ff a very entertaining match and Natalya and Tamina saw a great deal of action. Tamina looked great, but you could tell they’re covering a bit for her inexperience. Still, it doesn’t hamper the match, and Natalya did fantastic, proving why the WWE needs so badly to put her in the ring more often. Her clothesline is devastating, and she hit it perfectly on Tamina. I was surprised to see the Harts win, thinking that an Uso/Tamina win would build on the feud a bit more, allowing the Usos to retain the upper hand. Still, I’m glad to see Natalya get a bit of the spotlight in getting the win for her team. I can’t wait to see this feud develop and for Natalya to get even more exposure, which has been seriously, seriously overdue.

Match Rating: 3/5

This night, in a nutshell, was surprisingly great. I guess it goes to show that you can’t denounce an event before it happens, because I never would have expected to see such great Diva action. Alicia winning the Divas Championship was a jolt of excitement that the championship badly needed, and Natalya getting her due was just as gratifying. I hope they can keep this positive momentum going in the coming weeks, because after the past few weeks of disappointment, Raw could really use some genuine entertainment. You know, for a change..

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