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SmackDown Redux (December 16th, 2014): Naomi Steps into the Limelight

Welcome to a special edition of the SmackDown Redux! Technically, last night’s show was called Super SmackDown, but I tend to associate that name with a brand split, so let’s just refer to it as a live edition of SmackDown away from its home on the SyFy channel. Actually, that’s kind of a mouthful..

This show immediately followed Main Event, which set up a huge match for Naomi: she would face Nikki Bella for the Divas Title. Surely, there will be shenanigans from The Miz, who secured the opportunity for Naomi. How will it all shake out?

Backstage before her big match (and not on video, unfortunately), Naomi got a pep talk from her husband Jimmy Uso. Given how shaky things have been between them lately, she tells him she doesn’t want him at ringside.

Time for the match!

The Divas (including Brie Bella at ringside) get in-ring introductions and all, which may be the first time in a long time that this has happened on SmackDown.

The bell rings, and Naomi immediately ducks an attack from Nikki, grabbing her around the waist and demonstrating some of her athleticism, flipping upside down to take Nikki down with a sunset flip. Nikki kicks out of the resulting pin and immediately gets to her feet, taking Naomi out with a clothesline. She goes for a pin of her own, but Naomi kicks out.

Nikki sends Naomi into the corner, but Naomi blocks Nikki’s attack with her feet. Nikki stops her follow-up attack, trying to toss her over the ropes. Naomi hangs on, though, and kicks Nikki right in the head. She punctuates it by taking Nikki down with a modified Lou Thesz Press. She hooks the leg for the pin, but Nikki kicks out before the two count.

Naomi is quick to her feet, nailing Nikki with forearms. Her Irish whip is reversed, though, and Nikki manages to lay out Naomi with an Alabama Slam. Nikki goes for the pin, and Naomi kicks out. Nikki tries for the pin again following a snap suplex. Naomi kicks out again.

Nikki springboards Naomi off the top rope for an enhanced suplex, but Naomi again kicks out of the pin attempt that follows. Nikki captures Naomi in a headlock. Slowly but surely, Naomi powers out of the hold, freeing herself with an armdrag to Nikki. Both Divas get to their feet and charge at the same time, taking each other out simultaneously.

The Miz takes this opportunity to come to ringside, cheering on Naomi. It seems to work, as Naomi gets to her feet first and takes Nikki down with consecutive dropkicks. After the third, Naomi kips up, fired up, and hits Nikki with her somersault clothesline. She pins Nikki, but the champ kicks out at two.

Naomi slips out onto the ring apron, kicking Nikki in the head over ropes. She hot shots Nikki against the top rope. Another pin attempt, another kick out by Nikki. Naomi drags Nikki to her feet, but it overpowered and finds herself being driven face first onto Nikki’s knee. Nikki goes for the pin, which Naomi kicks out of quickly.

Nikki heads to the second turnbuckle, leaping from it to hit Naomi with a crossbody. Nikki tries for a pin, but Naomi uses her own momentum against her, rolling into a pin attempt of her own. Nikki kicks out. Naomi goes after Nikki, but is sent through the ropes and to the outside. She ends up on the ground near Miz, who checks on her.

This brings out Naomi’s husband Jimmy, who attacks Miz. Naomi is distracted, watching this as she re-enters the ring. Nikki takes advantage of this, rolling Naomi up into a small package pin. She scores the three count and retain the Divas Title!

In defeat, Naomi stares down Jimmy, who stands remorseful on the entrance ramp.

Elsewhere on the show, Lana made a short appearance alongside Rusev as he decimated Ryback:

Rosa Mendes also managed Fandango to a loss against Roman Reigns. Catch a snippet of that below:

Thoughts: The Divas Title bout was a short match, but one that did wonders for Naomi. She lost, yes, but only due to the distraction Miz and Jimmy provided. That infers that maybe, maybe she would have won otherwise. She certainly put on a good show against Nikki, and I was much more entertained by this than I was by the title match at TLC. I think it helped that there was an actual story behind it, with The Miz’s promises and Jimmy’s jealousy. The live SmackDown probably played a part too, as it felt special. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t think for a second that Naomi stood a chance of winning, but it was still exciting.

I wasn’t even expecting Naomi to get her title shot this quickly, but this might not be the last time she challenges for the belt during this storyline. I guess it depends on where AJ Lee is after the new year.

I still think it’s possible that Maryse could factor into this somehow. In a roundabout way, Miz has gained Naomi’s trust in this loss, as she’s likely blaming Jimmy for what happened. That’ll probably lead to more promises from Miz, setting Naomi up for an even bigger humiliation.

No matter how it shakes out, this storyline is putting Naomi in the limelight, which is fantastic for her and probably goes a long way towards a potential title reign in 2015. Naomi fans are well aware of how close she’s come to the gold, but the focus being put on her right now – on every show last week’s since SmackDown, no less – signals that the WWE is investing in her. I really believe that a title reign is in her near future, Miz or no Miz.

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