Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Raw Redux (August 17th, 2015): The Temperature Rises on the Road to SummerSlam


SummerSlam is just five days away and to whet our appetites for the Nine Diva, Three Team Elimination Tag match taking place during the four-hour event, four Divas were in action across two bouts last night on Raw.

Team PCB member Becky Lynch took on Team B.A.D’s Tamina Snuka whilst WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks clashed in a Champion vs Champion match. WWE didn’t make too much of a deal about that however as no doubt Bayley is going to dethrone her come NXT Takeover: Brooklyn and bigging her up as champ only to lose it five days later could make her seem a little weaker. Her performance in last night’s match certainly didn’t however.

On top of that, two others scrapping outside of the title picture pushed forward with the Diva Revolution in their own catty and highly-entertaining way too. And I don’t mean Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. Summer Rae and Lana continued their feud as Lana revealed a big surprise for Rusev. All of that plus the return of Stephanie McMahon!

Speaking of Steph, she kicks off the show with HHH and she is looking pretty hot. Something is different about her hair and I like it! Her and Hunter cut a generic babyface promo hyping SummerSlam and the pair also announce matches taking place later tonight. Stephanie announced the Champion vs. Champion match for tonight and at least she hyped how big it was unlike the announcers!

From one messiah to another, we next see Tameezus herself, Tamina Snuka in the ring. She hasn’t even entered to her own music (she entered to Naomi‘s, who is at ringside) so I don’t think the odds are looking good for her getting the win. Saying that, you don’t always lose when you receive a jobber entrance! Following Becky’s entrance alongside Charlotte and Paige, the match begins.

The cliff-diving Diva and Lass Kicker lock-up to start proceedings, and Tamina gets the better of Becky by throwing her to the ground and hitting an armdrag. Snuka pummels Becky some more with a club to the back and a headbutt and then flattens her with a beautifully executed swinging sideslam. Reminiscent of Tatanka! Now there’s a comparison I’m sure she’ll love…

Tina Tamina hits a scoop slam as Team Bella look on from backstage. After a near fall, she wraps herself around Lynch chinlock style and dishes out more punishment with a nice clothesline. Tamina mounts Becky and dishes out some punches yet Becky soon fights back after blocking a running splash.

Becky clips Tamina with a springboard kick and follows that up with an explosive missile dropkick for two. The win wasn’t Becky’s for the taking at that moment, yet an even greater opening presented itself shortly after. Tamina tries to hit her spinning slam once more, yet Becky counters into a crucifix pin that she then transitions into the Dis-arm-her! Tamina taps! Becky has gained her second singles win of the Revolution whilst Tamina has suffered her second loss in a row. Womp womp.

The Lana and Summer saga continues in our next noteworthy segment. This part of the show was all about the aftermath clearly as no-one in their right mind should want to see Rusev vs the World’s Strongest Case for Retirement, Mark Henry again.

Anywho, after Mark Henry’s win (psyche!), Lana jolts into the ring from the commentary desk and she tells Summer to get in the ring and be ready to throwdown. Summer walks into a massive slap from Lana, whom then channels The Rock, signalling for Rusev to bring it!

Rusev stares Lana down but he is ambushed by a returning Dolph Ziggler, who the crowd are going absolutely crazy for. Dolph and Lana kick Rusev and Summer from the ring and a singles match between the men is set for SummerSlam!

We have witnessed two enjoyable segments so far and now it is time for our Divas main event so to speak as Nikki Bella squares off against Sasha Banks. BIG. MATCH. FEELS. Nikki makes her entrance alongside the fierce looking duo of Alicia Fox and Brie Bella. I absolutely love their entrance. They may have flaws individually (who doesn’t?) yet dayum, they look amazing as a unit!

The Fearless One and The Boss get into a shoving war, a battle that soon turns to one-upping whilst star jumping and pulling out a few push-ups. There’s some nice back and forth chain wrestling too as well as a slingshot suplex. Nikki wrenches Sasha with two chinlocks yet Sasha turns the tides despite the punishment, drilling her knees into Nikki as the commercial break begins.

After the adverts and Nikki gets a taste of her own medicine as Sasha has a vice-like grip on her with a straight jacket submission. Nikki eventually fights back with kicks and elbows, accentuating that line of offense with a sadly botched springboard kick. I wished the commentators make the botch even more obvious by stating that they didn’t think Nikki got all of the kick. How about just ignore for those who looked away from the screen at that moment and were none the wiser?

Anywho, Nikki’s dodgy kick was enough to give her the upper hand, and she drops Sasha with some clotheslines and an Alabama Slam. Not enough to have her beat, Nikki tries to hit a scoop slam, yet Sasha reverses and hits Bankrupt! Her signature isn’t enough to get the job done either. Sasha’s future doesn’t look bright when Nikki whacks her with the FOREARM OF DOOM and things go from bad to worse when the Divas Champ hoists Sasha up for the Rack Attack.

With the win in sight, Naomi darts to the apron and the temporary distraction is enough to cost Nikki, big time. Sasha jumps behind Nikki and nails the Bank Statement (a sloppy looking one anyway) and Nikki has nowhere to go! She tries to reach out to the ropes yet it isn’t long before she is forced to tap. What a win for Banksy!

Thoughts: Last night saw WWE be very generous with their time and give the Divas three segments yet again with two matches amongst the action. Whilst the girls got a lot of time, I’m not sure they made the best of it.

My favourite of the two matches was Becky vs Tamina as this felt very fresh. Yes, the rest hold was annoying yet the fact Becky didn’t make your typical comeback and the fact that the rest hold didn’t dominate most of the match were two refreshing touches for me. This match wasn’t booked in the most typical of ways, and I appreciated that. I loved Tamina’s spinning slam, and Becky’s reversal at the end was really neat. The finish told a nice story too, of how Tamina tried to hit the same move again, only for Becky to pull out the perfect counter that allowed her to get the win. I really liked this match. Short and sweet without being too short! If I was Goldilocks, this match was my baby bear porridge.

I can’t say I was as impressed with Sasha and Nikki’s match. Whilst I loved Naomi being put over in addition to Sasha via the finish, Sasha and Nikki need to work on their chemistry. Perhaps Nikki’s back was giving her grief too as something just seemed off during the match. Considering how this was a champion vs champion match, I felt the match was a tad disappointing considering how it looked on paper. Another positive shone through too – both girls were heels and that aspect of the match really worked for me. However, some of the moves seemed a little off (Nikki’s springboard kick and the Bank Statement) and overall, I was underwhelmed. You can’t kill it every night and last night was just an example of that. I’m sure I’ll be impressed with both Takeover and SummerSlam.

Whilst the Divas involved in the three teams are showing that women can get positive reactions when given considerable time to showcase their wrestling, Lana and Summer are proving they can garner cheers and heat when given the opportunity to showcase a story. Summer is nailing it as the snobby bitch whilst Lana is a believable babyface. I want to root for her and as soon as she whips her heels off and delivers a bitch slap, I am hooked! Great work from both girls. I love that they are working with Rusev and Ziggler, both of whom are fantastic in the ring and over in their respective positions. Although the dialogue has been a little rough in this feud and Summer’s motives and Lana and Dolph’s relationship could have been fleshed out a little more, I was definitely impressed this week. Excellent segment.

All-in-all, I am excited for SummerSlam. Apart from the mind-numbingly boring ‘feud’ between Randy Orton and Sheamus and the appalling Intercontinental Title scene, I think SummerSlam is going to deliver big time. Let’s hope that the finish to the Diva match leads to this faction feud moving to the next level. More layers and more character development please leading to the storyline getting more personal. I’m not asking for much!

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