Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Raw Redux (July 2nd, 2012): AJ Continues to Defy Diva Odds, Plus Eve Returns and Queen Diva Vickie Competes!

Good afternoon to you. Yes, you, the person reading this right now. How was your morning? Great? Not so great? I’m happy for you, or very sorry. How am I, you ask? Well, I am in the best of moods today. No, not just because True Blood got renewed for another season, but mostly because of last night’s episode of Raw. If you know me, you know I, for the most part, am not a huge fan of Raw. I have been as of late though, ever since my own personal “Raw is AJ” movement began, but I have too many bad memories of rushed tag team matches and minute long battle royals clouding my judgement. Last night though, all of that changed. Those years of pain and agony have finally begun to pay off, as of course, Raw is AJ continues on. This week though, there’s more to the story than just AJ… because Tyson Kidd defeated Tensai! Okay, I had to at least mention that because it completely made my night (along with the other things we’re going to discuss below) and I couldn’t review it due to no Diva taking part even if I wanted to try and somehow attach it to “And hey, if you NXT fans want to know what Natalya‘s friend Tyson is up to…” Magical.

This week, we are treated to a mixed tag team match pitting Dolph Ziggler and Queen Diva, Vickie Guerrero against World Champion, Sheamus and AJ! So in the span of a month, AJ has now teamed with both the World and WWE Champions on Raw… brilliance at its finest. On top of that, Eve Torres makes her grand return to Raw in a backstage segment, Naomi & Cameron give us some brief dancing, Stephanie McMahon tells us her favorite Raw moment in history and we receive perhaps the greatest ending to an episode of Raw since… well, whenever the last time was that I said that.

Before we kick things off with Raw is AJ though, let me take you on a brief journey through a few smaller tidbits from Raw involving the females… First up:

Skip to 05:48

Lime green has never looked so good! The match was sort of a cluster you-know-what, but we got our Funkadactyl fix so you know what? I’ll take it!

Stephanie McMahon and chicken in the same segment? It’s like this masterpiece of a video was created by me.

Okay, now let’s get started with Raw is AJ before she chews us all up and spits us out like some sort of flower arrangement. (Don’t worry, you’ll understand this soon.)

We begin tonight’s adventures with an up close shot of a taped wrist containing a red X on said tape. I, like many others, believe this is the wrist of WWE Champion, CM Punk, but as the camera pulls back focus, we spy a few blue and black bracelets, a slender stomach, and long flowing hair which can only mean one thing… Raw… is… AJ! Approaching AJ from behind is none other than her ex, Daniel Bryan, who amazingly steals a rose from a nearby flower arrangement behind her back and presents it to her as if he picked it himself. (Side note: This is the first time I’m realizing him snatch the rose from the arrangement so I’m even more blown away at the small details of excellence.)

Daniel walks up to her and confesses that he has always cared about her. The frustration he felt was just on himself, and he simply didn’t know how to react to it. Daniel then selects AJ to have his final rose in true Bachelor form, and AJ seems taken aback by the whole thing! She calls the notion sweet, before sarcastically turning it around and claiming that this can’t have anything to do with the fact she was named special guest referee for his title match at Money in the Bank, right, Daniel?! Bryan denies the accusation, as AJ plops up and comes to the realization that he doesn’t care about her, nor has he ever! She simply can’t wait to win her match tonight and run into the arms of the man the WWE Universe sees as her soul mate, which are AJ’s last words before viciously biting off the entire top of the rose, spitting it on the ground and walking off with a purpose! (And here I didn’t think anyone could make biting flowers look good, but AJ has proved me wrong.)

A match graphic flashes upon the screen to let us know that up next, we will see a mixed tag match pitting Dolph and Vickie against Sheamus and AJ! Given that mixed tags are some of my favorite matches, I could not be more thrilled at this! After a commercial, the words “EXCUSE ME” grace our ears. Vickie instructs us to welcome the most captivating, irresistible, and charismatic Diva to ever grace the grand stage of WWE… herself, Queen Diva, Vickie Guerrero! Vickie walks out to boos, before introducing her partner for tonight, Dolph Ziggler! The two gear clad competitors step into the ring, before they are cut off by the theme of Mini-Queen Diva, AJ! Shooting stars begin to light up the sky, as our unbalanced rose biter stands at ringside while we get a recap of last Friday’s SmackDown in which it was determined AJ will be the special guest referee for the WWE Title match at Money in the Bank.

Back to ringside, a perky AJ smiles at the decision, as her Irish partner, Sheamus steps out from the back and joins the Mini Queen in the ring. Before the bell sounds, Vickie shoves AJ back, which sparks AJ to begin going psycho until Sheamus is forced to restrain her. The bell sounds as Sheamus and Dolph lock up! Dolph applies a waistlock, before Sheamus reverses and takes him down. The Show Off fights out and administers a headlock, but Sheamus hoists him into the corner. An elbow and a dropkick takes Sheamus down, as Dolph starts to work over the arm. Dolph with a kick to Sheamus, but Sheamus ultimately takes control by lifting him up into the air and dropping him face first into the canvas. A forearm to the face gets a nearfall, as Dolph then takes control with a few sharp kicks. Ziggler scores with a huge DDT for a two count, before transitioning into a sleeper hold.

The World Heavyweight Champ ultimately fights out and hits a nasty forearm to Ziggler’s face. Sheamus signals for the end with the White Noise, but as he sets up for the Brogue Kick, Dolph dodges out of harms way and tags in Queen Diva Vickie! Vickie seems hesitant to step inside the ring, but Sheamus eliminates Dolph from the equation with a Brogue Kick after all! AJ is all business as she sneaks up from behind, spins Vickie around, kicks her in the midsection and hits the Shining Wizard! One… Two… Three! AJ and Sheamus are victorious in the mixed tag bout! As Justin Roberts tries to announce the winners, AJ snatches the microphone from him and leads the crowd in a “Yes” chant while skipping all the way to the back on her merry way.

Once the match is over, we head backstage to see AJ skipping along chanting “Yes” and asking for CM Punk. Finally, she locates him, but he’s busy on the phone. He tries to tell her to wait, but she questions who he’s talking to. Again, the champion tells Mini Queen Diva to wait her turn, but this does not stop her from reiterating her question in a more serious tone. Punk does not seem pleased with her constant interruptions, calling it personal and hanging up the phone. She gleefully asks what he thought of her match, but he stops her right there and informs her that he was on the phone with his infamous sister. AJ again wants to know what he thought of her match, as CM Punk asks, “what match?” Uh oh… He claims he was on the phone for the past fifteen minutes, as Mini Queen Diva becomes The Clingy Girlfriend, getting upset with him for being on the phone instead of watching her match. Like a sad little puppy, AJ lets out a whimpering, “So you weren’t paying attention to me?” before depressingly walking off to a clueless CM Punk.

We head backstage once again, to see GM for the night, Teddy Long wandering the halls. He bumps into someone, but their identity is shielded from us at the moment. Teddy claims he heard rumors that they would be back tonight, before the camera shifts view and we discover it’s none other than Eve Torres… and Eve’s glasses! Eve gives a suck-up-ish introduction to Teddy now that she’s out of a job since John Laurinaitis was fired. Long tells her to save the drama for her mama, because he has a present for her so that the people will remember who she is in regards to her absence over the past few weeks. With that, T-Lo pulls out a huge name tag, like the one Eve always took great pleasure in forcing him to wear. Miss Torres cannot believe this tomfoolery, as she proceeds to rip up the name tag and toss it to the ground.

From there, Eve walks down the hall until she bumps into… AJ! She commends AJ on “keeping herself busy” during Eve’s absence, but also notes that AJ seems to be taking a play out of her book by getting herself involved with top tier Superstars. Miss Torres lets AJ know that she should probably leave the mind games to the grown ups, and she can go do what little girls love to do, which is sit in a corner and cry her little eyes out. Eve attempts to walk away with the last laugh, but oh no, AJ chimes back in asking Eve if she’ll do anything whatsoever to get attention these days. Miss Torres spins back around to the situation, as AJ questions who she’s going to brown nose now that John Laurinaitis is gone? Eve wants to be in charge? She wants to be a movie star? Try reality shows? AJ claims Eve will do anything to get attention… but the thing is, Eve doesn’t succeed in keeping the attention. AJ lets Eve know that she’ll show her how to actually get attention around here… in fact, she’ll show ALL of us how to get it. Chills! What will AJ do next?

In the midst of our main event featuring John Cena and CM Punk against Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho, Cena and Y2J battle to the back leaving us with Punk and Bryan. Punk takes Daniel down with a Superplex off the top rope and goes for the pin, but Daniel kicks out and we suddenly hear those chipper female words… Let’s light it up! AJ comes skipping down the ramp and around the ring again, only this time, the men in the ring don’t stop fighting to pay attention to her. This seems to perplex AJ, who wants their attention and she wants it now. AJ climbs up onto the ring apron, but Daniel and Punk just continue to wrestle each other. They collide with a crossbody to each other, as AJ starts walking around the ring and looking under the skirt!

Finally, she pulls out a… TABLE? Is this really happening? AJ assembles the table and puts it into position, as she now begins ascending to the top rope. It looks like she plans to sacrifice herself in order to get everyone’s attention! Don’t do it, Mini Queen Diva! Please think of the storylines you give us each week. We need you here, not hurt. Thankfully, Daniel Bryan slides outside and screams for AJ to stop herself from jumping. This doesn’t seem to phase her… but suddenly, CM Punk climbs onto the second rope and grabs onto her for dear life, pleading with her to stop. AJ looks at him and then proceeds to make out with him on top of the turnbuckle! Punk seems to be in a state of shock, but the warped, brilliant mind of AJ then pushes him off the ropes, as he collides into Daniel and both men go through the table! Yes, please read that again because it took me about ten re-watches to fully grasp that AJ Lee from NXT Season 3 just put CM Punk and Daniel Bryan through a table. With that, AJ begins q
a “YES” chant, as both men are down and out. She stands tall and fully in control as Raw comes to a close with my favorite ending of all time! Episode 997, you sir or madam, will go down in history.

Thoughts: Wow… I honestly have no words for how incredible this edition of Raw was. It seems like we’re finally getting rewarded for all of those years we had to settle for random tag matches that barely lasted a minute and did nothing to advance a storyline. AJ is not only the top Diva in the company, I’d go as far as to say she’s one of the top stars period. When was the last time a Diva closed Raw? And on top of that, she was the one who was standing tall, not being taken out on a stretcher or just standing by doing nothing. Every time someone gets signed, you kind of play fantasy booker on what you would do with them on TV, and for the most part none of it even comes close to being true. But AJ is being given so much right now and it’s surreal to see a female in such a high profile role. The storyline has its detractors, as does AJ, I’m sure, but that comes with anyone who is in the spotlight. If everyone in the world had the same opinion, it’d be a boring place to live! Personally, I’m thrilled for AJ. We all know it’s been her dream to be a Diva, but I don’t know if even she thought she would reach this level. I guess that’s kind of why I’m even more invested into the story, because it’s involving someone whose background we know about. (Thanks to a little show called *cough* NXT!) We know AJ has worked her entire life to get here, that her dad couldn’t afford great seats for WrestleMania 20 (my personal favorite Mania, so even more bonus points to her), that she starved herself to pay the $1000 tryout fee for FCW with no guarantees of even getting signed, and we know she used to make herself in video games using Lita‘s music and Hardcore Holly’s titantron… Okay, well, I know that thanks to Twitter, but you get the picture!

I’m kind of babbling because I can’t find the right words to describe how insanely amazing all of her segments were this week. It still feels weird to think this is actually happening on TV, and not in someone’s WWE ’12 game! I mean think back, even a year ago… AJ was wrestling sporadically on Superstars or SmackDown, just about to head off to NXT for a romance angle involving Hornswoggle (that would also mark the return of our now dearly departed, Maxine, who I will speak more about in this week’s NXT Watch. #cheapplug.) A year later, she’s throwing CM Punk and Daniel Bryan through a table, closing Raw, actually speaking, starring in commercials, on pay per view posters, and is being praised by numerous different people. It’s unbelievable!

As far as the other bits of the show, I absolutely loved her segment with Eve. Both women delivered their lines perfectly, and I loved how AJ went from emotional to all in Eve’s face criticizing her of being an attention hog in the blink of an eye. We all finally know where Eve was at all this time, filming her reality show, and I thought the touch where Teddy gave her a name tag was brilliant. I’m not sure if this is leading to anything between the two, or if it was just to re-introduce Eve to viewers and continue to give AJ her awesome crazy segments, but frankly, I’m not bothered by whichever way it goes. Eve could be the challenger to Layla‘s title that she so desperately needs, and AJ is still going to have everything she’s doing now anyways so whatever happens works for me!

Also, Queen Diva Vickie Guerrero’s introduction was hilarious. I hope she makes this a weekly occurrence!

Overall though, Raw was my favorite episode by far in a long time, probably ever (and yes, I haven’t seen every episode, but I’m in the moment dang it!) I continue to be amazed seeing my favorites being spotlighted in such a way that I’m unfamiliar to, which is probably why I don’t really know how to put into words my reactions to these things. I’m so used to quaint little NXT and Superstars where I’m in my element with a roster of people I enjoy watching throughout the show. Raw is a completely different level, and seeing my favorite Diva and my favorite Superstar (Tyson Kidd) actually being utilized makes me happier than Cryssi would be if both Khal Christian and Lord Dolph were fighting for her hand in marriage… okay, maybe I can’t top that level of happiness, but I can sure come close! I guess to sum it up, Raw gets an A+ from me.

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