Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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Raw Redux (April 7th, 2014): AJ Lee Took on the World, but Paige Just Shocked It

My name is Bobby and… nope. I can’t even form enough sentences right now to write an intro to this redux so we’re just going to go into the action guns blazing. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Normally I like to recap matches or Diva related segments in order, but tonight is not a normal night so we’re skipping right to what everyone and their mother is going to be buzzing about… ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for AJ Lee to make a victory speech following her win at WrestleMania on Sunday.

Out skips our Divas Champion, AJ Lee with Tamina Snuka in tow as usual. It’s day 295 in her historic title reign, and fresh off her win over the entire Divas roster Sunday night, it’s about time for AJ’s victory speech! She grabs a microphone and touts her title day count a bit, claiming that when she delivered her pipebombshell, she gave the Divas a chance to prove her wrong… but they couldn’t. At WrestleMania, they proved that SHE is the true hero of the story known as AJ vs. The World. The odds were stacked against her, but she overcame them like she’s been doing her entire life. From being a poor girl in Jersey to the best Diva in the world, AJ feels she is not only the savior of the Divas division… but she IS the Divas division.

… CUE PAIGE. And then the reaction of basically all of us watching at home or even there live in the arena:

I try not to over-exaggerate when I write my Reduxes because I know it can come off annoying, but let me tell you that no matter how many caps lock filled words I type… nothing can over-exaggerate my reaction to Paige. The crowd goes absolute batshit crazy for her as she struts down the entrance ramp to her badass theme song as Michael Cole gives fans a backstory of the one and only raven haired lady. As she steps inside the ring, she attempts to cut a promo back on AJ but can’t even start because the crowd erupts in cheers and a “Paige” chant! I have got to be dreaming because this is too unreal. AJ asks what the hell she’s doing here, to which Paige replies that she just came here to do what no one else would… and that’s congratulate her!

AJ thanks Paige for her kind words, believing she should be the front of the line for Divas that owe a thank you to her. Nevertheless, AJ doesn’t NEED her celebratory remarks. She orders Paige to go run back to NXT because the champion doesn’t wish to be interrupted. Paige laughs it off and tries to stick up for herself, to which AJ dubs her the sweetest little crumpet and bops her nose to an “Ooh” from the crowd. They are not here for the British insults, but what AJ, however, is here for is to compete. Since Paige looks to be down and all ready to go, she offers a shot against her right here, right now! Paige tries to downplay the occasion and say she’s not prepared, but AJ isn’t having that. She thinks Paige is ready… and smacks her across the face! “Are you ready now?”, she questions as a “Paige” chant erupts again. AJ again states that she feels they need to have a match, and not only that… as a post WrestleMania treat, the Divas Title will be on the line!

…Cue Diva fans everywhere pinching themselves in complete disbelief. I say this in the most positive way I have ever meant in my life… what the hell is going on?!

AJ calls down a referee and gets in Paige’s face. “Ready or not… this is MY house. I’ll tell you when you’re ready.” Good lord, a “This is Awesome” chant is erupting during a Divas segment. I’ve officially entered some sort of alternate universe that I love and want to permanently move to, as the bell sounds and AJ takes Paige down right from the start. The fans don’t like this one bit, as AJ fires away with shots to the back. A smirk forms across our champions face while she Irish Whips Paige and takes her down again. “Let’s Go Paige” chants the audience, with AJ skipping, hitting a spin kick, and locking in the black widow. The fear is too much! Paige is fighting it… she’s fighting… she… counters into the PAIGE TURNER! Paige covers… ONE, TWO, THREE!

In times of not knowing how to properly display my reaction, I always turn to Oprah Winfrey:

The crowd is INSANE! Paige can’t believe it at all, as she slides outside the ring and tears stream from her face. Referee Jason Ayers hands her the Divas Championship as Justin Roberts announces “Your NEW Divas Champion… PAIGE!” I am a trainwreck right now, attempting to sing along to Paige’s theme through the raptor like sounds evading my throat. We all wanted Paige… and WWE certainly made sure that the wait was worth it. I am so happy for her! AJ is freaking out in the ring as Paige kisses the Championship and raises it up high. The audience have witnessed a defining moment… we have ALL witnessed a defining moment.

I have no idea how to transition from that to our next match, but we were also treated to a mixed tag between Santino and Emma against Fandango and Summer Rae!

Out first are Fandango and Summer Rae, as the crowd erupts into song and dance! Following them are Emma and Santino, which I’m a bit sad at because this would’ve been perfect for her to enter to her music and see the wild crowd react. The men start things off with a little bit of dancing, but Fandango goes for a shot to the face and Santino ducks. Hip toss! Fandango tags out to Summer Rae and thus Emma must enter. Rae scores with a kick, sending Emma into the corner… but Emma blocks and locks in the dilEMMA! Roll through into the Emmamite Sandwich! Emma drags Summer to the center and applies the Emma lock as Santino takes Fandango out and Summer taps! Praise all that is right her music is now playing! The crowd is busting out her dance as Santino grabs her and spins her around to close the match.

Also check out the official debut of the ravishing Russian… Lana! She gets her own special intro and accompanies Alexander Rusev for his first non-Rumble match on the main roster against Zack Ryder. In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s got crazy control over him and I love it.

Okay and clearly because I’m writing the recap this week, I’m throwing in the coming soon video packages for resident NXT favorite, Adam Rose! Could the entourage debut with him??

I actually do like his new theme song, but I think I would’ve loved it if I didn’t already know of the perfection that was his original which he desperately needs back. However, tonight is not a night about complaining so I can’t even harp on it too much. I am READY for the Exotic Express to hit Raw!

Also, “This is my current ex-girlfriend and my future ex-girlfriend” is my new favorite line of all time next to “Oooh Bunnies… I love Bunnies!”

And on the Stephanie McMahon front, we’ve got her first in the opening segment of Raw alongside Triple H as they interfere in new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan‘s post Mania promo:

And another sighting backstage as she discusses Daniel with Triple H, while booking a tag team title match of Batista and Randy Orton against The Usos:

We’ve even got another backstage segment in this night of Stephanie, this time talking to The Shield and Kane:

And finally, Stephanie pops up one last time in the final segment of the night when Triple H challenges Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship:


Thoughts: Holy crap.

Moments like tonight are why Diva fans come back week to week despite not always getting the best representation and the best spotlight on the division. I don’t even know where to start running through how I feel about that entire segment because I feel like I’m almost beyond words at this point. It wasn’t just unexpected, it was booked like some sort of fanfiction come to life. How many people have said they wanted Paige to step up and go after AJ? When AJ Lee cut that promo the night after her title win and Stephanie McMahon walked out, we were all kind of hoping it would’ve been Paige. When Kaitlyn got attacked by a blonde figure, we were hoping it was Paige. This time… it finally IS Paige. Maybe there’s tiny faults that some people will nitpick at, and if you want to then feel free in the comments, but I’m not. I want to just be happy for once at getting something so positively unique from what we’re used to and not worry about picking it apart if this or that wasn’t perfect. This segment was by far my favorite Divas moment in such a long time. The promo, the time they got, the crowd, the surprise factor, the big moment feel… it had everything we could have ever asked for. I didn’t even know WWE knew how to pull something like this off, but tons and tons of props to them for executing it flawlessly.

I always express a little worry when someone wins the title quick like this, but I just think there was nothing else to do if they didn’t want to bring up the submission controversy from Mania last night and so I’m all for it. The crowd erupted for her and made the moment feel special… it made the Divas Championship feel special. Hopefully this can inspire crowds to keep it up in future weeks. I’m REALLY hoping WWE goes all out with follow up and promotes her by showing video packages and giving her time to speak. The biggest mistake a new character can face which either makes or breaks them is whether the crowd gets a chance to connect with them before WWE decides they don’t want to put focus on them anymore. Let Paige cut promos and get interviewed backstage… show video packages of her stuff on NXT. And definitely let her bust out the submission instead of The Paige Turner in future weeks because it’s so unique that crowds will love it. I didn’t mind the Paige Turner tonight because of how it was used as a counter to the Black Widow, and because this win feels so much more special hearing the crowd chant “ONE… TWO… THREE” rather than seeing someone tap out. It was just so perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m so blown up about this I unfortunately don’t really have many thoughts on the rest. Hopefully Emma, Summer and Lana will understand! The mixed tag was quick, but it was what it was, and I’ll take any excuse to get more Summer and Emma appearances on Raw. I count this as a chance to see the fans react to Fandangoing and the Emma dance anyways, so I approve!

Seeing Lana debut as well was just icing on the cake. She is made for TV and I’m really looking forward to seeing where she ends up in a few years because I think she’s going to be a big star with how charismatic she is. For now though, this role is perfect and I’m so happy WWE is marketing them the right way by making it seem like this mysterious woman has control over her beast and can decide when he breaks a hold and when he doesn’t. It’s different from your standard manager, and I am ABSOLUTELY in favor of Justin Roberts introducing her as the ravishing Russian each week. Gah, this was such a good night to be an NXT fan between Paige, Lana, Summer and Emma. It’s crazy to think about how all four have debuted in the span of a year when you think back to the fact we had no debuts between Summer Rae in April 2013 and Naomi/Cameron in January 2012.

Overall, this night is definitely one that’s going to be remembered when we think back to iconic Diva moments. I’m not going to call it the best segment in however many years because we all have differing opinions and I don’t want to instigate any debate, but I personally can say this was my favorite Diva related thing that I can recall happening since Mickie James and Trish Stratus. It was treated like a big deal, and in turn, fans responded to it as one. Hopefully WWE can keep the ball rolling, or maybe they’ll drop it… either way, I don’t care right now because tonight was incredible and thinking/critiquing what could happen from here does no good until we sit back and watch it unfold.

Welcome to the main roster Paige… and congratulations new Divas Champion!

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