Saturday, May 18, 2024

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SmackDown Redux (April 25th, 2014): Tamina Makes an Example Out of Natalya

Hello, Diva fans! I’m filling in for Steven this week on the blue brand, where we’ve got two Diva-related matches – well, sort of. Let’s just start with the one that goes as planned. Tamina Snuka, gearing up for her Divas Title shot against Paige at Extreme Rules, takes on Natalya:

Natalya takes control right off the bat, sweeping Tamina’s legs out from under her and transitioning into a front face lock. Tamina uses her strength to fight out of the hold, tossing Natalya off of her.

The Divas trade blocks, Natalya ducking a clothesline and Tamina catching Natalya mid-kick. Natalya rolls through, though, and positions Tamina into a leg submission. Soon enough, Tamina grabs Natalya’s hair and pulls her away from the hold, catching her in a front face lock and pummeling her back.

Natalya turns the tides again, clotheslining Tamina and taking her down to the mat for a side headlock. Tamina gets to her feet and sends Natalya into the ropes, but a shoulder block sends her back to the mat. A dropkick sends Tamina rolling out of the ring for a breather, but Natalya’s right on her, trying to drag her back into the ring. Tamina, playing opossum, grabs Natalya by the hair and pulls her out of the ring.

Tamina finally grabs that breather, taking off her vest and – wait for it! – throws it at Natalya. She tosses her back into the ring and immediately goes for the pin. Natalya kicks out at two, but Tamina stays on her, capturing her in a chin lock.

Natalya elbows her way out of it, but before she can be free, Tamina slams her to the mat, probably giving her some epic whiplash. She drives a knee into Natalya’s back and goes for another pin, but it isn’t enough to seal the deal.

Natalya continues to fight back, but Tamina plants her with a Samoan drop, dragging her into position and prepping to deliver a Superfly Splash. Natalya rolls out of the way in time for Tamina to cancel take-off, stumbling off the turnbuckle. She grabs Natalya, who pulls her into a small package pin. Tamina kicks out.

Tamina charges at Natalya, but gets an elbow to the face. Natalya hits a sunset flip off of an irish whip, rolling into the perfect position for the Sharpshooter. Tamina kicks her off before she can lock it in, but Natalya comes right back with her disqus clothesline, earning another near fall.

Whipped into the turnbuckle, Natalya attempts to slip up and behind Tamina, but gets caught. She slips out of the hold, though, and follows Tamina into the ropes, using the momentum to roll over her shoulder and kip up. Unfortunately for her, she stands up just in time to meet a superkick, getting laid out for the pin. Tamina grabs a hard fought win.

For a match relegated to SmackDown (the land of largely inconsequential matches), this was a pleasant surprise. It was set up excellently, with a fast pace that really sold Tamina and Natalya as equals, trading hold for hold. I think it achieved its ultimate goal, too, selling Tamina as a major threat that not only can use her strength to her advantage, but go hold for hold with someone as crafty as Natalya. Though, I would’ve liked to see her thwart the Sharpshooter mid-hold, showing that Paige’s scorpion cross-lock might not be able to seal the deal.

We’ve got a week before Extreme Rules, so there’s still time for Paige and Tamina to meet face to face. I like that they’re separating them to build up both as threats in their own ways, since the two have no history to exploit for tension. So far, this unexpected feud is working for me!

Now, let’s take a look at a feud that could use some fine-tuning. Or, maybe, just a fresh idea. Emma and Santino Marella are set to take on Layla and Fandango… again:

The wrestling gods must have heard our groans, because the match is killed before it can start, giving Fandango a triple powerbomb off the stage. I’m just going to pretend that was Summer Rae putting out a delayed hit on her former beau. Hell hath no fury, after all..

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