Divas Debrief: Women's Wrestling This Week for 8/23/2014 | Smark Out Moment

Divas Debrief: Women's Wrestling This Week for 8/23/2014

Posted by Anonymous Saturday, August 23, 2014
Every Saturday, Divas Debrief runs down the week in women's professional wrestling. From the TNA Knockouts to the WWE and NXT Divas, the Debrief keeps you up to date on all the women carrying on the legacy of lady grappling.

Following this week's Bella breakup, why do Brie and Nikki still share a Twitter account? Wouldn't one of them have realistically changed the password by now?
Stephanie McMahon SummerSlam outfit black leather see through
Steph! Steph! Steph!
SummerSlam as a whole was seen by a majority of fans as a success, and if I wrote here about the male wrestlers I would love to rant to you about how satisfying it was to watch John Cena be systematically squashed by Brock Lesnar, but I'll leave that topic to Smark Out Moment's very capable Stephen Wago.

We're here today, as usual, to explore the women of wrestling. So as far as SummerSlam matches go, we've got a Divas Championship match and a Bella versus the Boss. Both matches were high-profile and were done really well, but each also had its shortcomings.

Paige hot abs pale skin red gear
Pale Princess.
I've got a bone to pick with the Divas Title match. AJ Lee and Paige rocked the house from bell to bell in one of the more hard-hitting Diva matches in recent memory, but it takes more than that to make a great match. You people are going to start hating me for sounding like a broken record here, but there's no ignoring the lack of minutes provided for this.

WWE SummerSlam Paige hair extension AJ Lee
It's kind of like finding out Santa Claus isn't real.
The rivalry's been going on now for a couple of months and has gained a lot of steam despite WWE running hot and cold on whether or not they want to invest in it. Without the company being completely on board, AJ and Paige have turned this into a compelling Divas Championship program. It almost feels like they're being tested to see how thick the glass ceiling has to be before they just can't break it anymore. I suppose there's something to be said for that being a good way to make magic, but these two need a break already.

We saw a lot here that we don't see that often from Divas and I have mixed feelings about that. AJ Lee's leap to the outside from the top rope should have been a moment of celebration for me, but instead it felt bittersweet because I realized the TNA Knockouts do that all the time. I understand a certain mentality behind saving the big moments for pay-per-view, but you can't expect people to anticipate an exciting move from the Divas at a special event when their television matches consist mostly of rest holds.

Giving credit where it's more than due, AJ and Paige are paving a new path for the Divas and they constructed a match on Sunday the likes of which haven't been seen in years in WWE. Paige took back the Championship in the end, winning by reversing AJ's Black Widow submission into a beautiful Rampage DDT (sidebar: the Rampage is immensely cooler than the Paige Turner), which is exactly the outcome needed to keep the rivalry fresh.

WWE SummerSlam Paige AJ Lee hug
I was temporarily concerned when approaching Raw the next night that the feud was over amid rumors of AJ Lee's supposedly imminent WWE departure, but those concerns were apparently unfounded. During two separate matches on Raw and Smackdown between Paige and Natalya, the former Champ gained some measure of revenge by showing up to skip around the ring, causing distractions and costing Paige both matches.

What sticks out the most here, though, is that we've seen just how well Paige and Natalya click as opponents multiple times over a short period. They've done some great work in their brief minutes together. There are two highly respected family lineages behind these two world class wrestlers and it's an opportunity I hope isn't squandered during Paige's new Title reign. Whether it happens in the midst of her program with AJ or follows it, I sincerely hope Paige defends the Divas Title at some point down the road against Natalya in grand fashion on a big stage.

To revisit SummerSlam for probably the more talked about Diva news this week, I have to say Stephanie McMahon versus Brie Bella wasn't at all what anyone thought it would be. There were those who thought it would be a huge snooze fest and there were those (me) who thought it would be a high-speed, all-out brawl. No one expected this to turn into an actual, decently composed wrestling contest.

Stephanie McMahon Brie Bella WWE Divas
Even Steph is forced into heel Diva rest holds.
Stephanie made her entrance first and instantly changed this shit into a nostalgia party for me. First, there was the outfit that hearkened back to the ring gear she wore in the last match she wrestled, which was all the way back in 2003 against her father, Vince, at No Mercy. And if that weren't enough, she went and wore that signature smirk that seemed permanently painted onto her face for the entirety of the McMahon-Helmsley Era circa 2000. Stephanie McMahon was in fine form for this event.

And then Brie made her entrance, and that horrible theme song with which WWE insists on torturing us for every Bella entrance took me slightly out of the moment. But who has time to dwell on that? The match quickly took a surprising turn when the two locked up and Steph proceeded to power Brie around the ring.

From there, the match evolved organically. People are going to say Stephanie was the star and there's plenty of validity in that point, but I think there's a serious problem with Brie and Nikki Bella not getting the props they've earned. The Bella Twins certainly came onto the scene as more of an eye candy attraction, a role WWE has far too often valued over actual women's wrestling historically. I'm of the (apparently minority) opinion that both women have advanced their ring work to a level more than passable. I'd go as far as to say these two are pretty darn good.

SummerSlam WWE Divas Stephanie hot black leather
I think she stole that dropkick from someone.
Each Bella has her own style; perhaps not coincidentally, Nikki has more of the pound-and-ground style of John Cena whilst Brie's is more energetic with top-rope dropkicks and running strikes reminiscent of Daniel Bryan. In an attempt to remain slightly unbiased, however, I will say that while those D-Bry kicks Brie was laying into Stephanie in the corner at SummerSlam made for a nice reminder of Daniel Bryan, she doesn't quite land them with the impact of her husband and should probably stay away from those in the future.

Stephanie isn't a ring general and I've got a good feeling Brie played as big a part in holding the match together as the boss, if not bigger. They went for a good long while before the inevitable interference spots started kicking in. Triple H hit the ring when Stephanie was in the Yes Lock, and Nikki wasn't far behind him.

Triple H took a big dropkick from Brie in what turned out to be somewhat of a highlight for me in how it all played out. He sold it like he just got hit in the face with a brick and Brie stood over him with her fingers in the air chanting, "Yes!"

WWE Brie Bella Yes Chant The Game SummerSlam Stephanie McMahon
It was special for me based on the deeper meaning behind Triple H hitting the floor to sell a dropkick from a Diva instead of just stumbling and looking mildly amused. For all the flack he gets, seeing this and watching a few episodes of NXT are things that say to me that Triple H respects women's wrestling far, far more than VKM.

Stephanie soon got cornered by both Bellas, but - surprise! Nikki made the swerve and flatted her sister Brie, allowing Stephanie to nail the Pedigree and pick up the win. What followed was, shall we say, not the most Oscar-worthy performance by Nikki. It was easy to be apprehensive about the future of a Bella Twin rivalry.

That is, until the opening segment of Raw. It's the first show of a new era and how does it all kick off? With three Divas in a huge storyline, that's how!

And what surprised me was how decisively Nikki owned the moment. Who would have thought that, while standing next to Stephanie McMahon, Nikki Bella would shine as the star?

WWE Raw Steph tshirt
Stephanie McMahon channeling Dixie Carter.
Stephanie presented Nikki with the opportunity to explain herself, and she did. The reasoning behind it all wasn't as interesting as actually watching Nikki take control of the new direction. WWE put a microphone in the hand of a girl who was previously relegated to blank pouty faces and the verbal capacity of a teenage girl who refuses to ever look up from her futuristic cellular texting device. And you know what? It paid off.

They put their faith in Nikki and, as if she were fully trained overnight, she stepped into the spotlight for her first heel promo and she basked in the warmth. For perhaps the first time, Nikki Bella was the more compelling of the twins.

She basically said Brie was only ever looking out for herself and that it would feel like she was losing a sister, but she never really had one to begin with. Burrrrrrrrrrrn. Enter Brie, seeking an apology that would not be given. Upon being told by her sister that she could be forgiven, Nikki slapped the shitballs out of Brie and screamed "I will never forgive YOU!"

Thus ends one of the more pleasant-to-behold non-wrestling Diva scenes in recent years.

The follow-up to this developing story involved Nikki picking up a win over Emma the following night on Main Event, and speaking of Emma, she was also in action on Superstars this week in a rematch against Alicia Fox. Last week, these two wrestled a great match, which Emma won, and round two was even more impressive.

Superstars has become to Diva matches sort of what Velocity was to the Cruiserweight division at one time. Emma and Alicia Fox tore the house down on this week's episode in one of the longest Diva matches in a really long time. In fact, as I watched I had a hard time appreciating it because I was infuriated on the inside that they don't let the Divas wrestle like this on Raw or even Smackdown.

Emma defeated Alicia in what will go down as a hidden gem once Superstars is canceled. It will be featured in articles years later looking back at the most impressive matches in the history of the most obscure show in WWE history.

This is what the Divas are really all about, when they're allowed to be.

WWE Divas Charlotte Flair Becky Lynch
NXT brought us more of the phenomenal in-ring women's action for which it has become known. NXT Women's Champion Charlotte picked up some momentum heading into her upcoming Title defense against Bayley by gaining a win over Becky Lynch this week.

Becky, thankfully, has a refreshing new gimmick, a massive upgrade from that offensive Irish jig nonsense with which she was packaged upon her debut. After headbanging her way to the ring to some metal tunes, she had an impressive outing with the Champ. Both women have imposing physiques and are prime examples of something WWE is doing very, very RIGHT with their female athletes.

Charlotte won with that awesome Bow Down to the Queen finisher and provided a glimpse into her dominant future as a WWE Diva, my opinion of which you can read about HERE.

Last but far, far from least, there was a Last Knockout Standing match for the Knockouts Championship this week on the Hardcore Justice edition of TNA Impact. It was the first episode of the move to Wednesday nights and, of course, if you're asking me, having the Knockouts prominently featured in a big Title match is the way to get started.

It was a match taped weeks in advance between two women undervalued by WWE on a show that few people watch, and it managed to top the live Championship women's bout at WWE's second biggest show of the entire year.

I can go on and on about TNA's lack of women wrestlers or original storylines and feuds, but at the end of the day great matches come first and TNA has certainly shown they're not afraid to put the women into brutal matches. The Knockouts do things that often make the WWE Divas matches look like play time, and the New York audience obviously agrees. For weeks now, the Knockouts matches have been complemented by loud chants of "Better than Divas!"

Impact Hardcore Justice Last Knockout Standing Botox Injection
Action shots never disappoint.
This is exactly why whoever said the wrestling audience doesn't care to see big women's matches needs to sit their ass down and watch some vintage Gail Kim/Awesome Kong material.

But to get real for a moment, there was a bit too much interference here by Velvet Sky for me. A couple of cheap shots would have accomplished the same goal while not distracting from the focus of the match, which was two longtime rivals battling it out for a Championship. Still, Gail Kim and Angelina Love did things in this Last Knockout Standing match that were just awesome. Angelina nailed a Botox Injection to a chair right in Gail's FACE!

And the finish was one of the most cringe-worthy women's wrestling spots I've ever seen on television. Gail Kim landed a back body drop on Angelina Love from the top rope... onto a CHAIR! I could almost hear Angelina's spine crunching. Watch it for yourself:

There were things here you just don't see in televised women's wrestling matches and it was during this contest that I had my only legit, audible gasp of the week. If for no other reason than that, this gets my vote for the women's match of the week and, with it, TNA has earned my support in their quest for a new TV deal.

Thank you, TNA. Thank you, Knockouts.

And thank you readers! FOLLOW ME on Twitter and remember to hit up the Divas Debrief again next week to see where all this estrogen leads us next!

Smark Out Moment Divas Debrief women's wrestling Divas Knockouts

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