Thursday, September 29, 2022

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Raw Redux (March 31st, 2014): Who Needs a Catchy Redux Title When You’ve Got Two Divas Matches?

So I guess before we get started with tonight’s Raw, it’s officially a good time as any to let you all know that as of this week, I, Bobby, am stepping in for Cryssi to act as your official temporary Raw Recapper!

Granted I would usually be a lot peppier about this, but I kind of saw the number of comments posted on my column about the Bella Twins yesterday… and I may not have been able to bring myself to actually read them all because I could only assume it meant I angered a bunch of you and you all want my custom Diva Dirt contract immediately terminated, as well as my head on a stick (but not in a fun way like Summer Rae‘s on NXT). I understand, but unfortunately if you want to read these Raw recaps, you might have to put up with me a little longer (not too long, I promise). I will try to ease the pain with milk and cookies (not THE cookie, of infamous Total Divas fame) though, to which if that doesn’t work, then there’s literally nothing I can do but apologize and get to working on this recap!

So I may not have shown my excitement enough already, but tonight on Raw we got TWO actual Divas matches. I don’t even mean one Divas match and a mixed tag, which would be exciting enough, but two actual matches with no men involved. Early Christmas miracle? A gift from Jane “Goddess” Geddes? We may never know, but I don’t even care because the fact of the matter is we got them double segments.

The first match involved Summer Rae and Natalya, as Nattie attempted to gain a measure of revenge following Summer’s ridiculously amazing and beautifully crafted home invasion SMACKdown on Sunday’s episode of Total Divas. And then later on, we were treated to a Lumberjill match pitting AJ against Naomi because clearly they knew I was going to be taking over the reigns of these recaps and thus Naomi became the chosen one to represent the non AJ/Tamina side of the division.

No more stalling, I promise. Let’s get things started!

We open the scene with… um, are we getting an actual recap of what happened on Total Divas? I didn’t even know Raw knew it was possible to show replays that don’t involve some form of John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H or Batista. It appears we learn new things every day, and I love it! They highlight Summer claiming Nattie feels threatened by the new girls when she shouldn’t be, with Nattie countering that by claiming Summer only gets a reaction because she walks out there in her skimpy gears (Side note: Natalya better hope Sandra isn’t watching her tear apart Summer’s attire because lord only knows she doesn’t need her next Total Divas venture to be a wardrobe malfunction of her own courtesy of that sneaky seamstress).

“Divas are role models… you’re on the verge of being a STRIPPER.”

Kablam! Summer laces the palm of her hand right off the mouth of Natalya as the crowd ooh’s and ahh’s. And then we have the greatest scene of all time involving Nattie’s shocked gasp, followed by Summer fleeing the privately owned porch as if she was robbing a clothing store of their tassel leggings and had to make a quick getaway.

“Get off my property! Get aughhh-ffff!”

Natalya is enraged! …but I’m loving every second of it. Oh man, now we’re getting a slow mo replay of the slap, complete with the sound of palm to face collision AND Natalya’s gasp of horror. Can life get any better?

From there, we head out to the arena where Summer Rae’s lyrical masterpiece theme fills my ears with joy. Out she struts, and I’m not gonna lie… seeing that red gear mixed with her blonde hair is making me think of the McDonalds logo and now I want a McChicken. You guys will likely never know if I really did just go out and grab one, but let’s just say I’m writing this at 4 in the morning and there is no way I’m going to McDonalds at this hour. Besides, I’m too busy horrendously singing along to Summer’s theme that no McChicken is worth me stopping.

I will say though, that on a serious note, Summer looks so happy to be out there on her own. It’s infectious and making me even more excited for this match because you can just tell how excited she is about getting the opportunity to finally have a singles showing on Raw and a fun storyline with Natalya that actually received some airtime and buzz. After the break, we notice Vickie Guerrero on commentary as her opponent, Natalya, makes her grand entrance! Summer taunts Nattie with the sign of a slap, while we get a match graphic (#WheresFoxy) promoting the first ever Vickie Guerrero Divas Title Invitational at WrestleMania!

Oh… welp, we just got our first bit of bad news as a peppy Vickie reveals the WrestleMania match is going to be our biggest nightmare come true in a fatal 14 way, one fall to a finish stipulation. Before the Nattie/Summer match gets underway, can we just all take a moment of silence and pray that WWE’s constant love of doing last minute changes to any and everything works its magic this week and we turn this into some sort of Gauntlet or anything that’s not a fatal 14 way?

Positive thoughts! Positive thoughts! The bell sounds as Nattie tackles Summer and begins unloading with shots to the face. Summer slams Natalya into the corner and decks her with a few kicks, before executing a taunt and a clothesline for a two count. Rae locks in a chokehold, slamming Nattie back down and going for a legdrop that she misses. Natalya proceeds to smack Summer’s face right on the canvas, then running off the ropes, stepping on Rae’s head, and running off the opposing side with a dropkick! Set of suplexes follows up, but Summer blocks an Irish Whip attempt with a Total Divas-esque slap! Natalya is 100% not having it right now, as she levels Summer with a discus clothesline and then smacks her right on the cheek as well! Sharpshooter attempt, but Summer kicks Nattie away! Rae then crawls to the ring apron and kicks Natalya square in the head for the three count. Okay, not the best finisher… but Summer Rae won a match! And it was on Raw! There’s too much good for me to pick apart a kick. Flaunt and taunt Summer, flaunt and taunt.

Dun dun dun! The match we all used to fear is now a type of match I’m okay with because we aren’t seeing them every two weeks… ladies and gents, it’s time for some Lumberjills! Cameron, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Eva Marie, Summer Rae, Natalya, Emma, Tamina Snuka, Alicia Fox (We found her!), Aksana, Rosa Mendes and Layla surround the ring as Divas Champ, AJ Lee is set to do battle with Naomi! We can only assume Jimmy Uso is sitting backstage, attempting to locate some sort of shadowy hallway where he will take Naomi and… kiss her if she were to win tonight (We’re keeping it PG).

Vickie has decided to watch this match from the entrance ramp as AJ and Naomi exchange wristlocks. Naomi with a dropkick! This sends AJ flying outside as all the Divas throw her back in because they’re not taking her crap any longer. A roll up gets a two count for Naomi, who slides to the outside after a kick… only the lumberjills do nothing! And for once, it makes sense! They all have problems with AJ, and while Sunday it will be every woman for herself, tonight they just want to see the champion punished. Lee hops outside and throws Naomi back in, as Emma and Natalya toss AJ right after her. Naomi channels her inner Tajiri with those Buzzsaw kicks, but AJ ends up fighting back with a spinning roundhouse version of her own.

AJ continues to ambush Naomi with shots to the midsection, then spinning off the ropes and applying a dragon sleeper to try and get Naomi to submit. Naomi fights out! Ooh, but she gets a knee to the formerly injured eye and planted with a neckbreaker for a near fall. AJ begins to taunt that the title is forever hers, allowing Naomi to score with a flip Enziguiri! Dropkick! Sit out butt buster! Naomi now goes for the Moonsault, but AJ rolls outside. Tamina looks to protect her, but all the other Divas just destroy them both and toss AJ inside the ring! She tries to regain her composure, but turns right into the rear view for the win! Vickie Guerrero looks impressed, as Cameron rolls into the ring to celebrate with her funky best friend. It may usually be about that chingle chingle, but tonight, it’s about everyone sans Tamina showing AJ that she’s got a lot to worry about come Sunday.

Also, check out Summer Rae as she made the second of three appearances on Raw, accompanying Fandango to the ring for his tag team match alongside Damien Sandow against Cody Rhodes and Goldust:

And finally, we’ve got everyone’s favorite motherly figure of the WWE, Stephanie McMahon, being her usual great self as she sat on commentary alongside Triple H to witness Batista and Randy Orton do battle in the main event:

Thoughts: Let’s split this into two sections of The Good and The Not So Good, shall we?

The Good:

Two Divas Matches – First and foremost, the best thing about Raw tonight was the fact we got two legitimate Divas matches. No men to share the spotlight with, but two actual parts of the show devoted to the women. And you see, how much of the episode really suffered? There’s no reason this can’t be a weekly thing, and I hope to see it continue even though I kind of doubt it will. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that we at least got to see it tonight, and I thought both matches came off well. They weren’t too long, but they didn’t feel ridiculously short either, and we even got to see a near full recap of Summer and Natalya’s bantering on Total Divas so that fans who may not watch the show could have some knowledge on why this match was happening. It’s like an actual feud with a backstory and everything! And I seriously hope it continues well on in the future, although I have doubts on account of Summer needing to go film The Marine 4 soon. If I beg and plead, do you think she can just become Super-Summer and do everything at once?

All Divas Utilized: Alright, we’re not all going to be happy about the match at WrestleMania, but at least all the competitors were shown tonight in some form. We could’ve easily been saddled with a two minute 14 Diva tag that accomplished nothing but give us a big brawl between everyone, so I’m giving them points for doing something outside the box tonight while still keeping all 14 Divas out there to build it up a little. Was it amazing build? No. But this is WrestleMania after all, and while that should be used to justify great build, for Diva fans, this is about the best we’ve had in a while if you consider how long they’ve been pushing the whole “AJ doesn’t associate herself as being friends with any Diva, no matter what disposition they are” shtick that they ran with during the Survivor Series pretape backstage. It makes sense from a storyline standpoint to have her go up against every Diva considering they’ve all shown how none of them like her in storylines and backstage segments, so even if a fatal 14 way gives us all a cold chill up the spine just from the sound of it, it’s at least somewhat of a step in the right direction by having the title on the line and a storyline that has kind of been present for a few months.

Vickie Guerrero Having a Role: I do like that they’re keeping Vickie Guerrero out with the Divas right now because it gives her something with purpose to do on the shows. Ever since The Authority came back, having general managers is basically useless, and you can tell that Vickie and Brad Maddox are suffering in their roles because of it. All they get to do mostly is come out during a promo and make the main event, or maybe be seen backstage once throughout the show. So having her be associated with the Divas is a good thing for someone like me who finds Vickie entertaining and wants to see her take a more active position. I would personally love if they turned her into a role similar to what TNA had with Karen Jarrett, in which she acts as the supervisor of the Divas division. She really isn’t needed to book mens matches when Triple H and Stephanie do that well enough on their own, but having her be a figure in the Divas division (not an in ring, but an authority one) could be that fresh boost her character has needed for a few months now and I’d be all for it.

Total Divas Not Dominating Storylines: The Division tonight reminded me of how it was when Total Divas first half of season one was airing. We got our own separate storyline (Summer/Natalya similar to Natalya/Brie at the time), but we also got another whole match or segment devoted to some of the other Divas as well. I also can’t stress enough how happy I am that they’re not turning Summer Rae into a face. Yes, I may wish Eva Marie was a heel on TV and acting alongside Summer, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to them not being a whole unit against everyone else. Keep hope alive for us Summer!

WrestleMania Match Isn’t Obvious: The good thing about this Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational is that I honestly have no idea who could win. Are some options looking clearer than others? Yes. But I can’t legitimately walk into this saying I can already see who’s walking out the winner in the way I could for WrestleMania 27 or 28. That definitely adds a bit of intrigue to the match, even if it is messy.

The Not So Good:

Fatal 14 Way: Alright, speaking of messy… the biggest downfall of the night definitely came when Vickie Guerrero confirmed the Invitational was going to be a fatal 14 way. I have no idea why this had to happen instead of a gauntlet, because I have absolutely nothing against the girls, but there’s a 95% chance this is going to be a clusterf*ck. Put 14 men in the ring like this too, and the 95% still stands. I just can’t see a way that having this many people fighting all over the place to score one pinfall is going to do any of them any good, but let’s just hope Sara Del Rey is carefully plotting this whole thing out from the second the bell sounds to the second a Diva has their hand raised in victory. It’s going to need a lot of help to come off well, but in the end, I’m still happy we’re at least getting a championship on the line. Give me a clusterf*ck 14 Diva title match at WrestleMania any day over a random, dull tag team bout we could see on any given episode of Raw or SmackDown. It may be a trainwreck waiting to happen, but at least I can still be excited while it’s happening for the fact that any Diva on the roster could become Divas Champion while it’s going on, instead of being kind of bored thinking the match doesn’t have any stakes and is too generic to be held on WrestleMania just because it involves a celebrity (and I say this as someone who has found therapeutic sessions and gotten over my long term feud with Maria Menounos, and as someone who 100% loved Snooki being on the show in 2011). There’s really no way to know what to expect with this match, but I just keep seeing hair flying everywhere as 14 Divas cautiously walk around the ring punching and kicking each other while a miniature version of Sarah McLachlin pops up on my shoulder singing “In the Arms of an Angel” and we all weep for them. Don’t let this vision come true WWE!

Lack of Tamina Tension: I’m kind of iffy on whether or not I liked the fact that there wasn’t really any tension between AJ and Tamina tonight. On one hand, I like it because it enforces the fact that we don’t know which side she’s on as if you tease it too much, it becomes obvious. But on the other side, it feels weird at how we’ve seen it happening on various shows over the past few weeks and then nothing really happened here since she did try and block AJ from the lumberjills attack. I guess I need to develop a middle of the road category to put this in, but it’s now 5 in the morning and I’m too tired to do all that. So for now Tamina, your lack of tension falls under the not so good section. I’ll probably regret putting it there after I get some sleep, but what’s done is done.

Alright guys, hopefully you enjoyed this weeks Raw as much as I did. And if not, hopefully my somewhat coherent recapping at least helped to ease the pain it caused. The Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational isn’t looking like it’s going to be as great as I was hoping, but at least we’ve got something to look forward to on Sunday! So be sure to stay tuned for a lot of features coming up this week as we prepare for the big day. And until next time, GET OFF MY PROPERTY (but definitely come back next Monday when we recap the fallout from WrestleMania)!

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