Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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SmackDown Redux (April 16th, 2015): Cameron Steals the Spotlight Again

Happy Friday, and welcome to another SmackDown Redux! This week’s SmackDown sees the Divas breaking up, forging new relationships and scrambling for position in the wide open Divas Title picture. Sounds like a whirlwind, huh? For a SmackDown, this is practically worthy of sweeps week. Let’s dive in.

Our Divas match of the night was – gasp – a Triple Threat match! Who told the SmackDown bookers that Divas can wrestle in anything other than singles and tag matches? That must have been quite a revelation for them.

Following up on last week, Alicia Fox, Cameron and Natalya go head-to-head. Who will rise to the occasion?

We join Natalya mid-entrance, with Alicia and Cameron already in the ring. That doesn’t bode well for the length of this match. Entrances may not seem like essential things, but they can be indicative of how important the match is treated. If there’s no build up, there’s no excitement. Here’s hoping they give us an excuse to be excited in the match itself.

The bell rings, and Alicia and Natalya immediately gang up on Cameron, obviously still pissed about her opportunistic DDTs last week. Cameron escapes the ring, leaving Alicia to roll up Natalya for an early pin. Natalya kicks out.

Natalya goes for a quick finish of her own, sweeping Alicia’s feet out from under her and attempting the lock in the Sharpshooter. Alicia manages to get to the bottom rope, slipping out onto the ring apron. When she comes face to face with Natalya again, though, she gets socked in the face, and falls to the outside.

Cameron takes this opportunity to sneak up on Natalya, rolling her up for a pin. Natalya kicks out at two and springs to her feet, taking Cameron down with a discus clothesline. Natalya goes for the pin, but Alicia quickly puts an end to it, reentering the ring and breaking up the pin.

Cameron goes to take a breather while Alicia and Natalya square off. Natalya reverses a whip into the ropes, but Alicia uses her athleticism to take control again, hitting Natalya with a unique hurricanrana. She knocks Nattie off her feet again for good measure before running the ropes and going for a somersault legdrop. Natalya rolls out of the way, though, leaving nothing but mat for Alicia.

Natalya runs the ropes and hits her step-over-dropkick-to-the-chest move that’s a mouthful to describe. She tries for a pin, but Cameron reaches in and pulls her out of the ring. She shoves Natalya into the barricade, attempting to knock her out of the equation. Cameron heads back into the ring and tries to take out Alicia as well, but gets a boot to the face for her troubles.

Alicia goes for another pin, but Cameron kicks out at two. She sends Cameron into the corner and tries to hit a big boot, but Cameron dodges it, leaving Alicia with one leg caught on the top rope. Cameron slams her to the mat.

As this is going on, I tune in to the commentary long enough to hear a metaphor about a crowded steam room with a single door. The Divas are all fighting for the number one contendership like they would fight to exit this steam room, you see. Jesus Christ. Put that in the Terrible Diva Match Commentary Hall of Fame. That ceremony would be hosted by Jerry Lawler, of course.

Meanwhile, as my brain attempts to reassemble itself from the mush it was rendered into by this metaphor, Cameron is climbing to the top rope. Natalya reappears in an attempt to knock her down, but Cameron fights her off. Alicia then tries to do the job herself, attacking Cameron and climbing up there with her. Natalya surprises them both, though, by grabbing hold of Alicia and creating a Tower of Doom, taking both of her opponents all the way to the mat!

All the Divas are down, but understandably it’s Nattie who’s in the best shape. She regains her bearings first and tries to pin Cameron, who kicks out. When Natalya rolls out of the way, Alicia tries to pin Cameron herself, getting the same result. Natalya then sneaks up on Alicia with a roll-up, but Alicia kicks out.

Nattie decides to eliminate Alicia from the equation, hitting her with a discus clothesline and shoving her out of the ring. She returns her attentions to Cameron, who surprises her with a small package pin. Natalya kicks out and is on the attack immediately, ducking a clothesline from Cameron and trapping her in a waistlock. When she goes to slam Cameron, though, she finds herself being rolled through into yet another pin attempt, which she kicks out of and reverses, which Cameron kicks out of and reverses. When all is said and done, there’s no three-count.

When they’re both vertical again, Natalya takes control, knocking Cameron down and going for the Sharpshooter. She locks it in, and when Cameron gets close to the ropes, she drags her back to the center of the ring. It looks like curtains for Cameron until Alicia reappears, trying to surprise Nattie with a scissors kick. Natalya telegraphs it, though, releasing the Sharpshooter and dodging the attack.

This earns Alicia Cameron’s spot in the Sharpshooter. Natalya locks in the submission on her, but it isn’t long before Cameron makes her presence felt again. She attacks Natalya from behind, breaking the hold. She tries to toss Natalya out of the ring, but it’s reversed, and Cameron goes flying to the outside.

Alicia takes advantage of Natalya’s distraction, kicking her in the face. She then hits Nattie with a modified scissors kick, seemingly putting her down for the count. It’s then that Cameron pops back up, tossing Alicia out of the ring and claiming the pin for her own. She covers Natalya and earns the three count!

Natalya is understandably pissed, but it’s Alicia who throws a tantrum. YEESSSS!!! Please have another mental break, Alicia. Make “crazy Alicia” an annual summer event. Blame it on the warm weather.

Elsewhere, two other Divas had some interesting character moments. One in particular brought bad news. Poor Rosa Mendes, having seemingly been dumped by Fandango on Raw, tries to salvage the relationship:

Fandango rather unceremoniously tells her that they’re done, leaving her to wallow. Adam Rose and the Rosebuds take that moment to come running by, and Rose sidles up to Rosa, telling her that if she makes the “right moves”, she might find herself being #1 in someone’s life again. Rosa the Rosebud? Someone on the creative team thinks they’re clever (they’re not).

Rosa ends up making the wrong move, accidentally costing Rose his match against Fandango. Fandango celebrates while Rosa spirals. #PoorRosa.

Summer Rae is also seeing some big changes, perhaps cementing a babyface turn in a segment with The Miz and Mizdow:

Miz interrupts an interview with Summer and Mizdow, allowing Summer to get in a burn: Mizdow does Miz better than Miz himself. She also gives Mizdow the idea to challenge Miz to a match on Raw for the right to the Miz persona. She caps off the segment by slapping Miz after he says she should go back to the LFL, insinuating that wearing a helmet would improve her looks. And that’s the most I’ve ever typed “Miz” in a single paragraph. Miz.

Lastly, Natalya made another appearance alongside Tyson Kidd and Cesaro when they took on Total Divas supporting cast John Cena and Daniel Bryan:

Thoughts: It’s definitley a novelty to see a Triple Threat match outside a Pay-Per-View – and on SmackDown, no less, where Diva match creativity goes to die. It was nice to see a match that seemed like it was high stakes, even though nothing was on the line. That’s what Diva matches should strive for: a feeling of importance. I would have appreciated full entrances, because they help add to the sense of importance, even if it’s just symbolic. If we’re joining them “in progress”, it gives the segment a sense of urgency, like the WWE is eager to get it over with as soon as possible, shoving them on stage and telling them to hurry up. Not good.

Even so, the Divas did their best to make the moment feel big. It was a nice Triple Threat – not particularly innovative, but exciting nonetheless, thanks to the unique scenario and the fresh combination of Divas. That’s no thanks to the commentary team, who at times sounded like they were announcing a golf match. Maybe they should crack open that Mountain Dew swill they’re always trying to sell us. There were definitely some sloppy moments, a particularly egregious one coming from veteran Alicia, who should know better. Still, I do think, in a weird way, the frantic nature of the Divas division these days – everyone scrambling to take that top spot – allows for this kind of ramshackle match. Everyone’s desperate to prove themselves, and these three were given a chance to do so, and don’t want to squander it.

In the end, it’s Cameron who gets one up on Alicia and Natalya for the second week in a row. Is she in line for a Divas Title shot? I doubt it. This does help beef up the division, though, since prior to this Cameron’s role was basically “heel jobber”. If Cameron is treated as a threat, despite little build up, everyone’s a threat. That’s why I’m glad she won here – neither Alicia or Natalya really need the win, as they were treated as the favorites to win. No one would expect Cameron to come out on top of this kind of scenario, but she managed it. That’s a much more more interesting story, to me.

For the record, I think Naomi should be getting the next Divas Title shot. That doesn’t mean these Divas should disappear, though. I like the way they’re being used here, developing a storyline of their own independent of the Divas Title. After all, we are heading into summer, the one season where Divas are free to run multiple storylines at once. Come to think of it, that should be the Diva fans’ mantra when things get tough: SUMMER IS COMING. Hang tight – we’re almost there.

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