Thursday, November 30, 2023

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Raw Redux (July 30th, 2012): AJ Suits Up, Dancing Occurs, But Has Anyone Seen the Women’s Division?

Hola everyone… yes let out your groans that I am the one taking over the redux this week while your Khaleesi gets her Olympics on. Okay, now if you didn’t automatically X out, first of all thank you. Second of all, let’s get down to business! Last night brought my personal favorite, AJ, into her first evening as General Manager of Raw. She was a present force throughout the entire show from start to finish, and as you can imagine, this pleases me very much. Aside from AJ, we get Diva appearances from Queen Diva, Vickie GuerreroNaomi (One of my other favorites)… Cameron… and that’s well, it. I know there’s going to be some blood shed from angry fans already reading that there was no match or segment from anyone in the actual division, and yes I have my thoughts as well that I’ll be sharing later on, so let’s just get started, shall we?

Skip to 4:10

Justin Roberts tells us to welcome the new Raw GM.. AJ… LEE! A last name?! The peppy music of our GM hits and out she walks. Having suited up in pure Barney Stinson approved fashion, AJ announces that tonight’s main event will be Big Show vs. John Cena, with the winner of that match facing CM Punk for the WWE Title at Summerslam. How impactful AJ Lee, but if you’re going to be an authority role you need to get some glasses. Miss Tessmacher did it, Summer Rae did it, Eve did it. Don’t let me down AJ, okay?

Backstage, Daniel Bryan storms into the office of AJ Lee and… wait a second, are those glasses AJ? Nooo, don’t remove them. You were so close Miss Lee, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction. She sets her laptop down and plops up to attempt shaking hands with her ex. He begins to go off on her, but she instructs him to shut up! AJ informs him that she’s now his boss, and last week she saw those white coated men last week. She then comes to the conclusion that he just wanted to marry her so that he could have her legally committed. Bryan tries to state that they were just his groomsmen, and AJ shrugs it off. She decides to book him in a match tonight against Sheamus, and when asked if the World Title will be on the line, our dear Miss Lee brilliantly says no… No! No! No! No! No!

Skip to 1:45

In the midst of a Daniel Bryan takeover in which he refuses to leave the ring and then proceeds to punt Little Jimmy in true Snitsky/Baby Doll fashion, the white orderlies come out and go for what we believe is crazy uncle R-Truth. Just then, the peppy upbeat theme of Miss Lee hits and out she comes yet again! She instructs the gentlemen that they have the wrong person, before turning their attention to Daniel Bryan, also now known as “that little guy in the ring”. AJ feels that Daniel seems a little mentally unstable tonight, and that does not bode well for this being a safe working environment. Miss Lee decides to grant Daniel a psychiatric evaluation, as the orderlies escort Daniel out of the ring! He eventually meets face to face with his ex on the stage, and while she makes kissy faces at him in pure taunt mode, there’s nothing he can do aside from being taken to the back for his evaluation!

As John Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment, CM Punk runs into the ring and takes both men down with a shot to the back using his title. Following an added kick to the head of Big Show, It seems no man has won the right to face him at Summerslam. Punk takes the mic and calls them both losers, but as he walks up the ramp, here comes the Queen Bee of the WWE, Miss Lee (say that five times fast). She lets the crowd know that CM Punk is incorrect with that assessment. She’s decided that since neither man pinned the other, they are both going to face CM Punk at Summerslam in a triple threat match! Punk comes back out and gets in the face of our mini queen, calling her a bad GM and asking if she’s crazy. AJ stands back up to him and taunts him with the title of being his boss now. He demands to be shown respect, and AJ simply smiles in his face to close the show for the third time!

Also, catch Naomi, Cameron, and the Queen Diva, Vickie Guerrero (who clearly did not master the Elaine dance from her rookie, Kaitlyn) in the following segment below:

Thoughts: Okay, I’ve definitely got a lot to say here despite having little to actually talk about. As far as our pint sized shining beacon of glimmering hope for females in WWE, AJ Lee goes, I absolutely loved her as GM tonight. In fact that’s an understatement of how much I enjoyed her segments. Her acting/facials have improved so drastically since her WSU days, hell even her FCW ones. They’re incredible now, and she can perform both in backstage segments, but also in front of a live crowd which is a quality you must have for this role. She’s pretty much the first female who isn’t strictly an authority figure taking on the GM position so I was kind of concerned with whether or not she could be believable in the character, but if tonight is any indication, I’m all for it. She exuded confidence and didn’t back down to anyone, whether they’re the WWE Champion or even her ex. She was present throughout the entire show and really made herself feel like an actual General Manager i.e. she didn’t just seem like an afterthought who had to be brought into random segments to make matches like when Zack Ryder ran SmackDown that one week. The suit… also a tremendous touch. And I loved that she closed the show standing up to CM Punk as well. Now just get some permanent glasses and we’ve got ourselves a star!

Now, onto the other things we should discuss… the lack of Divas. Let me first start off by saying I’m honestly not as offended as most people. I guess I see things differently because my favorite Diva is actually getting to do more on TV than pretty much any female has since Trish or Lita so I feel like I owe WWE my life for investing so much into her and don’t want to criticize them when they’re putting her in such a high profile role. That, and I also enjoy watching a lot of the mens segments as well so I was entertained by various other non-Diva bits (cough TYSON cough DAMIEN). People always say if you just want to see women wrestle, you should probably check out a lot of the independents going on and I agree with that. I watch WWE because like any TV show, I want to be entertained by the stories and characters, male or female, and I try not to take it that seriously in terms of over-analyzing the segments and stuff. I would rather just be a fan and enjoy what happens along the way. If something bad happens, oh well… things can only go up. If something good happens (like AJ) then I’m beyond thrilled and continue supporting them.

But that also doesn’t mean I think it’s really fair to simply ignore the entire female and midcard divisions like they’ve been doing as of late. People wonder why the crowds are dead silent when they’re thrown onto a Pay Per View? Who on Earth has been given a reason to care about almost any Diva? AJ can get a crowd behind her because she was given an opportunity to do so. Eve, even after being off TV for a month straight, can still get chants when she’s simply in a ring. Granted, they call her a hoeski, but that’s still better than getting no reaction at all. She was given some spotlight earlier this year, and thus people actually react to her. Lita… Stephanie… they were there in a time when women were given opportunities almost weekly, and because of that they can be off screen for years and come back to a better reception than most of today’s current performers.

One of my biggest wrestling pet peeves with any female division, not even just the Divas but the Knockouts as well, is that I can’t connect to anyone when it’s just a revolving door of feuds between a champion and someone who wants their belt. I want a reason to get invested. I want a storyline like when Mickie James played mind games with Trish Stratus from October to April, or when underdog, never say die champion, Gail Kim was written off from ever beating the mysterious monster known as Awesome Kong. I don’t want to see a contender determined by a random match they win… although now that’d probably be like hitting the lottery when it comes to the Divas. The reason I was so into both Daniel Bryan/CM Punk/Kane at No Way Out and Daniel/Punk at Money in the Bank was because that was a feud built on so many different levels than just someone wanting to be Champion. That’s also why I feel Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio paled in comparison. People say that Punk/Bryan stole the show at MITB. Yes, they can put on a classic in the ring like it’s no one’s business, but part of that also stems from the fact that I, as a fan, was so invested in seeing what was going to happen. Would Punk retain? Would Daniel win? Who was AJ going to side with? It was incredible, and a large part of what I love to see in wrestling.

I know I revert back to it a lot, but NXT Redemption also created storylines for majority of it’s cast that put Raw and SmackDown to shame at the time it was airing. I cared more about Kaitlyn and Maxine‘s feud than I did whoever the Divas of Doom would face, and that’s not to the fault of Beth or Natalya, but they never got to really make me invested in their group beyond trying their hardest to through various forms of social media. And I don’t mean any of this to come off as complaining because that’s the stigma the wrestling fans who utilize the Internet seem to have, and I too get annoyed at times when people over-analyze things instead of simply enjoying them, but I just feel like all of these thoughts are what majority of the people who read this will be thinking, so they should be said. And since nobody gets a voice to say it on TV, why not do it here?

A lot of people think the problem is that the Divas aren’t given enough time, and yes that is a huge factor. But honestly I feel that more of the problem is that too many feuds are just built around a challenger and a champion… nothing more. Give us reasons to care. I don’t even care if it’s a crazy, unbelievable storyline as long as it gets me invested into a program. Too much of Raw was spent delving on recaps of the main event talent (in fact I think we even saw the same recap four times tonight). We can’t live in the past forever, and eventually newer talent are going to need to be given an opportunity to shine. Those minutes spent recapping could be spent establishing Superstars and Divas to take WWE into the future. You can’t just remove the females or other male talents from a show each week because Triple H and Brock Lesnar need to have 30 minutes spent recapping the same segment four times and then bring the shafted talent out at a random moment and blame said person when a crowd doesn’t make a sound for them.

Put people into more personal storylines beyond just “I want your title, so let’s constantly have stare off’s”, and maybe you’d be surprised at just who could get a response. Why not have Layla in a backstage segment talking to Alicia or someone, and then have Eve approach them and make fun of Layla for being an afterthought champion like she did CM Punk? Have her claim that while Layla was sitting on the sidelines dusting her belt off, Eve was main eventing Raw and off getting the opportunities on other shows that WWE didn’t even feel their own Divas Champion deserved. That alone is enough to make me care about a Layla/Eve feud more than Layla sitting on commentary watching Eve beat Alicia in 22 seconds with a roll up, then engaging in a stare off while Cole and Lawler promote some beef sandwich that sponsors the company and take two bites during the entire segment while commentating with their mouths full of slop. But alas, I don’t know really what else I can say that I haven’t said already so let’s hope next week is better for the women not named AJ, but that AJ continues to do amazing work as well. Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on the situations going down!

… Oh and dang it, put Naomi and Cameron in the division! (But I’m still happy they are two of the sole four women who make Raw weekly!)

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