Welcome to another SmackDown Redux! On the last stop before Fastlane, we’re (hopefully) finishing up our Groundhog Day-esque loop of Paige wrestling singles matches while Nikki and/or Brie Bella observes.
At this point, the repetition has got to be intentional, right? Maybe it’s the creative team’s way of thumbing their noses at Divas fans? Maybe it’s a meta thing, referencing how Diva storylines are constantly recycled. Maybe someone accidentally copied and pasted “Paige vs. ______” on the script for 500 weeks straight and we’ll be doing this for years. Maybe I just put more thought into this than anyone on the creative team…
Screw it. Let’s just watch the match:
Brie and Nikki are (ONCE AGAIN) at the commentary table, sporting sunglasses because Paige is so blindingly pale. Get it???? Cameron is in the ring, poised to be Paige’s lunch. The bell rings, and instead of a tie-up, Cameron elects to just whip her hair in Paige’s face. Paige grabs said hair and tosses Cameron across the ring by it. She backs Cameron into the corner and hits some back elbows before dragging her through the ropes and nailing her with some knees.
Paige is distracted when she re-enters the ring, and Cameron takes advantage, taking her down with a DDT. She kicks her a few times before going for the pin. Paige kicks out after the one count. Cameron drags Paige over to a corner, taunting her a bit before sandwiching her into the corner with a clothesline.
Paige stumbles out of the corner, allowing Cameron to charge and slam her down, face first. Cameron goes for the pin again, Paige kicking out at two.
Cameron exits the ring and slaps Paige through the ropes, adding insult to injury. Cameron climbs back into the ring and gets caught up in congratulating herself, allowing Paige to sneak up and pull her into a schoolboy pin. Cameron manages to kick out, but tables have turned: Paige hits a series of short-arm clotheslines, a dropkick and a kick to the chest. At that point, we all know what time it is: PTO’clock. Paige locks in the submission, and Cameron taps out quickly.
Post-match, Paige completes the surreal repetition by jawing with the Bellas while Nikki holds up the Divas Title. Seriously, am I stuck in an episode of The Twilight Zone? Is no one else seeing how ridiculous this is?
After the show, the Bellas made an appearance on SmackDown Fallout, speaking a bit more about Nikki’s match with Paige:
The Bellas chalk their harassment of Paige up to “having fun”. Hey, at least someone’s enjoying this. Nikki says Paige, despite all of her wins, doesn’t have momentum. She promises to hold on to the title.
Thoughts: I found it hard to pay attention to Paige and Cameron’s match, as I was too busy being annoyed by the blatant lack of effort being put into this match. It’s not the lack of story. It’s not the lack of excitement. It’s just the blatant “rise and repeat” nature of this angle. The WWE has proven that they don’t give even half of a shit about selling this match, so they’ve put the feud on cruise control from the get-go, burning the days between then and Fastlane.
I guess, when you get down to it, it says a lot about how they value the Divas: a Divas match at a Pay-Per-View is (usually) a given these days. The WWE likely feels obligated to book something Diva-related for a PPV. But the lack of effort being put into booking this and the storylines before it shows that they believe that no one (or next to no one) is watching the PPVs/subscribing to the Network for the Divas. They believe they can skate by, doing the bare minimum, and the numbers won’t suffer, because no one is tuning in for the women. They’re the garnish on the plate: no one orders it, but there it is, because something needs to fill the empty spot.
I suppose the WWE has no motivation to change their ways because they haven’t felt any blowback. But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that we’ve seen time and time again: if you don’t give the fans a reason to care about the Divas match, they won’t. And, when the Paige/Nikki match gets its expected tepid reaction at Fastlane, the WWE will use that as an excuse to not invest in the Divas. Rinse, repeat.
What could possibly break this cycle? Surely, a trending hashtag won’t do the job. The vast majority of mainstream fans won’t get off their asses to stick up for the Divas, because they’ve been trained to not give a shit about them. I guess the best you can do is shed a light on the crappy treatment Divas are getting, providing evidence to back up the claims and letting the internet catch on to it. If the mainstream media is finally catching on to the poor treatment of women in Hollywood, perhaps getting people (even non-wrestling fans) to care about the marginalization of women in wrestling isn’t too far fetched. The internet loves some dog piling outrage, right? Let’s point them in this direction.