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SmackDown Redux (February 21st, 2017): The Wicked Witch reclaims her throne

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Wrestlemania is just over a month away, and the women of SmackDown appear more than ready to settle their battles on the grandest stage of ’em all. In tonight’s edition of SmackDown Live, we shed some tears, kayfabe lines are somewhat blurred, and a certain someone solidifies herself as the top dog of the division.

SmackDown starts off on an emotional note as General Manager Daniel Bryan brings out our SmackDown Women’s champion Naomi. An emotional Bryan discusses the hard work and dedication that the Glowtastic One had to put in to become champion. He brings up how despite being extremely talented, other ladies were given more opportunities than her, and thus she had to work even harder. And after the whole triumph of Elimination Chamber, he anchors how difficult it is to do what he is about to do. The SmackDown Live General Manager tries to hold back a little, but is forced to vacate the title from Naomi as she has an injury that will keep her out of action for 30 days. Before she gives the title over, the now former champ thanks the fans for being by her side the entire journey. She also sends a message to any of the women that will be “borrowing” her title, that they will feel the glow. Get ’em!

As Naomi then vacates the ring, Alexa Bliss boastfully walks out, looking down on the former champion. Little Miss Bliss soon takes to the mic and expresses how great she felt the segment had gone down. Quickly after her little banter, she tells Daniel that the only other option is the obvious one; since Naomi cannot defend her title in Alexa’s rematch clause, the SmackDown Women’s championship should simply be handed to the previous champ, which is Alexa. But unfortunately for the Wicked Witch of WWE, Bryan has other plans.

The GM says that yes, Bliss may get the title, but she’ll have to fight for it against none other than Becky Lynch! Cue aggressive stomping and whatnot from Bliss.

Lynch soon takes to the ring and the match follows.

Both of the women try to go for the pin straight away but each attempt is countered. The two show off their chemistry with some great transitional pins, an Enziguri from Lynch, as well as dirty tactics (such as a hair pull) from Bliss throughout. The match is very seamless and proves to be an interesting start to the night. Towards the end of the match Bliss tries to escape the ring but is pulled back by her opponent, as she simultaneously pulls the ring skirt back with her. The referee then notices the movement of the skirt so goes to put it back. Meanwhile, Bliss punches Becky’s throat and rolls her up – whilst pulling the tights – and gets a three count.

So, as if the past two weeks didn’t happen, the Wicked Witch of WWE reclaims her throne as she is crowned the new SmackDown Women’s champion!

Following the win, Alexa is asked about her “underhanded” win. Bliss – clearly offended – says that nothing about the win was “underhanded” and that she simply is willing to do whatever it takes to win. She then states that she needs to go and “take these ugly plates off of [her] title” and walks away in a humph.

On Talking Smack, Becky Lynch discusses her match with Bryan and Renee Young. She states that regardless of what she does, Bliss always finds a way to cheat her way to victory. Becky tells the pair that Bliss may be champion, but she’s also another word that starts with “c”… a “cheater.”

Lynch also tells us how sad it was to witness Naomi having to give up her title and that seeing her friend go through that is devastating.

Our second women’s match of the night is the much anticipated Falls Count Anywhere contest between Nikki Bella and Natalya. Before the match begins, the women are asked backstage regarding their current situation. Natalya says that despite Bella’s undying support from the WWE Universe, she’s only where she is because she’s been “manufactured in a lab for Instagram likes.” She then says that she plans to expose Bella (emphasizing that Nikki already does that through her “lousy wrestling skills”) for being a “cheap Natalya knock off.”

Nikki then tells Renee that she used to feel bad for Natalya, but no longer does. Bella says that she is “more than just a pretty face” and was the longest reigning Divas champion for a reason. She then leaves us with a statement saying that Natalya will be left as a “broken Hart.”

As soon as the match begins Bella goes straight for the spear. A cowardly Natalya then dips to the outside and is chased for a short while. Once Nikki knocks Natalya down, she then goes for a table under the ring. Neidhart however, has other plans as she kicks Bella to the ground and puts the table away – but not after asking the crowd if they wanted some tables, of course. The action quickly turns around for Bella as she gets ahold of a kendo stick and whacks it across Natalya’s backside and legs consistently.

The pair soon enter the crowd and Natalya manages to get the upperhand for a short while as she shouts insults to her opponent again and again. My personal favourite is the overly aggressive “YOU’RE PATHETIC!!!” as Nikki lays defenseless on the ground. Bella soon takes over as she knocks the Queen of Black Harts onto the ground and follows it with a roundhouse kick from the barricade. The action then goes back to ringside after a two-count pin attempt from Nikki.

Nikki soon finds herself thrown into the stairs, allowing Neidhart the lead. Natalya then spots the kendo stick and taunts it towards the crowd before throwing it on the ground – because she’s not here to please you! The Queen of Black Harts then takes apart the commentator’s table, readying it for her opponent. A few reversals take place and Neidhart soon finds herself being held up for Nikki, and smashed into the table via an Alabama Slam. Though the table doesn’t break, the pain is still pretty evident.

The ‘Total Divas’ stars soon end up backstage where they utilize anything around them to bash one another’s bodies. A poignant moment soon takes place however as Natalya tosses Nikki into a blonde woman, causing both of them to crash to the ground. The backstage action intensifies more as Nikki later smashes Natalya’s head into a mirror – but this only allows her to get a two-count.

Both women then end up on the ramp/stage where Nikki implements an aggressive spear to Natalya but also is dropped back-first onto the ground.

Neidhart then senses her victory so attempts to put Bella in a Sharpshooter. This then falls through eventually as Nikki reverses the signature into the Fearless Lock, causing Natalya to contemplate giving up. Just as Neidhart is about to tap however, the blonde woman from before shows up and smacks a white pole on Bella’s stomach – and it appears that the woman is none other than Maryse! The Sexiest of Sexy continues to attack Bella across the body and is only stopped once her husband The Miz grabs her and takes her way (though it looks as though he’s about to spear her at first).

A vulnerable Nikki then lays on the ground and is pinned by Natalya, awarding the bitter Queen of Black Harts the victory.

Following the match, Nikki appears to be pretty hurt by the attack from Maryse. The medical consultant tells her that it appears to be bruising, and could be fairly serious.

We also find out that The Miz will be hosting ‘Miz TV’ with John Cena – could this be linked to tonight’s events?

Thoughts: After last week’s somewhat dry spell, tonight truly made up for it! Between the show stealing Falls Count Anywhere magic to the game-changing title picture, the women of SmackDown were the stars of the night!

The title picture is in a very interesting state right now. Naomi’s injury is devastating enough, and to see her dreams come crashing down only anchors that further. But this all could lead to something even greater.

Part of what made the famous Daniel Bryan story so popular was the fact that it truly felt like the odds were against him. Every. Single. Time. Even when he overcame said odds, more would be in his way. That is exactly what is happening to Naomi.

For years she’s been suffering the struggle of becoming a champion in WWE. And after the buildup that SmackDown gave her, she finally reached the top of the ladder, only to have it unfairly taken away from her. And not only that, but for it to be given to her current biggest enemy will probably sting even more.

How this works well is the fact that now fans are standing behind Naomi even more. The uproar when Bryan simply hinted at her losing the title is proof of that. And it’s clear that she’ll be back in the title picture pretty soon.

Having Naomi forfeit the title under WWE’d dodgy “30 day rule” also anchors in the inequality of the issue. Fans immediately questioned why the likes of Lynch and even Brock Lesnar didn’t have the rule apply to them. And thus, the Naomi Revolution begins… And it makes its biggest stop in her hometown of Orlando, Florida at Wrestlemania.

So, if all goes as predicted, this could be a fantastic storyline. The fans are digging Naomi. And on top of that, the heat that Bliss has obtained since the victory has placed as the top dog of the division. Every fan hates her. And as Lynch exemplified in her Talking Smack segment, so do the women in the back. Alexa is now the ultimate “it girl” in the division, and this is allowing her, the division as a whole and the title to be taken to new heights.

Fans now want to see someone dethrone the Wicked Witch of WWE. It’s unfair that she is able to take the title from Naomi, and it simply makes us want to see her lose her slot even more.

The only downside to this feud is the fact that only Bliss and Lynch got to compete. Alexa is understandable as she had a rematch clause so was required to fight for the title. Becky however, lost her rematches and was never crowned the number one contender. A fairer, more sensible option would have been to include other women so that the playing field feels more equal. What this did was make Becky come across as though she had the unfair advantage and it made her a little bit annoying, if I do say so myself.

Moving on, we have the match of the night. Nikki and Natalya absolutely killed it tonight! What they did was put everything on the line, just like the buildup has been leading us on. We saw them brutally attack each other, and even put their own bodies in danger just to hurt their opponent. This is a true ending to a blood feud. These two have incredible chemistry together and it’s brilliant to see it come to an end like this. Match of the year, anyone?

And of course we can’t end this redux without discussing the Maryse involvement.

Maryse and Nikki may be blurring the kayfabe lines a bit here. Fans want to believe the drama from ‘Total Divas’ – because that is the perfect source for reliable information – so WWE are going to allow them to go ahead with it.

Having these two face off will get fans invested, no matter what their opinion on either lady is. Some want to see if Maryse still has what it takes, others want to see what will be said in the feud, and then some more would want to see how they may integrate with their partners.

At first I wasn’t here for this feud. But now, after seeing Maryse’s attack on Nikki, I’m ready to see the battle lines drawn.

What do you think of this episode? Are you happy with our new champ? How do you think the Maryse and Nikki scenario will go down? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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