Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Raw Redux (January 19th, 2015): Stephanie Gets Royally Rumbled by Sting

Glad tidings loyal subjects and I bid you a fond welcome to this week’s exquisite Raw Redux. I’m getting into the spirit of the Royal Rumble and decided to try and give a (William) regal twist to the proceedings for the introduction. Has it gotten annoying already, a bit like Brie Bella yapping “Come on Nikki” at ringside? Ok then, I’ll stop.

Whilst we got our Divas match for the Royal Rumble announced on Raw, sadly, we only got one Divas match to go alongside that blockbuster announcement. The “frenemy” team of Natalya and Paige marched into battle to go against another unlikely team of Alicia Fox and Summer Rae. Alicia Fox flicks between face and heel like a light switch and it appears her aura has spread to Summer, who acted as a face on Superstars. Thankfully, I’m just glad she didn’t stay as a face. She is a total bitch in the most positive sense of the words and that is why we love her!

The opening segment plays host to our first Diva of the evening – you guessed it, it’s Stephenomenal McMagestic! She and HHH interrupt Brock Lesnar of all people on the mic, and thank god they did. The fact Brock kept ending every sentence with the word “baby” was really unnverving, baby.

Sadly, the official video WWE provided was the only one I could find and it didn’t really showcase Stephanie much. She looked fantastic though, I thought. You know what Stephanie was normally like? Snarky, sarcastic and condescending? She was all kinds of that in this segment too. She verbally laid into John Cena and it was excellent.

The next segment of the night involved Renee Young and her bob(?) haircut. I’m bad with haircuts so I’m sure you readers who are savvy regarding weaves and the like can help me. Renee interviewed John Cena and it was nice to see her. Sadly, I hope you watched the show live as I can’t find a video of this moment, so although it was nice that I saw her, you can’t. Sorry. After seeing last week’s Superstars without her though, I hope she is not off that show. She didn’t feature on Raw last week though either, so perhaps she was absent for the entire day and will be back for this week’s show.

We lock eyes on Stephanie again now as she and Hunter announce John Cena’s three opponents for his match later on. There’s a weird drum rolling joke going on, and although massively random, it was kind of funny. It’s good to see The Authority in both comedic and serious roles.

“You’re like, seriously the worst drummer ever.”

It is now time for our sole match of the night and all entrances have been cut for the second week in a row. All for some dumb segment with trumpet blowing. I’m all for blowing my own trumpet yet I’m not here to see someone else blowing another one. And actually, I liked the drumming part.

The segment kicks off with The Bella Twins chatting to the announce team as they’ll be providing guest commentary. Nikki is happy to see JBL in a t-shirt. I’m happy to see Nikki in just about anything quite frankly as she is looking hot! Brie of course, has got her best flannel on. I’ll no longer describe Brie as the ‘hippy’ Bella, but rather the Lumbersexual one.

Paige and Summer start the match and Paige fakes-out a collar-and-elbow tie-up. She then knees Summer in the gut and quickly tags in Natalya. The pair hit a wristlock snapmare and then Natalya runs over Summer’s back and hits a dropkick. Nikki gives me life on commentary as she bluntly and very rightly says that Paige turns her back on all of her friends whilst Natalya only has cats for friends. Everyone was thinking it and Nikki said it. I like that!

Natalya tags Summer in again and I am really enjoying the quick tag team action between the two. Just as I say that, the prankster and the prude slow things down with a stunning stalling suplex. Paige doesn’t go for a cover though, as she instead opts for a seductive scrawl followed by some headbutts. After a third momentous headbutt, Paige tags Nattie back in, and the Dungeon Diva hits a low dropkick. She then kicks Summer in the chest when they are back to a vertical base. Natalya looks to be in prime position to perhaps hit a discus clothesline, yet Alicia temporarily distracts her, leading to Summer whacking Nat with a sharp spin kick to the mush.

Although it managed to finish off Cameron last week on Superstars, Cameron is no Nattie and Tal kicks out. Alicia is then tagged in and she gets her first chance to inflict some volatile punishment. She hits Natalya with a barrage of knee strikes and then she utilises one of her trump cards, the beautiful Northern Lights suplex. The move bags her a near fall, yet Alicia powers on through. She hits a scoop slam to set up her next assault, a flip leg drop. Although a nice idea, Natalya dodges the move and Alicia’s throwback plan backfires. I say throwback as I’ve not seen Alicia go for that move in years; a lush move I loved seeing again. Even if she did miss it!

After using her speed to her advantage, Natalya tags in Paige and I become blown away by the chemistry on show between the two girls scrapping in the ring. Paige whacks Alicia around with a trifecta of connected clotheslines and then she follows those blows up with a sleek one-legged dropkick. Paige then ducks potential offence from Alicia and she decks her with a signature Doc Marten boot to the bracket! Summer broke up the pin that followed afterwards, but Natalya handles the Rae of Sunshine and dumps her in a major way outside the ring. Natalya then shoves Alicia into another Paige kick to the face. This sets up Alicia’s bipolar bad-self to get locked into the PTO to allow Prankster and Prude to get the win!

Our penultimate appearance comes courtesy of Lana, who doesn’t get any promo time this week. Sadly, it’s all about her man Rusev this week as she heads into the Royal Rumble unstoppable. Let’s not forget how he debuted in it last year when still a part of NXT and lost…

Finally, we are treated to a third Stephanie sighting as she is at ringside for the main event, which is practically 7-on-1. Making his Raw debut to even the odds for Cena, Sting himself makes his prescence felt. The added red to his attire is giving me major Wolfpack Sting throwbacks, yet alas, this is not a Redux of WCW Thunder! Although Stephanie will have like thunder in just a moment!

Sting’s distraction costs Rollins the match, meaning Cena keeps his spot in the Royal Rumble title match and Erick Rowan, Ryback and Dolph Ziggler are rehired. That’s Paige sorted for chess matches, Lana sorted for someone to trash talk and the world sorted as one of the best wrestlers on the planet is back on TV – hell yes!

Thoughts: This week’s match was exactly the type of match the Divas need to be providing viewers each and every week. Whilst it was short, I was thoroughly entertained. Whilst I’d rather see longer matches, if the shorter matches are of this calibre, then I won’t mind as much!

A first note: there were no rest holds in sight. HALLELUJAH! A match this short shouldn’t have rest holds in as quite frankly, no-one should need to have a rest. And in this match, everyone was all guns blazing and these girls killed it, especially Alicia and Paige. The aforementioned girls had absolutely phenomenal chemistry in the ring and their interaction towards the end of the match was so fast-paced and had me on the edge of my seat.

Summer and Natalya also performed well, and both showcased their selling techniques impeccably. I especially loved when Natalya threw Summer out of the ring; Natalya didn’t give a crap about Summer, which showed in the ferocity of the throw.

Overall, this was a solid match considering the time frame. There were no bland chinlocks in sight and everyone made sure they crammed all that they could into the match to show themselves to the best of their ability.

In addition to the match, The Bellas provided some decent commentary too. The Bellas have a lot of detractors for both their in-ring and mic work, yet they performed competently last night. Nikki was the stronger of the two in my opinion, yet that is because she has charisma as a heel unlike Brie. I desperately want Brie to turn back face as I am not buying her as a heel at all. I realise that this paragraph started as a positive and whilst I thought Brie did well considering her lack of persona direction, Nikki had the edge for me.

I can’t talk about positives without mentioning Stephanie! I am so glad she is back on WWE TV. Her face when Sting ruined everything was absolutely fantastic. I need a tshirt with that printed on it!

And now onto the negatives. I really hate this part of the Redux… just kidding. This is obviously my favourite part. Anyway, my main gripe this week was the lack of direction for Naomi and the presumed dropping of her storyline/feud with Alicia. I understand that it is Royal Rumble go-home week, and with so many male feuds embroiled in the Rumble match, I understand and appreciate the fact we only got one match tonight to spotlight so many of the men. I also appreciate that WWE only have so many girls, hence why Alicia was put in the tag match instead of anything extra with Naomi. With AJ and Layla M.I.A and Eva having breasticle issues, I get that. It is just a shame that we didn’t even get a short segment.

Before I go, I’d also like to address the match made for the Royal Rumble. On Sunday, It will be Natalya and Paige taking on Brie and Nikki Bella in a tag tea match. Whilst a fatal-4-way title match would have been more interesting to me, I do find it refreshing that we were given a regular tag team match. I know many people will bash WWE and say that a match like this will just make the pay-per-view seem like a glorified episode of Raw and nothing special, yet I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. With the booking decision being out of left field, and with Tyson Kidd confirmed to be at ringside, I am actually really interested to see what goes down. With both Paige and Natalya staking claims to be the rightful #1 contender, perhaps whoever can get the win for their team (should they win) can claim to be the next in line for a chance to net the butterfly.

I have the day off work next Monday which means I can stay up and watch the Royal Rumble as it happens. I’ll be live tweeting the action, so if you would like, follow me on Twitter (@Jack5326) and I’d love to talk some wrasslin’. Until then, I hope everyone has a fantastic week!

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