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Raw Redux (August 31st, 2009) – Happy Beth-day, Mickie!

Check your local weather forecast for flying pigs, folks! We’ve seen the occasional ‘two Divas matches in one night’ on SmackDown, more common we see two Knockouts matches on any given episode of Impact but Raw? Raw?! Following last week’s Vince birthday debacle, this week it was the Divas Champion’s birthday. I wonder what she wished for… Better yet, neither match was a three minute wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am affair either! Cloudy with a chance of Divas.

First up was a six Diva battle royal to determine who faced the birthday girl, Mickie James, l ater on in the night. Rather than the standard clusterf*ck we usually see, they did a good job of getting the dead weight out of the ring early and letting the ‘wrestler girls’ do what they do best.

First, the entrance — so the Divas finally get their own entrances for one of these battle royals and Gail Kim decides: “Oh no, not me… I want to be ~suppressed~ by this turgid Diva lifestyle. I have been taken away from my beloved Knockouts and have to work here just for the money. But I shan’t enjoy it! Woe is me.” So what does a girl do? She hijacks Kelly Kelly‘s entrance. It definitely looked like a miscue to me, I guess she accidentally walked out and realised she made a mistake because Kelly didn’t even see her behind her, Gail had to tap her on the shoulder. And you’ll even notice a pause from announcer, Lilian Garcia, possibly because she was surprised to see Gail come out with Kelly. “Introducing first…” Pause. “Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim.” Also interesting to note that Beth Phoenix, arguably the top heel on Raw came out second while Alicia Fox came out last. The last spot is usually reserved for the top Divas/Superstars. Maybe Gail was supposed to come out after Alicia?

Anyway that over with, let’s skip to the match: We kick off with three different matches going on at once, Beth-Kelly, Gail-Rosa, Alicia-Jillian. Kind of hard to keep track of all of this. I noticed Rosa attempting to hit some awful looking slaps Gail’s way, before being pushed into the Glamazon. Despite being her former protege, Beth is having none of that — and Rosa & her weave go flying over the top rope. After this, we see some work between Gail and Beth which is always an enticing prospect, while Kelly hits a few forearms to Jillian and Alicia. Ms Fierce kicks Kelly in the stomach and delivers a really nice ace kick, delivered much better than the one on Mickie last week. Unfortunately our girl Foxy isn’t long for this match as she’s next eliminated by Gail Kim. She’s followed by Kelly, who’s dropped out of the ring by Beth who picks her up almost as if she’s cradling a baby. In the ring, Gail and Jillian ‘hit it off’, you could say, with Jillian launching Gail into the turnbuckle, Gail moves out of the way and Jillian eats ring post. Beth attacks next, but Gail manages to fight back and has Beth against the ropes, she falls out of the ring but manages to hold on thankfully for her. Beth teeters off the apron, I like this, it reminds me of those Royal Rumble matches when people are trying to eliminate the Big Show for example and the ‘big man’ kinda teases he’s about to fall. I guess Beth is our Diva equivalent of that.

Now it’s time for what I felt was some good work between Gail Kim and veteran, Jillian. They do a little exchange, which Gail gets the best of, tossing Jillian out of the ring but again — she hangs on this time. Gail tries to finish the job, but gets tossed out herself by Jillian before sliding back in through Jilly’s legs and almost going for a rollup, err… Anyway then she misses another crossbody but good news folks! She doesn’t knock herself loopy this time. Risky move going for it in the first place though, Gail. Jillian goes for a handspring elbow but meets Gail’s knees, Jillian stumbles to the canvas and crawls around like a retarded cat. Jillian grabs hold of Gail trying to throw her over the top rope, but Gail fights back, leading into a really awkward, awful looking hurricanrana that turned into a butt bump. I don’t even…

Did Michael Cole really just call Gail ‘dead weight’? Jillian tosses Gail over the top but in HBK-esque fashion, Gail skins the cat as they say [I don’t know why]. Another amazing observation from the amazing Michael Cole: “Jillian surprised that Gail’s still alive.” That is just… wow. Gail uses her legs to hit a legscissors on Jillian who falls out of the ring… finally! Unfortunately for Gail, Beth is still in this thing and with a stiff kick, eliminates Gail and takes the win!

Good battle royal, I felt. I enjoyed the work between Jillian and Gail minus a few glaring awkward moments.

This leads to…

Lucky Divas Champ, Mickie James gets to defend her gold on her 30th birthday against Beth Phoenix. These two have battled endless times over the other gold, the Women’s Champion, boring many a fan to tears at the same time. The question is, with a year passed and gold changed for pink-and-silver, could this match be anymore exciting than their work last year? I have always found their past matches slow, plodding and always looked forward to them finishing. This match was not one I was anticipating or expecting much from, perhaps the lowered expectations led to my enjoyment of the match. I really felt that they worked much better together this go around, though there were still some issues but overall, the work was there and much better than last year’s series of matches. I do still feel they have an awkward chemistry, there’s some stuff that works and other stuff that doesn’t in their matches and that was still very apparent a year later.

However, with more of an emphasis on story with Beth playing the powerhouse and Mickie playing the underdog, despite being the champion, it was easier to get into this bout.

In between her two matches, the Glamazon stayed true to what it means to be a ‘diva’… changing her attire. Costume changes aren’t just for Beyonce, y’know!

Mickie goes for a quick rollup almost immediately and then tries to ground Beth, who uses her strength and might, hoisting Mickie in the air. From the outset, the fans are well into this with “Let’s go Mickie” chants more audible than in recent memory. Beth picks up Mickie for a running powerslam into the corner, before laying in the boots and punches. And then it comes… That one move that makes everyone gasp collectively. Beth hits a low dropkick, which forces Mickie to meet the ringpost and Melanie to go ‘Ouch’. Happy birthday, homegirl!

Mickie does a great job of selling the move as Beth looks on, wanting to get even more of Mickie, almost like a predator eyeing it’s prey. Beth runs into Mickie, turning her inside-out almost, then hits a shoulder breaker into a pin attempt. The Glamazon grounds Mickie, with an armlock of sorts as Mickie wills herself back into the contest with the crowd firmly behind her. Mickie fights back with forearms and kicks. A few more exchanges before Mickie hits a nice dropkick to Beth’s knee, which cuts the Diva down & then hits another one to the face. She hits a headscissors on the Glamazon before going up top, but wait… Beth has her scouted and knocks her off the turnbuckle which lands Mickie on the outside. Beth then hurls Mickie into the barricade, then throws her back in and attempts a pin. The Glamazon is pissed as Mickie kicks out, hitting a vicious kick to Mickie. She then picks her up and throws her against the ropes, going for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, I think, but Mickie counters into a fantastic tornado DDT, sold to perfection by Beth Phoenix.

Mickie wins to retain the title! On her 30th birthday, I think that was Mickie’s best outing in years. It seemed like she put her heart and soul into every aspect of that match, selling Beth’s moves so well. Her facial expressions, the favouring of her shoulder, that was one of the better efforts that Mickie has put in, in such a long time. We argued whether Mickie had become complacent, well last night she showed that she still has that something that brought her to the top Diva status she’s at now. She just doesn’t show it very often. I don’t know if it was the fact it was her birthday, but it definitely seems like she made an extra effort last night in comparison to her usual fare. What that says about her being complacent, I’ll let you decide…

Very good match that worked to both Divas’ strengths. Still not sold on Beth vs Mickie as ‘entertainment value’, however.

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