Friday, September 29, 2023

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TLC in Review: No one mourns the fallen

[media-credit name=”WWE” align=”alignnone” width=”620″]alexa-bliss-powerbombs-becky-lynch-wwe-tlc-2016[/media-credit]

It was a story of good versus evil, success vs jealousy, and the blame game. TLC took place last night and definitely left its mark on SmackDown’s women’s division. With a bitter rivalry coming to an end, a mystery slowly being unravelled and the rise of the wicked, the ladies of the blue brand have a lot ahead of them, as the game is really changing for them all.

The first women’s match to take place was the No Disqualification bout (though somehow count-outs were involved?) between the Fearless Nikki Bella and the Princess of Staten Island Carmella. The women, dressed to destroy, went right in with the attacks. Following a bit of outside action, Nikki speared Carmella as soon as the pair went between the ropes. Nikki aims to powerbomb Carmella to the side of the ring, but the Princess of Staten Island manages to toss her to the stairs via a Hurricanrana. The action goes back to the ring and Carmella’s focus is on Nikki’s hurt leg. After a few stomps, suplexes to the ropes and tying her upside down from the top turnbuckle, Carmella smashes a kendo stick across the Fearless One’s body. We also can’t forget the “you can’t see me” tease from the jealous rival.

Carmella then gets her opponent into the Code of Silence, ready for a submission win. However, Nikki’s ring awareness comes into play as she grabs a hold of the kendo stick and smashes it over Carmella’s shoulder, leading her in screaming agony. But although she’s hurt, she pushes through and takes to the outside. Just as she is about to use the stick, Nikki kicks her in the back, landing Carmella straight on the ground. The pair then attack one another by using the barricade/ring post, but it’s Nikki who takes charge. The veteran climbs on top of the fan barrier and jumps backwards to implant a roundhouse kick to Carmella’s face. The Princess of Staten Island then receives a few hits on the leg via a kendo stick and is left defenseless for a short while. Her only tactics that fall through are a kick as well as tossing Nikki to the outside – and this is where she goes wrong.

As Carmella gives herself some time to recover from the attack, she manages to do the same for her opponent. And once she goes outside to grab a hold of Nikki, she is met with the wrath of a fire extinguisher, blasting in her face. Nikki hops back into the ring and repeats this again multiple times, refusing to give Carmella time to regroup. And once she feels that the Princess of Staten Island has had enough, Nikki puts her in the Rack Attack 2.0 and walks away with the victory!

After some celebrating and an attempt to walk backstage, the Fearless One is interrupted by the words of her bitter rival. Carmella angrily tells Nikki that she’s wrong about her accusations regarding the Survivor Series attack. And though the attacker wasn’t Carmella, the loser reveals that it was Nikki’s ‘Total Divas’ friend Natalya who’d enforced the ambush a fortnight ago.

Later on in the show, the Queen of Harts is questioned on the words of Carmella. However, instead of responding to the query, Natalya chooses to wish Becky Lynch good luck for her title defense. She compliments her for representing the division so well with her athleticism and star power, before calling Carmella’s accusation “absurd” and referring to her as a “liar”.

The tables match soon follows and the champion and Alexa Bliss strut down to the ring. As soon as the match starts, Becky takes down Alexa, beating her until she’s too vulnerable to fight back. She then takes to the outside of the ring to set up a table, ready to take home the victory. Before she can do that however, Alexa kicks her in the head throws her into the barricade. Bliss then puts the table away but is quickly beaten down by Lynch. A short while later Alexa is left alone in the ring as Becky sets up a table outside. But as Becky attempts to suplex her way to victory from the side of the ring, Alexa reverses, and almost forces Lynch to crash into the table. The situation soon turns around as the pair switch positions. Unfortunately for the champion, Alexa is still holding on despite the kicks.

Becky then finds herself on the top turnbuckle whilst having Alexa literally biting into her hand, followed by a push to the middle of the ring. After a few offensive moves from Bliss, the challenger takes to the outside to set up a table. But before she can fully set it up, Becky attempts to knock her down but is quickly smashed into the stairs.

Later on, Becky finds herself in some trouble as she is laid onto a table, ready to receive a Twisted Bliss. But, fully aware of the situation, Lynch attacks her opponent before she can implement the move, thus saving herself from a loss. The pair then find themselves on the top rope, the same position in which we saw them last Tuesday. Learning from her mistakes, Lynch pushes the table away before she can fall into it. Soon the table is set into the corner and Alexa finds herself receiving a “Straight Fire” combo from Becky. This is soon followed by a few failed attempts at tossing their opponent into the corner table from both parties.

Becky manages to gain control and is readying herself to smash Alexa through a table via a suplex. But, taking note from earlier on, Bliss tosses the table over and reverses the move into a DDT – on an upside table. After some time recovering, Becky grabs a hold of Alexa and implants the Dis-arm-Her with the use of the upside down table leg, leaving the challenger screaming for release.

The women’s champion soon sets a table across the bottom rope in the top left side of the ring, with Alexa placed firmly on top. However, before she can jump onto her opponent, Alexa swings her onto the ground, saving herself from losing the bout. The action soon pours to the side of the ring (in which a set up table lays waiting nearby) where both women are holding on to save themselves by punching the other in an attempt to see them fall. Alexa quickly rakes Becky’s eyes and is forced off of the apron, though her feet land on the ground. Bliss then moves the apron to allow Becky’s leg to lose balance. Taking control of this opportunity, Alexa grabs hold of Becky and powerbombs her into the nearby table, and thus awarding her with the SmackDown Women’s championship!

A victorious Alexa takes the Women’s championship and screams “I told you! I told all of you!” at the camera and crowd. As the Wicked Witch of WWE celebrates her victory, Becky is questioned about her loss. Lynch says how she doesn’t appreciate having a microphone in her face, and that she’s upset with herself about the loss. then catches up with the former SmackDown Women’s champion backstage, where she seems better enough to talk. The Lass Kicker says that though she doesn’t ask the company for much, she is “begging” both Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for another shot at the title. She ends off the video by saying that after being told that winning a title changes people, Alexa will find out that losing a title changes them even more.

On Talking Smack, a victorious Alexa Bliss turns into an emotional Alexis Kaufman. Bliss says how her family saw her perform for the first time on the main roster this same night, so it’s an even more emotional moment for them to see. Through tears she tells us about how much her mother means to her as she’s helped her through a lot of rough times.

She soon reminds us of the Dis-arm-Her that took place with the table and shares how painful her current situation is because of it. Renee Young then says that the night was incredible for both competitors but is soon shut down as Alexa doesn’t feel that she owes this victory to Becky at all. Alexa then says that despite Lynch’s “effort”, she didn’t try hard enough to win.

In regards to her upcoming challengers, Alexa says that her title win validates everything she says. And despite any of the women stepping up to her, they will never dethrone her as the face of the blue brand. She adds that she’ll be a better champion than Becky as she was “made to be a champion”, and that when WWE thought of the “new era,” they thought of none other than Alexa Bliss.

After Bliss leaves Bryan and Young boast about how proud they are of all four female competitors and that Bryan looks forward to giving them more opportunities to shine.

Thoughts: It’s not often in which we get two stipulation matches for the women. In fact, it’s literally never happened in one night before. And I can’t help but be in awe of both matches.

Carmella vs Nikki Bella, though not as intense as expected, really proved to be a competitive bout. It was clear from the start that both women hated the other and there was genuine fuel behind either lady’s flame. From the blood-fight worthy gear to the anger in their expressions, it was evident that the two competitors hated the other – and that’s how you tell a story.

Throughout the whole match both Superstar pushed the other to their limit, and it really worked wonders. The desperate attempts at hurting the opponents and the great spots truly worked well to tell this story.

My only setback is the fact that the pair weren’t allowed outside of the ring for long without being counted out – in a No Disqualification match. What stopped Bella and ‘Mella from really going all the way was the fact that their storytelling was limited to between the ropes. They couldn’t pour out into the audience, nor could they use the stage or even go to the back – unless they wanted to be counted out, that is. This feud really needed to go just that one step further, and a little while longer spent outside could’ve done that.

However, it’s understandable that the side women’s feud should never outdo the title picture. And if the pair were allowed the opportunity to go all the way, then the Tables match may not have prospered as well as it did. I mean, the crowd were already pretty exhausted during the second one, so this may not have worked in Lynch and Bliss’ favor.

And speaking of Lynch and Bliss… what a match. I absolutely loved the ring psychology and incredible chemistry between the pair. The story here was between a driven down and fed up hero fighting against the wicked and conniving villain – and this was explored tremendously throughout.

Becky has always worked best as an underdog, so it was really nice to see her try to overcome the odds against Alexa like this. Going into the feud it was really simple to paint Bliss as a passable villain that would easily be pushed aside, but SmackDown decided against that.

Instead of making Alexa look somewhat weak, creative have decided to make her not only hated, but strong as well. Despite the rake of the eyes and the pulling of the apron, it wasn’t the dirty tactics that purely lead her to her victory. Alexa is clearly seen dominating a lot of the match, and even inserts a signature move as well as clever uses of the ring to secure the victory. She doesn’t pull a quick one on a dominant hero. Instead, she shows off her abilities and proves herself as a threat – and thus pushes herself forward as a competitor.

And this only allows me to wonder what is next for Becky Lynch…

I highly doubt that Lynch will win her rematch, so the path may be misty for the former SmackDown Women’s champion. My prediction is that Carmella’s words about Natalya are all false, and in fact, it is Lynch that attacked Bella at Survivor Series. Whilst being the only champion to not captain their team, jealousy can easily arise in the Lass Kicker. And with this devastating loss happening so soon, this could be perfect ammo for a heel turn… Yes?

Also, before I end this review, I’d just like to compliment WWE creative for their use of Natalya. Her current gimmick is all kinds of hilarious, and she really is working this ‘tweener schtick well. Well done, WWE!

What did you think of tonight’s show? Are you pleased with the winners? How do you feel about the near future for the women’s division? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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