Sunday, August 14, 2022

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Raw Redux (February 8th, 2016): An Emotional Rollercoaster for Brie Bella


If you thought Brie Bella‘s summer of hell courtesy of Stephanie McMahon back in 2014 was an emotional time for her, it was nothing compared to the highs and lows of last night’s Monday Night Raw. A title shot announcement was certainly a high point, but dealing with her husband’s retirement, preluding a potential exit for Brie will have made for tough thinking. Whilst the crowd were euphoric for Brie’s man, Raw was certainly a bittersweet evening for the Danielsons.

Raw began with a Stephanie McMahon appearance, as she hyped the Fastlane Triple Threat main event:

The crowd were going crazy for Daniel Bryan, so Stephanie decided to throw some major shade. She said that the fans were confused; the winner of the Fastlane main event won’t face Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, they’ll be facing Triple H. *awkward turtle*

Our next sighting is our first Divas match later in the first hour. In an unprecedented occurrence that never happens ever, we we were treated to a rematch from SmackDown:

Even Jessica Fletcher wouldn’t have saw that coming. Sarcasm over, our inaugural match pits Alicia Fox against WWE Divas Champion, Charlotte. During Charlotte’ entrance, it is revealed that she will defend her title at Fastlane against Brie Bella. Not only is Brie’s sister injured, but her husband has retired too. Not to mention her mother is in a relationship with John Laurinaitis. Three strands of sympathy right there!

Alicia gets my sympathy in the early going of the match, as she gets headlocked and dropkicked. Foxy and Woolotte are even after a second exchange before gets the best of a third exchange, taking Charlotte down with a dropkick. A near fall follows after a northern lights suplex but that ends Alicia’s offense for the time being. Charlotte hits a neckbreaker from out of the corner, and although Alicia nearly fights back after a sunset flip, Charlotte keeps Foxy down with a clothesline.

Foxy is reintroduced to the mat over and over, as Charlotte blasts her face into the mat. After a brief rest hold, Charlotte mouths off at the crowd, toying with them after they demand to see Sasha. They have Charlotte and she makes sure they know it. Charlotte applies a lengthy figure four neck lock, sucking the life out of Alicia whilst ramming her face into the floor. Good combo.

Alicia eventually bridges up to break the pin, and manages to pick up a head of steam. She nails successive dropkicks and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker before screaming like a banshee. Craylicia is back! A nice reversal sequence takes place after a hangman’s neckbreaker from Charlotte, but it is the Champion who gets the best of the situation. A spear tramples Alicia, knocking the crazy and any other life out of her. A Figure 8 later and Alicia is forced to tap.

Our penultimate segment filled with Divas is the second last match of the episode, a singles bout between Becky Lynch and Tamina:

Sasha Banks is out on commentary too. During Becky’s entrance, it is announced that her and Sasha will be tackling Naomi and Tamina for a little longer than I expected, as the four will clash in a tag team match at Fastlane. That sounds good to me. What didn’t sound so good was the return of Tamina’s tribal entrance music. At least it is better than her old theme called “60 Second Man”. I don’t why it is called that either!

Tamina shows her strength early on until Becky bridges out of a pinning predicament and dropkicks the Pacific Diva. Becky hammers Tamina with forearms and later applies a sleeper hold complete with body scissors. Becky then hits a springboard kick, crashing Tamina onto her backside.

A distraction from Naomi leads Tamina to take advantage. She clocks Becky with a clothesline before ramming Becky’s skull into the mat. She chokes Becky next, allowing Naomi a chance to smack Becky in the face. Sasha seems to take exception to this on commentary, despite that being from her sleeve of tricks! Maybe she gives a damn about Becky after all?

Tamina doesn’t give a damn about Becky that’s for sure. She caves her face in again before clasping at Becky’s neck. Becky tries to change the pace, but Tamina dictates with a massive headbutt. Tamina then turns her attention to Sasha, starting to cause a bucket load of tension. Sasha mouths off, but doesn’t watch out for Naomi, who showcases another reason why I ask:

“WHY IS NAOMI NOT THE DIVAS CHAMPION?!”

Naomi beats the absolute daylights out of Sasha before ramming her into the steel steps. Becky then jumps outside and roughs Naomi up to even the odds. Unsure of whether to check on Sasha or get back to the business at hand, Becky chooses the latter. She was too late. Becky runs into a major superkick from Tamina and that’s all she wrote.

Finally, seconds before Raw comes to a close, Brie Bella joins her husband Daniel Bryan in the ring during his retirement speech:

Despite everyone shouting “NO! NO! NO!” at their smartphones and laptops when they found out the sad news broken earlier in the day, everyone ended Raw chanting “YES! YES! YES!” Thanks for the memories Daniel. I’ll never forget your love affair with Gail Kim WrestleMania title win!

In WWE Network and WWE.com exclusives, we were given a look at what went down before and after Daniel’s emotional speech:

Thoughts: I was so, so, so impressed with last night’s Raw in general, but especially our Divas. Aside from the Dudley Flops, I would say Raw was a pretty solid show.

Despite a lack of build towards Charlotte vs Brie, I am really excited for their match at Fastlane. And I definitely wasn’t last week. There are two reasons as to why I’m really looking forward to their clash now. The first is Charlotte. She played an absolutely fantastic heel last night. The crowd were chanting for Sasha but boy did Charlotte shoot them down! Her mannerisms and facial expressions were perhaps the best I have seen from her. Other than her scream after she does the spear, I am really liking Charlotte as a heel. Thank god WWE pulled the trigger on that.

The second reason I’m excited for Fastlane for the first time in my life is the unpredictability of Brie’s involvement. Now that we know Daniel is retiring, it makes even more sense for Brie to have one last chance at a championship before hanging up her Bella Buster. With so much talk about her leaving and starting a family, could Brie become the first woman to retire as the WWE Divas Champion? Trish has done it with the Women’s Title, and for Brie to do something similar, it would give her career a little something different for her to stand out from Nikki.

If Brie was to retire with the butterfly, WrestleMania would be massively unpredictable. The Road to WrestleMania could see a series of Mania qualifiers, leading to the NXT triple threat we have been expecting, or perhaps a six-pack challenge with more Divas in the hunt? Could we see Paige, Natalya and maybe even Bayley added into the mix? Could we see the Divas fight for a newly reintroduced WWE Women’s Title?

Speaking of more Divas, the segment promoting Team B.A.E vs Team B.A.D was excellent. Tamina and Becky showcased nice chemistry, with Tamina’s superkick looking vicious, mostly due to tremendous selling from Becky. The outside antics were what excited me the most though. Naomi was absolutely on fire! Those punches she decked Sasha with were everything and Sasha sold being thrown into the steps tremendously. It was all then topped off by a superb “Lass Plex” from Becky to Naomi. Superb stuff.

Whilst I fully expected Becky and Sasha to quickly overcome Naomi and Tamina, I am so glad WWE have gone in a different direction, billing Naomina as a serious threat. Whilst I definitely expect Becky and Sasha to win, it is cool to see that WWE haven’t thrown Sasha’s former Team B.A.D buddies to the curb. Via the main event match and the enormous win for Tamina last night, Naomina are looking good. And so they should. Team B.A.D were the longest reigning faction for a reason and deserve to be respected as such.

The chemistry between Bex and Banks was also nice to see, with Queen Bey… I mean Sasha being teased on commentary for potentially caring about her Fastlane partner, and with Becky torn as to whether to tend to Sasha outside, or go back and fight Tamina. Becky really is a phenomenal storyteller with her expressions. Nevermind a stunt double, Becky is a great actress! An actual story is being told here and I love it.

Who knew that I would be this excited for Fastlane?! Bring on that chequered flag – I can’t wait for it to be waved!

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