Hello, readers! It’s SmackDown time once again, and we’ve got another fresh Divas match-up on the card. That wasn’t even sarcasm!
Though she retained the Divas Title at Extreme Rules, Nikki Bella still has some work to do to complete her evolution into a babyface. Here, on SmackDown, she’s getting that chance in the form of a revenge match. Let’s see how it all shakes out:
Backstage, Cameron is gossiping with former-temporary-face-now-heel-for-real Summer Rae about Naomi‘s attack on Brie Bella on Raw. Summer admits that she didn’t think Naomi had a mean streak in her and Cameron takes credit for it, saying she taught her everything she knows.
Suddenly, Nikki appears behind them, horror-movie-villain-like, and approaches. Upon seeing Nikki, Summer splits, leaving Cameron with the Divas Champion. Nikki sarcastically applauds Cameron for her “bravery” in talking trash about Brie when she’s not there. She says they can finish this conversation in the ring tonight.
Cameron says she’ll have no problem doing what Naomi did to Brie to Nikki tonight. Nikki fires back, saying she’s nowhere near as good as Naomi, telling her to stop making the comparison. Ouch! I like sassy babyfaces. They beat the hell out of bland babyfaces. As long as they’re not being hypocrites, I’m cool with them talking trash. It keeps things interesting.
Later in the night, we join Cameron already in the ring (a great sign for her prospects in this match), awaiting the entrance of Nikki.
As Nikki makes her way to the ring, Naomi appears in the corner of the screen to rant about the Bellas. She says the Bellas will fail, as all do-gooders do, and promises to take the belt from Nikki.
The bell rings, and Cameron and Nikki ties up, Nikki immediately taking control and tossing Cameron across the ring. She mocks Cameron with some jumping jacks and continues to toy with her a bit, knocking her off her feet when she attempts an attack. When Cameron comes charging again, Nikki tosses her over her shoulder and locks in an armbar.
Cameron fights her way out and slams Nikki face first into the corner. Nikki fights off her attack, but when she attempts her second rope enziguri, Cameron dodges it. On commentary, the ever insightful Jerry Lawler makes a thinly-veiled Bruce Jenner joke. BE A STAR, WWE! Atta boys.
Cameron goes for a pin off of Nikki’s hard fall, but Nikki quickly kicks out. She beats on Nikki a bit before kicking her out of the ring. She follows the Divas Champ and tosses her into the barricade, jawing with the fans a bit. Nikki favors her knee when Cameron forces her back into the ring and nails her in the back with a baseball slide-like split kick. Cameron attempts a pin again, but Nikki kicks out.
Cameron latches on a modified front facelock, which Nikki soon powers out of. She tosses Cameron away, but is soon slammed to the mat, Cameron taking back control. She locks in a headlock, all the while mocking Nikki. When Nikki starts to fight to her feet, Cameron jumps onto her back, latching on spider-like. Nikki manages to knock her off by backing into the corner with force. She stumbles free and buys herself a breather.
Soon, Cameron comes charging, but Nikki ducks it, hitting some offense of her own. She takes Cameron down with two clotheslines and a dropkick, prompting her to back into a corner. There’s nobody home when Nikki comes charging, but Cameron’s followup attack is thwarted with a back elbow. Nikki nails her second rope enziguri and goes for the pin, but Cameron kicks out.
Nikki goes to pull Cameron to her feet, but Cameron drags her down into a surprise pin attempt. Nikki manages to kick out. Cameron’s still proud of herself, though, slapping the taste out of Nikki’s mouth before taunting the crowd. Nikki returns the favor with a thunderous forearm, knocking Cameron clean off her feet. This sets her up perfectly for the Rack Attack, which Nikki hits, pinning Cameron for a clean victory.
Natalya also made an appearance on the show, managing Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a failed attempt to regain the Tag Team Titles from Big E and Kofi Kingston of New Day:
Thoughts: Not a mind-blowing match, but one that did its job: cementing Nikki as a babyface. Obviously, she was already in that camp at Extreme Rules, but the change was complete here: she was defending her sister’s honor and proving that she’s capable of winning a match without outside interference, which she obviously used on Sunday.
I’m loving how babyface Nikki is shaping up. She’s still got attitude, not afraid to mock her Cameron, but is also able to pull out the classic babyface heroics that get the crowd behind her. My main fear in turning a strong heel into a babyface is that they’ll lose most of what makes them compelling. This match assuaged my fears a bit, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Nikki needs to keep her attitude and pass the memo along to Brie as well. Deep down, the Bellas have a mean streak – they’re rule-benders. Just because the crowd’s rooting for them doesn’t mean they need to be a pair of goody two-shoes. I’m not expecting them to be tweeners, but a few shades of gray wouldn’t hurt.
It’s still nice to see Cameron get the spotlight coming off of her Triple Threat match win a few weeks ago. I’m not expecting anything solid to come out of it, but she’s proven herself to be an interesting foil. There’s no denying that she gets under people’s skin, so the WWE is smart to take advantage of that.
Lastly, I’m glad to see that Naomi’s definitely still in the title hunt. I expect a rematch to be announced for Payback soon. The question is if the WWE is ready to put the belt on her. I’m all for it – a change-up is needed. It would help Nikki become an even stronger babyface, chasing the title Trish Stratus-style and gaining more of the audience’s sympathy. I’m not counting on it, but I can dream, can’t I?