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SmackDown Redux (March 14th, 2014): Nikki Stays Strong

Hello, SmackDown fans! That’s a subset of Diva fans, right? Okay, maybe not. Anyways, I’m filling in for Steven on this week’s Friday night show, which saw Nikki Bella attempt to continue her hot streak in a one-on-one match against Tamina Snuka. Will she keep that winning streak alive? Let’s see:

Nikki is already in the ring with sister Brie, who is also wearing her ring gear. Are they planning on pulling some Twin Magic? Maybe? No? Okay. Tamina is out next, entering to AJ Lee‘s music. I’m not sure I like the effect that has. It kind of steals her thunder..

AJ joins the commentary team as the match gets started. Nikki takes control, catching Tamina in a side headlock. Tamina tosses her off into the ropes, but Nikki hangs on. She hits Tamina with a drop toe-hold into the middle rope, following it up with a wrist lock.

Tamina isn’t having this, and hits Nikki, sending her to the mat. Nikki holds on to Tamina, though, kipping up to her feet and slamming her opponent to the mat. Nikki goes for an early pin attempt, but Tamina kicks out easily. Nikki heads out to the ring apron, driving a shoulder into Tamina’s midsection. Nikki attempts to do more damage, but Tamina kicks her legs out from under her, sending her all the way to the outside, landing in front of the commentary table.

AJ makes fun of Nikki’s tough luck (was that a Nikki impression?) as Tamina collects her from outside the ring. She takes off her vest and – WAIT FOR IT – throws it at Nikki. Did you hear that canned “OHHH!” reaction to the vest throw? For real, WWE production team?

Tamina drives Nikki’s back against the ring apron before tossing her back into the ring. She tosses Nikki off the ropes and hits her with a Samoan drop on the return. Brie gets the crowd behind Nikki as Tamina heads to the top rope, attempting the Superfly Splash. Nikki rolls out of the way, though, and goes on a string of offense, at one point tossing Tamina over her shoulder.

She drives a knee into Tamina’s face and goes for another pin. Tamina kicks out at two. Tamina fights off Nikki at hits her with the superkick! AJ thinks this is it, because she leaves the commentary table, ready to do some celebratory skipping. Nikki kicks out at two, though, and AJ can’t believe it. She makes a run for the ring, but Brie’s there, and takes her out with a flying clothesline.

Tamina immediately comes to AJ’s aid, pulling off Brie and throwing her into the barricade. She heads back into the ring and goes for another superkick, but Nikki ducks it, lifting Tamina onto her shoulders and hitting the Rack Attack! She pins Tamina and gets the three-count.

Thoughts: They set up this match pretty well, with Nikki looking very very strong, but in what I think are believable ways. The superkick is devastating, but it’s not Tamina’s only weapon, so I don’t think it was outside the realm of possibility for Nikki to kick out of it. Having AJ think the match was over was a nice touch, and sold how shocking it was that Nikki held on. I just wish the commentary team sold it too. Michael Cole reacted like Nikki kicked out of a suplex, and I think that took the wind out of it a bit.

Hitting the Rack Attack on Tamina was impressive, and helps sell Nikki as a strong Diva. I doubt they’re trying to make her into someone like Kaitlyn or Beth Phoenix, who had the physiques to go along with those “powerhouse” personas, but I think having a distinct move set that focuses on strength and power moves helps set her apart from Brie and the rest of the Divas. Nikki’s so much more interesting to me with the Rack Attack as her finisher, as opposed to the Bella Buster – she’s starting to really feel like an individual competitor, much like Brie did when she started on her singles run last fall.

I’m curious to see where this goes. With Natalya having been beaten, is Nikki really the only one in line for that WrestleMania title shot? I really hope more girls start to challenge Nikki for that spot, just because I think a multi-Diva match (done well, mind you) would be more WrestleMania-worthy than yet another singles Pay-Per-View title defense for AJ. Maybe with Natalya having pushed AJ to the limit (in the longest Divas Title match ever) and other girls stepping up (Emma? Naomi? A returning Layla? A frustrated Tamina?) we can feasibly set the stage for that.

Why is Nikki getting these wins, then? Maybe it’s because she’s the only babyface Total Divas star to not get her moment in the spotlight. We’ve had everyone (save Eva Marie) challenge AJ at one point, so they are already set up to make a claim for a title shot. Nikki needs this extra push to put her on that level, and two weeks worth of impressive wins more than achieves that, in my opinion.

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