Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Raw Redux (March 17th, 2014): A Funkalicious Return Creates Tension and Turmoil

Salutations everyone! And no, before we get things going, this is not Cryssi using such an outdated phrase to greet you all. It is I, the one and only self proclaimed JTG of the Diva Dirt staff, Bobby, here to bring you all the juicy goodness the emanated from last nights episode of Monday Night Raw! Being that I could physically write ten essays on my (non-obsessive) love of Naomi, it should be no surprise that I was fast to claim this recap being that tonights match was none other than AJ and Tamina Snuka taking on The Funkadactyls, Naomi and Cameron in tag team action! But not only that, as Brie and Nikki Bella felt it was best they run out to the commentary table in order to avoid any additional awkward stalker stares from John Cena in the backstage area, therefore they will be providing critiques and compliments as the action goes on.

Add in some fun sightings between Summer Rae and everyone’s favorite screeching soccer mom/pant(suit) wearer of the family, Stephanie McMahon… and well, guys we’ve got a pretty bountiful episode of Raw to get through so let’s cut the chit chat and dive right in to the festivities before I try to run out and buy my own line of blinged out eyepatches.

We pan out to the announce table to spot Brie and Nikki Bella sitting ringside with the commentary team that I wish was actually comprised of Byron Saxton, Renee Young and Scott Stanford. Sigh, we must let bygones be bygones though and focus on reality. Brie looks to be sporting a Daniel Bryan shirt (#TeamBraniel), but Nikki, not wanting to spoil Sunday nights Total Divas cliffhanger, simply goes for wrestling gear instead of a John Cena T-Shirt or an Anti-John Cena T-Shirt depending on what goes on in their beach meeting. Or, Nikki may just be ready to whoop some ass at any given moment, which for that, I commend her on.

Anyways! We then hear the oh-so funkalicious beat of “Aowwwwwwwwwww”, as not one, but TWO Funkadactyls dance their way down the ramp. Now upon first watching this, I will admit seeing Naomi back in time for Mania got me so excited that I may have fallen and wished I had invested more into those Life Alert commercials instead of finding them kind of humorous. But now that I’m calm, cool and (somewhat) collected, I can focus enough to see that the two are recreating their signature entrance despite the fact Naomi looks to be blinded in her injured eye by a blinged out eyepatch (which I love for its uniqueness and almost wish it would be permanent as it stands out so well). Their opponents are none other than AJ Lee and Tamina, as the bell sounds and we get underway.

Nikki instantly discusses her victories over AJ in recent weeks, with Tamina and Cameron starting things off. Cameron hits a really nice wheelbarrow armdrag, hopping up for a monkey flip that gets countered into a huge clothesline for a near fall! Snuka drops a few knees and throws that damn coat at Cameron’s back, then locking in a chicken wing and tagging in our Divas champion! AJ tries to keep Cameron grounded, applying a chokehold with an added leg scissors to apply further pressure. She continues to keep the funkadactyl on the canvas, tagging in Tamina who nails a bodyslam for a two. Samoan drop attempt, but Cameron rolls through and bridges up! A dropkick takes the bodyguard down, which brings AJ and Naomi to tag in. Naomi hits a set of beautiful dropkicks, then knocking Tamina down and hitting a sit out slam for a two count! Cameron gets tossed to the outside, but Tamina turns right around into an enziguiri by Naomi! AJ now locks in a guillotine, however, Naomi reverses and drops her with a slam in the corner. She heads up top with one visible eye and leaps off with a split legged moonsault for the victory!

Naomi and Cameron celebrate their win as the Bella Twins clap from ringside for their fellow Total Divas. Suddenly though, the music stops as AJ and Tamina remain in the ring. AJ looks straight pissed, blaming Tamina for their losses since she DOES always wins her singles matches after all. Tamina then takes it upon herself to shove AJ right on her butt! They exchange intense glares of terror, as Snuka looks like she’s finally had enough of our somewhat unstable Divas Champion. Ruh roh…

In other Diva sightings, check out Summer Rae as she manages resident “baby boopsie”, Fandango for his match against Goldust. She even gets a fun little moment involving Cody Rhodes, which personally makes me hope all you shippers out there have mercy and choose “Sody” for their couple name instead of… well, “Cummer”.

We also had a brief sighting in the middle of the show which saw Stephanie McMahon sitting backstage alongside her husband Triple H, trying to garner some sort of explanation as to why he’s going to confront Daniel Bryan later on in the night:

And finally, Stephanie made her presence felt again, channeling perhaps my favorite version of herself since she returned to TV as she and Triple H close the show in addressing Daniel’s “Occupy Raw” movement from last week:

Thoughts: Where do I even begin? Well, starting with tonight, I personally thought the entire segment was handled perfectly to be honest. People may say Naomi wasn’t the main focus of everything, but honestly, in my opinion she didn’t need to be. She wasn’t out for 8 months or something crazy like that to where she needed a return to be treated like this big moment, and if you want all the possible competitors in what could be a multi woman title match at WrestleMania to stay on equal playing field, you shouldn’t have one upstaging the others as it makes the result seem obvious.

I love the way they brought her back into the mix in a tag, letting her not do too much since this is her first match back, but doing enough to show that she hasn’t skipped a beat when it comes to ring work and getting the fans behind her. Were she to get this big moment of running down to save the Bellas from an attack or something, it’d make her look like more of a favorite than Nikki, almost as if she has to protect the twins from danger and that she’s better than them, which is exactly what I don’t want. I want them all to seem equal and on their own because they each have their own reasons behind why they should be in the match and act as a legitimately believable winner.

Speaking of which, I’m trying so hard not to get excited for WrestleMania when it comes to the Divas because that bridge has just been burned too many times for me to have any sort of trust. However, I will say that it does look like we’re heading for either a fatal 4 way or a six pack challenge at the grandest stage of them all, and honestly, this is probably the most legitimate build up we’ve had with the Divas heading into WrestleMania in years. I really do think Total Divas, for as much as people say it has hurt the division, could be what finally gets us something fresh on this huge stage. However, like I said, I’m refusing to get excited. Hell, after last year I can’t even get excited when/if they announce an actual match because we all know how that went down.

Let’s just play fantasy booker for a second though. When it comes to a 4 way or a six pack challenge, I’m undecided on which I’d prefer. A six pack feels so unique and like a huge deal considering how rare they are to ever get, so for that I really want to see one. The obvious four would be AJ, Tamina, Nikki and Naomi, with any two person combo of Cameron, Brie, Natalya and possibly Summer Rae being added in only because they keep plugging her feud with Natalya, as other than that she hasn’t really been placed into the division at all.

However, I think the benefit of a fatal four way between AJ, Tamina, Nikki and Naomi only, is that all four have been built up as potential winners to the point I can’t even pick any one of them that I don’t see having an actual chance to win. That creates excitement, whereas in a six pack challenge, couldn’t we pretty much eliminate the chances of the two women who aren’t in those four main slots? Maybe not Natalya because she’s played a big part in AJ’s title reign. I mean I know anything is possible so we couldn’t technically eliminate anyone’s shot, but I just think having a four way between AJ, Tamina, Nikki and Naomi would feel special with how well they’ve been working to make each one feel important and like an actual, equal threat. Plus none of the four have gotten shots at AJ’s title other than Naomi’s last fatal 4 way that I can recall, so it helps to add a certain mystique that I wouldn’t feel as much seeing Natalya, Brie and to a lesser extent, Cameron, thrown in as well when they’ve had a few chances each to go for it. Besides, I would much rather see Brie finally get involved in the Daniel/Triple H feud by running out and catfighting with Stephanie to act as an equalizer. It would be such a huge moment for her and while they (for some reason) haven’t incorporated her directly into the feud just yet, I really hope they go for it at the actual show itself and create something both special & memorable.

You have Nikki, who’s been racking (no pun intended) up wins over AJ, Tamina and Foxsana left and right. You have Naomi who got injured before she could ever get the title shot she was obviously next in line for. You have Tamina who has been teasing tension with AJ that finally seemed to erupt tonight. And you have AJ who has held onto that title longer than any former champion and would certainly do everything in her power to attain a WrestleMania moment by beating the competition all over again. Each reason is different from the other, but all are just as important. It just feels like a big deal which is why I’m hoping and praying we aren’t saddled with another big multi woman tag… but I digress. I am forced to remain skeptical, but also very interested to see where things go from here in the next two weeks. Will they finally pull the trigger on a championship match at WrestleMania? It feels like we’re closer than we’ve ever been before to finally getting it, but close only counts in horseshoes so until someone’s entrance music fills the Superdome with its beats and a Diva walks out to compete, let us just all continue to wish long and hard that it finally happens.

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