Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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SmackDown Redux (August 13th, 2015): Take Two


It’s SmackDown time again! This week, we’ve got a kind of rematch on our hands: Charlotte takes on Naomi.

Last week, that same match was thrown out and restarted in favor of a tag match. Somehow, I doubt we’ll see that happen again, but there’s no telling what kind of interference Team B.A.D. may cook up. Let’s watch:

Charlotte is accompanied to the ring by PCB teammate Becky Lynch (making this CB?), while Naomi’s got twice as much backup in the form of Sasha Banks and Tamina Snuka.

After the opening bell, Charlotte gets right in Naomi’s face, but Naomi is far from intimidated, delivering a slap to start things off. She quickly reconsiders her own boldness, though, and takes refuge in the ropes when Charlotte charges after her. When Charlotte returns to the middle of the ring, Naomi goes back on the attack, kicking her in the midsection.

Naomi tries to whip Charlotte into the ropes, but it’s reversed, Charlotte tackling Naomi with a Lou Thesz press. When she gets to her feet, she tries to send Naomi into the ropes, but that too is reversed. On the return, Charlotte ducks under Naomi and takes her down with a knee to the midsection, punctuating it all with a slap. Naomi slips to the outside for a breather, but Charlotte soon gets hold of her from the ring apron. Naomi frees herself by sweeping Charlotte’s legs out from under her. Charlotte rolls off the ring apron, standing up on the outside just in time to be met with an enziguri from Naomi. With that, we had to a commercial.

When we return, the Divas are back in the ring, Naomi having latched a headlock on Charlotte. Charlotte gets to her feet quickly and works herself free, but Naomi maintains control, holding onto Charlotte and pummeling her with a barrage of forearms to the face. Charlotte drops to the mat. Naomi runs the ropes and takes Charlotte down by landing square on her chest. She hooks Charlotte’s legs for the pin, but she kicks out.

Naomi stays on the attack, hooking her left arm and locking in the same headlock as before. Again, Charlotte gets to her feet, but can’t get free, Naomi keeping firm hold on her. Naomi nails her with her turnbuckle bulldog, a standing dropkick and a split legdrop, which she turns into a cocky pin. Charlotte kicks out.

Naomi locks in that headlock for a third time. This time, Charlotte manages to take control, fighting to her feet and blocking Naomi’s follow-up bulldog before rolling her up for a pin. Naomi rolls through to avoid the pin, though, and kicks Charlotte square in the face. Charlotte stumbles to her feet and fights off Naomi with a kick of own. She keeps Naomi at bay with chops and a neckbreaker before taking her out her with a spear. She covers Naomi for the pin, but only earns a near fall.

Naomi takes to the corner and fights off Charlotte with two boots to the chest. She then charges at her, but Charlotte catapults her over the ropes to the outside, fortuitously dropping her right on top of Sasha and Tamina. Charlotte quickly returns her opponent to the ring and drops her to the mat, locking in the figure four leglock and bridging it into the Figure Eight. Naomi soon taps out.

Becky and Charlotte celebrate in the ring as Naomi retreats with Sasha and Tamina.

Thoughts: This was a fun little match. I like how Charlotte and Naomi work together: they’re both defined by their athleticism, but utilize it in very different ways. Charlotte’s all about outpacing her opponent, while Naomi’s about impact. I especially loved Naomi in this. The forearms she delivered to Charlotte’s face just looked brutal – brutal in a way few Divas have been since the days Jacqueline was allowed to wrestle stiff. Her qualities bring together such a unique combination: Naomi’s agility, creativity and brutality really carves out a unique space for herself. I remember wondering how she’d be able to translate her babyface moveset post-heel turn, and she’s exceeded all of my expectations. She’s so good.

When I first read the spoilers, I was a bit disappointed to see Naomi take the loss, since Charlotte has been winning so often that she doesn’t exactly need to pick up the win here. However, the way this match went down didn’t make Naomi look weak at all: she was in control for most of it, and not in a “dirty, cheating” way. She legitimately had Charlotte on the ropes until she was tossed out of the ring. Charlotte then immediately locked in the Figure Eight, earning the tap out win. So, yes, Charlotte picked up yet another win here, but Naomi was the one who looked stronger.

I suppose it works as a sequel to last week’s events, where Naomi and Sasha won the tag match in “controversial” fashion. I liked that it showed some continuity, allowing us to see the singles match that was aborted last time. This time, Sasha didn’t get the chance to break up Charlotte’s submission because she was taken out with Naomi’s forced dive. That wink at the recent past makes the match feel a lot less random than the other matches we’ve seen in the Diva Revolution.

It’s too early to speculate on who will win at SummerSlam, but I’m willing to bet the WWE will go for the “feel good” thing and have PCB pick up the win. I don’t really care who wins, since the tides have turned constantly in this storyline. I’m sure it won’t have a huge effect on things. I just hope we get some sort of direction from it, whether it’s in the form of a number one contender for the Divas Title or a more focused story. The Divas need a goal to work towards, and there’s only so long that the “Go team!” mentality will keep fans hooked.

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