Sunday, December 3, 2023

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Raw Redux (July 6th, 2015): Lana and Paige Get Caught in Traps

Hey everyone! For the second week in a row, we were treated to a really fun match and a killer in-ring segment on Raw featuring the Divas. The downside? The storylines behind both are still kind of lacking. If I didn’t have any care for my laptop, I would want to shake the screen and scream “WHY IS EVERY ‘STORYLINE’ SO LACKLUSTER AND AT A SNAIL’S PACE”. Instead of venting my anger at my own computer, that’s what these Reduxes are for right?! We certainly enjoyed some smooth last night yet we also had to stomach a little of the rough. Let’s take a look.

WWE were being nice to us Diva fans this week and we got to see our match of the night quite early into the broadcast. Team Bella – consisting of Alicia Fox, Brie Bella and Divas Champion Nikki Bella are already in the ring as we see Paige make her entrance to a triumphant response. Lap those cheers up ‘Raya!

It is Brie who is going to face off against Paige, and after a recap of Paige’s win last week, the bout begins. Paige gets the best of the opening lock-up yet Brie is quick to take advantage and secure momentum for quite a while. She vaults Paige to the ring apron and then snaps her head back over the top rope.

We see Naomi and her pet cockatoo Tamina Snuka backstage watching the action on a monitor. Are WWE finally making this a little less about Team Paige vs Team Bella? Here’s hoping. Here’s hoping Tamina finds a comb too. Maybe she packed one for Japan and then misplaced it?

Brie now has Paige locked in quite the interesting submission that has her working over both Paige’s arm and neck. Interesting positioning that I’ve not seen before I don’t think. I like it! I also liked Brie’s clothesline that follows afterwards, a thwarting strike that shuts Paige down. Brie asks Paige where her friends are as she yanks her throat into the middle rope. Backing away after the submission, Brie hold the official’s attention so that Alicia can attack Paige a little. That roughing-up of Paige seemed to rile her up too, as she then avoids Brie’s running knee strike, and Brie ends up hitting Alicia and Nikki!

Paige rolls up Brie for a two count and is then another whisker away from the win after a running knee of her own. Undeterred by Brie’s kick-outs, Paige reacquaints Brie with her knees a little more before thumping her with some clotheslines. A thrust kick later and Paige is looking to set up the PTO, yet Brie powers out. Paige keeps the good luck rolling by avoiding Brie’s missile dropkick yet her luck soon fizzles out. Although the Tough Enough judge uses Brie as a battering ram into Nikki, the extra element of Alicia Fox is enough to distract Paige long enough. Paige turns around into a Bella Buster and Brie gets the win.

Adding insult to injury, Alicia decimates Paige with a Scissors Kick after the match and Nikki then hits the Rack Attack. Safe to say that Team Bella are heel. Well, for last night at least. Until they turn face again on SmackDown obviously.

Summer Rae is out next and she is rocking that body language. Rusev says that he was inspired by Summer on SmackDown and he calls her “always hot and submissive”. What a way with words. The crowd erupt with a “We Want Lana” chant as Rusev yells that he gives them Summer instead. Rusev then goes off on one, insulting the fans and Lana. He then says he is way better looking and more passionate than Dolph Ziggler. Okay, I definitely just threw up in my mouth. Summer sadly doesn’t get a lot of mic time yet she looks like she might get a lot of tongue time as her and Rusev seductively lock eyes. Thankfully, we don’t see yet another awkward WWE-style makeout session (yet) as Dolph and Lana interrupt.

Dolph says that Rusev’s brain must be as busted up as his ankle. Ziggs says that Rusev only got all of the opportunities that he did because Lana was creating all the chances. A bad thing and negative point about Lana surely, Dolph? He’s just thinking with his nether regions it seems. It appears I was right as he then turns to Lana and the pair snog each other’s faces off. Summer gets in their faces and it isn’t long before both girls have their heels off and are ready to throwdown!

Dolph breaks the girls up before fireworks can happen between them. With Dolph’s back turned, Summer signals the perfect time for Rusev to hit Dolph with his crutch. Rusev was faking the injury tonight and he and Summer had orchestrated the perfect trap. Summer kicks Lana and throws her out of the ring with ease as Dolph is also dismantled by Rusev, the latter not even breaking a sweat. Rusev crushes his crutch before potentially crushing Dolph’s throat. The Bulgarian Brute sandwiches the crutch between Dolph’s throat and the mat, creating devastating consequences. Rusev is fully healed, and he and Summer were fully in-charge.

On Raw Fallout, we saw Dolph being loaded into an ambulance with Lana by his side:

Thoughts: Despite being a little on the short side, I loved the match this week. Whilst a rest hold was present (why can’t the Divas take a page out of the Knockouts’ book?), Brie’s positioning made it look quite painful, and it was certainly more interesting that the bane of my life, the reverse chinlock. Alicia and Nikki’s dastardly tactics were fun and despite them being so close to Paige when Brie was going for her running knee, I did not see them getting hit at all. That was a really fun spot and of course, Alicia sold the hell out of it. She really is one of the best at selling, male or female.

I also enjoyed Paige’s comeback and subsequent inability to overcome the three-on-one odds for the second week in a row. The constant interference and audience reaction to that – like last week’s match – really made the finish more exciting and edge-of-your-seat.

WWE now need to stop teasing Naomi and Tamina’s involvement and have them jump from the outskirts into the centre of attention. They need to absolutely destroy Team Bella on SmackDown. So far, their role in the story has been as secondary characters who just refuse to be aligned with either party. They now need to come forward and show that they are a unit that should be aligned with. They need to give Divas the option to join their crusade.

Paige’s character comes across as a hypocrite by saying The Bellas have held her back yet there she is on the panel of Tough Enough and Team Bella are all for keeping the belt on Nikki, John Cena’s spoiled princess who supposedly has The Authority in her back pocket. Naomi and Tamina have both never held the Divas Championship and can represent a fresh change of pace for the division. What with Paige losing numerous times in the last few weeks, she is losing just as much as Naomi, so Naomi’s recent losses aren’t as detrimental as first thought.

If I was booking the storyline, I would have Naomi and Tamina influence maybe Cameron or Emma to join them, promising future title matches or something to make it worth their while. Of course, Paige, The Bellas and Naomina will only be looking after their selves here. Despite Paige wanting people to pick sides and Alicia siding with Brie and Nikki, the heads of each team are only looking out for themselves, and their followers are just pawns in their quest for glory.

On SmackDown this week, I would have Naomi cut a promo in the ring, putting forth her reasoning for why people shouldn’t be passing her by, they should be by her side. She can say some BS about representing a fresh face for the title picture and promise to #GiveDivasAChance, yet only after she can have her chance to shine. Then Tamina can beat Alicia in a match and the teams can scrap after the match with Naomi, Tamina and a new recruit to their ranks coming out on top.

As for Summer and Lana, I was pretty satisfied with their performances tonight. I still wish we could hear more from Summer. She needs to explain why she is so bothered about Lana and Rusev. I would like to see her explain in a backstage interview that she has been with WWE for years and been made to dance and look a fool whilst Lana has been thrust into the spotlight. Rusev saw potential her and she saw potential in him, and they are simply working together in an agreement that is simply business. The pleasure side of things will be when she humiliates Lana and gets her chance to be in the limelight. Something along those lines please WWE!

All-in-all, a solid 6/10 I would say for this week’s Raw. Plenty of girls were on screen and whilst the work behind the scenes is falling flat, they are pulling out all the stops to keep the fans entertained. At least they are keeping up their side of the bargain…

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