Thursday, August 11, 2022

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WWE Extreme Rules in Review: Layla Gets Kharmic Retribution on Michelle

Last night at Extreme Rules, we were all witness to two things: LayCool came to an end signifying the destruction of arguably one of the best Diva tag teams of all time. And two, one Diva’s career came to a premature and sad end as the loser was banished from the WWE as per the stipulation.

Michelle McCool and Layla have both come a long way in their careers. Michelle has gone from being a Diva Search reject to a world class athlete and performer, and her WWE career has been lined with many historical “firsts” and championship gold. Layla has gone from being a Diva Search winner, to a glorified dancer and ECW side-show, to a jobber, to the most improved Diva on the roster, to the last ever Women’s Champion in history. To say LayCool are to be respected is a gross understatement. Love their characters or hate them, the women behind those characters have proven themselves time and time again. For the past year and a half, two years… hell if I know, they have been the centerpieces of an often dismal Divas division and losing one of them is going to hurt. Speaking from a personal standpoint, it truly hurts me as a fan to know going into the match one of them is leaving. We all knew who it might be. Regardless, we went in on the edge of our seats as we watched. It doesn’t matter if you’re Team Lay or Team Cool. Both of them have been defined by each other. Unfortunately, last night it all came to an end. Let’s have a look…

The action kicks off with a shot of a group of Divas standing around in the lockerroom. A silent, rather timid Layla walks in and she looks like she’s about to face a firing squad. The chilly reception she receives is hardly surprising given the fact she’s had a hand in torturing every girl on the roster. Nonetheless, Layla womans up and shyly apologizes for all the wrongdoings she’s had a part in. The Divas aren’t quick to forgive but Kelly Kelly admits that everyone hates Michelle more than they could ever hate Lay. Layla swallows this and Kelly wishes her good luck. Layla leaves the lockerroom and the scene backstage fades.

We cut to the ring and you guessed it, it is match time!

Lay-Cool’s theme music hits as Tony Chimmel runs down all the stipuations: No DQ, no count-out, loser leaves WWE. Michelle is out first. She looks more than ready for the task at hand and the focus is written across her face. She knows what’s at stake and she’s no doubt going to fight for her right to stay. Layla follows her out and she looks slightly more emotional than Michelle. When she gets inside the ring she wants to do her poses, but Michelle is ready for the bell to ring. Layla makes the grave mistake of turning her back and Michelle does what any what any devious woman would do… she attacks her.

The bell rings.

Michelle slams Layla into the barricade and rolls her back in the ring. She follows her ex-BFF inside and crouches down. She’s motioning to Layla to get up. Michelle is poised so as soon as Lay does make her way to her feet, Michelle lays her out with a stiff kick to the jaw. She goes for a quick cover and the match is ALMOST over as soon as it began. Layla gets her shoulder up and Michelle kicks her back down out of spite. She begins to taunt the smaller woman and that lights a fire in Layla. She brings Michelle down and she starts hitting her in the face. Michelle muscles Layla off and the referee has to get involved. Layla backs up and basically launches herself at ‘Chelle, but the crafty McCool moves out of the way and Layla goes flying through the ropes.

Michelle is pleased with her thinking skills and she show-boats. Layla is quick to capitalize and rips Michelle’s leg from under her. The taller girl tumbles to the apron and Layla jerks her from the ring. She slams Michelle face first into the announce table. McCool is hurt and Layla pauses to catch her breath. After a few seconds, she runs towards Michelle. The ex-teacher is quick to move, once again, and Layla slams herself into the broadcast table. Michelle hits her with a wicked running knee strike and Layla is rolled back into the ring. Michelle goes for the cover.

Two count.

Michelle picks Layla up by the neck and hits an uppercut. Layla goes staggering back and Michelle whips her across the ring. When Layla rebounds from the ropes, Michelle goes for a big boot that Layla ducks, and Layla is able to catch Michelle off guard with a spinning heel kick. Michelle goes half-way down so Layla drop-kicks her foe in the back and that does indeed put Michelle on the mat. Lay goes for a cover but Michelle kicks out right at the two.

As the two girls slowly rise to their feet, Michelle begins to beg Layla. She tries to convince the British-born Diva Search winner that things shouldn’t end like this but Layla’s not taking the bait. She slaps Michelle and then kicks her in the stomach. She tries to whip McCool into the ropes but Michelle is savvy and reverses it, turning Layla’s offense into a gorgeous belly-to-belly suplex. Michelle quickly covers but her efforts are only met with a two count.

That prompts her to cry out in frustration.

Michelle carelessly tosses Layla from the ring and rolls to the outside. She sizes up her victim and goes for it. Whatever Michelle is wanting to do doesn’t work out for her, because Layla moves and Michelle lands precariously on the guardrail. Layla takes the opportunity to work over Michelle by slamming her face into the top of the security barrier. Layla climbs on top of it and helps Michelle to her feet. There’s no telling what Layla has in mind but Michelle throws her off the top and goes down as well. She recovers easily and begins to trash talk Layla. She claims that it’s the end for Layla.

Layla is thrown into the ring and Michelle drags her to her feet. Layla fends her off by raking her across the eyes and she climbs to the top rope. Michelle catches Lay behind the head and it appears that she wants to slam her down into the mat. Layla somehow reverses this and Michelle ends up clocked with some type of nifty little jawbreaker. Layla immediately goes for the cover but Michelle is out after the two count. Layla groans in frustration. That groan leads to an emotional breakdown and Layla starts crying. Michelle slowly drags her own self up by the ropes and when Layla walks towards her she kicks her in the jaw. Layla goes down hard and as soon as Michelle covers her, she instinctively kicks out. Michelle screams.

She gets up and grabs Layla while she’s at it. She wants to end the match. She gets Layla into position for the Faith Breaker but Layla is able to fight her way out. When she drops back down to her feet she nearly stumbles, but is able to catch herself. Layla kicks Michelle in the gut and catches her with a reverse neckbreaker move. She rolls her over and goes for the cover…

Michelle gets her foot on the rope!

Layla is stunned. Michelle appears to be out of it. And I’m on the edge of my seat.

They both start stirring at the same time but it’s Michelle who is able to strike. Layla is struck in the side of the head and Michelle rolls over on top of her. She hooks the leg and goes for the cover but again, she only gets a two count. Michelle screams at Layla to just stay down but there’s just way to much on the line. The both get back up and Layla hooks Michelle’s legs. She jerks them out from underneath her and flips over. Michelle rolls through the pin attempt and picks Layla up in the Faith Breaker. This time she hits it but instead of immediately covering Lay, ‘Chelle lays there for a moment. When she finally rolls over it looks like everything is about to come to an end for Layla. Michelle gets a one… two…

AND Layla reverses it!

One… two… three!

And there you have it. Michelle McCool has been pinned. Layla is surprised, excited, and then she’s overcome with grief. Her eyes lock with Michelle’s and both girls start crying. Layla just ended the career of her best friend and she’s unsure of how to act. She climbs from the ring and makes her way to the back. Recaps start to play and eventually, when the live shots return, Michelle is seen alone in the ring. She’s crying and the Lay-Cool theme song ceases. The crowd is chanting that annoying goodbye song to Michelle. She’s visibly upset and highly emotional, and rightfully so.

As she savors her last moment in the ring, maniacal laughter starts to play. We all know it’s Kharma and her theme music is just sooo fitting. She slowly walks onto the stage and her eyes are locked on the ring. Michelle’s tears turn to pure fear as it appears Kharma wants to make her her first victim. The two never take their eyes off one another as Kharma inches closer and closer to the ring. She climbs on the apron and for a moment, she stalks Michelle. Michelle finally finds the nerve to run but she’s waited a little too late. Kharma grabs her, picks her up, and lays out the former champ with the viscous Implant Buster.

They cut to a shot backstage and the Divas who had wished Layla luck earlier, look horrified now. Kharma is laughing, and then not laughing. And laughing again.

I can’t even… I just have goosebumps.

How can I even begin to sum up my thoughts on Extreme Rules? The show was everything I could have ever hoped for and then some. The match was predictable; we all guessed the ending. But the emotion, the passion, the heart, and the soul Michelle and Layla gave us was real. The tears streaming down the faces of both girls when it was over, it was real.

And Kharma’s debut… that was real.

Man, let’s break this down. When Layla was backstage apologizing to the Divas I felt like she took a major step towards a babyface turn. She was sincere and genuine, and I believed her when she said she was sorry. The Divas not being forgiving was a nice touch and I liked it even more when Kelly swallowed her pride first and admitted that all the girls hate Michelle more. It was a nice backstage segment and it set the tone for what was to follow.

The match itself was hard for me to watch but I say that in a good way. I had a feeling it would be intense and it lived up to my expectations. The girls really did go for it and the WWE gave them a nice amount of time. This didn’t need to be a lengthy, drawn out match. It needed to be a brawl and the way it ended worked perfectly. For a split second there I thought we were getting swerved. I thought Michelle had the match one. But Layla was able to roll through, hold Michelle down, and get probably the biggest victory of her career. It played out like a movie. She didn’t want to do it. You could see it written all over her face. Her tears at the end told the real story.

Michelle’s tears were just as heart-breaking. It was surreal seeing her career come to an end. All the blood, sweat, tears, and injuries probably flashed through her eyes, as well as all her accomplishments. But what made the moment so incredibly special is when Kharma (the artist formerly known as Awesome Kong) made her way into the picture. You had to feel that the night was going to be special and when the laughter of Kharma filtered throughout the area the blood of every single Diva ran cold. She made her way on stage in the grandest of fashion. She stared Michelle down as she made her way to the ring. The emotionally wrecked, normally stoic Diva was paralyzed in fear. Backstage, the other Divas were frozen in shock as well. Kharma stalked Michelle and destroyed her. It was amazing and the facial expressions of the Divas watching were priceless. Change is coming.

And all of us know it.

I love it. Everything about last night was so incredibly emotional. There’s really nothing else I can say about what went down at Extreme Rules. It could very well be the greatest Diva segment in history, and best Diva exit of all time. When/if Michelle does come back, she has a storyline in place. Layla has the perfect platform to step up and be a top baby face. I’m truly happy with absolutely everything that went down last night. I’ve never once given a pay-per-view five out of five stars, but now I am. From the segment, to the match, the explosive ending, and the promise of great things to come… it was all perfect.

Michelle McCool, you are going to be missed. Thank you for absolutely everything you’ve given us over the years. You’ll never be forgotten and I have no doubt that you’ll be back. Please remain flawless!

Match Rating: 5/5

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