On this edition, Paige has her hands full juggling her pursuit of the Divas Championship and the hopes of leading a roster revolution against the Bella Twins. Furthermore, Charlotte is back in action on NXT against newcomer Cassie McIntosh, and Taryn Terrell offers Awesome Kong and Brooke Tessmacher chances at her Knockout’s Championship.
Nikki Bella vs Paige (Divas Championship)
The Divas Championship was on the line at Money in the Bank, but for Paige this was more about taking a stand. In her pre-match interview with Renee Young, the Brit gave an impassioned, if slightly muddled, speech about standing up to the tyranny of the Bella Twins and capturing the title, even if no other Diva was willing to stand beside her. In reality, I don’t really know what to think about this angle, as although the ‘us against them’ mentality has always been an effective angle for fan empathy, Paige isn’t getting the point over as strongly as an AJ Lee or Lita probably would have.
Credit where it is due, this was a solid match between Nikki Bella and Paige. The Anti-Diva took control early with a rolling senton at ringside, but this initial momentum was stopped dead by the champion dropping her challenger face first from her shoulders onto the barricade. From this point on Nikki was in heel mode, taunting her rival. But one of the positive aspects of this match was its back-and-forth nature, showing how evenly matched they were on an even footing, as they traded power moves and kicks. Paige needs to quieten up in terms of calling spots though, as some of them had to be audible from the top of LeVeque Tower.
Paige twice attempted the PTO, only to be thwarted, and then Nikki kicked out of the RamPaige to add to the Brit’s frustrations. But, the turning point would come soon afterwards, as both were laid out at ringside. Brie Bella switched in, attempting the same Twin Magic as a couple of weeks ago to defeat Paige, only for the fresh sister to be pinned in a small package. Paige celebrated her supposed victory, but Brie revealed to the referee that she was the wrong Bella. Inexplicably, instead of a disqualification being called, the match restarted, and Paige was dropped by the Rack Attack for Nikki to retain once more. A decent effort, but the ending should have been handled better.
The Bella Twins vs Paige
Following the disappointment of the Bella Twins screwing her out of the Divas Championship, Paige was determined to set in motion her attempts to knock the sisters off their pedestal. She would therefore address the rest of the Divas Locker Room to hopefully unite them against the Bella Twins, but the reaction she received was less than favorable. Many of the Divas were unwilling to trust the Brit due to her solitary attitude in the past, and when Nikki and Brie arrived at the party, the rest of the ladies quickly dispersed.
Now, I recognize this is likely a build for Charlotte to be promoted from NXT to join Paige’s fight, but this segment really turned the audience against all other Divas. Not even Emma or Layla, who could have benefitted greatly by being on Paige’s side, were willing to stand up, which was pretty hapless to witness. Paige thus walked alone into a handicap match against both Bella Twins, which turned out to be a very predictable contest.
Paige put in a good shift, producing some of her best offense against these overwhelming odds, but was for the most part under pressure from Nikki and Brie. The sisters combined well in wearing down their solitary opponent, but there was little exciting to get invested in. Paige kicked it into a higher gear in the closing stages, flooring Brie with the RamPaige. But when Nikki broke up this cover, the numbers game began to tell more clearly, and for the second consecutive night the Brit was left broken courtesy of a Rack Attack. Paige’s crusade against the Bella domination appears set to be a short-lived one.
Naomi vs Summer Rae
With Paige and the Bella Twins the predominant focus on RAW and SmackDown currently, the rest of the Divas roster has been relegated to side characters. They are merely support that both of these ‘factions’ are attempting to recruit. Two of those, Naomi and Summer Rae, clashed on Main Event away from the hassle of the feuding alpha females. Naomi at first appears dismissive of Summer’s chances in this bout, but this leniency is tested with a nice dropkick. This flurry is only brief however, as Naomi dominates the vast majority of this bout.
One of my pet peeves over the Divas division is how they are thrown into matches regardless of their recent history and expect fans to cheer/boo them differently each time. There is no consistency, and that is a significant factor in the audience not investing their time in them. Naomi is excelling as a heel, and is employing some new and emphatic maneuvers that are visually impressive. In spite of a short burst near the end from Summer, Naomi’s control helped drag some success out of this contest, and she debuted a new submission maneuver, and over-the-shoulder Boston Crab that won her the match. Yet it was a forgettable contest overall.
Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady & Carmella vs Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss
At Takeover: Unstoppable, the NXT Tag Team Championships were defended in an air of controversy. Just when it seemed Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady were going to delight the crowd by capturing the titles for the first time, some surprise interference by Alexa Bliss cost them their moment of glory. This heel turn saw her join the ‘winners’ of Blake & Murphy, in a bid to raise her own reputation in NXT. But, with Enzo & Cass bringing their friend Carmella into the mix, they attempted to get some revenge in this six-person tag.
As this article concentrates primarily on the performances and feuds of the women of wrestling, the focus is on Carmella and Bliss in this contest. Bliss as a heel is impressing me more than I thought she would, and her cheap shots to Enzo throughout were a nice touch. And when Carmella entered the ring, she really got the crowd on side with her offense, which is still raw but showing signs of improvement. Both clearly are very charismatic and befitting their roles, but still are in need of some in-ring fine-tuning. The East Coast Collective collect the victory with a supported splash from Enzo onto Blake.
Charlotte vs Cassie McIntosh
It was a case of an established star of NXT battling a newcomer in this bout, as former NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte provided a stern test for Australian Cassie McIntosh. This was only Cassie’s second match on television, and she was looking to make a surprise impact and exploit the Nature Girl’s current tension with Dana Brooke. Charlotte quickly played some mind games with her inexperienced opponent with a faked out high-five. Yet this only seemed to spur Cassie on, connecting with a nice hurricanrana to catch Charlotte unawares.
However, the flow of the match really belonged to Charlotte, as in spite of a few bursts from the plucky Cassie, she could not keep up with the strength and skill of her adversary. Charlotte took this contest as an exhibition, showing off both some of her father’s dirty tactics, and then some of her own arsenal, including the remarkable Charlotte’s Web, into a spear that took all the wind out of Cassie. I was mostly impressed with the novice’s ability, although she must improve her running of the ropes. But, she could not upset Charlotte, who locked in the Figure-Eight which forced Cassie to tap out in a hurry.
Awesome Kong & Brooke Tessmacher vs The Dollhouse (Jade & Marti Belle)
Taryn Terrell has been lording it over the Knockouts Division with her championship belt and her allies in the Dollhouse backing her reign. So, following last week’s refusal of Awesome Kong to take up Terrell’s demeaning offer of a lingerie pillow fight for the title, the champ offered another opportunity to the giant, as well as Brooke Tessmacher. They would compete in a tag team match against fellow Dollhouse members Jade and Marti Belle. Should Kong and Brooke win, they get a Triple Threat against Terrell for the gold, but if they were to lose, they would never get another shot.
Prior to the match officially starting, the Dollhouse trio attempted to beat down on Brooke to gain an advantage, but the monstrous presence of Kong prevented them from keeping this up long. I was a little uneasy with the opening exchanges of this match – most maneuvers and strikes looked a little clunky and sloppy. Unsurprisingly, it is Brooke taking the early beating in this tag team battle, and her chemistry with Jade helps restore some quality into the bout. Marti Belle still has question marks over her capabilities, but Jade’s wrestling acumen is undoubted.
A missed Asai moonsault leaves enough of an opening for Brooke to make the hot tag to Kong, who is able to layout both Dollhouse rivals with bodyslams and a double suplex. Then, to secure their victory, Kong chokeslams Marti to the mat, and hoists Brooke onto her shoulders so she can drop an impressive elbow drop onto her victim. These events clearly backfired on Terrell, who now has two former Knockouts’ Champions breathing down her neck. And, whilst the title match will be every woman for herself, both Kong and Brooke will be determined not to let the blonde champion escape once more.
Brie Bella vs Paige
Paige’s battle with the Bella Twins reached its third act of the week on SmackDown, as she combatted Brie on this occasion. Following two straight defeats to the sisters as a result of the numbers game, the Anti-Diva would have been delighted to see her opponent approach the ring alone, with Nikki remaining backstage. But Brie didn’t seem bothered by this lack of support, taking it to Paige quickly with a running bulldog. Both ladies were evenly matched in the opening exchanges, getting very physical which was exciting to watch. They are undoubtedly two of the better wrestlers in the division, and it showed.
Brie connected with a nice sunset flip powerbomb, and this was indicative of the course of this match. I really look to her as the better performer of the Bella Twins, and she put on a good show here against Paige. Both were working hard and not shying away from some stiff offense, Paige thrusting her knee repeatedly into the face of Brie in the corner, soon followed by her senton off the ring apron. Yet, interference once again marred the result, as Alicia Fox threw Paige off the top rope with the referee distracted, and Brie finished her off with a Bella Buster. It seems Fox has chosen her side in this war, so the question is can Paige respond?
So there you have it, the breakdown for the week in women's wrestling. What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments from these women? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!