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SmackDown Redux (August 20th, 2015): Team Bella Evens the Score

Welcome to the last official stop before SummerSlam! We’ve got a Three-Team Elimination Tag Team match set for this Sunday, PCB (Paige, Charlotte and Becky Lynch), Team B.A.D. (Naomi, Sasha Banks and Tamina Snuka) and Team Bella (Alicia Fox, Brie and Nikki Bella) facing off, two falls to a victory.

With that match on the horizon, the three teams (sans Paige) met up on SmackDown for some insults and a Triple Threat match. Brie looked to even the score heading into SummerSlam and answer PCB and Team B.A.D.’s wins on Raw with one of her own. She squared off with Becky and Sasha, but not before some verbal jabs were delivered:

Team Bella kicks off the segment, triumphant despite their recent shortcomings. Alicia takes the mic first, introducing Nikki as the woman who will become the longest reigning Divas Champion in a mere 26 days and is the embodiment of strength, integrity and fearlessness. Brie calls her, “the greatest twin sister in the world.” Nikki then speaks, thanking her Team Bella sisters. She admits that though she prides herself in her fearlessness, she has her doubts. All of Team Bella has had to step their game up in the wake of the Diva Revolution. Sasha even managed to get the best of her on Raw. Nikki admits that Sasha didn’t disappoint and believes that one day, she’ll make a great Divas Champion. Today is not that day, though.

Nikki dismisses Sasha’s win as a fluke, claiming that it doesn’t make her revolutionary. She, on the other hand, has proven herself as the most dominant Divas Champion in WWE history and is the most powerful woman in sports entertainment. Alicia says they’re proud for the Diva Revolution, but the end is in sight, because Team PCB and Team B.A.D. will fall to them at SummerSlam.

As Nikki starts to thank the WWE Universe, Naomi’s music hits, and enters with a mic in hand. Naomi says Team Bella doesn’t speak for them, and no one is buying their mess. She tells Team Bella to not waste their time crafting a victors’ speech for SummerSlam. Sasha says Team Bella will finally crash and burn at SummerSlam. Brie says Team B.A.D. doesn’t intimidate them and she can think of a better “B” word to represent them.

Sasha calls Brie “cute” and tells her that at SummerSlam, she’ll be a loser just like her sister. She suggests that Brie should be referred to as “Daniel Bryan‘s wife”, since she’s just been riding his coattails. The only time she’ll be saying “yes” is in response to the referee, when he asks her if she wants to submit. Before Sasha can bust out her “bank on it” catchphrase, Brie interrupts her, telling her to “shove it.”

The two come chest to chest, but before they can fight, they’re interrupted by Becky Lynch’s music. She too has a microphone! She says it doesn’t matter if they want to “bank on it” or “shove it” – they’re both in for a lass kicking. She drops the mic, slips into the ring, and it’s match time!

The bell rings, and the Divas circle each other. Brie takes aim at Sasha first, kicking her and doubling her over. Becky sneaks up on Brie and rolls her up, but Brie kicks out before the referee can make the count. Becky takes down both Brie and Sasha with armdrags, but Brie soon fires back, kicking Becky in the midsection as we head to a commercial.

When we return, Becky’s out of the picture and Brie’s got control over Sasha, kicking her in the chest several times. The crowd is fully behind her, chanting “YES!” until she hits a final knee that flattens Sasha. Brie goes for the pin, but Sasha kicks out.

Becky then reenters the fray, targeting Brie. Brie fights her off and turns back to Sasha, hitting her with a dropkick. With Becky and Sasha on opposite sides of the ring, Brie hits them with dueling running knee strikes. She covers Becky for the pin, but Sasha breaks it up.

Sasha takes control, setting Brie up in the corner for her double knee drop. Becky tries to thwart it, but Sasha catches her in a headscissors and sends her head-first into Brie. Sasha sets her up right under Brie and hits them both with the knee drop. Becky rolls out of the ring, so Brie takes Sasha’s pin attempt, kicking out at two.

Sasha takes her time wearing down Brie, taunting her with a “YES!” chant of her own and choking her with her boot. Sasha goes for another pin, but Brie kicks out easily. Sasha whips Brie into the ropes, but is met with a sharp kick. The two charge at each other, resulting in a double clothesline that lays them both out. As they get to their feet, Becky reenters the ring, hitting both with clotheslines. She nails Brie with a dropkick and tosses Sasha with a suplex. Sasha backs into the corner, so Becky whips Brie into her, springing off the second rope to kick Brie into Sasha.

Becky hits a suplex on Brie and covers her for the pin, but only earns a near fall. She goes for another suplex, but Brie wriggles free, shoving Becky into Sasha and knocking her off the ring apron. She rolls Becky into a pin, earning the three count and the win!

Another SummerSlam match got some last minute build-up elsewhere in the show, Lana and Dolph Ziggler taking aim at Summer Rae and Rusev in an in-ring promo:

Dolph sums up the last few weeks he spent on the mend, saying he fought to return to make sure Lana was okay. She repeats what she told him when he asked her if she was alright: “We have to crush those bastards!”

Lana says she has to stand up herself in these circumstances and that their shared belief in revenge makes them a good pair. The two kiss, but are interrupted by the explosive unravelling of Rusev’s new flag, followed by the entrance of Rusev and Summer.

Rusev threatens Dolph, saying that he hasn’t yet felt pain. He vows to crush his throat again at SummerSlam. He says he’ll put him in the Accolade, but only long enough to make him suffer, because he wants him to see Summer place Lana in the Accolade as well.

After a few more threats, Dolph interrupts him to make some promises of his own. He says his comeback will start at SummerSlam. He’ll defeat Rusev, steal the show and (again?) steal Lana – the real one.

Thoughts: Well, that Divas promo wasn’t the greatest, was it? I suspect this was at least partially a response to Mick Foley‘s cry for a “pipebomb” to liven up the Diva Revolution, but that barely caused a ripple. You need more than pot shots to make a good promo. Insults don’t fill the void created by a lack of story.

It felt very shallow, similar to the promos that were cut in the Naomi/Paige/Bellas feud. It’s all just threats and boasts and don’t do anything to add substance to this storyline. That’s pretty much been the Diva Revolution so far, right? It’s all been a string of matches that allowed each team to claim supremacy for a night or two. There’s been nothing driving this outside of the desire to get the next win. That can sustain a storyline for a bit, but as we’ve witnessed, it’s not going to work for the long term. If you want to use a racing metaphor, the Diva Revolution came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. As it approached SummerSlam, it started to coast on the same format: one or two matches on Raw, a match on SmackDown. Rinse, repeat. There was no real story or motivation driving the Divas forward. It got old quick. It’s weird: who would’ve thought Diva fans would get sick of longer matches and two segments on Raw?

The match itself was fun and a lot tighter than some of the Diva Revolution matches we’ve seen so far. A match isn’t great by virtue of being long – it has to keep you engaged all the way through. The recent TakeOver matches have accomplished that, but some of the longer Diva Revolution matches didn’t have that same energy. This match, while short, had energy and excitement. Bonus points for giving erstwhile jobber Brie a pin! At first, I was annoyed by how babyface-ish she was acting in this match, but I suppose most of that has to do with the fans’ reaction. They love their “YES!” chants, and I’m guessing Brie just rolled with it.

Like many, I’m excited to move beyond this repetitive stage – it’s gotten old quick. I’m not sure why the WWE didn’t bother crafting an actual story around this feud, especially since it’s been so hyped. Is it because Tough Enough judge Paige was unavailable for half the week? Is it because they thought it was enough to give them longer matches? Regardless of the reason, I hope they’ve noticed that this model isn’t sustainable. A half-hearted attempt at injecting motivation into the feud, as we saw here, won’t cut it. SummerSlam will, I’m sure, give them plenty of ring time and let the Divas shine (despite the lame “one fall eliminates the whole team” stipulation), but I’m eager to get past it and towards an actual title feud.

Honestly, I don’t care who gets to take the first shot at Nikki’s title, though I’m willing to bet we’ll see Charlotte and Sasha fill out a Triple Threat at Night of Champions. In that scenario, Charlotte would have picked up the win for PCB at SummerSlam, making Nikki tap out. Sasha, having already done that on Raw, stakes a claim of her own. Bing, bang, boom: two contenders. How the rest of the teams play in is anybody’s guess, but it’s got to become clear that they’ll have to step back for this story to have any sort of focus. A nine-Diva feud is fun, but as we’ve learned, it won’t get you anywhere unless you narrow the scope.

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