By Anthony Zevoteck
Tag team wrestling – regarded as one of pro wrestling’s best forms, allows multiple wrestlers to work together and come up with fitting movesets for fast-paced in-ring action. When performed right, it can make fans excited, especially when their favorite team gets the “hot tag.”
For a long time, it has only been the men who get Championships to display any tag team excellence. The women haven’t gotten that chance since 1989, yet how many times have we seen a two-on-two or three-on-three Divas tag match?
For many years, this topic has been thought of as unnecessary or ridiculous, but nowadays, there’s a strong case for it.
The branded “Divas Division” has seen its ups and downs (mostly the latter) over the years with poorly written storylines and characters with “all hair and no care” or “all face and no grace.” There was a time that little fans cared about the Divas and looked at their in-ring time as a bathroom break.
In the modern era, we’ve seen a resurgence of genuine fan interest in women’s wrestling thanks to the uprise of hard NXT workers like Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley. There was a time where any of those four ladies could be counted on to steal the show and were thus, even given the main event of a WWE Network Live Special.
In 2015, with a higher demand for women’s wrestling, the main roster tried to emulate this by bringing up three of those four NXT ladies and teaming them with and against some already-established main roster Divas, all branded the “Divas Revolution.” Although this was an experiment that had its few highs and many lows, the aftermath has started to show some positives that came of it.
It seems lately there are too many Divas going after one Title and causes a lack of fan interest because of mindless feuds over a Title that honestly doesn’t change hands often.
With a stacked roster with talent like Paige, Natalya, Tamina, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Cameron, Naomi, Summer Rae, Lynch and Banks, you have all these ladies (with the exception of two) currently involved in a feud for the Divas Championship. Give them another Title to compete for. Give other Divas matches some meaning.
Don’t forget, there’s even more talent on NXT due for an eventual call-up, like Bayley, Asuka, Eva Marie, Nia Jax, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Emma. Some of these ladies are already notorious as duos – Naomi/Tamina, Brie Bella/Alicia Fox, Emma/Brooke, Jax/Eva, etc. They can easily fill spots necessary for such a Division.
Many fans will probably disagree with this based on the grounds that the men should get another singles Title to allow more guys opportunities to get over with fans. I fully understand that point of view, because I’d absolutely love to see the day where the Cruiserweight or Light Heavyweight Championship are resurrected. However, with that not happening anytime soon, give that spotlight to the women.
They could easily knock this out of the park. New ideas give ladies new motivations, new reasons for fans to care about them and thus, they would go hand in hand. Maybe a Diva isn’t primed for a Divas Championship match and can develop skills in a tag team until she is. Either way, there need to be a second level for the Divas because the storylines alone aren’t enough to go off of.
There’s an unexplored side of modern WWE waiting to be discovered, almost 30 years hidden away.
WWE, give a WWE Tag Team Divas Championship a chance.
A Friendly Battle
– NXT continues to make moves in 2016, this episode taking place in the CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida, a packed house ready to make themselves heard. The opening video did a good recap of hyping the NXT Women’s Championship match between Champion Bayley and #1 Contender Carmella. This was your “bestie relationship” being tested with a grand prize thrown in the middle.
– 2015 was the year where NXT officially broke into mainstream as wrestling’s hottest promotion/brand and it has been a “back-to-basics” style of booking mixed with Triple H’s resilient ways of scouting the indies and bringing in popular talent that has done the job. 2015 saw plenty of this and it’s paying off in 2016.
– The opening video excellently hyped the big NXT Championship main event match between Champion Finn Balor and Apollo Crews. For any indy wrestling fan, this was a dream match come true in terms of styles and pace. We had the proper buildup and Crews even got to display some personality via hype video documentaries, so all we needed was the stage.
– What’s a WWE show these days without the likes of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Kane bickering? That’s exactly how Smackdown started, not surprisingly. Rollins continued to do a great job of riling Kane up, playing up his alleged jealousy, while Kane vowed to make a man out of the Champ and booked him against Dean Ambrose in the main event. Rollins begging Kane to “do something relevant and prove himself to the Authority” loomed large throughout the show.
An All-Champions Affair
– Starting the show off with John Cena again? Are we watching a Raw repeat? Do we even want a repeat of Raw? His promo did its job as it explained the rules of the Russian chain match (much-needed) and addressed the energy of the crowd. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro came out for some cheap heat, cutting down the people and Cena, all for Daniel Bryan to come out and the place to go bonkers. Read the rest of this entry
The New Toy Destroyer Of Fear
– The first segment with Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, The Big Show and Roman Reigns solidly hyped up the eventual main event, which tacked on Show and Reigns from what was originally advertised. Bryan led off the segment well – putting over the Intercontinental Championship and willing to take on all comers, inching a little too close to John Cena’s current gimmick, but still the best example of a “fighting Champion” as you can get. Barrett and Sheamus are a good heel duo – almost shades of their fantasy United Kingdom stable a la WWE ’12 coming to fruition. Ziggler was understandably all business and Show entered the equation as a good sidekick to the heels, which called for Reigns to finish things out, going straight for Show as the faces cleared the heels from the ring.
– The Tyson Kidd/Cesaro-Kofi Kingston/Big E match continued the momentum for the Tag Champs while further cementing New Day’s slow-burn heel turn. Big E’s promo was good stuff, as he condescending told the crowd they needed to love him, carrying most of the group’s vocal load. The New Day’s gimmick sucks but their maneuvers are all crowd-pleasers and as the turn becomes more evident, they need to alter it a little bit for easy heat. The “heel vs. soon-to-be heel” dynamic made it hard to root for Cesaro/Kidd per se, but the action was good while it lasted. The finish also made the Champs look good, albeit using cheap tactics, but lost nothing against fellow heels.
– The Neville-Curtis Axel match was preceded by an Axel promo that hyped the match in his own wannabe Hogan way. Neville continues to impress in the ring – resorting to more of his aerial tactics. Quick crowd-enlightening squash that followed the script of his Raw debut to a tee.
– The Natalya/Cameron/Alicia Fox promo had the female heels go at it in a condescending way. Either that or we got a glimpse of Bad Girls Club: WWE Edition. Not exactly carrying the division with class.
– The Natalya-Fox match carried over from the previous segment as Cameron was Special Guest Referee. This didn’t really do much to entice the crowd for Raw’s #1 Contender’s Divas Battle Royale, as it almost seems the WWE’s answer to missing AJ Lee is to amp up everybody else’s personalities where they almost become intolerable. Natalya won by submission using the Sharpshooter, which was the only bright spot out of this. Could’ve also seen Cameron’s attacks from a mile away. We did like the top rope “mirror pose” though.
– The Erick Rowan hype video pretty much summed up everything about him, but didn’t really push anything new about him and that’s the problem. At the least, he’d be Bray Wyatt’s opponent, resorting to past history for storyline purpose. This match really came out of nowhere.
– The Rowan-Wyatt match followed a solid Wyatt promo that talked about Rowan’s lack of acceptance by society. This felt like it could either be a way of writing Rowan’s lukewarm character off or to build Wyatt as the new “Face of Fear.” It actually felt like both were accomplished here. The Wyatt win was expected. The cradling of Rowan in Wyatt’s lap added a nice touch, but where does it lead?
– The MizTV segment with Miz, Damien Mizdow and Summer Rae came off as a feeble attempt to hype the straight-to-Blu-Ray release while having Mizdow turn on Miz yet again. Have to award Miz for his mic work here as he did a good job of setting up the moment where Mizdow delivered and promptly planted one on Rae. The crowd was more hot for this than Raw, which was a positive, but will Miz’s words about us forgetting who Mizdow is in three months ring true? It almost feels like this feud is being booked on the fly. Sure, they knew how to set up the turn well, but not much of that thought process has related to the aftermath. Slowly get Mizdow back to his former character.
– The Barrett/Sheamus/Show-Bryan/Ziggler/Reigns match continued the string of crowd-pleasing Smackdown main events. Nothing all too newsworthy though. Reigns getting the pinfall was okay, but where exactly does he fit into the equation? Will him and Show have a match at Extreme Rules? We can expect all six men to be involved with each other at the PPV in some way, but we still have yet to see any planning in that regard. On that note, with exception of Show, it was nice to have a night free of The Authority in the arena.
– Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. Big E/Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) via pinfall
– Neville def. Curtis Axel via pinfall
– Cameron As Special Guest Referee – Natalya def. Alicia Fox via submission
– Bray Wyatt def. Erick Rowan via pinfall
– Six-Man Tag – Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler def. Sheamus/Bad News Barrett/The Big Show via pinfall
Failed Snake Repellent
– Opening the show with clips from Brock Lesnar’s sit-down style promo was a nice surprise, as the main event of WrestleMania should get “front page” focus of the show, especially so close to the big match. It can even be said Lesnar’s comments sunk in better the second time around, as we could look past the shock value and dive deeper into exactly what he said. He played this off perfectly and deserves a lot of credit here, as great as Paul Heyman has also been.
– The first segment with Roman Reigns, Mark Henry, Seth Rollins, Kane and J & J Security set up the tag match main event from a mile away. Nevertheless, it made sense for Reigns to come out following the opening video and his interaction with Mark Henry was decent, as Henry put him over for last week’s barricade spear and personally endorsed him. It’s a good sign to viewers to show that people like Henry and even Jerry Lawler are now convinced that Reigns could beat Lesnar, because it gives the impression that he is growing on people, which is what WWE wants. Though it’s a forced principle, it works with the right people. The bit with The Authority had Rollins mention a billion and one times that “every arena door was locked to keep out Randy Orton, who will not show up,” which meant of course, that he would show up.
– The “$9.99” commercial song sounds a bit close to Sum 41’s “Fat Lip.” Just saying.
– The Brie Bella-Paige match followed up what happened on Raw, with AJ Lee and Nikki Bella out on commentary going back and forth on a debate about the state of the Divas division. Couldn’t they all agree that it just plain sucks and end the debate? Paige picked up the pinfall victory maybe a little too quickly to be convincing, and we didn’t really get enough time for this to sink in, as most Divas matches these days, shocking considering they had more time on Raw.
– The bits with J & J Security lecturing arena security in keeping an eye out for Orton was expected and didn’t turn out to be anything more than that – unless you were finally hoping to hear Joey Mercury speak. (Spoiler alert: It wouldn’t happen here.)
– Stardust’s boxed promo was very… Stardust. Byron Saxton is a hilarious color commentator and seems to get better by the week, as he compared a Stardust promo to “Storytelling time.”
– Luke Harper’s boxed promo was surprisingly badass, though maybe that was just the effect of him dramatically pushing the ladder down. His promo wording also came from the Bray Wyatt School of promos. It’s also kind of ironic that Ambrose and Harper wear the exact same ring attire: gray tank top, jeans and black shoes. Come to think of it, they’re both presented in the same status on the mental spectrum as “out there.” Hell, you can include Stardust in on that too. And R-Truth has his crazy moments too. One-third of this ladder match are crazy individuals. Sounds about right.
– Dolph Ziggler’s boxed promo was his usual cocky promo taking a poke at other competitors and taking back the “turd” comment towards Daniel Bryan midway through the word, which was interesting. Did WWE see a mistake with the “turd” remark, or did they bank on that catching on more than it did and retraced their steps here?
– The Intercontinental Championship Contender’s Gauntlet match was both an excellent time-killer and great way to have all the competitors show off their in-ring skills. Even the touch of boxed promos from some of the competitors was good, simple hype. The Bryan-Harper and Bryan-Ziggler portions of the match were excellent. Barrett watching from backstage also made it feel important and his attacks on Bryan and Ziggler gave him much-needed heat. They have finally played it right, well – besides for R-Truth’s performance in this match. What the hell was that?
– The hype video from all the other Divas about the tag match for WrestleMania – or Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae, Cameron and Alicia Fox arguing back and forth about who they thought would win – was a decent shot to try to make people care, but the video package sort of came across as second-rate. Who are we giving a chance again?
– The 6-being Interspecies tag match between Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya and Los Matadores/El Torito wasn’t anything too special as the campiness of the match stipulation itself was too much to ignore. It’s as if the word “INTERSPECIES” hung over the ring during the action. The two teams meshed okay together, but the only big thing out of this was that Natalya got the pinfall over El Torito and even then, is that something to brag about in the end?
– The Reigns/Henry-Rollins/Kane (w/J & J Security) main event tag match already started with the melodramatic scenario of Henry being laid out backstage and of course, all the odds were stacked against Reigns and sure enough, he comes out victorious. How magnificent and lamely predictable. Just when it looked like Orton wouldn’t show, that’s when it happened. Him getting the better hand of most of The Authority and some offense on Rollins before his escape was a decent way to make both guys look good, but it didn’t really turn out to be anything too eventful.
– Paige def. Brie Bella via pinfall
– Intercontinental Championship Contender’s Gauntlet Match – Dolph Ziggler def. Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper (eliminated by Bryan), Dean Ambrose (eliminated by Harper), R-Truth (eliminated by Ambrose), Stardust (eliminated by Ambrose)
– Six-Being Interspecies Tag Match – Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya def. Los Matadores/El Torito via pinfall
– 2-on-1 Handicap Match – Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins/Kane via pinfall
Daniel Bryan Is A Turd
– Nobody gets a rabid fan reaction like Daniel Bryan currently and yet he’s saddled to this sad “hot potato” storyline that now Smackdown is apparently phrasing. Credit us with the term coinage, aye? His promo was sort of awkward in the way that it was basically, “I was able to get to the World Title with my fans last year – it’s not happening this year, but hey – I notice a lot of guys fighting for this title, so I’m gonna join in.” Bryan’s name droppings of legends was a cheap pop, but what did work here was him mentioning that the Intercontinental Title was the one belt he didn’t get. Is Bad News Barrett really in any place to talk down to anyone at this point? The interactions with all the competitors was a little bit better in terms of putting the focus on the actual ladder match itself, as on paper, it seems like everyone does have a fair shot at winning the title – well it started that way, until Stardust and R-Truth came out and came the hot potato talk again and expected ensuing brawl. Does Stardust even watch WWE TV? He would’ve obviously known Truth has the belt.
– The 8-man tag match between The Usos/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston-Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Los Matadores was decent while it lasted. It would’ve been all good had New Day and Los Matadores not been dumped on top of the easy marquee feud already set between The Usos and Kidd/Cesaro. Actually giving a voice to Los Matadores was a step in the right direction, though it’s really too little, too late for them, but having them get the pinfall with dirty tactics was a smart move and the “chaotic” pace of the match was at least decent here as well.
– The backstage promo with The Miz/Damien Mizdow was what you’d expect from these two, with Mizdow trying to break in and Miz obnoxiously sending him off to do silly errands. The story here was that he would do this all on his own.
– The Ryback-Miz match was more or less a glorified squash for Ryback, making Mizdow out to be right and he smiled backstage. This didn’t really hype the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal all too much.
– Geez, WWE has really set up Smackdown as the “Roman Reigns comments on what’s been said about him on Raw” show. Not bad in concept, but the execution makes it insanely obvious. The intrigue here was the random appearance by Mark Henry who put over Lesnar’s ferocity and Reigns’ struggles and it seemed like a “pep talk” until he slapped Reigns, who went all out. The barricade spear spot was highlight reel-esque at least, but Reigns still remains in a struggle to get over with the ones who count the most and we can’t possibly expect this guy to truly beat Brock Lesnar convincingly no matter what. Wrestling fans aren’t stupid. Don’t insult their intelligence.
– The Paige/AJ Lee-Cameron/Summer Rae match put over Pai-J as a team as the Bella Twins tore them down on commentary and put themselves over in the process. Simple, but goes a long way and that’s saying a lot for a fledgling division that seems to only be more of a joke that they have to be asked to be “given a chance.” Albeit, AJ’s return gives it some promise and helps Paige get over in the process, as she got Rae to tap out to the PTO.
– Henry’s backstage comments seemed to gear him back towards the face character, saying he was now a believer out of Reigns and wanted to see what he had when tested. We possibly had a Henry-Reigns match potentially here, but that’s not the route Creative wants to go.
– Throwing the ho-hum “reverse psychology” comment aside, Randy Orton’s interview segment mixed in with the footage over his “mind game plan” was well-edited and made Orton appear clever and concise, as he said everything that needed to be said and actually somewhat justified his Raw assault. It also brings the focus back to exactly how The Authority and Rollins will get their heat back and one-up Orton so close to WrestleMania, but the fact that Orton already mentioned a challenge to a match, it should be on our near horizon. Either way, this can’t be all Orton and this has been what it is so far.
– The six-man tag match main event between Bryan/Ziggler/Ambrose-Luke Harper/Barrett/Stardust was your usual entertaining six man tag. Bryan getting the pinfall might’ve been by design to end the show on a high note, but it’s good to at least see the emphasis on the in-ring abilities of the competitors. Big thanks to Truth not being out on commentary, as he’s been overexposed there. The postmatch “clash” between Ziggler, Ambrose and Bryan was an interesting moment, albeit random as Ambrose more or less claimed nobody in the back liked Bryan, though Ziggler’s retort made it more of a comical effect. Nevertheless, it seemed the crowd didn’t know how to react and could you blame them? If WWE spent half the energy they use trying to downplay Bryan’s popularity to actually push WrestleMania, we’d have a hell of a build, wouldn’t we?
– 8-Man Tag Team Match – Los Matadores (w/El Torito)/Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. The Usos (w/Naomi)/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) via pinfall
– Ryback def. The Miz via pinfall
– Paige/AJ Lee def. Summer Rae/Cameron (w/Eva Marie) via submission
– Six-Man Tag Match – Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler/Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper/Bad News Barrett/Stardust via pinfall