Holy hot Hell, what the shit happened this week?
I'll tell you what happened. Last week AJ Lee was the most talked about person in all of WWE, and this
week Vince McMahon (or someone he listens to) decided they were not having any of it. The only woman getting talked about over any man in this company had better be Stephanie McMahon or the entire women's division will be taken out painfully at the knees.
Come, join me on a journey to break apart everything that went horribly, tragically wrong this week with the WWE Divas.
|The best Diva in the world. Not that it counts for much in WWE.|
So my theory that someone is purposefully trying to tank the women in WWE might be a bit extreme, but it's necessary for the longevity of my mental health if I have someone to blame for these crimes against my very soul, and Vincent Kennedy McMahon ultimately has to answer for anything and everything that happens in the final product of his brand. Therefore, let's discuss what this grumpy old man did to me this week on Raw.
|Nikki Bella has one arm tied behind her back.|
This was supposed to be yet another one of Stephanie McMahon's punishments for Nikki after her twin sister Brie slapped Stephanie and quit her job. I like the concept of these punishments because it keeps the Stephanie/Brie program in the minds of the viewers while we wait for the imminent match in which it inevitably culminates, but there were just a lot of odd decisions made here.
Stephanie and Triple H were supposedly on vacation during Raw, and while we can assume Steph phoned in to order this match with Nikki and Alicia, there was no accompanying visual and so it felt distant and less meaningful than if we had Stephanie on video ordering the match in some way. Additionally, the placement of this match was way off. This is a segment that should have been saved for much later in the show and the spot should have gone to the women currently involved in and around the Title picture.
Which brings me to those women.
I preach this every week: the Divas Champion's storylines should almost never be saved for the segment directly preceding the main event. No one is watching.
Despite that it shouldn't, this continues to happen each and every week with very few exceptions. In this
week's death slot match, Champion AJ Lee teamed with former Champion Paige, who (far too enthusiastically to be genuine) took it upon herself to perform AJ's ring introduction. AJ stepped into the ring and shook Paige's hand with zero acknowledgment that there is any tension between the two.
Their opponents were the ailing Funkadacyls, Cameron and Naomi. AJ and Paige worked as a team and came out victorious, then they left and that was it for them. Absolutely no story progression.
|The finger to the forehead was a subtle touch of genius.|
Sadly, the live audience once again was unimpressed and mostly stayed silent. This, WWE, is the big breakup to which you have halfheartedly been semi-devoting some of your time over the last month.
Last week AJ Lee returned to recapture the Divas Championship and she was the talk of the town. Can you imagine that segment as an opener for the show? It was quick and exciting enough to make a great opening segment and was easily one of the most exciting moments in recent Raw history, but it was placed right in the crapper slot.
Still, there was momentum to be followed up on. The well from which to draw ideas for storyline progression between AJ Lee and Paige was vast, but nearly nothing was done this week. The spotlight was given to the Funkadactyls, who should have had a completely separate segment to tell their story.
WWE MAIN EVENT
Hoo-boy! For everything that was wrong on Raw, Main Event was even worse, and I'm being generous and taking into consideration that the bar is set pretty low for Main Event.
Nikki Bella, in a further result of Stephanie McMahon's wrath, was forced into a losing five-on-one scenario against Eva Marie, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes, Naomi and Natalya. The latter two never tagged into the match and showed concern for Brie, but the heel Divas basked in the opportunity to pick up an easy win.
If there were ever a match that should last under a minute, it was this one. But instead someone will now have to explain to me how a singles match between two Divas can end in 45 seconds on Smackdown, but when one solitary woman faces five others she manages to actually last a few minutes.
Anyway, the only thing I feel is worthy of being noted about this match is that I got the sense that Eva Marie was feeling more confident in her movements and interaction with the audience. She's obviously new to the game and should not be blamed for WWE's decision to throw her straight into the fray for the sake of Total Divas, but she carried herself much better on Main Event this week.
Oh, and Cameron showed her face after the match, only to get chased off by Naomi.
WWE's women's match of the week easily goes to Summer Rae and Bayley on NXT. It was a number one contender's match for the NXT Women's Championship and I would venture to say it was one of Summer Rae's best matches thus far.
|Summer Rae became the number one contender to the NXT Women's Title.|
So now, in a battle of the BFFs, Summer will meet Charlotte for the NXT Women's Title and after Charlotte's instant classic wrestling match with Natalya at Takeover I'm extremely excited to see the gifted Champion defend the strap. And while a one-on-one match might be a more quality encounter, a very big part of my heart really wants the amazing Sasha Banks involved to make it a triple threat BFF showdown.
Following a fantastic Title match between Gail Kim and Angelina Love last Thursday, the TNA Knockouts sort of got the WWE Diva treatment on Impact this week. They were on before the big main event, but at least were given a few minutes for their four-way Title match which featured Brittany, Angelina Love, Madison Rayne and the new Champion, Gail Kim.
The actual match was a little too spot-heavy with little to nothing weaving those spots together to form any sort of streamlined contest. The whole thing felt pretty erratic. But the Knockouts are always more physical than the Divas and, even in an ungraceful spotfest, manage to pull off something far more respectable than WWE usually lets their ladies get by with.
Gail Kim retained after the obligatory chain of finishers. Even though the match didn't do much of anything for the women involved or their respective storylines, it's clear that the few remaining female wrestlers at TNA are just that - wrestlers.
Smackdown helped WWE reduce some of the Diva deficit they'd built up earlier in the week, it's just unfortunate that next to no one saw it because it all went down on Smackdown.
The Paige-Ay Lee program wasn't hyped in any way other than the fact that a Divas Championship tie-breaker between them is set for Battleground. AJ Lee did, however, compete against Cameron in what had to be one of Cameron's strongest showings to date. The former Funkadactyl got to show us some mat wrestling skills and took a couple of nice bumps. I'm enjoying her new makeup-in-the-tights shtick, something I was unsure about until she whipped out some lipstick in the middle of this match and started applying it to AJ's face.
It was your typical three-minute Divas television match but they managed to squeeze a lot into that time. Cameron tried to walk out once things started going south for her, but Naomi predictably popped up to toss her back into the ring. She then received AJ Lee's awesome Shining Wizard knee to the face and was down for the count.
What stands out most to me here is that we've still not heard AJ speak on Raw or Smackdown since she returned last week, which is the perfect way to go if WWE is trying to make everyone completely forget she turned babyface. AJ Lee and Paige will be an awesome match at Battleground but, as per usual, absolutely no one in the live audience is going to care because the air has already been let out of this potentially amazing rivalry and WWE is highly unlikely to breathe more into it before Battleground comes. Even if they do, they've already lost their momentum and it can't be gotten back.
Also on Smackdown, Summer Rae and Layla FINALLY had what seems to have been their final confrontation when both ladies, in the ring with Fandango, seemed to at last become fed up with being played. Both women attacked Fandango and ran him out of the ring, then proceeded to dance hand-in-hand with one another.
For the first time in a long time this storyline gave us something fun to watch, but I'm glad it's over.
I nearly had a crap attack after seeing how WWE demolished everything the Divas had going for them this week. If you were following me on Twitter during Raw, you might have noticed my nerd rage when I proclaimed that I may not renew my subscription to the WWE Network next month and instead earmark that money for Shimmer and Shine DVDs and iPPVs.
Though I've calmed down a lot since then and will give WWE the benefit of the doubt until the end of my subscription actually comes up, I was not exaggerating. After watching that miserable excuse for an episode of Raw, I needed to detox and surround myself in respectable women's wrestling, so I went all the way back to Shimmer Volume 15 and watched Sara Del Rey and Amazing Kong (Kharma) do battle for the Shimmer Championship. It was exactly what I needed.
That match happened years ago but Shimmer is still running strong with a plethora of classic matches. This week it was announced that Volume 60 on DVD will become available for pre-order on July 21 and can be ordered by visiting the official Shimmer website.
The AJ Lee/Paige rivalry could have been amazing and I completely believe we'll still get one or two great matches out of it, but any chance that the live audience was going to get into it has already been lost by the fantastically awful lack of effort WWE put into developing it this week. We've not heard the Champion speak in almost two weeks and gotten barely a few words out of the number one contender. More Divas are involved in television storylines now than have been in years but the Divas Title storyline, which should be the absolute most important, has taken a backseat to all of them.
Once again, WWE has missed the boat, and it wasn't just any boat this time. This is the boat upon which they really needed to jump aboard to get their Divas back to a respectable place. This could have been the Trish and Lita - the Trish and Mickie - of current day women's wrestling in WWE. People have waited on this program for well over a year and it's already almost gotten completely away from WWE as soon as it started. There may still be a small chance they will find a way to salvage greatness out of AJ and Paige, but in the short term, things are looking bleak.
No matter how great the Divas Championship match at Battleground turns out, WWE has already lost the attention of the mainstream Universe.