Marriage proposals, hummer limousines and primadonna attitudes; move over Real Housewives, Monday Night Raw is all about the over-the-top jaw drop!
The spotlight was still firmly on the Divas Division last night as three angles involving the girls dominated the broadcast. Paige‘s self-inflated crusade for attention continued when she clashed with everyone’s favourite voice of reason, Natalya. Alicia Fox, Brie Bella and Nikki Bella had confrontations with Naomi, Sasha Banks and Tamina both in the parking lot and the ring. In addition to that, Summer Rae had an all-important question ask Rusev. Throw in appearances from Becky Lynch, the WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, Renee Young and Stephanie McMahon and Raw was quite the stacked evening of events!
Stephanie McMahon was the first Diva to grace our screens last night, at around the start of Raw’s second hour:
Steph stopped the in-ring squabbling of Corporate Kane and Seth Rollins by placing them in a tag team match later in the night, and against each other at Hell in a Cell. Well it’s Demon Kane vs Seth at Hell in a Cell but of course, they are the same person. This was daft yet it worked. Kane is quite funny in this Jekyll and Hyde role yet obviously not WWE Championship material.
Our first Divas match follows shortly after with Natalya hoping to serve some humble pie to Paige. Despite her heel turn, Paige is getting a great reception still from the crowd. She rocks the Susan G. Komen commemorative t-shirt in her own unique way before the match begins.
Natalya lays it on thick in the early going, hammering Paige with forearm strikes in the corner. Paige hits back with a wheelbarrow pin attempt and then the pair exchange attempts at three counts until Nattie dropkicks Paige. The Anti Diva rolls to the outside, only to jump right on back out after Nat throws her back in. Paige’s ducking and diving around avoiding Natalya eventually pays off when she levels Tal with a thrust kick to the face. This sends the back of Natalya’s head right onto the floor on the outside. Paige yells that this is her house, and there is one 50 year-old lady in the audience who is NOT impressed. LOL.
Back in the ring, Paige crushes the air out of Natalya with a seated waistlock using her legs. Natalya nearly loses all of her huff yet she has enough puff in her to showcase great strength and get to her feet. Paige reverses Natalya’s scoop slam attempt to keep the pressure piled on, a move she follows up with a close call for a win. Paige then wraps Nattie up in an abdominal stretch whilst shaking her around in the process. She mocks the fans which fires the Dungeon Diva up enough to reverse the hold and apply one of her own, complete with her signature leg hook!
Paige throws Natalya off and charges wildly at her with a running knee, yet the attack misses and Natalya is then able to hit back hard. She hits a clothesline and a side Russian leg sweep before running into a kick from Paige. The adrenaline pouring from Natalya is enough to shrug off the kick however, and she flattens Paige with a stunning discus clothesline. After a pin attempt, the back-and-forth nature of the match continues as Paige hits a Paige Turner out of nowhere!
Paige cannot believe Natalya has kicked out of a move that we haven’t seen in quite sometime, not to mention it has put Nattie down for the count in the past. Paige tries to slap Natalya but the latter ducks and hits her signature seated atomic drop/basement dropkick combo. When that isn’t enough to pull out a win, Natalya reverses a pin attempt from Paige with a Sharpshooter but Paige manages to scurry to the ropes quickly.
Paige gets back to her feet quickly, jolts around Natalya and tries to win with a schoolgirl. Despite grabbing Nattie’s catsuit for leverage, her dirty tactics aren’t enough to win. The catsuit (wearer) then gets the cream as Natalya blocks a kick from Paige, trips her to the mat and hits the Sharpshooter again for the win! Respect taught.
The Queen Bee of the ‘E, Stephanie McMahon is back on screen next, and her quiet time in the middle of a corridor (makes sense!) is interrupted by The New Day:
They try and get on her good side yet when they don’t get the picture that she is too busy, she tells them to find the positivity in defending their tag team titles at Hell in a Cell against The Dudleys. The trombone is certainly not getting played right now!
We’re out in the parking lot next in a segment filmed earlier in the day. A limousine pulls up, and you’d be wrong to expect a McMahon as Team Bella strut their way from out of the car. They parade around outside the arena until a stretch hummer pulls up and blocks their path. Out come Team B.A.D to a great reaction from Sasha’s hometown crowd of Boston. Sasha ruffles Nikki’s feathers by taking off her cap and throwing it to the floor and Team Bella hold Nikki back as Team B.A.D walk away.
The prior segment has set up our next match, six-Diva action between the two teams featured previously. After their entrance, Team B.A.D’s Sasha takes the mic. She says that she puts the Boss in Boston. Not quite the correct spelling but whatever. Team Bella are clearly offended by this misuse of the English language and Nikki has her own mic in hand. After some American Football banter that quite frankly does not interest me, Naomi lands a killer of a line before Nikki calls Team B.A.D, Team Ratchet. I bet that one really zings. After some more catty remarks, the match begins.
Nikki throws her cap in Naomi’s face before mounting her and landing a series of rights. Naomi hits back with a her rear end and then a calf kick to the face. Sasha is in next and the hometown girl and Naomi use a nice double team move. Sasha slams Nikki into the turnbuckle following that before kicking her in the side of the head a series of times. The tide is turned shortly after and Brie Bella enters the match for the first time. Brie hits quick kicks to Sasha’s gut but it’s not long before Sasha sends her knees into Brie’s very own midsection. Before Sasha can capitalize, Team Bella pull Brie to safety as commercials begin to roll.
Back from the break and Naomi is treated by Alicia Fox to a devastating tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. ‘Lic soon makes a tag to Brie and the latter levels Naomi with a bulldog. Brie then nails her patented running knee which is followed by a snap neckbreaker from Nikki. Naomi has a burst of life and hits a schoolgirl but she is grounded immediately after that with a front facelock.
Michael Cole refers to Nikki as a “runway model” which makes me roll my eyes further back into my head than The Undertaker. Nikki’s jaw is knocked back into her head when Naomi sends into her skull but Nikki isn’t too flustered as she keeps Naomi within her corner thanks to a clothesline. After a pair of shoulder thrusts, Foxy reenters the match and she executes a picture-perfect Northern Lights suplex. Slamming Naomi on her head is Foxy’s next move, one that she tops off with a mahoosive scream and a chinlock. I like Foxy shows us her crazy every so often!
Brie then returns to legal action, blasting Naomi in the face and chest with a ferocious set of kicks. The strikes fire Naomi up and she starts to lay into Brie yet her overzealous, spare-of-the-moment actions are quickly shut down with a rough body tackle from Brie. Foxy clambers back between the ropes and applies another rest hold and thankfully it is the last of the match. Naomi powers out after a lengthy spell of having the wind taken out of her, yet thankfully for her, there was enough left in her sails!
Sasha is tagged in and the crowd go absolutely mental! Sasha launches a clothesline at Alicia and then charges at the Bella Twins, knocking them from the apron. All guns are blazing for The Boss as she dropkicks Alicia and then sends a barrage of double knees at Alicia’s chest. Brie breaks up the cover that follows but Tamina is right behind her to break her face with a superkick. Nikki pings Tamina’s cheeks with a running forearm but then runs into a troublesome Rear View from Naomi! Alicia then takes Naomi out of the equation with a big boot. Foxy’s back is turned, leaving it as the perfect bullseye for Sasha to stab and hit the Bank Statement. Foxy taps and Sasha achieves one thing most WWE employees don’t – a win in their home town!
After the match, we join Charlotte backstage. She spoke briefly about Paige and her Divas Title defense at Hell in a Cell:
On Raw Fallout, Becky spoke at length on both subjects, in typical Becky fashion:
Also on Raw Fallout, Team B.A.D. talked about Sasha’s historic match at TakeOver: RESPECT this Wednesday:
Finally, in what can only be described as an experience that feels like it is in a parallel universe, Summer Rae takes to the ring to propose to Rusev:
He says yes…when he wins a championship. I have no words. Well, not until my Thoughts section anyway. Right now, I still don’t know how to react to that.
Thoughts: I absolutely loved Paige vs Natalya. Whilst the abdominal stretch sequence felt reminiscent of their prior matches, the rest was really refreshing. This was an example of a perfectly timed match. The last few minutes were really tense too. I assumed Paige would get the win with both the Paige Turner and the tights-grabbing roll up, yet she didn’t. The fact it took Nattie two Sharpshooters to put Paige away was great too. Although I felt that I’d seen the abdominal stretch stuff before, how much more exciting is it to see two girls exchange those instead of chinlocks? They don’t feel like rest holds, and neither did Paige’s waistlock with Natalya managing to get to feet with Paige still wrapped around her. This match was a clinic.
I also loved the decision to have Natalya win. I was fully expecting Paige’s rotten luck to end and to witness a reversal in fortunes for her, but I am glad that WWE are going bigger with this story. Having Natalya’s words backstage a few weeks back actually ring true in the ring against her “The only person holding yourself back… is YOU” is nice to see. We’re used to WWE just dropping the ball with things, yet it appears that they have a long term plan for Paige. I believe Paige is around 10 losses in a row now, and I am very intrigued to see what really makes her snap.
I am still adamant that she should bring in Saraya Knight so her Mum can help her win back the title, have a scrap with Ric Flair, feud with Becky Lynch and bring up their SHIMMER past and then feud with her own daughter.
Back to reality, I also adored the parking lot segment with Team Bella and their limousine and Team B.A.D’s stretch hummer! This was fantastic in all honesty. It was simple but effective. Team B.A.D have outdone Team Bella before, they did it again outside the arena and they also did it yet again in the ring.
Speaking of that, why was the ending sequence exactly the same as what we saw on Main Event not even two weeks ago? I hate when WWE insults our intelligence like this. Yes most fans won’t have watched Main Event, yet that doesn’t mean it is ok to be lazy and just copy something we have seen already. Even if only one person had watched Main Event, the girls still should have switched it up in the ring. I’m not sure who is to blame, yet whoever was needs to wise up!
If you’re only going to do one move the entire match, you’ve got to nail. Tamina, your superkick timing/chemistry with Brie has been off the last few times you have clashed, yet you got it right last night. I salute you Tameezus!
I will round out my opinions on Team Bella vs Team B.A.D with a compliment for Naomi. It may be clichéd and catty, yet I thought her bitchy line to Nikki Bella during the latter’s entrance was absolutely hilarious. Naomi needs that Divas Championship. As if she is yet to hold it with all of that potential!!
Keeping with the topic of the championship, Charlotte should not be an afterthought. I will forgive WWE for this week should they have let her take a backseat so that they could build up Sasha in the title picture, yet if not, there is no way Charlotte should have been relegated to a backstage interview. Why couldn’t her and Becky be on commentary for either of the matches? Why couldn’t Becky have spoken at all? I do appreciate Charlotte being seen at all (past title runs would have the champion non-existent for weeks on end *coughBethPhoenixcough*) yet she just won the title and already the story is more so about other Divas.
Finally, I don’t really have a lot to say about Summer and Rusev. The story is a mess and makes no sense. Summer clearly pretended to cheat with Dolph Ziggler a few weeks back, and then acted like it was in fact real when in the ring with Rusev; shouldn’t they have been in on that ruse together? Or did she actually kiss Dolph and WWE has dropped it? Both her and Rusev were seemingly just associates at the start but then they started kissing when Rusev wanted to get back at Lana. It was visually implied that Rusev still had feelings for Lana (him looking directly at her when he kissed Summer) yet now he is talking about how much he loves Summer. Where is the evidence of this?
The fact of the matter is, WWE are making this up on a whim. I know Lana’s injury has impacted this yet nothing makes sense. Why did Rusev and Summer have to be romantic? It is clear what with Rusev’s rough tone and attitude with Summer, he clearly isn’t going to end up happy with her. This is not a long term union.
I wonder if we will ever see a wedding or will the two call it off before Rusev tastes gold again? If they hold a ceremony, will Lana gatecrash it? Will she get back with Rusev? Where does Dolph factor in all of this? There are plenty of unanswered questions that raise potential but WWE has dropped the ball with this story several times and I would rather it end already. What happened to Dolph ‘persuing’ Summer with those earrings? At this point, I don’t even care. Like Mark Henry and The Big Show‘s career, put this out of its misery.
What should we expect from SmackDown then? I’d like to see WWE incorporate all of their stories and bits of character development. They obviously want to push Nattie, Paige and Sasha whilst keeping Charlotte and Nikki in the spotlight. How about having Charlotte and Becky come out and cut a promo leading to all ten of the women in the title picture in the ring throwing verbal bombs? This could then lead to a rather unpredictable Charlotte/Becky/Natalya vs Nikki/Paige/Sasha match. Have Paige get pinned by Charlotte (giving a rub to her team) and then have Sasha take Charlotte out after the match. Everyone wins!