Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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WrestleMania 26 in Review: Well, At Least They Got Their Payday

Thankfully, we went into this year’s WrestleMania with rock-bottom expectations for the Divas and thus, you couldn’t exactly be disappointed. For the second year in a row, the Divas match centered around an outlandish character and ‘comedy’ rather than giving the Divas a showcase. It’s not as though this match didn’t have some talented girls in it that could have wrestled for 3-5 minutes which seems to be all the time they had for the girls, instead this became the ‘signature move melee’ that often plagues these multi-Diva tag team matches. Lazy booking to get a cheap pop. The end, with Vickie Guerrero going over with what WWE refers to as the ‘hog splash’ on Kelly Kelly, pretty much echoed what happened last year in the Miss WrestleMania battle royal. Even with fans, critics, the Divas past and present and company officials within WWE scolding last year’s trainwreck, they evidently still haven’t learnt from their mistakes.

The show opened this year more positively than last year with Vickie and company getting a backstage promo which eventually featured cameos from Jillian and an injured Melina, the first time she’s appeared on WWE TV in 2010. I can’t recall the last time, if ever, that the Divas got to cut a promo at WrestleMania but I liked that they were given some extra attention this year. I absolutely loved the facial expressions from Alicia and Maryse in the background as Jillian was singing and my eyes were totally focused on those two. It was really lovely to see Melina get to be part of ‘Mania — I had an inkling she would somehow make a cameo because Candice did last year while she was injured. There was a nice reaction when she popped up on screen too, so nice to know she hasn’t been forgotten. Let’s not even discuss Mae Young

Next up, it was time for the Divas bout. Watch below:

First of all, out comes Team Vickie to Michelle McCool‘s music. I’m one of those people that finds entrances interesting as I believe it tells you what WWE thinks of its Divas — who the current flavour is etc. Seeing the Divas come out to McCool’s music and seeing her front and center in the lineup was no surprise. Usually, the Diva who is announced last is the one that is the ‘star’ of the team; her being announced last as the Women’s Champ, taking precedent over the Divas Champ Maryse, was again no surprise but I still found it interesting. We know WWE loves Maryse but in the long run, McCool really is becoming top dog for the Divas roster entirely. Next out are the babyfaces and anyone who listened to the After Show last night will know that I was bewildered that the babyface team came out to Eve Torres‘ music. I know she’s the current flavour of the month over on Raw but going by the fact that Beth Phoenix was the one that was front and center and announced last, which are my two tell-tale signs, why did they come out to Eve’s music? Surely they should’ve come out to Beth’s music? Nit-picking, I know and it’s hardly a big deal but still, this kind of stuff interests me and in this case, baffles me.

Anyway, the babyface Divas — led by Beth Phoenix [but to Eve’s music] — storm the ring on Beth’s command and the heel Divas clear the ring… all except Vickie Guerrero. As the bell ring, Vickie of all people is going to start this match and frankly, the logic here doesn’t make sense. Why would Vickie, a non-wrestler want to get into the ring? Surely, like on SmackDown this past week, she’d want to stand on the apron and let the other girls do the work and then steal the win? This made no sense and frankly, Vickie getting into the ring should’ve been a much bigger deal i.e. perhaps Beth bringing her in the hard way to a big pop. But alas, as we continue the match we continue to realise that logic is out the window in this match.

So Gail Kim starts out with Vickie and the SmackDown consultant tries to show her braun by chesting Gail. Gail however, isn’t taking Vickie’s aggression too seriously. Vickie does the same move again and then flexes to her teammates. Meanwhile, Gail tags out to Vickie’s recent arch rival Beth while Vickie can’t see… This sets a fun reveal of Vickie turning around to find herself face to face with the Glamazon who picks her up and drives her into the corner. Beth hits Vickie with a few forearms and then in comes Eve Torres who hits a couple of shoulder blocks. Next up to get a piece is Gail Kim, she hits her with a forearm and then a kick and then goes to tag Kelly but then realises she’s supposed to tag Mickie instead. Lulz. Mickie comes in and hits a kick and a shoulder block before Kelly is next to come in. Let this be over already… Kelly chokes Vickie in the corner with her leg and then tries to rile up the crowd. Vickie meanwhile, pretty much not even selling the moves she’s just been hit with, screams in Kelly’s face “Excuse me!!!” She continues with, “Do you know who I am?!” Kelly then kicks her in the gut and Vickie falls to all fours setting up the K2. Kelly executes the move really well and goes for a cover and honestly, I thought this was going to be it but then in runs Michelle McCool beginning a chain of signature moves.

McCool hits a great Faith Breaker on Kelly but then is met with a Tornado DDT from Mickie James, sold perfectly by the Women’s Champion. Layla is next in the ring and hits her patented neckbreaker [Sidebar: “Oh look it’s Layla,” by Matt Striker had me rolling]. Gail then comes in and the timing begins to fall apart here — Gail is obviously in to hit her Eat Defeat but the communication is off as Layla preens to the crowd and Gail goes for the move too quickly, both at fault I say. Gail then goes for the move again and connects, though it didn’t look as crisp and clean as in the past. Next is the Divas Champ, Maryse with her French Kiss DDT on Gail. Maryse lets out a shriek as she sees Eve coming at her with a running senton — this move didn’t look good, again miscommunication. Then bam out of nowhere comes the spot of the entire match as far as I’m concerned, a fierce axe kick from Alicia Fox on Torres. I don’t know how she manages to get so much elevation on that move but hot dang, watching this live made me want to rewind and see it again immediately. Alicia then walks into a fantastic WrestleMania-sized Glam Slam on Fox, which rivals her own move. Alicia’s face after hitting the canvas really sold that move for me — she looked like she was in pain and we could all see it there on her face.

Vickie is now in the corner trying to hide but Beth grabs her and she lets out a scream. Out of nowhere though, the Glamazon spots McCool who hits her with a vicious big boot. McCool then prompts Vickie to hit the frog splash, her late husband Eddie’s signature move, from the corner. McCool and Layla help her up to the top turnbuckle to hit the move. Once on the top turnbuckle, Vickie makes a kiss sign into the air — a really sweet tribute to Eddie and then goes for the leap. As can be expected, it wasn’t the cleanest move. Vickie landed on her knees first and then her body followed — that has to hurt her legs. Vickie rolls up K2 and gets the win at WrestleMania 26. The heel Divas celebrate and Vickie does a little jiggle like her husband used to, again this was really sweet and perhaps the only good thing to take away from this match. Seeing Vickie pay that homage to Eddie, it just makes me feel a little sorry for all the things she has to put up with [pig insinuations etc.] just to provide for her two daughters.

Compared to last year’s battle royal, of course this was a million times better — anything would have been. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that WWE barely learnt from their mistakes last year and opted for the same comedic finish that they did last year, with the emphasis being put on basically mocking the women’s division and putting Vickie Guerrero and Santina above it. I had argued in the past that Vickie could be a great complement to the division, I think the heat she manages to draw could really bring attention to the girls, instead WWE books it in a way so that she doesn’t give attention, she takes it.

Aside from about two spots — the axe kick and Glam Slam, this was another ‘Mania trainwreck for the Divas. It’s not the girls’ fault, although I do think they are to blame for their own miscommunication in the ‘signature move melee’, but that can be overlooked when the match ended the way it did. There’s no benefit to Vickie winning this match just as there was no benefit to Santina winning last year. In the end, these comedy pushes fizzle out when WWE gets bored. If it were an actual Diva like Maryse getting a comedy win like that, well at least she’d have been in the women’s division and it would benefit the division. I highly doubt Vickie is going to become an active competitor wrestling every week after this.

But anyway as the title says: at least they got the WrestleMania payday. The Divas work just as many dates a year as the men and they deserve the bonus just as much as them too.

Match Rating: 1/5

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