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Raw Redux (April 25th, 2010): Kelly Heads For Bluer Pastures

With last week being a bust, Diva-wise, there was considerable hope (at least on my part) that the Divas would have a significant part on the big, 3-hour Draft episode of Raw. While the actual Draft picks didn’t go the way we expected or hoped, it was the action inside (and immediately outside) the ring that surpassed expectations.

This go-round, the WWE went with a new route on Diva Draft picks. Instead of any match during the night putting a Diva up for a switch, it was only Diva matches that made them eligible for the Draft. Unfortunately, since we (like most weeks) were only treated to one Divas match, that meant we only had one girl get drafted tonight. And, for being the solitary Diva drafted during the show, it was a pretty underwhelming choice, in my opinion.

But before we get into the Draft pick, let’s see how it came to be. Michelle McCool and Layla (as always, with Vickie Guerrero) teamed up to represent SmackDown, and rivals Eve Torres and Maryse repped Raw. The winning team, of course, would win a Diva Draft pick for their brand. Watch the match to see which brand is down a Diva:

Most people’s reactions to finding out that Eve and Maryse were teaming centered on shock. Of course, these types of “strange bedfellows” matches have happened before, but not usually with such a tight-knit team as their opponents and with so much at stake. Still, they played it off to perfection, with Maryse breezing right past happy-go-lucky Eve as they made their entrance, even giving her one of the “talk to the hand” gestures as she led the way. Funny though, that they’re still pretty color coordinated.

Layla and Eve start out the match, with Layla doing some calisthenics to get.. warmed up, I guess? Eve kicks her in the stomach and gets us down to business. She grabs Layla in a side headlock, but she powers out and shoves Eve into the ropes. On the return, Eve blasts Layla shoulder-first and goes for an early pin, getting barely a 1-count. Again, Eve latches her into a side headlock, and again Layla jabs her in the side to get free. Eve maintains control, however, whipping Layla into the corner and eating boot when she charges towards her. Layla does some charging of her own and Eve leaps up and over her in a move that could’ve ended with pelvic bone to the forehead sans a few inches in Eve’s leap.

Eve whips Layla into the same corner, hitting her with a flying clothesline. Layla crumples to the mat, setting her up for… the Bronco Buster!! Only kidding.. Just trying to see if you’re paying attention. In actuality, Eve pulls Layla to her feet, wrenching her arm and bringing her over to her corner. Maryse, however, has no intention of tagging in, and instead tags Eve’s stomach with her boot. But technically, that counts at a tag. It’s physical contact! But you know me, I’m a purist..

Eve does’t take this lying down and exits the ring, getting into a knock down, drag out fight with Maryse at ringside. It’s a great fight and feels real, realer than anything they’ve done together previously. This makes me hope that they really do continue their feud, because this proves that they have so much they can do together that they haven’t gotten to show yet. This the perfect way to utilize Maryse’s arrogance while keeping it somewhat fresh.. I mean, you’ve see one hair flip, you’ve seen them all, right? But this is a new way to go about putting heat in your feud, and the girls pulled it off beautifully.

Eve eventually gets control of the scrape and tosses Maryse into the barricade. Hey, if she’s dead set on being motionless at ringside, at least she’s not taking up space on the ring apron. Eve gets back into the ring, but before she can get to her feet Layla pounces on her, hitting a low dropkick. She hits Eve with another kick and goes for the pin, getting a 2-count.

Layla pounds Eve’s face into the mat, taking advantage of her vulnerable state to tag in Michelle. They double-team Eve, with Layla whipping her right into a clothesline from Michelle. Michelle goes for the pin, but only gets 2. With a fistful of hair, Michelle slams Eve to the mat and bashes her head against it. The ref complains, and she distracts him by playing innocent, all the while choking Eve with her shin pressed against her throat. She lays a boot into Eve’s midsection, letting her gain her bearings against the bottom rope while she taunts the fans. Eve gets eye level with the second rope when Michelle resumes her attacks, perching on the second rope and choking Eve against it. While Michelle distracts the ref, Layla gets a few licks in, standing on the back of Eve’s neck and choking her against the bottom rope.

Michelle gets Eve locked into a reverse choke, holding on with tenacity while Eve tries to battle out, repeatedly kneeing Michelle in the head. Michelle holds on, though, and switches the hold into the standing position. Michelle tries to power it into an attack, but Eve takes the momentum, flipping backwards and reversing the move into a reverse neckbreaker. Eve goes for the pin, but gets a close 2-count. Both girls try to regain their wits, and Eve considers tagging in Maryse, but thinks better of it, instead going on an offensive streak, eventually hitting Michelle with a neckbreaker. She goes for another pin attempt, and again only reaches the count of 2.

Eve runs the ropes, and Maryse smacks the back of her head for a unique tag. See? I told you! Physical contact counts! Eve protests but evnetually leaves the ring, Maryse taunting her, thinking she’s going to pull out the win for her team. Once she’s done posing, she turns around, right into a big boot from Michelle. She’s out for the count, and Michelle pins her for the win and the Draft pick.

Laycool celebrate as the pick is announced. And…. Kelly Kelly is moving to SmackDown! Well, it’s certainly underwhelming for us who were expecting something along these lines. Still, Laycool plays it off well, taunting Kelly a bit from afar and celebrating, almost like they have a new plaything to taunt and toss around. Fresh meat!

Kelly either ignores this or simply doesn’t play it off well, and she simply smiles to the crowd and departs. It’s not something that instills excitement in fans for her move to SmackDown, with her simply ignoring the Mean Girls that are practically licking their chops with the hazing possibilities. I know that that wasn’t the priority with this moment, as it was Kelly’s moment to shine and soak in the fan adoration, but I can’t help but picture a similar scenario occuring if a Laycool/Kelly feud were to happen. Sure, she’s good at playing the ragdoll underdog, but can she take the insults and fire back with some of her own? Surely, smiling politely isn’t going to do the trick.

Still, this move will probably do wonders for Kelly’s career. Lately, she’s been stangnant on Raw, and a move to SmackDown could really rejuvenate her babyface potential. SmackDown gets their fan-favorite replacement for Mickie James (whether you think that’s a fair trade or not) and Kelly gets more opportunity to wrestle and expand her character. We all know SmackDown’s more friendly in that department, after all. It certainly is better for building character than Raw’s blink-and-you-miss-it segments.

But as I say that, this Raw gave us so much more than that. The match was of a decent length, had good wrestling, and told an interesting story. Eve and Maryse, as I mentioned earlier, played off each other better than they ever have, and Eve transcended that “bland babyface” role we’ve been wanting her to shake for a while. Maybe it’s the “SmackDown touch” or the fact that the show was 3 hours long, but the fact is that we saw the most entertaining Divas segment on Raw in some time. It goes to show the writers than, given enough time and a decent setup, the Raw girls can really entertain you.

While Michelle and Layla did the heavy lifting wrestling-wise, Maryse and Eve were easily the stars of that match, with their fight outside the ring and squabbles over tagging in bringing an engaging dynamic to the match. This is what we need more of on Raw, and I honestly believe that they can pull it off without the SmackDown presence. It was entertaining, was forward-thinking, and served a purpose. That’s like an A+ on my Raw grading scale, given the crappy state the show has been in for the past few months, so you could say that Raw definitely got it right this week. Whether it sticks or not is the question.

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