Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Raw Redux (July 7th, 2014): Best Frenemies Forever

You guys, before we get started with the redux this week, I just want to talk a little bit about the things that have been going on in the Raw Divas Division. I know I’ve been saying it for weeks… some may not agree with me, and that’s perfectly fine, but I’m just so ridiculously happy with the progress that’s been made when it comes to how the division has majorly stepped up in the year 2014.

Is it perfect? No, but the fact of the matter is that we’re seeing a consistent improvement, and it’s actually noticeable. It seems like for years, we’ve heard Divas or various people involved with the division either tweet out or say “Just keep watching… we’ve got big things coming!”, and it just felt like that continued to be an urban legend the farther along we went with each passing year.

2014, though, has seen the division expand more than ever before, with (Again, I know I say it all the time so just bear with me) four actual, consistent feuds that are built upon week to week. Are they all perfect? Depends on how you define perfection, but they’re happening and not being dropped and that’s what matters to me. I MEAN, is this not better than getting something really intriguing like a Diva mystery attacker, having it go on and build everyone’s suspense up, get confirmed on commentary that it wasn’t Aksana, and then it end up being Aksana… in a blonde wig. Just because why not? Actual effort is being put forth to get multiple women over with the crowds, and to give them memorable moments. They don’t even have to be challenging for the Divas title or trying on poor looking blonde wigs anymore. True progress!

It’s just crazy to me that we now live in a world where seeing two women’s matches on an episode of Raw is normal, and how getting four completely separate feuds and/or various other roles for about 95% of the roster is occurring after years of having to go through the struggles of Miss “(s)he who shall not be named” WrestleMania, Diva Rockette Can-Cans and Farting Gimmicks. I mean sure there were some hits along the way like Kharma or the transformations of Eve Torres & AJ Lee. Plus Kaitlyn and AJ’s masterpiece of an unlovable cow feud as well as my wonderful bundle of joy, NXT Redemption, but it seemed like ultimately each of those things we were actually excited about eventually died down/were taken away for good and we just went back to the same mundane one match a week/generic champion vs. challenger feud as usual.

So with that being said, let’s hope I didn’t just curse us all and see three of the feuds get dropped next week! But until then, why don’t we get down to business unless you’re seething from my positivity and can’t continue on any longer… which, again, I understand. I’m just in a good mood and I want to say nice things. Nothing hurts.

Oh, and Jamie Noble trended worldwide last night… you know, no big deal except it’s everything I ever dreamed of seeing. All part of my Justice for Nidia plot to get that dot com Alumni Profile and I’m not stopping until the mission is complete.

We head to the ring as The Funkadactyls stand ready for tag action… Cameron looking a bit less enthused than Naomi. Out next comes their first opponent, Paige! And her “Think Again” embroidered logo jacket that I love more than I do half the roster. Following the princess of pale comes our new Divas Champion… but, wait, oh wow. Paige clearly heard my constant cries at the fact she has become known as WWE’s own mime and legitimately just stole Justin Roberts microphone from him to get her own talk time. Ugh you win at life.

Paige felt that our Champion needed a proper announce duty, and thus gives her best overly excited rendition of The Great AJ Lee’s ring intro (Note: I may have collapsed in a good way at her heavy British accent having to utter the phrase “Union City, New Jersey”). Paige claps with a big smile on her face and shakes AJ’s hand before starting the match out with Naomi. Oh my god, I live for happy Paige. I’m getting… shades of Happy Maxine in all her two week glory and I’m not okay.

The two lock up and Naomi gets a big arm drag, followed by a snapmare as she runs with a pair of knees for a two count. She tries to tag in Cameron, but Cameron proceeds to yawn in her face and now confuse me as to whether I love Happy Paige or Bored Cameron more. Naomi with a waist lock into a sunset flip, however, Paige rolls through and gets a sharp kick for a two count. Nasty headbutt! And tag into AJ Lee! Fans love the skipping goddess, who connects with a spin kick to the abdomen and follows it up with a nice headscissors! Roundhouse kick gets a two count to follow suit as Paige gets the crowd clapping along and Lee locks in a choke. Cameron is again not impressed.

Okay, I’m sorry Happy Paige… you’re still amazing and all, but nothing is going to beat Bored Cameron now applying lipstick as Naomi gets beat down in the ring. Nothing. Also, please take notes on how to have appropriate bored face, Rusev. And get your finest lipstick handy if need be. Back inside the ring, Naomi fights for a tag, but Cameron is just too busy as Paige comes in on the opposite side. A big kick by Naomi as both women nail a double clothesline and Bored Cameron decides to blind tag herself in! She applies a headlock, but Happy Paige counters right into the Paige Turner for the win!

Paige and AJ celebrate their tag team victory, and Happy Paige is starting to win me back from Bored Cameron as the two shake hands and exit together. However… dun dun dun!~ Inside the ring, the music stops as Cameron and Naomi argue with one another. Oh dear, Cameron just bopped Naomi right in the forehead multiple times, which is not going to set well with anyone, much less a trained grappler. Naomi counters by going nose to nose and a shoving war erupts as the two POUNCE. Holy Moses, Naomi starts throwing right hooks like she’s jumped to MMA.

The ref tries to break them up, but there’s no stopping these two as they roll all the way out the ring. Okay there is, because ultimately get separated, but it took a while. Cameron tosses a pom pom in Naomi’s face and storms off like the queen bee as the crowd boos her! BOOS!

In our next stop through Diva land, we stumble upon the happenings of the ongoing feud between Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon, except Brie’s been fired as we all know, and Stephanie has taken the week off alongside Triple H. Therefore, we continue on with their representatives, Nikki and Alicia Fox! Out to the ring we head, as Justin Roberts announces the following is a Divas bout where both women will have one hand tied behind their back. Stipulations!

After Nikki makes her entrance, Ref Jason Ayers proceeds to tie her wrist behind her back as Fox preps herself up with some stretching. He tries to tie Alicia’s hand up as well, but she tricks him like the sly fox she is and ultimately decides she’s not going to follow the rules… because she’s Alicia Fox and she makes her OWN rules. With that, Alicia ambushes Nikki before the bell even sounds and starts beating her down, kicking her around the ring and tossing her about outside. Keep in mind, her arm is still tied behind her back, but that doesn’t stop Alicia from throwing her back inside and, after a smack in the face comeback attempt, heading under the ring. SODA TIME!~

She opens up the beverages and spills them on Nikki, getting some pretty good heat as she stomps off and heads backstage. Nikki stays laying in the ring while Foxy continues taunting her, screaming “SAVE ME BRIE BELLA!” I die.

Backstage, Fandango is walking… and twirling! “Baaabe” screams a familiar female voice, as up comes Layla not looking too impressed with her man(?). She wants to know what he was doing out there at commentary during Dolph‘s match against Alberto Del Rio moments earlier, pondering if he still has feelings for Summer. Fandango, in his amazing creeper voice, lets Lay Lay know he only has eyes for her, but to her, that’s not enough. She wants to know his motivation, and Fandango saves himself by claiming it was only because Dolph embarrassed him last week and he wanted to seek revenge on the Britney Spears loving hair dye enthusiast. Why? Because when anyone embarrasses him, it’s seen as an insult to their love. Hallmark better jump on this for a Valentines Day greeting card idea asap.

Layla still seems a bit distraught though, stating she wouldn’t know what to do if he still had feelings for Summer. Okay, I know I’m probably the only person in the world getting Johnny Curtis/Maxine flashbacks right now as Fandango puts his fingers up to her lips (Don’t even question how many times I watched the Agnes Bateman backstage segment enough to know that’s a classic Curtsine move), but I am almost on the floor at 5 in the morning because I never want this to end… well, only so I can go to bed. But that’s not important right now! Their “dahnce” is so beautiful that nobody will ever cut in! He leans in to hug her, burying her face in his chest region so she can’t turn around and notice him staring over her at Summer Rae who fancily poses in a hallway and struts off as if to tease him. A) Can someone please cut Summer’s posing/walk and dub “Fancy” over it? And B) I will forever thrive on wrestling love triangles/rectangles/any angles. And fingers on lips!

Also, check out this weeks abbreviated airtime of our Ravishing Russian, Lana, as she manages Rusev in a match against Rob Van Dam:


The Good:

Paige/AJ vs. Naomi/Cameron – Loved. This. The crowd wasn’t the absolute best, but it was also slotted in the third hour. Unlike past times though, I’m not complaining about that. There’s a lot of Divas stuff to get through now and I’m completely okay with one of them having to fit here because I get you need to space things out. They’re still into AJ, which is good, and I think Paige is going to monster benefit more once she finally snaps and reveals her true colors so I understood them being silent-ish for now. Perhaps my favorite part of this match (sans Bored Cameron and Happy Paige) is the fact that it felt like a big deal. This didn’t just feel like a random squash tag with an obvious winner, because all four of these women have been getting built up over the past few weeks. It kind of reminded me when they had Mickie and Melina team up to face Beth Phoenix and Katie Lea in the sense that you just get a different feeling when a match involves unique pairings and competitors who all feel like a believable victor. Tack on the fact it was even announced before Raw went on the air, and it’s just awesome to see. Once we crack the crowd reaction to expand to more than just AJ, this is going to be on fire.

With that being said, I also have to say I absolutely loved the ring introduction part. It’s one of those things that is so simple, but creates something memorable that’s going to make the match stick out to me rather than if she just smiled and acted happy to be teaming with AJ. I’m soooo into this feud if it goes even remotely where I think it could reach in terms of potential, and as long as we don’t get shortchanged, I can really see this making Paige’s career as the badass take no prisoners Anti-Diva I’ve been pleading for since she got called up. They’re also two Divas I could see WWE doing stipulation matches for which makes me all the more excited. Bring it on!

Naomi/Cameron Beatdown – Yesss! Okay, again, the crowd was hit or miss, but I’ve honestly, like I said before, grown to block them out if they’re not reacting. If they pop or boo, great! If they don’t, I don’t let it hinder my excitement because the two of them beat the tar out of each other and it was executed as perfectly as it could be. Their brawl didn’t look staged, it looked 100% real like Naomi had finally had enough and went in for the beat down. I would’ve liked to see Cameron react a bit more vocally if I’m just being picky, because I think it worked for only Naomi to be this strong, silent type that just wanted to release her frustrations.

With Cameron though, she was so on point in the match itself when it came to the ringside antics that I kind of wanted her to be a little more vocal during the beat down since she could’ve also played off the whole “I tagged myself in and lost again” frustration. She sort of went through the fighting silent, then got up and walked off all quiet like nothing happened. It still worked for me, most definitely, but just in a picky point of view, I would’ve liked to hear her screaming out anger to Naomi to amp it up even more. Mostly I want Cameron to be this loud, whiny type of heel who you live to see get punished for the big game she talks. Put her out there cutting promos about how she’s the star of Total Divas and the rest of them are just the supporting cast, therefore she has to pride herself in her look and doesn’t want a punch or kick to affect the money maker during press tours and radio interviews. It could be gold if done right, and really help transform Cameron into something special throughout the division.

Layla/Summer/Fandango – I liked this to be honest. I can see it getting complaints that nothing really evolved, but I guess I kind of appreciate the longevity in a feud as long as something happens week to week. I’m so used to programs being dropped or rushed through that I don’t really mind how long it takes for something to happen because I don’t want it to peak and then flounder soon after. Truthfully, I think the longer something gets built up, the more these kinds of weeks where they don’t get as much TV time are okay so long as the payoff is ultimately worth it in the end, which we’ll have to wait and see about.

Personally though, I’m really hoping this leads to Fandango dumping Layla for Summer, then Summer shoving him off and revealing the antics since her return were all a trick to make him jealous so that he’d come crying back to her and ultimately be left on his own while the two Divas form their own tag team in the division. It would explain why neither has been portrayed as the distinct face, and it could also help the heel side out to be so much more equal to the faces if you had Paige, Summer, Layla, Cameron and Alicia as all strongly utilized, viable candidates to feud with AJ Lee, not to mention a possibility of Tamina down the line as well once she returns from injury.

The Somewhat Good:

Alicia Fox vs. Nikki Bella – This is hard for me to write about because I have so many mixed feelings. I guess it sort of relates back to what I was talking about last week in that execution is key to determining how well something comes off. On paper, this match seems exciting, different, and a new spin on the Bellas/Stephanie and Alicia feud, but unfortunately things didn’t go as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I honestly think Nikki should have already had her hand tied when we got back from the break because it kind of killed the crowd to have to sit there and wait for it to be done, but I did like Alicia deciding to just ambush her before the match starts as it adds to the wild unpredictability she’s become known for. On the flip side, I didn’t really like the channeling of the meltdowns this time because it feels like we’ve already seen her do everything she did tonight.

Granted, it did get some very solid boos which I approve heavily, but personally I think if you’re going to do the meltdowns, you have to add something we haven’t seen before like making her grab a sign and beat Nikki over the head with it or even grab a trash can from under the ring and put it over Nikki’s head. That’s not really too out of the realm for a Diva to do in my opinion, and I think it would get over with fans really well to see her kicking and stomping on the can as Nikki’s upper half lay inside. That’s just me though, but overall this did still manage to progress a storyline, keeping Alicia as Stephanie’s henchwoman and punishing Nikki, plus I love the idea. If it had worked out a few of those minor kinks I definitely would’ve been all in. Even saying that, however, it wasn’t bad by any means. It works and I’m still excited to see where we go next week!

The Not-So Good:

Lana – Cut promo time? NOT IMPRESSED.

In Conclusion:

I don’t want to babble on too much here considering I said a mouthful to open the redux up, but I’m just going to end things by saying job well done to the WWE. It’s not something I really ever got to say very often in the past when it comes to the Divas on Raw, and I’m sure there are people who still don’t think it should be said, but I’m so here for it.

I love turning my TV on during a Monday night and seeing Nikki, Alicia, Lana, Stephanie, Brie, Naomi, Cameron, Layla, Summer, AJ and Paige all having prominent things to do. I love turning my TV on Thursday nights and seeing not only the NXT Divas doing great, but Natalya herself absolutely freakin’ shining in a role that I wish was being done on the main roster as well alongside husband, Tyson Kidd. It’s so outstanding and I urge everyone to check out the shows (Hint: Here’s an intro video to give you a sneak peak) if you’ve been needing a Nattie fix in your life because she/Tyson/everything are KILLING it and I want as many people as possible to know.

Not everyone is completely on screen, but most are and I know I’m going to alienate some peeps with my lack of anything bad to say, but I honestly can’t help it. The last time this happened to me on a consistent basis, it was the days of Redemption and we were sort of our own little core group where liking a good chunk of your show was the norm. When it comes to Raw I almost feel like I’m not living up to what’s expected of me and my potential if I don’t have something to scream “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING DAMMIT?!” in my finest Cranky Vince voice at.

… Oh wait, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING DAMMIT?! Where’s my Adam Rose fix? You’re good with buttering me up through all these Diva segs but I’m still sad.

Alright that’s it for now everyone!~ Join me again next week you catty little cats, where I either continue a ratings decline in terms of my growing happiness annoying you all to leave in flocks, or I jump to the dark side. But please I beg of you don’t let me jump. Think of me as a 2012 AJ Lee just standing on a ringpost wanting to be loved… and you, WWE, you are the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan urging me not to plummet my semi-unstable self to a surefire career threatening injury known as the dark side.

Basically, just give me good things (especially more shades of NXT Redemption) so I can be happy and healthy. Please.

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