You win some and you lose some. That's become truer and truer as a wrestling fan in recent years and as a fan of the WWE Divas there's been a lot more losing than winning.
|Oops, am I shining too bright?|
The general consensus among even the most optimistic of wrestling fans (a group in which I like to think myself at least somewhat included) is that Raw was a pretty big flop this week. Between the incessant solicitation of the WWE Network (I forget how much it costs; get back to you on that) and the fact that almost the entire show seemed like a rerun of last week's, there was scarcely an exciting moment in sight. The Brock Lesnar/John Cena video packages felt like a highlight and those two weren't even in the arena.
More thought was obviously put into promoting the Network and hyping SummerSlam matches than actual wrestling. That seems fine on paper, but most of the content turned out to be voice work with the occasional, awful fluff match, nearly all of which were repeat offenders from last week's show.
I'm sure it can be argued that the closing segment involving Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and the Bella Twins was part of what made the show feel repetitious and the numbers seem to back up that sentiment. Ratings for the final segment of Raw have dropped both weeks the ladies have been featured so the casual (majority) audience seems less into Brie versus Steph than seeing John Cena be invincible, which of course we knew. But I can vouch personally for the minority who are more into the main event segment now than they have been in years.
The Bella/McMahon program has its detractors, certainly, but we can't let them ruin this for us. I can't let them. I've waited over ten long years for this moment. I NEEDS MAH STEPHS!
|Yeah, I guess I'm pretty fantabulous.|
Granted, this is Stephanie McMahon we're talking about and not just any Diva. But I don't care what anyone says; Vince McMahon will not lose a buck just because his daughter's involved. Not in this climate.
|As good as the original.|
Well, young JB, it was the Pedigree. It was the Pedigree all along.
I've let this thing get away from me. I'm back now.
This was a great bit. It needed to be reestablished for the modern viewers that Stephanie can hang. She's not just some wimpy boss who's getting fed to the wolves, the wolves in this case being Brie Bella and the rabid live audience who will relish her downfall. It's not like when Eric Bischoff had to get in the ring to be inevitably destroyed by Stone Cold Steve Austin or the many times Vickie Guerrero was forced to compete. Stephanie is capable. She doesn't wrestle; she fights. And she's good at it. She knows how to sell a match as should be obvious by now to anyone who's watched an episode of Raw over the past year.
When Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon faced one another at WrestleMania X-Seven I was fourteen years old. Man, that match was a mess. Really just a spot-fest with lots of drama weaved into it, but it became (and remains) one of my favorite moments in my life as a wrestling fan because they knew how to build the excitement. Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon, coincidentally, were involved in a big way, which set the whole thing over the top.
This impending confrontation between Stephanie and Brie Bella is in that same ballpark. To me, at least.
Following last week's Smackdown when Paige shoved AJ Lee off the stage, giving her what the storyline says is severe whiplash, we didn't see AJ until Main Event on Tuesday. Following a brief encounter with Summer Rae (which AJ won), the Divas Champion told a story, to which Paige showed up to listen. AJ's story spoke of a queen who had everything stolen from her, but returned to retake her throne. She then told Paige that even though the challenger claims this is her house, it's really AJ's kingdom.
Really, WWE? That's all you could give us for hype this close to the Divas Championship match at SummerSlam?
Paige did wrestle Natalya on Smackdown, but it was a total waste. It's a damned shame that what should have been a Divas dream match was reduced to the run-of-the-mill Friday night filler. It was super short, which is a kick in the balls considering the potential of this match. The sore balls sensation was made worse by seeing that in the brief couple of minutes these two were wrestling, they had amazing chemistry.
|Paige just tapped out Natalya Hart.|
Oh, Paige won after a total of about eight moves. So much for that dream match.
Regardless, Paige and AJ Lee will destroy SummerSlam, in a totally good way. I hope both of the Divas matches at the show are given adequate time, but the Championship match of course deserves priority. Whatever length of time is allotted, Paige and AJ will do as much good as any two athletes could possibly do with that time. To say that Paige has excelled in her new role would be a gross understatement. She's becoming as compelling to watch as her rival, if not more so.
On to NXT, which was... painful.
This must be the heat everyone was talking about weeks ago which was directed at Eva Marie. Poor Bayley was tasked with getting whatever she could out of Eva. I don't believe people should be so disrespectful to bully anyone like this, but Eva really does need lots of polish before she's allowed to be seen competing in a ring. WWE's image is at stake here, particularly the image of their female athletes.
Eva Marie's so green she could tie a bandana around her head and star in a Michael Bay movie, but that's not her fault. That's on WWE. Shame on them for putting this poor woman into a position to take all the hate being spewed by people who paid to see wrestling, and shame on WWE for having such a double standard for men and women. No man this inexperienced will ever be asked to do a televised match by WWE and it's part of the reason, as I mentioned earlier, that fans are reluctant to believe they respect their female wrestlers.
For her part, Bayley did a wonderful job. Both women deserve a pat on the back. For very different reasons.
It might not be saying much since the pool from which to draw is so shallow, but on Superstars Emma and Cameron put on the Diva match of the week. I've gone on record as saying I'm not crazy about Cameron's tendency to reapply in the middle of a match, but she's owning it. The girl comes off like legit reality trash.
And she's improving her ring skills! She was able to hang with Emma, though many will say Emma carried her. Emma really is amazing and I couldn't be more thrilled we still have her after all that drama from a few weeks back, but it takes two to tango. Look at Bayley and Eva Marie on NXT for a match where someone is carried. Emma and Cameron were legit. Cameron got the win with a new finisher in a really good match that ran a respectable length for Superstars, and Cameron's stock with yours truly went way up after this pin:
|Please, someone, breathe some life into this scenario.|
Really, though, Angelina and Velvet need to call it quits for several reasons, the most glaring of which being how scant few women there are in the division. TNA can't afford one sixth of their active female wrestlers to be besties. But aside from that, it just makes sense that these two characters would have evolved beyond this nonsense by now. It comes off the way the majority of TNA does, which is to say that it makes you feel like you're not watching wrestling, but watching adults PLAY wrestling. These two grown, experienced wrestlers are playing around and pretending like their looks are what's most valuable to them, when logic tells you that they've got so many years under their belts that they know better.
Before I run, I want to make note of something that is less women's wrestling and more women IN wrestling. This week on Impact Wrestling, Dixie Carter went through a table at the hands of Bully Ray after months of build-up. This apparently signifies the end of the Dixie Carter character, at least for a while, and the rumor mill says she was injured in the spot. The bump was sick and Dixie deserves much kudos for putting herself on the line like this. Someone who had no passion for the business wouldn't have done it, so take it for what you will. Thank you, Dixie.