The ship has landed and we have come home. This week, for the first time in about a decade, a Diva-centered storyline closed Monday Night Raw.
Whether or not it lives up to previous successful eras in WWE's women's division, the face lift we've been painfully waiting on for many years is finally here. Join me again this week whilst in it we bask.
|Cherish these moments, for they shall be fleeting.|
On the actual wrestling side of things, TV hasn't been that strong for the WWE Divas lately, and that's saying the least that I could possibly say. When matches do happen, they last for only a couple of minutes. That's okay, though, because usually those rushed encounters are such so that more room is available for the fleshing out of a particular scenario. The ideal way to work this situation is to let the women have proper televised matches as well as their story time, but this is a positive, healthy step forward.
Interest is being generated as evidenced by the audiences of late. Not all of them are into the Divas storylines, but it's become less frequent to hear crickets during matches and we've seen a few great reactions.
There was only one Divas match on Raw, which saw Naomi and Natalya defeat Cameron and Alicia Fox, and it lasted as long as anyone expected. However, this week is an atypical situation since, overall, Raw was a lackluster show with almost no serious matches. Most of the matches throughout the night were comedy spots or squash fests, with the only notable exceptions being John Cena versus Cesaro in the opener and Chris Jericho versus Seth Rollins toward the end of the show.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Actually, it doesn't, and don't let anyone fill your head with that nonsensical bullshit. But this week's cloud certainly shone bright. We were teased all night that Brie Bella would be making an appearance at the behest of Stephanie McMahon, but I never in my wildest imagination expected the segment to close the show.
That's right, the Divas closed. It wasn't Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho, and it wasn't John Cena and Cesaro. I'm sure there's a case to be made that it was wrong to not have the latter end the program for the sake of the banner fight for the second-biggest show of the year, but the build was already suffering when WWE made the questionable decision to repeat a mistake they made leading up to WrestleMania by rarely having the two people in one of the most-hyped matches for an upcoming pay-per-view actually interact face-to-face. That is the reason the Undertaker/Brock Lesnar program felt so uninspired.
But we're talking about the Divas here, and that's what we shall do. I don't know what the reason was and I don't care quite frankly, but Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella ended Raw. Not only did they end the show, they were the biggest of all talking points throughout the night including the upcoming WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
|Then I'll see you in court.|
It became clear in the final half-hour of Raw that this segment was being saved for last. I was genuinely confused. There's no way WWE was about to end a show with just Stephanie and Brie. Was Daniel Bryan on the show this week? Was John Cena going to somehow get involved in defense of his girlfriend's sister? One way or another, a male Superstar was going to take this storyline and make it all about himself.
That didn't happen, though. It was just Stephanie McMahon, in all her five-star heel glory, crying and begging Brie to drop the assault charges against her so that her daughters wouldn't need to wonder why Mommy went to jail. Brie agreed as long as some terms were met. Those terms included Steph's default offer to give Nikki a raise and to stop torturing her at work, but also a couple of extras Brie tacked on herself.
Brie requested to be re-hired and to receive a match with Stephanie at SummerSlam. The request was reluctantly granted, and Stephanie, lamenting about how she hasn't competed in a wrestling ring in over ten years, fell apart. Kind of. At least until she revealed the tears to be a facade when she slapped the holy PETA out of Brie.
|A preview of SummerSlam.|
I think Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella will tell an exciting story. Athletes come in all varieties, but in wrestling the stuff you remember most is how many times you nearly pissed yourself during a near three-count.
In other Raw news, the Paige and AJ Lee saga was furthered when Paige came out to apologize for the assault she unleashed on the Divas Champion last week, chalking it up to youthful mood swings. AJ joined her to proclaim that she doesn't play little girl games and if she has something to say, she'll say it to Paige's face. Paige then told AJ that if AJ didn't believe her apology was sincere, then she must be crazy.
It was reassuring to see that WWE is showing continuity by keeping up the Cray-J Lee stuff. Continuity is not something wrestling is known for, so I'm thankful they're sticking with this since they really need it in order to keep a babyface AJ from getting too cheesy.
I'm really pulling for a lengthy Title match between these two at SummerSlam. It needs to happen and it needs to be really, really good. The girls need at the very least twelve to fifteen minutes of solid full-throttle action, bell-to-bell, with little to no rest holds. The WWE Divas have a lot to prove and these are the two to do the proving.
While WWE still struggles to fit even mediocre women's matches into their main television programming, they're still doing a marvelous job with the NXT women. The NXT Women's Champion Charlotte is going to be the true standard in mainstream women's wrestling for the next decade, if I should be so bold as to make that prediction.
Charlotte is solid. She's grounded and moves with precision. As stern as her moves and strikes are, she floats around the ring effortlessly. She makes the intricate art of wrestling look easy and could hang with any woman in the industry. Hell, this woman needs to be breaking glass ceilings and wrestling for World Championships. Yes, I just said that, and I firmly mean every word.
She's an A-plus wrestler, and she's only just now in her training.
|To be the woman, you've got to beat the woman.|
Charlotte and Becky had a great match with lots of actual wrestling. I can't underscore how nice it felt. Charlotte controlled the majority of the match by working on Becky's legs, which inevitably drew lots of WOO's from the crowd. And speaking of the crowd, they were much more respectful for this match than they were for the Title match last week between Charlotte and Summer Rae. In all honesty, though, this was a much more stellar contest.
Becky started making a comeback toward the end, but Charlotte ultimately picked up the win with Bow Down to the Queen.
The only thing to say about Impact this week is that there really isn't anything to say about it. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky were interviewed backstage and Angelina promised she'd have an announcement next week worthy of Destination X.
That's it, TNA?
There's no excuse for not having a proper Knockouts segment on the weekly program. Not enough Knockouts? Get more. Working on a storyline? Use filler, or work on it faster. In what may be a first for TNA since the Knockouts Title was established, they were severely shown up by WWE in the women's wrestling department. The saddest part is that WWE barely had any women's matches this week aside from the one match on NXT and they still managed to utterly destroy TNA as it relates to Divas and Knockouts.
Come on, TNA. You have a standard. A bar that you yourself raised as a company. Now is not the time to fail.
Seriously. Now is not the time.
AJ Lee defeated Rosa Mendes in about ten seconds flat on Smackdown. Ironically, this turns out to actually work. Now in the long run any short match isn't going to be beneficial to the division as a whole; Rosa was pretty much just set up to fail for life as an in-ring Diva. But the announcers made use of the opportunity to really play AJ Lee up as the best Divas Champion in history. They really made a big deal out of the whole thing.
What followed was perhaps Paige's greatest acting performance since coming to WWE. She screamed to AJ that she still loves her, and then as she sat on the stage, watching the medics attend to AJ and proclaiming "She's okay, you're overreacting," I was feeling pure bliss.
Paige has come alive.
SummerSlam is seriously going to rock.
In a quick note, SHIMMER Volume 60 has begun shipping on DVD! You can get it on the SHIMMER website HERE!
Thanks for reading and if you would be so kind, please FOLLOW ME on Twitter!