Thursday, June 20, 2024

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SmackDown Redux (March 3rd, 2016): Three Roads to Cross at ‘Mania

Welcome to this week’s SmackDown Redux! Last week, Charlotte laid down the gauntlet to Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, stating that the two would have to face off to determine a Number One Contender for the Divas Championship at WrestleMania. On Raw, that match would end in a very controversial double pin. And now, on SmackDown, these two women must face off again determine who will face Charlotte at the Show of Shows. Let’s get to the action!

Becky makes her way to the ring to the delight of the crowd in Atlanta as we head to a commercial break. After the break, we get a recap of the double pin from the match on RAW. Sasha makes her way to the ring, showing off her new T-SHIRT as (my own personal Jesus) Mauro Ranallo, hypes up the importance of the match.

The Divas start with a lock up. Becky grabs control and shoves Sasha into the corner. It leads back to the center with a test of strength, with Becky pins Sasha’s shoulders to the mat for the first nearfall of the match. Both Divas get up and Sasha delivers a wheelbarow into a victory roll up for another nearfall. Sasha then applies a drop toe hold and follows up with a front facelock. After  a few moments, Becky starts to power out and delivers a series of armdrags, a back elbow and a big boot.

Becky keeps up the pressure with a top wrist lock which turns into the DisArmHer, but Sasha quickly escapes the hold. Sasha gets the moment to hit a few forearms and drags Becky to the corner. She runs in for her signature knee attack, but Becky counters placing  Sasha on the top rope. Sasha stikes a few times and delivers a sunset flip for a nearfall. Becky reverses for a nearfall. Both Divas get up for a double dropkick, both divas have stare down intensely until…

“Recognition” plays and Charlotte makes her way to the ring with her paps Ric Flair and then we head towards a commercial break.

Back from the break, Sasha is in control with a surfboard hold. Becky to the mat for a nearfall. She gets back into the hold but Becky powers out with a series of strikes, sending the Boss to the corner. She goes for the Lassplex/Bexploder, and Sasha reverses into a O’Connor roll. Becky catches Sasha’s kick and counters with the Bexploder Suplex, gaining another nearfall. Becky tries to add with a leg drop, elbow drop, but misses her second spinning leg drop. This allows Sasha to connect with her double knee attack for a nearfall. We get a shot of the Flairs looking not impressed with the action.

Sasha reverses Becky’s rollup attempt to hit the Bank Statement, however, Becky grabs the ropes. Becky tries to lock in the DisArmHer ut Sasha  counters with multiple knee strikes, and she only gets two. Becky goes for a kick to the mid section and run the ropes, but Becky counters with a lifted European uppercut. She gains another nearfall. Then the two have a back and forth with some fists before Becky counters a backslide dropkicking The Boss to the outside. Becky misses her flying rearm and both Divas clothesline each other. Then Ric Flair begins to dance and Woo around the women as they are down. They both allow Charlotte to attack them from behind. She does the old school ground and pound to Becky before throwing her to the barricade and the exploder Suplex. The Flairs leave the scene and Charlotte is pleased with her work and raises the title in the sky. Mauro Ranallo poses the question, who is the Number One Contender for the Divas Championship?

Later in the show, we get a recap from the chaotic ending of the Number One Contender’s Match as we see Charlotte and Ric heading backstage when Renee Young stops them to ask about the motives behind the mid-match attack. Charlotte goes on to say she’s beaten Becky twice and that Sasha has done nothing to deserve a title match. The Champ goes on to berate Renee for asking dumb questions when the Maury Povich of the WWE tells Ms. Flair that at WrestleMania, she will defend her title against both Sasha and Becky at WrestleMania. When Renee asks for a reaction, the Flairs are both shocked and frozen and walk away slowly.

Thoughts: FINALLY! The match has been set for WrestleMania! And I could not be happier!

Firstly, I thought the match was better than the one on RAW. It was way more fluid and the there was a sense of urgency without the match going way too fast. I loved Sasha’s use of the wheelbarrow into a victory roll. Being probably the smallest Diva on the roster, it is good to see her use more of the moveset of the cruiserweights of the mid-nineties, than strictly using technical moves. I get the Eddie Guerrero influence, but it would not hurt to see her add a few elements of his old pal Rey Mysterio as well.

Something I noticed was a lot of the smaller things in the match were done so perfectly. The camera pans during the staredown after the double dropkick was MONEY. Becky shouting “For WRESTLEMANIA!!” before hitting Sasha was a good touch. The camera shot of Charlotte rolling her eyes during the match was gold. All of those rather small things added a lot of value to this feud for me.

I thought that this match was the closet thing we’ve seen thus far that mirrored an NXT level match (with some nods gong to that Battleground 3 Way with Queen Brie or Naomi vs Sasha a few weeks ago on Smackdown). This was getting there but of course the finish did not allow us to have the complete match to fully compare or contrast. That’s another bonus, it was PPV level and got cut off which leads me to my next point…..

THAT BEATDOWN! That was the most fierce Charlotte has looked since her callup on the main roster. It gaves me flashbacks of her intensity as the NXT Women’s Champion. Great stuff!

But then there was a negative. Actually a few for me this week. Ric Flair dancing over the Divas on the floor weirded me out. It just was something off about the whole thing. It did provide the distraction for the whole beatdown, but it was on the level of his kiss with Becky at the Rumble: something I’d like to forget. The more I see him, the more I am growing tired of him. I know I’ve said in the past he needs to go, but I felt it this week. He really has stopped providing value to Charlotte. She is getting heat ON HER OWN, and needs to go solo and find herself ON HER OWN. I hope she turns on him sooner, rather than later. It’s time. Seriously.

Another disappointment was how the Mania match was presented. It’s obvious we love Renee Young. And I am loving that she is getting sassier by the week, but it came across so weak. I wanted fanfare, drama, and shade for this announcement. In realistic thinking, I see that there really is no way to have done it that way. The Authority would not place a heel champion in a match against the odds, or there are no face figures in positions of power to make this announcement. The one saving grace was that I did like how the Flairs were actually stunned into silence. Charlotte’s words before were good. Her mic work is constantly improving and I love what she has become. She’s basically the inspiration behind Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl”.

Lastly, this match being made is a milestone. I saw some anger from the Diva fans about it and firstly was confused. How could you have a seen a match at Mania besides this? This three have had a huge debut, and all have had major pushes throughout the year. I think for the so called Revolution to take place, this is the match to have happen. I have full faith this will steal the show. And speaking of Revolutions, it may be premature, but I do believe, we may have a second match headed to Dallas’ AT&T Stadium. How awesome that the wheels are really in motion for two matches WITH STORIES the Divas at WrestleMania that don’t involve Hugh Heffner’s publication? This is a victory.

But let me know in the comments how you feel? Are you Team Woo, Team Boss, or Team Lasskicker? What’s your thoughts on this week’s news? Thanks for reading! X

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