Happy February everyone!
The snow has practically gone and finally, the doors to Monday Night Raw are open once more. The weather was frostier than a confined space with Ashley Massaro and Sunny in it last week, yet thankfully things have returned to normal and we can stop moaning about the cold weather and resume moaning about wrestling!
Divas on the docket tonight include Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Lana, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Paige, Renee Young and Stephanie McMahon as those nine feature in one match, the commentary desk, ringside and backstage segments galore! Let’s dive right into the action faster than a botched Titus O’Neil Royal Rumble elimination.
The Authority are out first in a segment that sees Steph and HHH goad Roman Reigns into putting his WrestleMania WWE Championship opportunity on the line at Fast Lane, against the winner of either Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins, who squared off later that night. Stephanie milked The Network (which costs just $9.99 per month) and she really got under the skin of Roman Reigns. Despite Roman clearly proving to me he deserves his shot, as everyone he eliminated he got rid of by himself, Stephanie got to him. She proceeded to guilt trip him into impressing his family and living up to the Samoan heritage. Great stuff from Steph, even if she did forget to mention the most iconic member of Roman’s family, Tamina Snuka. How rude Stephanie, how rude!
Next, we see a very full-of-themselves Hunter and Steph, who are laughing at how easy it was to wind Roman Reigns up. The pair also hype Triple H’s appearance on the Steve Austin podcast. A funny exchange here complete with a cringe-worthy kiss. It’s like seeing your Mum and Dad kiss. Cut it out you two!
John Cena is our next Diva in the spotlight, making a big deal out of the return of Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan. Yet another chance for us to remember that ‘you’ (aka Sting) got them their jobs back. Go Cena!
Thankfully, Saint Stephanie cuts the love fest off, and she tells a mouthy Ziggler to stop talking the talk and to walk the walk. All three are in tough matches tonight! Love, Stephanie.
It’s time for some managerial action now as both Naomi and Natalya accompany their respective male associates to the ring, seemingly to hype a potential tag team title match at Fast Lane. Apparently, during the prior commercial break, Natalya set up a double date for her and Tyson with Naomi and Jimmy. Not sure if this was filmed, or like that time Alicia Fox ‘quit’ on the app, it never happened!
Naomi jumps up and down a lot, Nattie looks like a sour puss a lot (see what I did there? She loves cats) and in the end, Cesaro gets an impressive win. Naomi is left upset at the end, yet she got to hold one of the championships through the entire match. It must be nice for her to at least hold a title for once in her career…
Our reasons for living (ok, maybe I’m taking the over-the-top praise for Stephanie too far now!) The Authority are seen again backstage next, this time with Seth Rollins. Rollins asks them if they legitimately see Daniel Bryan as a WrestleMania main even candidate? The happy couple laugh that claim off, simply saying that they have to ponder to the crowd a little, yet there is no way Daniel or Roman will make it to Mania. Aka, one of them definitely will!
Finally, match time is upon us as Paige is to take on Alicia Fox. Alicia is already in the ring as we see that Brie and Nikki are also on commentary. Brie is whatever yet Nikki looks absolutely amazing. Wow. Wow. Wow. Paige then makes her entrance to a really nice reaction before the bout gets underway.
The match starts aggressively as Paige and ‘Lic lock-up up so fiercely that they end up on the outside. Paige knees Alicia in the temple before sending her back into the ring. Out of nowhere, Paige then charges at the Bellas whilst roaring, which makes the twins definitely flinch! Nice to see that Paige’s comedic tendencies are still around now that she is back to being a face.
Back in the ring, Alicia goes for a small package. When that doesn’t work out for her, she decks Paige with a big boot, which works out a little better. Not well enough however as Paige kicks out. Following a chinlock, Alicia hits a beautiful Northern Lights suplex, yet my attention is on Nikki Bella, who is killing it on commentary. She is tearing Paige a new one! Very believable words from Nikki, who comes across as snobby and genuine at the same time. I’m liking this!
Sadly, there isn’t much more like, as Paige
no sells reverses a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and picks up the win!
Alicia attacks Paige after the match, allowing the Bellas to enter the ring and spray some form of tanning lotion onto Paige. Is that what fake tan looks like or was that just a really bad WWE prop?
Following the shenanigans over the Divas Championship, we next see the United States Champion, Rusev accompanied by the alluring Lana. Rusev’s match with Erick Rowan doesn’t get started as Rusev destroys him. Lana takes to the mic to introduce the ‘trailer’ for an upcoming blockbuster starring Rusev. It is Oscars season after all, which Lana points out.
The segment ends with the Russian flag getting caught in the machine used to lower it. The commentators act like John Cena had something to do with it, yet it was clearly a botch. Cena has had no interaction with Rusev all night. It’s like he doesn’t care. Why care about a stupid flag machine instead of standing up and showing ‘Hustle, Loyalty and Respect’. Daft cover-up from the announcers! As much as people love to hate Cena, he is a straight-up fighter; he wouldn’t be so petty to get a machine to malfunction. He’s not that clever – he only knows five moves!
Finally, Renee Young and her sexy haircut are seen interviewing Triple H at the closing moments of Raw. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of this. Try and find one though if you can – Renee looked hot!
Thoughts: As I always like to kick off my thoughts with something good to say, let’s start with the positives.
The match between Paige and Alicia was solid and once again, the pair showed that their real life chemistry really translates into their matches. This match was as fluid as running water, yet at the same time, as sharp as a razor’s edge. The collar-and-elbow tie-up to the outside was nice, as was Alicia’s powerhouse big boot.
The aftermath was also a positive. In the grand scheme of things if we look back in Diva history, this moment is pretty bland. However, compared to recent months, this was a step in the right direction. Paige and Nikki didn’t just have a staredown and that was that. WWE actually gave the girls something to do, with the three heels ganging up on Paige and trying to humiliate her. Although clichéd and seemingly rushed, I liked it. WWE, you took a story from a 2/10 in terms of how personal the feud is to about a 3/10, so I have to give you props for that. Let’s hope we can see more clear examples of fun storytelling in the run up to WrestleMania. I’m calling you out HHH; you said in the podcast with Stone Cold that you want the Divas to have more screen time. Don’t wait until Vince has gone – persuade him now and do it quickly!
We’re now going into unfamiliar territory, three positives in one small segment. I’m in a good mood today. Nikki Bella was so good on commentary. Brie was basic (practically her only dialogue was along the lines of “I agree Nikki”) yet I loved Nikki’s performance. The way she exposed Paige as wanting to be an Anti-Diva yet still coming out wearing make-up, etc was a really neat way for a heel to act. She was basically calling Paige a phony and being just the rest of the Divas. It cemented her stance as a veteran too. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, yet Nikki’s mic work replicated the way she looked last night – great! She even went along with some awful reference to Twitter hashtags from JBL and thought on her feet. Ok, I’m going to stop brown-nosing Nikki now.
As always, Stephanie McMahon finds herself in the positives category yet again this week. I thought she looked really nice and her mic work was way better than nice. She is an A+ player when she works that microphone. She rarely puts a foot wrong in her entire performance. The sarcastic narcissism was at an all-time high (her and Trips love tooting their own horns!) and I was here for every second, especially the first backstage segment where they were making fun of Roman Reigns.
What I didn’t like? The match time is obviously a major issue. Just over one minute? Come on. According to HHH on the Austin podcast, the third hour of Raw is hard to write. Here’s an idea: add 10 minutes of that ‘hard-to-write time’ to a Divas match. I’m sure the girls would be happy to write a good story within a match that is given time! SO much hypocrisy. And don’t even get me started on what he was spouting in regards to Chyna. She’s not in the Hall of Fame as Stephanie can’t stand her, not Chyna’s personal choices. If Mike Tyson and Sunny can get in the Hall of Fame, then so can Chyna. Ok, I guess I did get started with that rant!
Raw was once again a mediocre episode. The match we got was short, and whilst we had an abundance of Diva appearances, nothing was exciting or ground-breaking. It was ‘middle-of-the-road’ as the old saying goes, when we should be speeding towards Fast Lane. Stick your foot on the accelerator WWE!