Welcome to a (very belated) Main Event Redux! I’m filling in for Eleri this week. After waiting a few days to find full video of this match to embed (and failing spectacularly), I’m just powering through with this review, watching the match on Hulu. You’ll just have to imagine the missing parts of the match cut in the WWE’s edit.
We’re following up on the growing tension between Naomi and Natalya – brewing since their restaurant fiasco and simmering since their back-and-forth on Raw – in a one-on-one match. Will they keep this professional? Let’s see:
Natalya looks a little cocky here, teasing some heelishness. She shakes Naomi’s hand at the start of the match, but things seem extra intense in the opening tie-up. Naomi takes control, backing Natalya against the ropes.
Natalya shoves her off, and they square off again. Naomi again takes control of the tie-up, wrenching Natalya’s arm. Soon, though, Natalya flips out of the hold and takes control, punishing Naomi’s arm.
Naomi hits a cartwheel and sends Natalya off her feet, freeing herself. Both Divas spring to their feet at the same time and smile, the competitive fire becoming very obvious.
Natalya captures Naomi in a side headlock and sends her to the mat, maintaining the hold. Naomi soon takes control, latching her legs around Natalya’s neck and turning the tables. Not to be outdone, Natalya works her way out of the hold, springing free impressively and immediately locking in another side headlock.
After a few moments, Naomi shoves her off into the ropes, but gets tackled with a shoulder block on the return. Natalya runs the ropes, but Naomi avoids her, flattening herself down on the mat and then leaping over her. Natalya isn’t thwarted, though, and captures Naomi in an abdominal stretch. When that’s not enough to make Naomi tap, Natalya grabs one of her legs to increase the pain.
Somehow, some way, Naomi reverses the hold, latching on an abdominal stretch of her own. Natalya soon elbows her way out and shows Naomi how it’s done, locking in the hold once more. Naomi battles out and tries to hit an arm drag, but it’s blocked. Natalya tries one too, but hers is blocked as well. Naomi then just settles for sending Natalya into the ropes.
Natalya catches herself on the ropes, and when Naomi charges at her, she sends her over the top rope. Naomi lands on the ring apron, and when Natalya tries to toss her back inside over the ropes, Naomi turns it into a big arm drag, sending Natalya flying across the ring.
Natalya battles back, reversing a whip into the corner. Naomi stops herself, though, and catches Natalya with her legs, performing her butt shake move. Natalya is stunned, and Naomi takes that opportunity to come charging. Natalya catches her, though, and slams Naomi down on her tailbone. She steps on her back and turns around, positioning Naomi for the Sharpshooter. Naomi rolls through, though, and goes for the pin. Natalya reverses it in to one of her own, but Naomi manages to kick out.
Naomi springs back with another pin attempt, but Natalya bridges out of it and tries for a backslide pin. Naomi hops over her, though, landing on her feet and pulling in Natalya for a small package pin. Naomi picks up the win!
Natalya looks frustrated post-match, but shakes Naomi’s hand, hugs her and even dances a bit. The Divas leave the ring side-by-side. Hm… Anyone else sense some insincerity on Natalya’s part?
Thoughts: This was a pretty fun and unique match, booked as a game of one-upsmanship. It was a very smart way to book two babyfaces and sell their tension without pulling either to the heel side. It’s a credit to both Divas too, with how they pulled it off. It showed that they can work in a level of subtlety that’s rarely called for: usually, the line between heel and face is clear. Here, there’s a lot more nuance, which Natalya sells excellently. They could have easily played it as a regular match and had Natalya act frustrated after losing, but the way the holds were booked, with the reversals coming faster and faster as Natalya grew more frustrated, told a story in a way no regular match could. Kudos to both Divas!
As evidenced by her tense behavior throughout the match, I think Natalya’s on her way to the dark side. I suppose it was inevitable, with Tyson Kidd being such a heel. Natalya’s playing the role of the oblivious wife, who won’t see her husband as being in the wrong. That makes Naomi the well-meaning friend who bears the brunt of her frustration. It’s a familiar tale, but not one we’ve seen too often in women’s wrestling.
I can’t wait for Natalya to go full heel, because I’m sure her matches with Naomi will be fantastic. This served as a great teaser for that. Give me more!