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.
|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.
|It was physical.|
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.|
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.
|Moments before the fall.|
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.
|AJ Lee and her wedding ring are all up in your face.|
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.
|Initiate heel turn.|
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.
|Who needs a human baby when you can have a Championship?|
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.
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.
|The Boss, Sasha Banks.|
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.
Two Title changes in one week?
|Four-time Knockouts Champion.|
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.
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.
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.