Sunday, December 3, 2023

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WWE Main Event Redux (November 13th, 2015): Shades of May

This week, WWE Main Event looked a little more like NXT circa May 2015, when NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks had Becky Lynch hot on her trail. Of course, we’re in November, and both Divas have made the leap to the main roster. Their NXT shine hasn’t worn off quite yet, but most Diva fans would agree that their matches on the main roster pale in comparison to the magic both worked in NXT.

Here, they have an opportunity to turn back the clock and recapture some of that magic, as they go one-on-one in the night’s main event. Will we see some of that familiar spark? Let’s watch:

Sasha has her Team B.A.D. teammates Naomi and Tamina Snuka by her side, while Becky’s running solo. She can’t be too confident about her chances, being so outnumbered, but she’s definitely not showing it.

The bell rings, and they tie up, Sasha backing Becky into the corner. Sasha backs off and cockily allows Becky to try again. This time, Sasha takes control with a side headlock, taking Becky to the mat. As soon as they hit the mat, though, Becky flips them, locking an armbar on Sasha. Becky soon turns it into a hammerlock and flips Sasha forward into a pin attempt. Sasha kicks out and begins a back-and-forth pin duel that ends with Becky kicking out last.

Becky and Sasha spring to their feet and square off again, Becky opting to try and take Sasha out at the knees. Sasha fends her off, but Becky strikes again, taking her down with two arm drags, which she turns into an armbar. Sasha fights out of it, slamming Becky to the mat. When Sasha goes for the pin, Becky bridges to her feet, running the ropes and thwarting Sasha’s leap over her by grabbing her leg. She tries to lock in the Dis-arm-her, but Sasha quickly slips free, narrowly avoiding disaster.

The Divas circle once more, Becky ducking Sasha attack and catching her arm. When Becky locks in a waistlock, Sasha runs for the ropes, trying to knock Becky off of her. Becky holds fast, though, and instead rolls Sasha up for a pin attempt. Sasha kicks out, only to be pulled into another pin attempt. Sasha again kicks out, but Becky’s right back on her, taking her down with an arm drag and locking in an armbar.

Sasha slowly gets to her feet and attempts to toss Becky off of her, but it’s no good: she maintains her grip on Sasha and locks in another armbar. When Sasha again gets to her feet, Becky turns it into a hammerlock. Sasha elbows her in the face, freeing herself, and runs the ropes, knocking Becky down on the return. She goes for the pin, but Becky kicks out.

Sasha takes Becky to the mat with a side headlock. Becky gets to her feet and the Divas battle for control, Becky sending Sasha into the corner and hitting her with a springboard kick to the chest. Sasha goes tumbling out of the ring, and Becky knocks her to the floor with a baseball slide. Becky follows Sasha, tossing her back into the ring. When she tries to reenter the ring, however, Sasha fights back, dropping her shoulder against the middle rope and sending her falling to the outside. With that, we head to a commercial.

When we return, Becky’s back in the ring, and Sasha’s back in control. She works on Becky’s arm, using the ropes in the corner for leverage. Becky stumbles to a neighboring corner and Sasha continues the same strategy, wrapping Becky’s arm around the rope and pulling it. She then snapmares her to the mat, toys with her shoulder a bit and then lays her flat, stomping on the shoulder. Sasha locks in a submission of her own, pulling Becky’s arm all the way back to the mat and standing on it.

After a few moments of that, Sasha gets Becky in a seated position, pulling her arm back in another shoulder submission. Slowly but surely, Becky starts to power out. Sasha tries to maintain control, sending her into the corner, but her attack is blocked with a back elbow. When Sasha tries again, Becky attempts to kick her away, but Sasha catches her boots and lays her over the ropes, hitting her with the double knee drop. She tries for a pin, but Becky kicks out.

Sahsa turns the failed pin attempt into another arm attack, twisting the arm a bit and then dropping her face-first onto the mat. As Becky recovers, Sasha taunts her, mocking her trademark hand gestures and tongue wagging. She pulls Becky up by her hair, but Becky starts to fight back, fending her off with a series of blows. When she goes to whip Sasha into the ropes, though, it’s reversed, and Sasha takes Becky off her feet. She attempts another pin, but Becky again kicks out.

Sasha sends Becky into the corner, and though Becky kicks her away, Sasha isn’t done, pulling Becky by the arm and whipping her back into the corner so that she hits the turnbuckle face-first. Sasha charges at Becky, but is vaulted over the ropes. She lands on the ring apron and Becky gets a bit of revenge, grabbing her arm and dropping her shoulder into the top rope. Sasha falls to the outside but quickly stumbles onto the ring apron, where Becky joins her. Sasha blocks her kick to the face and grabs her bad left arm, leaping off the ring apron and dropping Becky flat onto it by her shoulder.

Sasha sends Becky back into the ring and joins her, going for another pin attempt. She earns a near fall and decides to continue her attack on Becky’s shoulder, locking in a straightjacket submission. She gets in a mounted position, prompting Becky to stand up, taking Sasha up with her. Becky travels over to the corner and drops Sasha face-first onto the ropes.

Both Divas take a moment to recover, but when they’re on their feet Becky takes control with some uppercuts and clotheslines, hitting a dropkick for emphasis and covering Sasha for the pin. Sasha kicks out. Becky runs the ropes and lands a leg drop, but when she goes for another, Sasha rolls out of the way, leaving Becky to land on her tailbone. Sasha’s back on her quickly, twisting her arm and dropping her onto double knees. Another pin attempt, another kickout by Becky. Sasha pulls her up by her hair, going for a suplex. Becky blocks it, though, rolling her into the Dis-arm-her! Sasha’s right next to the ropes, though, and quickly breaks the hold.

Naomi’s seen enough, and climbs onto the ring apron to provide some distraction. Becky seems to be duped into it, but when Sasha attempts to sneak up behind her, Becky reverses their positions, rolling her into a pin attempt. Sasha kicks out and Becky keeps control, blocking a blow from Sasha and setting up for a pumphandle slam. Sasha slips over her shoulder, though, and hits the Bank Statement! She locks in the crossface and Becky soon taps out.

Thoughts: I absolutely loved this match, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it resembled Becky and Sasha’s bout at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, because it served as proof that the charms of NXT matches don’t have to be lost on the main roster. As long as their matches are given time to breathe, these Divas can make magic, even if there’s little to no story between them, because they can create a story that lives between the bells. Sure, it was the typical “target a body part” story, but Becky and Sasha told it so beautifully, keeping fans on the edge of their seats the whole time.

Becky looked stronger here than she has in a long time, perhaps even since her jump to the main roster. She has been lost in the shuffle of the Diva Revolution, more or less, so it’s great to see her given a chance to remind folks why she was chosen to debut alongside Sasha and Charlotte. She’s so damn good.

Sasha is, of course, Sasha, so versatile and impressive. It still boggles my mind that she’s not in the title picture, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Maybe she’ll even get in there in time for a WrestleMania match. After her showing at TakeOvers Brooklyn and RESPECT, the WWE would be crazy not to put her on that stage.

Main Event has long been a source of longer, better quality Diva matches, and this was no exception. I don’t have a terrific memory, but this had to be the best Divas match Main Event has featured this year. It’s great to see, but it also makes me wonder why this can’t happen on Raw. Sure, time’s in short supply, but match length isn’t the most important element of matches like these: it’s the story. It’s what sets NXT’s matches apart from the main roster matches. It’s why the Diva Revolution hasn’t been as revolutionary as some may hope.

At the very least, though, this match serves as a sign that the main roster is capable of showcasing NXT-style matches. Now it’s time to use them to drive actual storylines forward, preferably on shows that don’t require a Hulu subscription.

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