Divas Debrief: Women's Wrestling This Week for 7/5/2014 | Smark Out Moment

Divas Debrief: Women's Wrestling This Week for 7/5/2014

Posted by J. B. Alexander Saturday, July 5, 2014
Every Saturday, Divas Debrief runs down the week in women's professional wrestling. From the TNA Knockouts to the WWE and NXT Divas, the Debrief keeps you up to date on all the women carrying on the legacy of lady grappling.

Strap in, folks. It's been a huge week for for the glamorous ladies of wrestling, and this is going to get a little out of hand.

Divas AJ Lee arms Paige pale skin
This. I've missed this.

WWE MONEY IN THE BANK

Some very positive steps are being taken with the Divas division. Who knows if it will stick? In a month, WWE may feel that it's time better spent on making megastars like Adam Rose, but the women involved here are working harder than ever.

Last week I mentioned that pretty much everyone expected Cameron to get involved in the Divas Championship match at Money in the Bank. That didn't happen, probably because we all expected it. I'm quite happy with that since Paige and Naomi were able to fully focus on working an impressive - albeit slightly flawed - Title match. That almost no one cared about.

Divas Paige hair Naomi pink revealing legs
It was physical.
I could read the lack of crowd enthusiasm (not so) loud and clear in the opening minute when the Champion
and challenger locked up and brawled outside the ring and back, an exchange that ended in a standoff. A silent standoff. Really, about ten people in the audience were mildly amused and the rest of them were dead. I think one of them could have shat in their hand and showed it to the person next to them, and that person would have been more pleased than they were about Paige and Naomi being in the ring.

I won't blame you, Boston. You were not given much of a reason to care. I am completely aware that those of us who are passionate about the mere art of match-crafting in the Divas division regardless of storylines are a minority in the mainstream WWE Universe. Most people need something more and I get that. The fact that two very talented women busted their asses on Sunday in a match that put most of the arena to sleep despite its highlights is entirely on WWE.

Paige/Naomi wasn't without hiccups, though. At one point they botched a hurricanrana, and at another point they simply crumbled from the top rope to the floor in a spot that I'm still not entirely convinced was as unplanned as it was poorly executed. I normally don't even note spot botches, I really don't mind them all that much. We're all in this to make believe. But the top rope spot did manage to throw off the flow of the match for a bit. It was jarring and I spent the next couple of minutes trying to figure out if they meant to do that.

Naomi is one of the most athletic people on the roster.
It would be unfair to focus on those minor details when there was so much more that these two did well. There was a moment when Naomi, outside the ring, hair-flung Paige, inside the ring, through the ropes and onto the floor with a satisfying splat - Divas just don't take those kinds of bumps. Naomi then climbed back into the ring, rebounded off the opposite ropes, and returned with, coincidentally, an Uso-style over-the-top dive onto the Champion. This is where the lack of crowd interest was most glaring to me. This is a move that no woman in WWE does. I don't even think Lita ever cleared the top rope like that. But those ten aforementioned fans were the only ones who cared. As a matter of fact, I don't think the announcers even cared that much. Now, THAT is a coincidence. Or, perhaps, a co-Vince-idence.

See what I did there?

Paige won the match with that beautiful cradle DDT and I, at least, felt like I'd gotten my $9.99 in value.

Later in the night, we were served with a heaping, steaming pile of Summer Rae versus Layla.

I am so sorry, girls. This must be what it would feel like to watch Steve Carell play Danny Tanner. These two women are trained well beyond what they have been given here, but with this writing it's like they're cooking with spoiled ingredients.

Glass half-full time: at least in seeing this story play out we're reminded of how much worse the Divas Championship picture could be.

WWE RAW


WWE Divas AJ Lee belly Paige arms Title
Moments before the fall.
This week's Raw falls under the "Did I just see that? Did I just FREAKIN' see that?!" category.

AJ Lee, the endlessly gifted female Jesus of the Divas division, has returned to her throne. Thanks for keeping it warm, Paige. Now, back to shining AJ's boots.

In all seriousness, Paige is amazing and WWE is lucky to have her whether they realize it or not. I hope they weren't surprised by how uneventful Paige's run as Divas Champion has been since they never even attempted to capitalize on her momentum after winning the belt following WrestleMania. Every week she was on in the dreaded pre-main event spot in the show when most viewers and people in the audience are hitting the restroom and grabbing their snacks to settle in for the most hyped match that night. And not only that, Paige was rarely, if ever, given a fair chance to show any amount of personality so that the Universe would have a reason to care whether she wins or loses.

But in another glorious example of the strides (someone at) WWE seems to be attempting to make with their women, the most over Diva since Trish Stratus and Lita, who is most definitely not pregnant (anymore?), made a startling return that, I'm not ashamed to say, had me out of my chair.

Every now and then, as a wrestling fan, you're treated to a moment that reminds you why you've been watching since you were a kid. This was the biggest of those moments I've had in years.

Here's the story:

It's the usual death slot. It's moments before we're blessed with another John Cena religious experience and most everyone watching is out of the room. Take pity on these lost souls.

Paige is out to some rare microphone time which she uses to note that she's proven time and time again that she's deserving of respect and she's here to stay. It was obvious she was being set up for a new challenger, one who could have easily been yet another pin for her to knock down without a hint of a meaningful rivalry.

WWE Raw AJ Lee returns wedding ring hair CM Punk
AJ Lee and her wedding ring are all up in your face.
That is not the direction WWE decided to take. Some damned genius decided it was time to drop the AJ bomb and out came the longest-reigning Divas Champ of all time, who proceeded to sucker a reluctant Paige into a Title rematch, much like Paige did to AJ the night after 'Mania.

So the match is on and AJ Lee is majorly favored over Paige. Those in the audience who decided to pass on their snacks seemed into it (a rarity) and there were some serious AJ Lee chants, which Paige makes a point to acknowledge by shooting the crowd a bumfuzzled grimace.

Paige legs heel AJ Lee returns
Initiate heel turn.
The audience exploded when AJ rolled Paige up and won back the strap, and I had an out-of-body experience.

These two did something with their short time that typically is never even attempted with the Divas. They accomplished a laundry list of changes that, if followed through properly, will be grade A fodder for the Divas division for months to come.

AJ returned, which instantly threw the division a lifesaver. She won back the Championship, which will easily refresh the Title picture. Within seconds AJ Lee turned babyface and Paige became a heel, and it was a heel turn with an amount substance even the male Superstars thirst for at times. With this turn, Paige's lackluster Title reign becomes retroactively more meaningful and her superficial layer of new girl confidence has been peeled away to expose a more self-conscious, perhaps a bit loopy type of character. Paige is suddenly not the person we thought she was, and AJ Lee has her baby back. There is only room for one.

WWE Raw AJ Lee arms Divas Title baby
Who needs a human baby when you can have a Championship?
This will lead to a rematch and it's the best type of build we could hope for. Both ladies are even with short,
surprise victories and we're due a tie-breaker on a big stage. Battleground is coming up, but unless there's a deal which carries the feud to SummerSlam (fingers crossed), I hope the match doesn't happen until then. The biggest show of the Summer is appropriate for what these two should be allowed to deliver.

This could be the beginning of something beautiful.

And speaking of SummerSlam, rumors are swirling that we may be seeing Stephanie McMahon step into the ring for the first time in a long while against Brie Bella at the big event and we got some further teasing this week. Following a brief interaction at Money in the Bank when Brie, who was visiting with her injured husband Daniel Bryan, was kicked out of the building by Stephanie, the boss set her sights on another Bella.

On Raw, Stephanie placed Nikki Bella in a handicap match against the Funkadactyls in an obvious ploy to grind Brie's gears. Naomi and Cameron won in a match that was nothing to write home about, but it served to remind the audience that Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella still hate each other and to further the drawn-out breakup of Naomi and Cameron, between whom more tension began to brew.

Finally, Raw also featured Summer Rae landing a big wet one on Dolph Ziggler during his match with Fandango, apparently signifying a new "alliance" between the two. The kiss seemed initially to be a mechanism for yanking one last bit of jealousy out of Summer's ex, Fandango, but when Dolph returned the favor with an even wetter, sloppier slobber exchange, Summer seemed pleasantly surprised. Seems to be something that might stick around.

And as for things that stick around, that's exactly what Summer Rae's gum did. The cameras didn't do a great job of catching the genius moment of Dolph pulling gum out of his mouth afterward and asking "Is this hers?", but I caught it and was very amused.

WWE MAIN EVENT

In the furthering of a storyline from Raw, Stephanie McMahon put Nikki Bella in a rematch with the Funkadactyls on Main Event, but gave her a partner this time: Alicia Fox.

Not a lengthy encounter, but there was an awesome moment when Nikki went for a tag and got kicked square in the jaw by Alicia and pinned by Cameron. For whatever reason, Crazy celebrated after the match.

I love Alicia Fox.

WWE NXT

The NXT Divas made a fine return to form this week with a really good tag team match that saw Becky Lynch and Bayley lose to Sasha Banks and NXT Women's Champion Charlotte after Charlotte hit Becky with Bow Down to the Queen.

Couple of things to note here.

WWE NXT Divas Sasha Banks abs legs arms
The Boss, Sasha Banks.
One, Sasha Banks is awesome. I can't put my finger on it, and I feel like she's someone WWE would look completely over and leave her to be forgotten on the main roster (though that wouldn't say much considering WWE's track record with Divas), but I just love to watch her. She's solid in the ring. She's great on her feet and her general movements speak volumes about how confident and comfortable she is as a wrestler. Her gimmick is played to perfection and I just really hope she gets her chance to shine and doesn't become what the big guys see as "great at losing".

Moving on, the other thing I'd like to point out is that Becky Lynch did almost no dancing this week. I don't think it means much; we probably just got lucky. But she was more fun to watch without all the silliness in the middle of her match. Just something to remember when the dancing gets more prominent because Vince McMahon doesn't think she's bubbly enough.

I've said several times now that WWE is making positive strides with the Divas, but if history is any indication it won't last. I sincerely wish that it would, though, because in the current state of the product (at least up until very recently) it has become sad to see these women leave NXT because they got "called up" to WWE. You see how much potential they have and everything works so well on NXT because they're given time to develop in WWE's image. But what are they really developing for? The training should not be more impressive than the final product.

Just keep that in mind, WWE, and keep AJ Lee-ing it.

TNA IMPACT

Two Title changes in one week?

Gail Kim legs Knockouts Title
Four-time Knockouts Champion.
On Impact, Gail Kim managed to capture her fourth Knockouts Championship when she defeated Angelina Love. Angelina dominated most of the bout with help from Velvet Sky, but when Velvet got ejected by Kurt Angle's replacement referee, Brian Hebner, everything fell apart for the defender.

I hope this shakes things up with the Knockouts because I'm getting pretty tired of seeing the same stuff, but let's not delve into that one too deeply. This is TNA.

Congratulations, Gail Kim. You're amazing.

In other Knockouts news, there was a nice segment where, after a brief exchange, Brittany laid out Madison Rayne. The promo was well-done and both women were good on the microphone, good enough that I'm interested to see where this is going.

Forget the fact that Madison Rayne fell for almost the exact same bait-and-switch a couple of months back at the hands of Angelina Love. At least there's a new face in town.

WWE SMACKDOWN

Smackdown gave us yet another Divas match that barely lasted a minute this week between new Divas Champion AJ Lee and Eva Marie. The former Champ Paige sat at ringside and congratulated AJ after her inevitable win. It should be noted that Paige was way too happy and is now a ticking time bomb.

It was odd that AJ actually shook Paige's hand willingly. I hate that. I really do. I hate that WWE feels the need to water down any heel-turned-babyface with good deeds. AJ Lee was already getting cheered, so why not just stick with what works? I guess sometimes you need a make-under.

This is exactly what happened to Dolph Ziggler. He was off-the-charts popular, so they turned him babyface and proceeded to take away everything that made him popular in the first place. Then, when everyone was bored by his new character, they blamed Dolph Ziggler for not rising to the occasion.

Sigh.

That's it for an overall spectacular week in the mainstream women's wrestling scene. More progress has been made for WWE's Divas division than has been made in years, so for the first time in a long time I am (cautiously) optimistic about next week.

Meet me back here next Saturday to see if WWE keeps capitalizing on their momentum, or hit me up on Twitter HERE.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY A GUEST WRITER

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