Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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RAW Redux (April 17th, 2017): RAW taste of Bliss

Last week, the ‘Superstar Shake-up’ sent shockwaves in the RAW Women’s Division as we gained the pocket rocket Alexa Bliss and the resident veteran Mickie James, while losing The Queen Charlotte to the blue brand. A scuffle last week set the new battle lines between this new group of women, leaving us all to question who would be at the top of the list to challenge Bayley for the RAW Women’s Championship? However, it looks like the RAW writers have that answer, as this week we were treated to a fatal-4-way match to establish who would be our Number 1 contender to go against Bayley at Payback!

Pre-match we are treated to neat little vignettes highlighting the strengths of each of tonight’s competitors. Mickie’s highlights that this is her first match on RAW in 7 years, Nia’s underscores her dominance, Alexa’s showcases her rise to the top of the SmackDown Live women’s division and Sasha’s reflects on her ‘trailblazing’ accomplishments since her debut on the main roster.

As the women make their way down to the ring, the hometown girl Alexa Bliss appears to get the biggest pop from the crowd (despite being heel!) – which is a fair shout considering the ever popular Sasha is in the ring and the golden girl from 07-10 Mickie is in the mix too!

The beginning of the match follows typical ‘Nia match’ functionalities, aka. Nia squashing everyone one by one, lots of no-selling spots and running into people in the corners. It’s a bit more interesting here, as Alexa is in the mix and her cowardly heel tactics help create another dimention to this match.

RAW Women’s Champion Bayley is shown watching a monitor backstage, seizing up all of her challengers going at it. We’re treated to a neat exchange which is arguably a dream match combination with Sasha and Mickie going toe-to-toe for the first time in the centre of the ring, until Nia pulls Mickie out of the ring. Sasha then takes out both of them with a suicide dive as we head to a break.

Coming back from the break and our two new SmackDown draftees Alexa and Mickie are in the middle of the ring. Nia shows her dominance by countering a charge by Alexa into a scoop slam. She catches Sasha from the top rope and hits her with a scoop slam on top of Sasha’s body. She then finishes off by hitting a wheelbarrow slam on Mickie on both the other opponents!

The closing stages of the match sees Sasha taking on Alexa Bliss. Sasha manages to lock in the Banks Statement, but it gets broken up by Mickie James! Mickie climbs up to the rope to finish off Sasha with her signature Diving Thesz Press, but Sasha knocks her down and climbs up to try and attempt a Superplex of some sort. However, she’s exposed as Nia is able to club her from behind. Nia picks Sasha over her shoulder, uses her body as a battering ram to shove Mickie off the top turnbuckle and hits her signature Samoan Drop.

Although, before we grab our spatulas to scrape up Sasha, Alexa hits a seated dropkick onto Nia which forces her out the ring. She picks up the scraps as she steals the victory and capitalises on Nia’s damage to Sasha! Alexa Bliss is our number 1 contender for the RAW Women’s Championship and is going to Payback! As Alexa celebrates, Nia is livid and it’s clear to see that this is definitely not the end!

Following her victory, Alexa is boastful as she warns that she’s ready to take over the RAW women’s division.

Elsewhere backstage, we catch up with Alicia Fox who is showing a video to Dana Brooke. The video shows her getting covered in powder during last week’s 205 Live when she opened up her package. Emma joins the conversation and tries to stir the pot, accusing Dana of joking about Alicia’s mishap and showing that video to everyone in the locker room over and over again.

While Dana seems shocked and tries to deny this, the ever-erratic Alicia has gone from 0-100 and is already annoyed that she’s been made fun of and tells her that she doesn’t want to be her friend anymore. Alicia storms off, leaving Emma to continue her cheeky digs at Dana, warning her that since she wanted to stand on her two feet, she’s going to ‘test her balance’.

Finally, we see our last new RAW women’s addition, Maryse, who is out with her husband The Miz. Following from last week’s developments, Dean Ambrose is a guest on this week’s MizTV. In classic Maryse style, she jumps onto the mic before things can get physical and tells Ambrose that ‘the Championship doesn’t make the man, the man makes the Championship’. Before she can finish her point, Ambrose give her his microphone and starts to take off his extra baggage, he removes his jacket and throws it at Maryse which gives him enough time to charge at The Miz!

While The Miz is getting attacked, Maryse strikes Ambrose with a microphone from behind! This allows Miz and Maryse to escape the ring, but it’s clear to see that these two are clearly not over their beef from SmackDown Live!

Thank God for the shake up! This week was another strong one for our RAW women’s division and it’s all because everything feels so fresh! I won’t lie, I was initially shocked that they gave us this match-up already, but it makes sense while all of these women are hot off the press. The small video vignettes were a really neat way to build up the match and raise the stakes for each of the women involved.

It also made me realise how long I had literally been writing about the same 4 women: Sasha promo about women’s revolution, Bayley promo about dreams, Charlotte promo about being the best and Nia running into people and doing Samoan Drops. Finally, I have new stuff to write about and watch!

We could argue and say that it may be too early for Alexa to go for the title already, but it’s better to go for it while it’s fresh. Case in point is the Champ herself, Bayley… the WWE waited way too long to bring her up and so by the time she won the title, it was just inevitable. Right now, at least we have an unexpected sense in the air – will Alexa win the title early? Will Sasha get involved? Will Nia get involved? It’s not so predictable at the moment, which is the best thing to do after such a shake up.

I also have to give credit to all these women that they managed to put on quite a solid match that wasn’t just a spotfest, which many of these multiple women matches tend to be. Let’s also reiterate that a lot of those women had not worked together in awhile, so for them to rustle up a good match like that over a week goes to show the great combinations we have at hand here. Alexa VS Nia, Alexa VS Sasha, Sasha VS Mickie, Mickie VS Nia – I’m excited for all of those possibilities, especially if they can get more time to work together.

Also, I’m very intrigued with our Emma/Dana B-story here… Dana has some good steam being face, but the Emma/Dana pairing was really enjoyable as heels. As I mentioned last week, these women aren’t really in the title picture and a lot of character needs to be done with them now, so these little skits can really make or break these two. I’m all for seeing them get interjected into the division at some point, but a little backbone to give your general fan to care is necessary at this point. They are directionless and the roster is brimming with possibilities, so there is a big chance of getting lost… case in point Miss Foxy, who for the record was also refreshing to see on the show!

Are you happy that Alexa is number 1 contender already? Do you think Dana will revert back to heel and join Emma? Did you forget Alicia was on the RAW roster too? Send in those comments below!

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