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RAW Redux (April 24th, 2017): Mind Over Matter

This week’s RAW is the last hurrah before Payback, which should be an interesting one since we’ve had the fallout from WrestleMania and our ‘Superstar ShakeUp’! Last week, one of our newcomers to RAW, Alexa Bliss, won her right to face Bayley for her RAW Women’s Championship at Payback. Let’s see what happened when the women had one more chance to certify their positions in the constantly changing landscape of the RAW women’s division.

First up, we’re treated to in-ring action between our 205 Live Queen, Alicia Fox and our protege who is trying to find her own feet, Dana Brooke! I guess this is a little continuity following last week’s incident between the two.

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen Miss Fox in the ring and while she’s not treated to an entrance, she’s hot off the press and takes charge from the early onset of the match. Within 30 seconds of the match starting, our evil Emma makes her way down to ringside to see her old tag partner in action.

Dana starts to get on the offence and attempts to hit a springboard elbow drop, which gets countered. Alicia takes the opportunity to hit her classic Scissors Kick, but gets dodged, allowing Dana to hit the Samoan Driver for the win! While Dana celebrates, she seems to have a bit of a bloody mouth as she takes in the crowd’s adulation. Emma enters the ring and seems to show her appreciation, going in for a hug and patting her on the back… although her actions seem to confuse Dana…

Later on in the night, our number one contender Alexa Bliss makes her way out to the ring! She takes to the microphone and immediately mocks Bayley for the way she is always so bright-eyed and corny, talking about her dreams of being Women’s Champion. The crowd try to give her the ‘What?’ treatment and Alexa buffers it away in the best style I’ve seen in a long time by dropping, “Alexa Bliss is the best say ‘What’” and the crowd fell into her trap.

Back to business and our Champion Bayley makes her way down to the ring to confront her opponent. She calls out Alexa for her shady ways, but warns her that she is more about action has proven it in the past and will do it again in her hometown of San Jose, where Payback will be based. Alexa sees another opportunity to dig at Bayley saying, “…that means I get to take your title, beat you down and humiliate you… all in front of your own father!”.

Things take a Mean Girls-esque twist, when Alexa continues to mock Bayley for living a ‘sheltered’ life and jokes around that she’s never kissed a boy. She sends one final warning to Bayley, by saying that it’s time for the Cinderella story to end… not until Sasha Banks makes an appearance!

The former three-time RAW Women’s Champion comes down to the ring to defend her best friend. “You little troll doll wannabe…” Sasha begins, “not only is Bayley gonna show you up, she’s gonna shut you up”. Sasha continues to say that it’s her turn to shut her up first… but Alexa tries to worm her way out, claiming that she needs to stay focused on her Payback match and she feels unsafe. The conversation ends when Sasha decks Alexa across the face before she can leave the ring! It’s Sasha VS Alexa!

Bayley has joined the commentary table, while Alexa leads the offence over Sasha at the beginning of the match. After Alexa misses some double knee drops, Sasha manages to get on the offence and hits her signature moves culminating in the corner knee drop. She manages to lock in the Banks Statement, but Alexa manages to wriggle to the rope and leave the ring.

As the referee starts counting her out, Alexa shows no signs of wanting to take part and slowly backs up the ramp – angering Sasha and making Bayley annoyed on commentary. The referee reaches 10 and Sasha is announced the winner of the match while Alexa tries to walk to the back. Not so fast Miss Bliss! Bayley grabs Alexa and tries to drag her back down the ramp, Alexa wriggles out and runs to the back once again! While Bayley tries to signal to Sasha, Alexa takes the opportunity to club the Champ from behind to lay her out! Sasha runs up the ramp to chase Alexa to the back again, but the damage has been done!

Sasha tends to Bayley on the ramp as the sneaky Alexa gets yet another notch on her belt against the popular besties!

Alexa Stratus anyone? I hate comparisons, but when you’re being compared to one of the best in this business EVER, then that’s no mean feat. I’ve not seen anyone control a crowd and commend her audience like Alexa did last night. With that one line, she literally managed to turn the whole crowd – which is something that many of the other women couldn’t do. Even her lines seemed like a throwback to Trish’s catty lines back in 2004! This move to RAW was going to cast a big spotlight on Alexa Bliss and right now she is shining. The direction they’re going with her character is perfect too, they have no sneaky heels like this and I’m really hoping that she can prove herself even more in the ring.

Interestingly, this was another week with the crowd not being the most positive to Sasha and Bayley. Their Cinderella stories and weeks of promos about dreams have been picked up by the crowd and they’re starting to turn on it too… Sure, they don’t get booed out the building, but the smarks are starting to get louder and louder, which can prove problematic for Bayley since her gimmick relies on being loved! She’s not been booked as an underdog and it looks like she’ll be going over Alexa this weekend, so could this be the start of a John Cena/Roman Reigns snap reaction from the crowd?

The Emma/Dana ‘B’ story still seems to be a confusing one. Ideally, both of these two should have been hot off the press and in the title picture, but hopefully this adds a little backbone to them both, before they inevitable challenge for the title next. Emma is the completely black sheep of this division and I’m really pulling for her to get her rightful moment, I’m hoping that this character development will allow her to be more than just heel #3. Same thing goes for Dana… some very shaky ring work and a couple of those slams looked very pensive, but it just highlighted how long both of them have been in the ring. Here’s to hoping that this leads to good things… because where it’s leading now, I’m not too sure.

On a personal note, I do have to say that it felt refreshing to not see Nia Jax this week. I really didn’t realise how repetitive her moveset was, until I didn’t have to see it for a week. Again, I’m really not trying to just take a chance to nag on her, but her absence was felt… and for me it was a positive absence to not have to see the night end with someone laid out by her running into them.

Should Dana rejoin Emma? Will Alexa walk out as the Champion at Payback? Did you miss seeing Alicia in the ring? Comment in the section below!

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