Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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SmackDown Redux (July 9th, 2015): The Better Bad Girls


Welcome to SmackDown, known to many as the most skippable show in wrestling. Perhaps that’s not technically true, but as far as the Divas go these days, we’re almost guaranteed to not see anything in the way of storyline progress. Lately, SmackDown’s become the “Naomi loses to Team Bella” show, the point of which I have yet to grasp. Frankly, I’m not sure there is anything to grasp, unless Naomi finally snaps and puts everyone involved in this storyline on the injured list.

This week, she and Tamina Snuka team up to take on Alicia Fox and Brie Bella. Which heel team will prevail? The suspense is killing me!!!

Alicia, Brie and Nikki Bella are out first, followed by Naomi and Tamina. Brie and Naomi tie up to start things off, Naomi backing Brie into the ropes and shoving her by the face. Brie returns the favor with a face shove of her own.

Naomi responds with a slap, prompting Brie to take her down with Lou Thesz press. She dodges a rebuttal attack from Naomi, shoving her into the ropes and hitting her with a running knee strike. She covers Naomi for the pin, but only earns a near fall.

Naomi’s had enough, tagging in Tamina, who goes right to work on Brie, delivering blows that send her into the corner. Brie dodges her charging attack, though, and delivers some knees to the stomach. She then climbs to the second rope, but her flying attack is thwarted by Tamina, who catches her and roughly slams her to the mat. Tamina covers Brie, but Brie kicks out.

Tamina stops Brie from making it to her own corner and sends her into enemy territory, propping her up in the corner and kicking her a few times before tagging in Naomi. Naomi delivers some kicks of her own and pulls her to the middle of the ring, lifting her up for a bodyslam. Brie wriggles free, though, a delivers a right hand to the back of Naomi’s head, knocking her down. Brie immediately tries to tag in Alicia, but Naomi’s on her quick, and pulls her back, nailing her with an elbow drop.

Naomi pulls Brie to her feet and tries to hit her corner bulldog, but Brie shoves her away, sending her straight into the turnbuckle. This buys Brie just enough time to tag in Alicia, who comes in hot and takes down Naomi with a dropkick and a hair toss. She even gets in a lick on Tamina before returning to Naomi, kicking her in the corner.

Alicia sends Naomi into the ropes and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, Tamina tagging herself in when Naomi hits the ropes. Thus, Alicia’s ensuing pin attempt is illegal, and the referee tells her this. Tamina enters the ring and hoists Alicia onto her shoulders. The Bellas see the danger ahead of them, and Nikki immediately distracts the referee, allowing Brie to free Alicia, shoving Tamina right into Naomi and knocking her off the ring apron. Alicia then pounces, hitting Tamina with a scissors kick. She covers Tamina, earning the pin and the win.

On SmackDown Fallout, the triumphant trio talked about making a “change”:

Nikki says Team Bella is making a change by dominating the division. Er, okay, so 2 + 2 = 7. Alicia reflects on their victories and one loss to Paige, while Brie says they are the total package. She says she would love to see any Diva try to compete with them.

Brie’s confidence pretty much confirms to me that Paige won’t be outnumbered soon. Will she soon be equipped with some Bossy Flair? Okay, that was terrible. Come back to me later. I can do better.

We didn’t really see any progress in the Lana/Summer Rae feud, but Summer did accompany Rusev to the ring for his first post-injury match against Fandango. Hey, it’s like old times!

On SmackDown Fallout, Rusev and Summer spoke about Dolph Ziggler‘s smashed throat and the Bulgarian Brute’s new boots:

Rusev claims the match was just an opportunity for him to test his new footwear, while Summer makes it clear that she has no residual feelings for her former beau, saying that nothing compares to Rusev.

Thoughts: I gotta say, I’m not crazy about SmackDown becoming the Bellas/Naomi show if Naomi’s just going to lose all the time. She’s being treated as Paige’s stand-in, simply there to help the Bellas to add to their dominance and find more and more creative ways to cheat to win. Obviously, these wins mean nothing if Naomi’s never winning.

I really don’t understand the booking here: the match had Brie and Alicia working like babyfaces, fighting back and getting the hot tag. However, they cheated to win and mocked Naomi and Tamina post-match, so… I guess the WWE can only book Divas tag matches one way, needing one team to draw the crowd’s sympathy. I would have loved to see both teams be fully heel, both cheating until one team one-ups the other and ultimately steals the win.

This feud, as if it wasn’t already half-assed, has been totally stalled by Paige’s Tough Enough gig. She’s only available for Raw, and even then they’re not bothering to really do anything because of her limited availability. Whose bright idea was it to book her in a championship feud when she was so busy? It’s like like there aren’t a ton of Divas waiting for an opportunity. To make matters worse, Paige is quickly becoming insufferable on Tough Enough, so it’s not like it’s even a fair trade. The Divas Title feud is being hobbled in the name of a lame reality show. I can’t wait to see what happens when the Diva Search returns!

At this point, I’m willing to bet that we’ll see a straightforward Nikki vs. Paige Divas Title match at Battleground, which is totally uninspiring. Hopefully, though, some sort of NXT invasion from Charlotte and Sasha Banks to make all of this dullness worthwhile. I only wish they could have pulled the trigger well before this storyline lulled everyone to sleep.

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