Total Divas Season One Review – The Main Cast

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Total Divas debuted in 2013 on E!, capitalising on a more realistic age for WWE in terms of social relevance and mainstream media. This was their take on reality television, featuring the top divas from WWE. Your favourites divas from the Bellas to Natalya had their personal lives brought to our television screens.

There were a fair amount of wrestling fans (including wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler) who were against the reality show with the show focusing a lot more on the entertainment than the sports in sports entertainment. It was soap opera storylines that never seemed to sit right with hardcore wrestling fans.

For female viewers however, it was completely new territory. Coming after the Kardashians on E!, they could seize an opportunity to attract casual viewers on E! to their main WWE product. Whether it worked is still up for debate, considering RAW ratings are at their all-time lowest. And no, I’m not blaming Total Divas for the reasons RAW ratings have went down!

I’m just saying that the chances of many E! viewers suddenly becoming interested in RAW and SmackDown! after watching this are extremely unlikely when looking at the numbers.

With that being said, the show is still on the air as of 2017 and even a Total Bellas spin-off has been premiered. So it seems E! are happy with the ratings of this show!

Reality shows aren’t really something I’d ever watch and I’d been hugely disappointed by the reality shows I’ve seen before this. However, could this female-tailored reality show about the women of wrestling turn me around?

I’ve finished watching the full first season of this show and will provide a follow-up in-depth review of the season after this article. In the mean time, I wanted to produce a blog post basically looking at the characters of the show.

There were seven divas cast as the leads for this series – Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie and JoJo. One by one, we will break down each female’s involvement on the show, their likeability factor and whether they are actually good television characters for this show. SPOILERS for season 1 of Total Divas are to be expected…

Nikki Bella

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The “star” of the show as well as the then-boyfriend to John Cena. Most of Nikki’s storylines revolve around John Cena as well as certain episodes where she fights with Brie and, to an extent, Eva Marie. Nikki is the centre of the majority of episodes, with the Bella hoping to take things with John to the next level. It’s very easy for me to see how a character like this would be interesting to a female viewer, with typical soap-opera storylines about love and marriage. Everyone has a storyline like this on the show but Nikki’s relationship with John is the biggest.

I, as a man, personally do not connect with Nikki’s storyline. It comes off as an extreme negative with Nikki’s almost dead-pan delivery of subjects that your average dude is not going to be interested in. Visually, she comes off appealing to men which I guess is a fine way to garner some interest from that audience. The issue overall with Nikki is the superficial nature of her character that makes her seem just like any other E! reality show lead like Kim Kardashian. I could see why an E! viewer may find that attractive but from a narrative standpoint, it puts her in a tough writer’s block with her character. Are we just going to keep to doing the same storyline with her and Cena going into the 2018 episodes where Cena actually proposes?

 

Brie Bella 

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I personally really like Brie Bella. Maybe it’s down to Daniel Bryan’s affect on her or how bad Nikki looks in comparison but this is the type of girl that, if I met in real life, I could see myself having a positive conversation with her. Brie is one of the more mature women on the show, even in her “Brie Mode” state. In one particular episode, she has a heart-to-heart with Natalya when they’re all drinking in Vegas and Brie comes off extremely composed.

In the rare times that she comes off unlikable, it mostly feels extremely forced like with Natalya (which I’ll get to later) and therefore, doesn’t strike me as real. I’d like to think that Brie on this show is exactly like Brie would be in real life. Maybe that’s me giving the show the benefit of the doubt but whatever… as long as I have characters that I can find likeable!

 

Natalya

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I mentioned that some of the unlikablity factors on this show feels extremely forced upon. Natalya is the biggest victim of this. Natalya never struck me as an unlikable person whenever I’ve seen her on RAW, SmackDown! or in any other setting, prior to watching this show. Watching this show however, Natalya strikes me as having more “bitchy” storylines than anyone else.

She constantly complains about other women taking her spot on television, not getting enough attention for her husband TJ Wilson (Tyson Kidd) and the work of other women in general. She comes off as irrational in a lot of cases, like when she sees TJ working with Eva Marie and then decides to feel up Fandango to get TJ jealous. TJ and Eva act all professional just training while Natalya overreacts.

Again, it’s hard to believe that Natalya is actually this awful in real life which is an issue. In this show, Natalya is the “veteran” out of everyone and you’d think would be the voice of wisdom to the younger talent. Instead, she outright complains about them. We hardly get to she her in an advisory role which would make for better storylines, particularly for the newbies.

 

Trinity (Naomi) 

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Naomi doesn’t particular strike me as interesting character but at least she comes off somewhat as a fun character. Naomi basically buckles down and works hard, trying to work her way onto television the old fashion way. She is a witness to her partner’s shenanigans on the road while in a relationship with Jonathan Fatu (Jimmy Uso).

Naomi’s specific storylines however are pretty hard to enjoy especially when it’s regarding her relationship with Jon. Naomi has to put up with a demanding boyfriend in Jon, who himself is irrational in a lot of different scenarios. He’s upset that Naomi is not wearing her engagement ring, upset when Naomi allows her dad to stay with them for a little bit and upset that Naomi is set to be in a romantic angle on television. Naomi having to put up with this nonsense rubs off badly on her storylines as you mostly want her in a background role more than having her own storylines with Jon. I guess her stuff with Cameron is somewhat tolerable but there’s not too many storylines of the Funkadactyls actually working together.

 

Ariane (Cameron)

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The Cameron character on Total Divas is a very much welcome part of season one of Total Divas. Why’s that? Well Cameron is the only character on the show who actually strikes me as unique. In professional wrestling itself, you need a wide variety of characters that make people stand out and be recognised. On television, this is even more important. All the other girls are almost interchangeable and similar in terms of their storylines which really kills interest in them.

While Cameron does have similar storylines, her mannerisms on the show are a one-on-a-kind. It’s a person that you’d never believe would actually exist in the real world and that’s what reality television shows should be about. Her casual drops of catchphrases like “thebomb.com” and “girl bye” as well as the outlandish ideas she has for the likes of her boyfriend Vinny just makes her “must-see” TV. She’s so crazy that it’s a change in pace from everyone else and she’s one of those people that you look at and would honestly want to hang out with for a day to see the world from their eyes. She’s tremendous!

 

Eva Marie

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The most hated woman on this show for many viewers but NOT as unlikable as you’d think. In fact, there’s actually not a lot wrong that Eva does. Her most “unlikable” traits are just being stupid… that’s it. I don’t know if Eva is actually like this in real life and I’d like to think that she isn’t but her unlikeness comes from just the plain ignorance and laziness she portrays on this show.

Things like pretending to be an experienced dancer so she can be on television and not being able to pronounce future WWE World Champion Jinder Mahal’s name (she, in fact, called him “Ginger Mahal”) doesn’t strike me as things I want to see but I guess, as a rookie, Eva needs to do these things from a narrative standpoint. A “learn from your mistakes” character if you will. Other than that, she actually doesn’t do anything wrong to other people. She does brag a lot about several opportunities but it mostly leads to characters like JoJo getting all jealous and it’s really not Eva’s fault that they get jealous of it. If you consider being an idiot the same as being unlikable, then Eva probably wouldn’t sit well. Otherwise, not TOO much wrong with Eva at this point.

 

JoJo Offerman

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JoJo was clearly a character they gave up on in the middle of the season or possibly early on during the production of the series. JoJo wasn’t particular an interesting character and her particular storyline is mostly an extension’s of Eva’s. They’re both the rookies so either JoJo is watching Eva during these shenanigans or she becomes jealous of Eva’s success. JoJo’s deadpan reactions to Eva’s success with the likes of Maxim does not make JoJo come off well. In fact, she comes off WORSE than Eva in a lot of these episodes.

JoJo seems like a girl that treats these issues by stropping around like a teenager (which she technically is during this season… she was 19) and not being mature enough around the adults. JoJo is essentially every young girl that wanted to hang out with her older sister’s friends but was told she wasn’t old enough. Even during the Vegas episode, she clearly just seemed more of a burden to Eva in particular while being unable to drink. With all this in mind, it’s pretty clear why she would be dropped from the main cast in the next season.

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Overall, the casting of women for the show is somewhat disappointing. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these women but there’s not lot of interest for the actual character’s unless you’re REALLY into the Nikki Bella storyline with John Cena for example. If you are, more power to you. These girls don’t really stand out as fun and interesting, giving you hardly any interest in them in the sense that you’re not going to bend over backwards to find out what happens to them next. Cameron is the only character so unique and out-of-this-world that gives you that feeling.

The show’s attempt to make the girls bicker constantly about petty things don’t really strike me as massive selling points for the show, which makes one refuse to rally behind a character like Natalya as she complains about the work of the other women. The Bellas seem the most INTO the show in terms of their “performances” but Nikki’s constant troubles over John Cena and Brie being witness to this isn’t a particular healthy relationship from a narrative storyline. Why should I care about Brie if the show is just to be centred around her sister? Brie’s engagement to Daniel Bryan was suddenly into an arc in the season finale where Nikki wants Cena to marry her.

Then there’s the newbies, who are a little hit and miss in a lot of ways. Eva, I guess, is the closest to Cameron in terms of having a unique character… not a likeable one, but still unique. JoJo, on the other hand, became more of a burden on the show in terms of scrambling to put together storylines for her. This, of course, leads to her removal from the show all together. Nice try JoJo, but it didn’t seem to work.

If you’re watching this show, I guess it’s mostly not for the individual character’s themselves. The writers’ biggest issue is making each of these women stand out in their own right. Each of them have similar storylines with their men, their work in the ring and with each other as spats spill out between the girls. I guess each of them provide at least something to meet all three of those things but it’s gonna take a lot more for me to personal be invested into the storylines of them individually.

Stay tuned to the Armbar Express as a I give you the full review of season one of Total Divas.

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Extreme Rules 2016 Review – Extremely Fine Professional Wrestling

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Extreme Rules saw the continuation of the “new era” in WWE. Feuds and storylines continued on from Payback, with Roman Reigns and AJ Styles battling for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship once again. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose settled their differences in the first ever Asylum match and four men went to war in a action-packed fatal four way match for the Intercontinental Championship. The pressure was on for WWE to deliver.

 

PRE-SHOW: Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler in a No Disqualification match

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Ziggler fired up on Corbin early with Corbin turning the tables by sending Ziggler over the turnbuckle Triple-H-style. He took over and there was some really nice heel offense from Corbin. He yelled at Ziggler to “stay home” which led to Ziggler’s comeback. Corbin moved out of the way for Ziggler’s elbow drop but Ziggler simply dropkicked him and did the elbow drop anyway.

Corbin hit the Deep Six. Corbin caught Ziggler off the top, to which Ziggler countered with a DDT. That was a very well executed spot. Ziggler hit the famouser but Corbin kicked out. Corbin then hit the low blow on Ziggler to which Mauro Ranallo sold tremendously on commentary. He claimed that Corbin “pulverised the plums” of Ziggler! Corbin hit the End of Days and won.

It was an OK pre-show match. The right man won and hopefully Corbin can move on to somebody else.

 

The Usos vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a tornado tag team match

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The Usos attacked Gallows and Anderson on the entrance ramp. Again I ask… who are the heels supposed to be?

The Usos ran wild until Anderson sent one of the Usos into the crowd. He came back out to do a dive. Gallows Irish Whipped an Uso into the ringpost and the duo did the Boot of Doom to the other one. This got applause from the crowd.

Anderson and Gallows battered Jey Uso with corner running attacks. They attempted a Doomsday Device but they are stopped. The Club tried the Boot of Doom but was stopped again. The Usos delivered the double superkick on Gallows and went for the the double splash but Anderson cut him off.

One of the Usos tried a Whisper in the Wind but missed. There was an cool spot when the Gallows Pole, Samoan Drop and a Spinebuster were delivered in one big sequence.

These guys were working at a really fast pace and they were doing a damn good job at it. Karl ran into the superkick from Jey. Jey did the running hip attack into the barricade, which was followed by a big clothesline by Gallows. This prompted JBL to yell “LARIATOOOO!”

Gallows grabbed the ring bell but was cut off by Jimmy’s superkick. Big Boos when the Usos took over. Jimmy went for the splash but missed which led to the Club hitting Black Magic and winning.

The right team won this. This was a fast but greatly worked match and both teams should really give themselves a pat on the back. The right team won as the Club obviously needed the clean win over the Usos.

 

Kalisto (c) vs Rusev for the United States Championship

Kalisto tried to cut Rusev down to size with a number of kicks but Rusev wasn’t budging. Rusev no-sold a springboard move, playing a great big man in this David vs Goliath match. Rusev laced Kalisto with a kick to the face and “We Want Lana” chants broke out. Rusev delivered a running elbow drop, which Kalisto kicked out of. Rusev looked very mean in this match.

There were “let’s go Rusev” and “Rusev sucks” chants, with the pro-Rusev chants winning. Rusev locked on the bearhug, with the Bulgarian going to the ground while Kalisto screamed. Michael Cole reminded us that this is a traditional match, as opposed to all the non-traditional matches in WWE history. There were small CM Punk chants IN 2016. Keep trying guys. Rusev did the torture rack, where he carried him around and taunted like a true heel powerhouse. This was great old-school stuff from Rusev.

Kalisto tried a sleeper but Rusev simply drops him, with Lana applauding. Kalisto fires up with a corckscrew springboard and hurricanrana facebuster. Kalisto did a hurricanrana to Rusev into the steel steps. That was a pretty innovate attack. Kalisto did a springboard frog splash but Rusev kicked out. Kalisto did an awesome moonsault to the outside. Rusev tossed Kalisto onto the ring apron. With injuries mounting up for WWE, why not risk another one by dropping Kalisto on the hardest part of the ring? Really good idea. Rusev tried to go for the accolade but the referee stopped him. The referee wanted to check on Kalisto. Rusev ignores him and went for PAINFUL accolade submission. Kalisto tapped out quickly and soon as Rusev stretched Kalisto out with the move. We had a new WWE United States Champion.

This did catch me off-guard as I expected Kalisto to win but the right man won. This was a fun and unique match, with the perfect use of the David vs Goliath chemistry.

The New Day cut a promo. Xaiver wants to “shoot his shot,” which led to a “shoot his shot” chant.  They talked about the time machine segment from RAW. Usually antics from the group. This got big reactions from the crowd.

Simon Gotch laid it in early on as the Vaudevillians beat up the New Day. JBL once again referenced to Leicester City’s Premier League title victory. Aiden hit a reverse stroke. Big E went for Big Ending but the Vaudevillians broke it up. They attacked Kofi on the outside.

Big E got the hot tag and delivered belly to bellys to English and Gotch and hit a big splash.

This was actually a great comeback from Big E as the New Day took over. Big E hit the big spear to Aiden English to the outside. I always love this spot but Big E really shouldn’t be doing it as much as he does it. He does not land well for him. After interference from Kofi, Xaiver hit the running knee to retain the tag titles.

This was a fine tag team match and Xaiver looked strong which is good. Xaiver doesn’t really wrestle in the tag team matches as much as Big E and Kofi, so it’s great to see him get his chance in the ring. Xaiver’s actually a good worker so it’s nice to see him involved. The right team won.

 

AJ was walking backstage. Renee interviewed him. AJ vowed to win the title, which was a case from deja vu as he essentially did the same promo from Payback. He went into the Club locker room.

 

The Miz (c) w/Maryse vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship

Quite interesting to see the Intercontinental Championship match get a promo video beforehand. It was a pretty good one actually and it genuinely did a good job in hyping up the match.

Cesaro was casually doing press-ups in the ring during the entrances. The match got off to a flyer, with Sami blistering down to the other corner of the ring and blasting Kevin Owens with a Helluva kick. This was a very effective start-of-the-match finisher which played into the storylines and a great touch to the match. Gave me flashbacks to Survivor Series 2009, where Shawn Michaels hit Triple H with the superkick right away! Just awesome stuff.

Cesaro followed this up by running across the ring to uppercut Miz. This lead to Cesaro and Zayn having a nice one-on-one exchange between the Swiss Man and the Canadian.

Zayn took Cesaro to arm drag city, with Cesaro turning things around. Zayn then delivered hurricanranas and side kicks to Cesaro in a lovely little back and forth. Cesaro caught Zayn with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Miz got back involved, which eventually led to Zayn doing a dive to both Cesaro and Miz on the outside. Miz begged Zayn off, but Miz lured him into an attack. Miz hit his signature clothesline in the corner. There was a tower of doom spot building which was broken up by Kevin Owens. Owens actually did a good job in breaking up the spot. I saw somebody on Twitter calling Kevin Owens the “babyface of the year” for breaking up the tower of doom spot. It is insanely overdone though in fatal four ways.

Despite this, we still ended up getting one anyway. Owens took control for a few minutes but Miz and Zayn got involved to set up a double suplex spot. Cesaro swooped in and delivered the tower of doom spot. This did get a big pop though.

Do you remember a spot at WrestleMania 22, when Kurt Angle did the double German suplex spot with Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio? We saw quite the alternative during this match, when Miz got Zayn up for the Taz-Plex with Cesaro delivering the German suplex to Miz which launched Zayn. A tricky spot to pull off which didn’t exactly have the same effect as the WrestleMania spot, but it still looked sharp.

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Cesaro ran wild and delivered uppercuts to everyone. Kevin then took over with a German suplex to Cesaro. Owens clotheslined Miz and proceeded to do cannonballs to Cesaro, Miz and Zayn. Cesaro hit the uppercut to Zayn. Miz sneaked in from behind and hit the Skull Crushing Finale to Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out. A good way to build up Cesaro, considering that he was the one who got pinned later. The match was at such a fast pace that I really struggled to make notes of everything.

Miz slapped Cesaro for kicking out which led to a springboard uppercut by Cesaro. Cesaro did the Cesaro Swing to the Miz. He went for the sharpshooter but the Miz got the ropes. Maryse was dragged into ring from the sharpshooter. Miz eventually tapped but the referee was distracted. Kevin Owens tried a roll-up and then hit the bullfrog splash on Miz. Cesaro hit the neutriliser but Zayn broke it up!

We got big ole chants! The crowd was going crazy for this match! Zayn hit an awesome looking sunset flip on Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out. Cesaro hit a HUGE uppercut to Zayn! Zayn hit the Exploder Suplex.

Zayn tried the Helluva kick but he was cut off by Owens. Owens hit the Pop-up Powerbomb, went for the cover but it was broken up by Miz. Miz gave the Skull Crushing Finale to Owens on outside. He covered Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out.

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Zayn hit the Helluva kick on Ceasro but Owens threw him out. Zayn eventually got mad and beats up Owens on the outside. Miz covered Cesaro and finally won. This match was all kinds of awesome. Bravo to EVERYONE involved! Miz more than held his own against the likes of Cesaro, Zayn and Owens. They did everything they could to protect Cesaro before they finally beat him. It was a good finish with Zayn’s hatred of Owens getting the best of him as Miz sneaked away with the pin. If Zayn had stopped bullying Owens on the outside, he would have won!

Just remember kids – don’t be a bully! Be a star!

I know a lot of people were upset with The Miz retaining the title but the right man won and I’ll explain why. The story of the match was that Cesaro, Zayn and Owens all were fighting their arses of to try and win the championship, with the Miz having to resort to sneaky pin attempts throughout the match. Cesaro, Zayn and Owens all looked great in this match as the Intercontinental Championship meant everything to them. In fact, they all looked BETTER than The Miz.

Zayn tried over and over again to win the match but Kevin Owens cut him off every time. He hit the Helluva kick one last time but Owens broke it up again. This enraged Zayn so much that he simply decided to just try and beat Owens to a pulp, as it’s the only way that he’ll get him out of the picture. He’s blinded by rage so much though that he allowed Miz to steal the pin and finally retain the title.

You didn’t bury Zayn, as he had the match won. You didn’t bury Cesaro, as he kicked out of all sorts of moves. You didn’t bury Owens, as he was one of the smartest wrestlers in this match. You didn’t bury Miz, as he WON THE MATCH. Everybody got over and the challengers all qualified for the Money In The Bank match anyway, so who really cares if the Miz got the pin?

This was quite possibly the best match shown on the main roster in all of 2016 so far and it involved… THE MIZ.

Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in an Asylum match

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They played “creepy” music as the Asylum cage came down and we got a Perry Saturn reference from JBL. You could tell from the get-go that this was going to be… weird.

Jericho ran to the door right away but Ambrose stops him. This match couldn’t end via escape. Ambrose grated his face with the cage. I respect Jericho for working the match in those jeans.

Ambrose smashed Jericho into the cage walls. Ambrose has some serious pondering to do as he went for the mop and the bucket but Jericho stopped him.

Think about this for a minute. In a match where weapons such as 2x4s are available, Ambrose went for the mop. As far as the structure of the match and the “build” up to the best weapon until last deal, it would make sense for Jericho and Ambrose to use the “weaker” weapons first. However I’d imagine that if I could go for any of those weapons during an actual fight, I would not go for a mop. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

 

Charlotte (c) vs Natalya in a submission match for the WWE Women’s Championship. If Ric Flair interjected himself into the match, Charlotte would lose the title.

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I’ve not been a fan of Charlotte during her title reign. In the seven days between the RAW before Extreme Rules and the RAW after Extreme Rules, the WWE found a way to make me utterly detest the idea of Charlotte being the top star on the women’s roster. The main event segment of RAW with Charlotte and Natalya did little to help with the promotion of this match. Then I watched the match. Infuriating…

Someone on Twitter mentioned that they totally expected Ric to come to the ring in a disguise to interfere. I actually would have forgiven everything bad about this Charlotte/Natalya feud if they had Ric Flair come out in some clever disguise. I just wish he came out as himself but with a GIANT mustache, which completely fools Natalya! Natalya ended up getting fooled twice in this match so if you’re going to make Natalya out to be a complete fool, at least do it in the most entertaining way possible! The finish of the Payback saw a Montreal Screwjob so why not do another completely ridiculous finish?

We got early Sharpshooter attempts by Natalya. Momentum in the match switched back and forth. Charlotte delivered a chin-lock but a snapmare by Natalya turned the tide.
Natalya hit the discuss clothesline and forearms, and the girls did some moves.
Charlotte went for figure-four but Nat countered this into an ARMBAR which led to the dead-lift spot from Charlotte.

Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles in an Extreme Rules match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

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Then we got the main event of the evening and it was quite a main event. We got big boos for Roman and big cheers for AJ. We also got a “Roman is Anoai-ng” sign from the crowd! We got a lovely little striking battle between AJ and Roman. AJ grabbed the chair but Roman cut him off. Roman grabbed the chair and went for a chair shot, but AJ moved out of the way. They battled into the crowd and even fought into the kick-off panel area. Roman threw him into the panel table, which looked like it sucked for AJ.

AJ then fired back with a Phenomenal Forearm off the kick-off table. AJ mocked Roman’s roar as they made it back into the ringside area. AJ took away the protective floor padding. A Styles Clash there would have been really nasty but Roman fought out of it. Roman went for a powerbomb but AJ punched his way out of it. They landed on the German announce table. A Styles Clash on the announce table was countered by Reigns, who backdropped AJ through the table. Styles landed right on his arse and it looked very painful for the phenomenal one. After all, AJ does get some serious air time with these backdrops that he takes!

Following that move and a big Batista Bomb by Roman in the ring (which looked great), we got “you still suck” chants from the crowd. This was a good chant for Roman as the fans acknowledged that what he did was cool but they still just didn’t like him. At least the crowd notices that what you did was awesome.

AJ did the chop block and suplexed Roman into the turnbuckle. AJ hit the running knee. Roman caught AJ’s attempt at a hurricanrana on the outside and SWUNG AJ into the ring post and the barricade before powerbombing AJ through another announce table. This was a great spot for Roman and AJ did a great job in making the guy look good.

To make sure that it wasn’t a completely one-sided beating, Roman missed a spear through the barricade. This was all great stuff. Roman then countered a Phenomenal Forerarm with a Superman punch. A great counter from the Samoan.

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Roman then speared AJ on the floor. AJ took some serious hits during this match, which is probably why WWE did all their best to protect him physically in the few weeks before the pay-per-view. As pointed out by Bryan Alvarez, AJ Styles is ridiculously great. Gallows and Andrson came out and hit the Boot of Doom on Roman. They rolled AJ into the cover but Reigns kicked out. The Usos run out and hit everyone with super kicks! This was quite the super kick party as they battered AJ. They did the Uso Splash but AJ kicked out. The brawl between the tag teams continued with Roman giving Superman Punches to Gallows and Anderson. AJ then hit the Styles Clash but Roman kicked out.

AJ caught Roman’s Superman Punch with a Pele kick. Some great stuff. Styles then hit Roman with the Styles Clash on the chair, which got a two count. Then we got the best spot in the entire match in my opinion. AJ, after everything that’s happened with Gallows, Anderson, Usos and Roman, completely snaps. He grabs a chair and unleashes hell of Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. The crowd is going crazy as AJ lays waste to everyone with chairs in an incredible 30 seconds of the match. I wish that AJ won the match off that but he didn’t. Roman got the victory by catching AJ coming off the top rope and hit him with a spear. AN INCREDIBLE MATCH.

People were upset with the finish of this one as Roman Reigns went over. However, AJ Styles put on the performance of a lifetime in order to make Roman out to be a star. Think of every wrestler than Roman Reigns has faced since his big push began. He’s wrestled against the likes of Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar but it was still hard to take him seriously as a main event star. He had good matches with Daniel Bryan and he did look good in taking the beating from Brock Lesnar. However, AJ is the first wrestler to make Roman seem like an actual Superman in the WWE. AJ sold and sold moves like crazy and did everything in his power to put Roman Reigns over. He did lose the match clean and he did take a lot of punishment, but I do personally believe that big things are ahead for AJ after this performance. You know why? Because he made Vince McMahon’s golden boy out to be such a star to the point where even Roman Reigns’ detractors are acknowledging that he’s doing some badass moves in this main event with AJ. I personally believe that this was much better than their Payback match. I did say that the Intercontinental title match may have been the best main roster match of the year, but this match is a incredibly close rival. This match was ever so good.

So following all of this, Seth Rollins appears to an insane pop. Seth hit the Pedigree on Roman and held up the WWE World title to make his return after six months out with an injury. I did not expect this to happen but I think this could lead to something great happening in their title match at Money In The Bank…

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I’m not going to lie… I thought Payback was a better pay-per-view than Extreme Rules. With that said though, NOTHING that happened at Payback was better than the Intercontinental title match and the main event match of Extreme Rules. Those two matches were something to behold. Everyone of the six men involved in those two matches came off as such stars to me. Even Gallows, Anderson and the Usos looked good and their tag match was actually pretty good. I think Payback was the better show but I think Extreme Rules did a much better job in sending the storylines and direction of the company in the right direction.

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a RAW review, re-capping the go-home show for Extreme Rules 2016. Three weeks to promote a pay-per-view is never healthy, whenever WWE does this. I’ve seen them promote pay-per-views in the space of two weeks previously and it’s just not enough for the fans to digest new developments or just new storylines in general. It’s going to be very difficult to convince the fans that this pay-per-view is going to be different than the last one you just watched, and the WWE haven’t done a great job in giving you that feel with this one.

Scheduled for Extreme Rules includes a rematch from the main event of Payback, a rematch from the women’s title match at Payback and we’ve even got a Payback rematch between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho. To be fair, the Payback show was actually pretty good. There was little wrong with that pay-per-view but there’s a whole lot wrong with the build to this one. With three weeks to build up this show, the WWE have struggled to make it seem like this show isn’t anything more than a continuation from what happened at Payback. Many will argue that every single pay-per-view is essentially a continuation of WWE storylines, but each pay-per-view should also stand out on their own merit. I don’t want to see the same matches that I saw last month. This RAW suffered in the same way that their pay-per-view will.

This RAW saw SO MANY repeats of what we’ve seen in the last few weeks of RAW and essentially what we’ve seen in the entirety of 2016. Did we not see Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto fight over and over again at the start of the year on RAW, SmackDown! and pay-per-views? Did we not see Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows fight the Usos on SmackDown!, as well as in the many six man tag team matches between “The Club” and Roman Reigns’ crew? Did we not see everyone in the mix for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules in a tag team match together on SmackDown!? Did we not see Becky Lynch fight Dana Brooke on SmackDown!?  What was so damn special about RAW this week that will cause viewers to stick around to watch Extreme Rules on the WWE Network?

Furthermore, how did the go-home show for Extreme Rules actually promote the pay-per-view? You had the same AJ Styles teasing angle that you’ve been pushing for nearly two months now. You had the closing segment of the show featuring the contract signing for Charlotte and Natalya, with the focus being on Ric Flair and the McMahons. You had the most entertaining segment (the Golden Truth video package) being centred around a feud which is not even a part of the pay-per-view. You announced the pre-show match (which is also a rematch from Payback) with none of the competitors even being on RAW to build towards that match, which could have helped pop a rating on YouTube if you really tried hard enough. They even had a post-RAW segment with Dolph Ziggler on the WWE’s YouTube page, which would have been better suited on RAW to build towards the pay-per-view.

This show was NOT one of the worst RAWs I’ve ever seen. It’s the farthest thing from but I’m just completely baffled by it. To be fair, the first two hours were not that bad. However, that third hour just completely drained me of life. I don’t mean any disrespect to the likes of Del Rio, Kalisto, Rusev, Big Cass, the Dudley Boyz and the women involved in the final segment, but this was just another reminder of the painful truth that this show is WAY TOO LONG. It’s not like the WWE attempted to save their best stuff for last, which is probably what they should do. They gave us the content that would be better suited for an episode of Main Event or Superstars and they put it on the final hour of RAW leading into their next pay-per-view.

I will go into further detail about the infamous closing segment for RAW as I’ve got a LOT to say about that segment. However, let’s just dive right in.

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AJ Styles came out for a promo. He discussed the apparent talk on social media about himself conspiring with Gallows and Anderson as part of “The Club.” He showed all of these tweets about the storyline and these tweets were not derogatory of AJ and the Club at all. As a matter of fact, it was a number of fans tweeting about how cool the idea of the stable is!

And AJ, god bless his soul, is trying to sell that this tweets are so hurtful to him. This entire segment just goes to show to where the wind has blown in terms of support in this storyline. The WWE are trying to portray and hint at this idea of AJ, Gallows and Anderson being mischievous and dastardly, and this crowd is not buying into any of it. The fans think everything they do is cool and everything Roman Reigns and the Usos do is lame. Speaking of which…

Roman Reigns comes out to thunderous boos and he said that everything AJ’s done in the past meant nothing as he’s never won the WWE Championship. Let’s think about this line for a second. With the rare exceptions of the Giant when he won the WCW Championship in his first match, how many wrestlers have actually won a world title in their first match? A very small few. This seemed like a completely burial of nearly everyone on WWE’s roster, as probably 75% of the roster has not won the WWE Championship. About 50% of them have never been given a WWE Championship match. AJ was trying to put himself over by talking about headlining the Tokyo Dome and Roman Reigns claiming that those things don’t matter just completely derailed AJ as a threat. If AJ were to win the championship at Extreme Rules, I wouldn’t have had a problem with this line as it meant that AJ silenced his critics. However if AJ loses clean, who could possibly want to care about AJ after being insulted and beaten by Roman?

This was not the greatest of back-and-forths on the microphone. Roman Reigns is not too good on the mic. AJ Styles is not too phenomenal either. At least it wasn’t THAT LONG until Gallows and Anderson came out. The Usos came out to have Roman’s back, which led to Roman cheap-shotting AJ.

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Sami Zayn was scheduled to face Cesaro. Currently Zayn, Cesaro, Kevin Owens and The Miz are embroiled in a four way feud for the Intercontinental Championship. We’ve seen matches between the faces and the heels, with Cesaro fighting Miz and Owens and Zayn fighting Miz and Owens too. The mouth-watering prospect, as a fan, must surely be to see Cesaro and Zayn go all-out as big time babyfaces in a match against each other. That match going into Extreme Rules would have been a killer way to get people invested into the four way match. However, they had to have Miz and Owens break it up early on to cause the no contest.

This led to Cesaro and Zayn vs Owens and Miz being announced by Shane McMahon, who clearly never watched SmackDown! as that match actually happened. In fact, Stephanie McMahon came out and pulled him up on this! She made things interesting by having Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight Cesaro and Miz in a tag team match instead. Unless the big plan is to turn Stephanie McMahon into a babyface, why would have the heel authority figure ever out-do the babyface in terms of match-making?

I know a  lot of people are going to disagree but I felt that passing up a Zayn/Cesaro match for just another tag team match was a huge misjudgment by the writers. The whole storyline for this match was that everyone has been fighting each other anyway and they’ll fight each other at Extreme Rules, so why would you have them all fighting each other on RAW? At least if you did Cesaro and Zayn, you could have sent fans into Extreme Rules thinking “Wow. They went all out for this non-title match on RAW. Imagine how far they’ll go to win the Intercontinental Championship!” Another added benefit was that you could have also addressed the incident on SmackDown!, where Zayn accidentally hit Cesaro with the helluva kick!

The tag match was actually pretty good. There was obvious issues between the two sets of teams. In a surprising move, Kevin Owens got the hot tag in this match. A unique choice, especially when there’s two babyfaces already in there that could have had the tag. However, Kevin running wild was great to see and the fans were into it. Cesaro then tagged himself in and hit a series of uppercuts on Owens. Miz tagged himself, threw out Cesaro and then attempted the Cesaro Swing on Zayn. Cesaro broke it up and hit Miz with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Zayn hit the helluva kick on Miz to pick up the win. Owens laid out Zayn with the superkick and claimed the victory. This was a fun tag team match and I do have high hopes for the match at Extreme Rules. I think it could be incredible stuff, even with the Miz involved.

Renee Young interviewed Chris Jericho. Jericho whined about his $15,000 light-up jacket being destroyed by Dean Ambrose and that he demanded an apology. He said that the jacket was worth more than Andre The Giant was to WWE.

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Next up was the re-debut of the “Shining Stars” Primo and Epico. I don’t know how many people picked up on this, but Vince McMahon mentioned something last week during the conference call following the release of the financial numbers for WWE’s first quarter. He talked about how there would be even more talent on their roster than ever before, with new and returning superstars coming back. After this whole deal about bringing in more talent, the WWE had the “Shining Stars” take on two local talents! They couldn’t have Primo and Epico beat at least a recognisable tag team? They couldn’t have faced the Social Outcasts or maybe a tag team of Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder?

Primo and Epico called the ring their paradise and they beat the enhancement talent. I’ve got to say that Primo and Epico really have to make this gimmick work. I don’t want to say that they’re doomed but it’s going to be very difficult to get this gimmick over. They’ve had several incarnations of this tag team, including a matador team where they were over-shadowed by a mini bull who is now no longer with the company. I don’t see this having a major impact but you know what, please prove me wrong. I actually think that these two are good workers and the New Day are proof that any bad gimmick can be turned into a hugely over act. My advice would be to get as crazy and over-the-top as possible with this gimmick as it’s going to be difficult for them to get over by just playing a generic cocky heel, as there’s plenty going around in WWE at the moment.

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Dean Ambrose appeared to call out Chris Jericho. He just wanted to talk to him. Jericho came out and said that since he’s a millionaire, the money that the jacket cost didn’t mean anything to him. He wants an apology because Ambrose destroyed a part of his legacy. Ambrose instead challenged him to a match at Extreme Rules, to  which Jericho accepted. Dean then revealed that Shane McMahon gave him the choice to have any type of match he wanted at Extreme Rules. Dean then lowered down a cage, with a platform above it with different weapons hanging off it. Dean declared this to be an Asylum match. This really was just a Lethal Lockdown match, except that it’s simply just one on one. The weapons that were hanging off this platform including leather belts, kendo sticks, barbed wired 2x4s, straitjackets and a fire extinguisher. There was also a couple of mops hanging up there, which Perry Saturn apparently gave the OK to.

So Dean started cutting this promo as the cage came down and the production crew played this horror-film like music as Dean cut this promo. Dean was doing his best to sell this match and you couldn’t take it seriously at all, as the music was almost comical.

Let me just state that I’ve not been the biggest of fans of this feud between Jericho and Ambrose. It started off as a feud over talk shows, then moved into a feud about plants and there was little seriousness to any of this. However, I still thought that the WWE had turned the corner last week with the attacks from both men. When Jericho attacked Dean while he was in a straitjacket, I thought that was really well done. When they revealed the asylum match though, it’s almost as if the work done to try and redeem the angle just went up in smoke. I know some people like the goofiness of this all but at the end of the day, these two men are both supposedly main-eventers in WWE. The fact that they’re having this feud over daft things like plants, talk shows and jackets is just not the way to get Ambrose over to a main-event level. I’m not a fan of the match stipulation as I felt that an I Quit match would have been much more appropriate for the feud as it was building up in intensity. 

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Becky Lynch took on Dana Brooke, in a SmackDown! rematch. No Emma at ringside as she was unfortunately sidelined with a back injury. This match was OK. Dana didn’t really screw anything up. Dana seemed a bit hesitant with her work, which is understandable considering that this is her first match on RAW. Becky was able to get a decent match out of her but Dana ended up going over. I mentioned this for SLTD Wrestling but it’s going to be rather difficult for Dana to get herself over without Emma being there but it seems that they still want to do stuff with Dana, as she got the win again on RAW. Becky had to lose twice in a row to Dana but at least it wasn’t your typical 50/50 booking from WWE. They want to try and do something with the new girl which is totally fine.

We had a “Make Darren Young great again” vignette with Darren Young and Bob Backlund. Bob was appalled by Darren’s use of the phone to do simple things such as checking the time and setting the alarm clock. He demanded that Darren did squats for him. I actually think that this angle could be a huge success and I’ll explain why. The ones that are running the ship like Vince McMahon have been in the wrestling industry for years. They have an old-school look at life and wrestling, as is the case with Roman Reigns’ push. There’s a lot of aspects about the wrestling industry that they don’t understand. They don’t understand why some guys are more over than other guys and why things like NXT are such a huge hit. Using Darren Young and Bob Backlund as a means to get across their mindset is a great way to do it. Bob’s disgusted reactions at Darren for using a phone were great to see and I actually think that this will be an angle that’ll get more over than it probably should do!

With that being said, what came next was rather interesting. The Dudley Boyz appeared before Stephanie and Shane to remind that while this is the “New Era,” the Dudleyz were from the Attitude Era and still had something to offer. It’s funny because after they named-dropped the Attitude Era, everybody cheered! They wanted a tag team match but the McMahons refused. They allowed them to decide among themselves about which one of them would be a singles match later. That match would be against Big Cass.

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Next up was something utterly tremendous. It was a video package to commemorate the “Golden Truth” storyline and it just goes to show you that those who put together the video packages for WWE programming are some of the best in the world at what they do. This was essentially a comedy storyline but by the end of it, it made you care so much about the direction of R-Truth and Goldust! This was portrayed as the greatest love storyline in the history of the WWE and it featured two men going back and forth about whether to form a tag team! It showcased the struggle of both these men as Goldust wanted to be Truth’s partner but Truth refused. Truth eventually broke up the entire relationship and Goldust went with someone else in Fandango. Truth tried to make him jealous with a new tag team partner of his own in Tyler Breeze. Fandango and Breeze then realised that both men were just using them to get over this break-up. They turned on their partners, with Goldust sacrificing himself to try and save Truth. This was the moment where Goldust realised that he and Truth were meant for each other. And now, AT LONG LAST, these two were now officially a tag team! It was beautiful. This was like a much better version of the Shawn Michaels “Tell me a lie” video from 1997, where Shawn Michaels lost his smile. True emotions were showcased here!

The Golden Truth took on Fandango and Tyler Breeze with a team which myself and everyone but WWE dubbed “Fabreeze.” Even Fandango mentioned this name on Instagram! It was a brief back and forth match before Truth accidentally nailed Goldust with a kick which led to the heels winning. It was heart-breaking to see Golden Truth lose after that amazing video package but all is not lost with this angle. Backstage, Golden Truth were devastated and mocked by Fabreeze but they decided to stay together and continue to team together. This actually got quite the applause and cheers from the crowd! I’m personally looking forward to the future adventures of Golden Truth. A THUMBS UP FROM ME!

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The New Day came out with a giant object being covered up in the ring. Xaiver Woods revealed that he had brought a time machine to RAW, which was essentially a box with things stuck to the side! This is the sort of stuff that children do so it’s great that the WWE allowed the New Day to embrace their inner-child with this time machine! They went in to turn back time and go to the by-gone era. After a while, Kofi Kingston’s old theme played. Kofi came out, was in full-Jamaican mode and reliving his old gimmick when Xaiver Woods declared that they didn’t go back far enough. Kofi protested by saying that 2009 was his best year! He was pulled back into the time machine and they eventually came out to enter the by-gone era. It was all in black and white and the New Day had mustaches. They mocked the era and declared that they would always be WWE Tag Team Champions when the Vaudevillians jumped them. They destroyed the time machine and stood tall. A good way to get the Vaudevillians over by having them beat up three men and a funny little segment to sit through. This also gets a thumbs up from me!

The Usos took on Anderson and Gallows. It was your standard tag match between these two, with Roman Reigns and AJ Styles being in the corners of each team. The Usos won cleanly and this led to a staredown between AJ and Roman. Roman used the chair on AJ and then beat up the rest of the Club when AJ took over. He whacked Roman with this chair over and over and eventually hit the Styles Clash on the chair. This was a really good segment that really should have went on last. The Styles Clash looked nasty for Roman and I give AJ credit in getting the big man up for the move. Although this was the same sort of angle that we’ve seen in the last two months now, this was probably one of the stronger segments.

NOTE: It was announced after the show that the Usos would take on Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows again at Extreme Rules in a tornado tag team match.

Then we got into the third hour. Big Cass took on D-Von Dudley with Bubba Ray in D-Von’s corner. It didn’t even last minute until Big Cass overcame both Dudleyz and won. What was the point in putting this match on RAW? It’s not like any of these three people will be featured on Extreme Rules so unless it was just to get Big Cass on television, I don’t really know. I will say that Big Cass cut a really good promo before the match started.

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Kalisto took on Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match. Sin Cara was watching on from backstage when Rusev jumped him. They showed this on the big screen and Del Rio forced Kalisto to watch it. Rusev brought Sin Cara out to the ring as Del Rio hit Kalisto with the backstabber and won. Rusev then crushed Kalisto with the Accolade. It’s the same Del Rio/Kalisto match that we’ve seen throughout 2016 but the big issue is the fact that the US Champion lost in the go-home show before his big title defense at Extreme Rules. Rusev also lost to Sin Cara last week, so none of these guys have been able to get over on RAW in the last two weeks. I actually did the research and it turns out that Kalisto has not won a match on RAW since the episode BEFORE WRESTLEMANIA! Kalisto hasn’t won on RAW since March 28th 2016!

If Kalisto retains the US Championship at Extreme Rules, I’m just going to be baffled. What incentive is there to keep the title on Kalisto if you’re just going to treat him as a joke on television? Can we have these two guys win so maybe you could get people interested in their match? The US Championship has went from John Cena and Kevin Owens having one of the best programs of 2015 to the two challengers losing all the time leading into a pay-per-view.

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Then came the main event segment of the show. It was Charlotte and Natalya’s contract signing for Extreme Rules. Ric Flair got a big North Carolina pop as he introduced Charlotte. Charlotte got some mild woos. Natalya got a very light reaction. Stephanie and Shane were over-seeing the contract signing. Natalya ran down Charlotte and said that she wanted to face the Charlotte that she faced at NXT, who didn’t have Ric Flair watching her back. This is funny because in the NXT Women’s Championship match where Charlotte won the title, Ric Flair was in her corner!

Charlotte responded by claiming that these fans weren’t hear to cheer Natalya. She said that all of Charlotte, North Carolina treated her like a god before she told the crowd to shut up. Charlotte was about to sign the contract when she noticed a new stipulation. It was decided that if Ric Flair ran down and ignored the stipulation of him being banned from ringside, Charlotte would lose the championship. Charlotte angrily signed the contract and Ric Flair berated Stephanie, calling her the worst business person ever. Ric was going nuts and Charlotte tried to calm him down. Shane didn’t want to fight Ric out of respect for him. Stephanie stepped in and said that while Shane had respect for him, she didn’t. She slapped Ric to a big babyface reaction and even to “Stephanie” chants. Charlotte got angry and it appeared that she was about to attack Stephanie when Natalya got involved. She locked on the sharpshooter and Charlotte tapped. Natalya hoisted up the championship.Charlotte then rolled out of the ring and made no attempt to sell Natalya’s finisher. And all of this was supposed to promote CHARLOTTE VS NATALYA!

This was not as big a train-wreck as the infamous Charlotte/Paige contract signing which saw Paige speak ill of Charlotte’s deceased brother, but this was an awful attempt of promoting their women’s title match for Extreme Rules. The closing segment of the go-home show for Extreme Rules was centred around Ric Flair and the McMahons! The WWE instead decided to tease a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte!

The reported plan for Summerslam was for Charlotte to face Sasha Banks and drop the championship to her but I’m truly convinced that Sasha Banks will not be anywhere near that women’s match at Summerslam. The WWE, for whatever reason, clearly doesn’t want Sasha to be the women’s champion. Sasha being the champion is what the fans want as the “We Want Sasha” chants are still continuing. We got those chants during the Becky/Dana match. However if they wanted Sasha to be champion, she would have been by now. We wouldn’t have had to sit through an eight month title reign with Charlotte as the champion. If Sasha was truly being groomed to be the champion, she would have won it at WrestleMania 32 as she should have. But she didn’t.

I have no desire to sit through Charlotte as the champion until at least Summerslam, but that’s what we are going to get. My theory is that Sasha is being kept of television because they are looking out for other alternatives for Summerslam. They want the right woman to step up and face Charlotte instead of Sasha. This may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe that we’re more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Sasha winning the championship at Summerslam. I don’t want to believe that but this segment didn’t feel me with a lot of confidence.

I don’t believe Natalya has any hope of walking out the champion at Extreme Rules either. I want her to do but again, she would have won it much earlier if there was any interest internally in Natalya being the champion.

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So this RAW was not terrible as an episode of RAW but it was terrible as a go-home show for Extreme Rules. This was not the way to promote this pay-per-view. I think Extreme Rules might still be a good pay-per-view but I don’t think the numbers will be strong enough for it to be an effective pay-per-view in terms of pay-per-view buys and network subscriptions.

The Divas Revolution Post-WWE Night Of Champions Report

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How’s it going everyone? Thomas Robinson here again, to bring you another blog post on the “Divas Revolution” of WWE. A lot’s happened since I last wrote about it. Last time I wrote about it, it was about why I felt Charlotte should not have won the Divas Championship at Night of Champions. A lot has happened since then with regards to the storyline in the divas division.

There’s three women which I want to talk about in-depth. I’ll be talking about the likes of Natalya and Team B.A.D, but my main focus will be on the new Divas Champion Charlotte, the former Divas Champion Nikki Bella and Paige, who recently turned heel. These three will also likely be the focus point of the storyline in the next month so it’s important to look at their roles since Night of Champions.

The biggest thing coming from this storyline since Charlotte won the Divas Championship has been Paige’s heel turn. My intentions were to do a piece on her “PaigeBomb” in a separate blog post. However, the piece I wrote up for it got lost on WordPress somehow. It was incredibly unfortunate but I’ll run it down what I wrote for you briefly. That promo breathed life back into this storyline.

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The main reason why it was so effective was that it finally addressed the elephant in the room with regards to this storyline. This storyline was failing because the fans were not able to connect with these characters as a result of WWE’s attempts to promote all the divas at the same time. With this promo, Paige finally turned the attention away from the teams and onto the actual women involved in the storyline. Paige and Charlotte were the first two women to actually gain exposure as individual characters (well other than Nikki Bella, which we’ll get onto later).

Paige was already an established diva before this storyline began, but Charlotte wasn’t. When the whole team scenario was first introduced, the women were reduced to “tag lines” which took away from their actually personality. Charlotte was Ric Flair’s daughter and Paige was “the English one.” Now, they’re starting to break out on their own. The only one that hasn’t yet is Becky Lynch and we’ll get to her later on too.

The point is, when Paige called out Charlotte for only being in WWE because of her father, it suddenly started to come together. Charlotte now must prove to Paige and all the other doubters that she is her because she’s actually good. She might have the blood of a Hall-Of-Famer but she has the heart of the champion. Charlotte must now evolve to being a fighting champion and a freshly heel Paige is the perfect foil for Charlotte to properly evolve as a character.

Therefore, her championship win suddenly starts to make sense. The reason for this is because the face Charlotte must now prove herself to the critics and that she is not just a placeholder champion. Thumbs up to Paige on this front as she’s now giving Charlotte a much greater meaning.

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The best way to deal with your problems is to address them head on. Through Paige, WWE has addressed the issues with the Divas Revolution. It’s kind of like they’re mocking their own attempts at the storyline, as no-one is really caring about it. The best way to deal with your own mistakes is to make fun of it. I was taught as a student of Multimedia Journalism at Teesside University that if you mess up during a live broadcast, just make fun of it! Frantically trying to change the subject or making people forget about it is not the answer. Laugh at yourself and people will appreciate you for not trying to run away from it. That’s what WWE sort of did through Paige.

They’ve laid all the issues out there, giving Paige and the rest of the divas more content to work with. Paige called out Natalya for not showing up. Hell, Natalya mentioned during an interview that she was not sure why she was not involved in the Divas Revolution. Paige wanted Natalya to appear and she did. She’s also playing a role in this storyline and helps the character development of Paige at the same time.

There’s still a few issues with the storyline that do need to be addressed. Sure, Paige and Charlotte are doing fine right now but how about everyone else?

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Becky Lynch has been reduced to being the third wheel of Team PCB, caught in the middle of this conflict between Paige and Charlotte. To be fair to Becky, her delivery during the MizTV segment on this week’s RAW was actually really good. She was awesome when throwing away the Miz’s microphone and talking trash to Alicia Fox. However, she still plays a very small role compared to Paige and Charlotte.

I felt so bad for Brie Bella and Alicia Fox during the MizTV segment on RAW. In fact, I’ve felt bad for them both during this entire storyline. This storyline was meant to promote all the divas and yet the only purpose Brie and Alicia have is to support Nikki. When Nikki Bella was talking about how great she was on RAW, Brie and Alicia just stood their with zero reaction. Nikki’s not even talking about Brie and Alicia. From a storyline perspective, shouldn’t Brie and Alicia be a little annoyed at Nikki’s total disregard for them? I know that’s an important part of Nikki’s character, to be as selfish as possible. However, all Brie and Alicia are there for is to support to Nikki’s character. This means that they are just outsiders that really don’t matter at all to the storyline. That’s not good. Only Brie is getting a mention or two and that’s only because of who she’s dating. Brie’s not had a chance to retort but Nikki has (on interviews and stuff). It makes Brie and Alicia seem so insignificant.

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Team B.A.D. really don’t add much to the storylines themselves anymore. Small SmackDown! Spoiler coming… they actually do beat the Bellas in a six man tag team match this week! All they are doing though is chalking up small victories over these feuding teams. Surely that’d contribute to the storyline, if the Team B.A.D. weren’t held in such low regard by the WWE. Sasha Banks started off hot in this storyline but now they’ve killed her momentum. She and the rest of Team B.A.D. didn’t show up on RAW this week. Really, it’s not great news in the WWE if you’re anyone but a member of PCB or Team Bella. This actually brings me to Natalya, who is not affiliated with any groups in the Divas Revolution.

I personally love the fact that Natalya is back on television. Not only that, but she’s actually involved in the storyline. They didn’t do her much justice by having Naomi pin her in her first match back. However, she’s got a place in the storyline which is totally independent from any group. She’s friends with the PCB and she was friends with Paige, but she’s not there as part of a team. However, Natalya’s role is exactly the same role as all the other divas play in this storyline.

Their role is to basically support the stories of Paige, Charlotte and Nikki Bella. The only stars are Paige, Charlotte and Nikki Bella and everyone else is meaningless. That’s probably my biggest criticism of this storyline, other than Nikki Bella. We’ll get to Nikki after this. Natalya is there to give Paige words of wisdom. Becky is there to be the third wheel of PCB, watching on as her two best friends feud. Brie and Alicia are there to support Nikki. Team B.A.D. is there to have matches with the two other teams. They play supporting roles in this storyline which is really centred around the three women fighting over the Divas title. That’s not healthy for this division, which is not healthy for this storyline. What’s also not healthy for this storyline is the role played by Nikki Bella, the former Divas Champion.

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Think about this. At Night Of Champions, the longest Divas Championship reign ever came to an end after Nikki Bella tapped out to Charlotte. It’s a heartbreaking experience for any champion to lose the title they’ve worked so hard to defend. Any UFC fighter will tell you how disappointing it is to lose the title. On the last two editions of RAW, Nikki seemed unmoved by the fact that she was no longer champion.

This really annoyed me for a number of reasons. Leading into Night of Champions, Nikki Bella made it incredibly clear that wins and losses don’t matter and it was all about the Divas title. Her biggest argument for being “on top” of the Divas division is that she had the gold. JBL mentioned this argument OVER AND OVER again on commentary. That was her biggest claim to fame. However when it was taken away from her, she brushed it aside like it meant nothing. She even said on RAW that all reigns come to an end. That’s what really damaged this storyline.

Nikki basically diminished the importance of the championship that a month ago, she could not help but talk about. She’s doing a great job as a heel, but what she said was so hurtful to the division. What Nikki is saying is hurting the title reign of Charlotte. Sure, Nikki should knock Charlotte. She should be claiming things like Charlotte pulled off a fluke. However, she should not be suggesting that the title is not important unless Nikki is the one holding it. That’s just wrong.

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Nikki’s reactions to dropping the title is also bad for another reason. When you think about the long title reigns that have occurred in that past five years, how many times are those champions shown to being angry at losing the title? When CM Punk’s 434 day title reign came to an end, he was irate the next night on RAW. He even went through a phrase of claiming that he was still the champion for god’s sake. He couldn’t accept the fact that he was no longer champion. That’s how much the championship meant to Punk.

When Brock Lesnar lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he responded by destroying everyone the next night on RAW. That’s how champion should feel… angry that his/her title reign is over. However, Nikki Bella was just smiling like nothing happened in the last two editions of RAW. She was acting like it meant nothing as she’s just got her rematch. I don’t care if she does have a rematch. She should be upset that she lost the championship but she isn’t.

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It’s insane how much Nikki Bella was freaking out when no-one went to her “Bellabration” on SmackDown! a few weeks ago. When she lost the title, that’s how she should have been reacting. Instead, she was smiling and making fun of Charlotte and taking credit for the Divas Revolution. How is taking credit for the “Divas Revolution” more important to these women than you know… BEING DIVAS CHAMPION?

You know who Nikki reminds me off, when it comes to no-selling her title loss? John Cena. John Cena hardly ever cares whenever he loses. When he lost the US title at Summerslam, he was more mad at Jon Stewart. To give him credit, he actually was wanting revenge on the new champion Seth Rollins too. However, his priority was beating up a talk show host rather than getting back his title. I don’t know if John Cena is telling her to do this or not, however I pray that she stops. By completely no-selling her title loss, she’s basically saying that Charlotte’s title win was meaningless.

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So there you go everybody. A very extensive look into the Divas Revolution coming off Night of Champions. Paige has definitely brought a bit of life into the storyline which was starting to sink further and further into the sea of failures. There’s still issues to take care of like Nikki Bella’s actions since losing the title. However, I think once we get past Nikki’s rematch and onto Charlotte vs Paige in a singles feud, things will start to pick up. I know I just complained about  Nikki quite a bit, but I actually don’t mind her at all! Nikki’s probably the best legitimate heel in WWE right now. She’s actually someone that the majority of the WWE Universe hates and is getting legitimate heat from it. That can be used to the storyline’s advantage. However, Nikki’s character showing ignorance to the rest of the divas will hurt them to a great degree.

To read more about my past thoughts on the Divas Revolution, click on the articles below…

Is The Divas Revolution Hurting Nikki Bella’s Championship Reign?

The End Of The Revolution?: Are The WWE Divas Doomed?

Why Charlotte Should Not Win The Divas Championship At Night Of Champions

Why Charlotte Should Not Win The Divas Championship At Night Of Champions

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Charlotte is undoubtedly one of the most gifted women in the WWE. She has the blood of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time running through her veins. When I saw her compete in NXT, I thought she was exceptional. She’s had some brilliant matches with Sasha Banks, Bayley and the rest of the women in the NXT roster. When I saw her debut on RAW in July, I was ecstatic. She’s got all the tools needed to be a huge star. With that being said… I don’t think Charlotte should win the Divas Championship in her title match against champion Nikki Bella at Night of Champions.

Pitchforks down please! I’m not entirely endorsing Nikki Bella’s reign as Divas Champion to continue either. However if you’re going to build up a new top face in the Divas Division, then the build up to their title victory is crucial. Look at Bayley’s title win at NXT TakeOver. Bayley had been struggling for a year or so to capture the NXT Women’s Championship. Bayley mentioned that her family was at everyone of her title matches. Her family has been through thick and thin with Bayley en route to her glorious moment in Brooklyn. When Sasha Banks injured her arm during TakeOver and the odds were stacked against her again, you really wanted to see Bayley finally get her moment at the top of the NXT mountain. When Daniel Bryan was taken out so many times at Wrestlemania XXX, you were rooting for this underdog to defy all the odds and win the championship. Charlotte needs that same journey.

Let me explain why Charlotte needs this journey so much. When Charlotte won the NXT Women’s Championship, she was a heel. She had Ric Flair in her corner. The NXT Championship was vacated by Paige and Charlotte seized the moment to capture the belt. She then turned face to engage in a heated rivalry with Sasha for the belt. She came onto the main roster as a babyface. She won her first match at Battleground and her record since has been pretty great compared to the rest of the divas in this “Divas Revolution”. Therefore, Charlotte has missed out on this opportunity to have her “struggle to reach the top” storyline which can make a top babyface… particularly in the divas division.

If you’re picking the babyface that will end the record-breaking title reign of Nikki Bella (it will be record-breaking longest title reign come Night of Champions) it has to be a worthwhile moment. Look at when Paige beat AJ Lee for the Divas Championship in 2014. AJ Lee had beaten everybody in her path. At Wrestlemania XXX, AJ beat everybody else on the main roster to successfully retain her championship. She had legitimately beaten everyone there was to beat on the main roster. That was when NXT Women’s Champion Paige arrived onto the scene. After being forced into a title match she initially didn’t want to be in, Paige overcame the odds to shockingly beat AJ for the title. She’s done something no other woman has done in 295 days. That MADE Paige an instant star from the moment she got onto the roster.

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Paige’s background wrote the story well for her. During her efforts to break into the wrestling industry in England, Paige was the only one out of her family selected from try-outs to be apart of the WWE. She struggled to fit into WWE as she was the outcast. She was not like any other diva. She really was the “Anti-Diva” and used that to shoot right to the top of NXT. This led to her winning the Divas Championship, being the youngest woman in the history of the company to do so. That is a phenomenal story.

Charlotte has a great story in the fact that she is Ric Flair’s daughter. There’s a great burden on her to succeed due to her bloodline. However, there was no real struggle for her to capture the NXT Women’s title. She won the belt after the previous champion Paige had vacated the belt. She won it in her first ever title match, so the climatic rise to her title win was seemingly non-existent. If she wins the Divas Championship on the first time of asking, then it would kill her rise to being the top babyface. There’s not been enough reason to get fans to rally behind Charlotte. The biggest reason for people wanting Charlotte to win the title is because they DON’T want Nikki Bella being the champion.

Nikki Bella is the type of heel champion who generates heat every time she goes down to the ring. People are sick of seeing her. WWE uses this to their advantage as Nikki is the perfect foil for Paige, Becky Lynch and Charlotte to rise up against. That would make anyone of these women worthy of winning the title, if it had not been for the WWE writers and how they’ve booked this women. As I went to great detail in during my End of the Revolution blog post, these women have suffered due to the way to writers have booked them. Out of everyone in the PCB, Charlotte has suffered the most.

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In what I think has been quite degrading, WWE has labelled Charlotte simply as the daughter of Ric Flair. That’s factually correct but it’s one thing to pay homage to her own family. It’s another thing to have Charlotte mimicking her father ALL THE TIME. Her theme music is a remix of Ric Flair’s entrance music. She shouts WOO every time she’s in a match. She shouts WOO every time she cuts a promo. She does the strut of Ric Flair. Her finisher is a variation of her father’s finisher. This means that Charlotte cannot stand out on her own as she needs to channel Flair in order to get a reaction. That’s not Charlotte’s fault. It’s the writers.

Chavo Guerrero was perhaps the worst victim of this type of booking. Every time he appeared on WWE or TNA following the death of Eddie Guerrero, they would have Chavo reference Eddie in literally every other promo he cut. He started using the three amigos and the Frog Splash and those became his permanent signature moves. Chavo couldn’t develop as a character or get over as the booking resulted in him needing to pay homage to somebody else in order to get over. Charlotte shouldn’t need to do this but now… she has too.

WWE is making Charlotte channel Flair to the point where she is now simply a tag line. In the casual audience’s eyes, she is Ric Flair’s daughter and nothing more. It’s sad. It sucks. But for this reason, Charlotte cannot be the one to win the Divas title if you want to develop this Divas Revolution. Unless Charlotte were to turn heel after this, which I don’t see happening, she is going to be stuck in this character purgatory. This means Charlotte cannot develop her character which means the fans’ interest in this champion will quickly vanish. Why do you think Natalya struggled so hard to get over as Divas Champion?

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Natalya was a great wrestler but it’s very difficult for her to develop a personality. Charlotte is going to do the same thing unless WWE gives the fans a reason to rally behind her. Have Charlotte lose this round at Night Of Champions. Have her make a mistake or have Paige accidentally cost her the match. That way, fans will begin to feel for her as she just had the title in her grasps only to come up short. Rematch after rematch on RAW until Charlotte says “Right. If I don’t beat Nikki at Survivor Series (or whatever), I don’t deserve to be on the main roster. If I lose, I will leave the main roster and never return.” That character development and self-motivation will get the fans to get behind Charlotte as she has a family legacy to uphold. When she wins the title, it will be a big moment. After struggling, she finally wins the Divas title on her last try. Therefore, you’re able to get Charlotte over enough to make Nikki losing her championship mean something.

If I had to pick right now who I believe should be the Divas Champion, I wouldn’t pick Charlotte. I’d pick Sasha Banks because she’s the most over person in the Divas Revolution storyline. But if WWE are going to go with Charlotte, then WWE have to do a lot more to develop this woman’s character. They have to build up the moment of Nikki losing her title a lot better. If Charlotte just beats her at Night Of Champions, then you make all these calls for change in the divas division seem anti-climactic. If you’re going to bring up all of these top quality NXT stars, then build them up as stars. Build up their moments of glory as truly big moments. If you’re going to take inspiration from the women from NXT, then do it properly.

BREAKING NEWS: AJ Lee Getting “Backstage Heat” From WWE

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Today, Boxing Day, a report came out from Wrestlezone about AJ Lee reportedly getting heat from WWE and here’s why:

According to Wrestlezone:

“AJ’s Slammy speech was focused on, and it was speculated that she first was saying a subtle goodbye to fans, but The Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting she was actually taking shots at the WWE Divas roster. The way she spoke was not the same way the speech was originally scripted, and AJ was very complimentary of Paige, but seemed like she slammed the rest of the Divas.”

I don’t think I mentioned this when I did the Slammys review a few weeks ago, but I had a serious bone to pick with AJ’s acceptance speech at the show. This has nothing to do with the “bashing the divas” part of it. It’s this…. why was she praising someone she had hated and feuded with all year long? Paige is still a heel and AJ is still a babyface… why AJ? Like the article said, it was clear that this was clearly not what AJ was told to say. Even the WWE would have acknowledged the little rivalry these girls had. But yet, somehow that bit of a praise slipped out.

AJ went out of her way to put over  Paige when she was supposed to be hating her. Now I don’t have a problem with Paige because I’m a huge Paige fan, but AJ was clearly not fulfilling her role as a babyface by putting over the heel. I’m sure a number of you will be like, “But Tom. It could make sense for a face to put over a heel to show his/her respect to all her opponents.” That sort of thing. Fine! Daniel Bryan used to do it all the time. That’s acceptable. But AJ is supposed to be a crazy chick! AJ needed to be all-about-herself because that’s what her character is based on. It made no sense, unless they were turning Paige face which I doubt.

Now I’m sure we were all kind of suspecting this at the time (at least I was) but AJ was also taking shots at the rest of the divas. She named off that she’d like to see Paige or Bayley or anyone of the NXT girls win this award. No mention of any current roster divas other than Paige. If this is true then it just shows just how unprofessional AJ is. She’s literally morphing into her husband’s gimmick and real-life personality. She just goes off script to praise these girls and disrespect everybody else  on the current roster. If she really cared about the WWE and where she works, she would just stick to her role, stick to the script and maybe she’d be treated better.

And please don’t give me the “Oh. She’s getting punished because of CM Punk,” because that has little to do with it. It could be a bit of a reasoning behind it, but not that much. If it was that great of a reason, she would not have regained the divas title from Paige on her first night back from her time off. WWE still sees AJ as a big part of the company because she’s still a major hit with the fans. I think she’s still in like the Top 10 merchandise sellers for the company and the only woman to be so. WWE still wants AJ around to waive the flag for the division. That’s why they’re offering her the Total Divas spot because they know girls would tune in to see it more if she was on.

Some of you might be disputing this because she was removed from the Main Event intro video a month ago. Maybe so, but not being on the Main Event intro is not exactly the greatest thing in the world to be upset about!

Here’s my stance on AJ Lee and her position in WWE right now, judging from what her husband said on the Colt Cabana podcast and everything going on…

I think if AJ Lee is unhappy at the state of the divas division and the company, the divide caused in commitments to her husband and WWE, and everything else going on… she should just quit.

I’d rather watch an AJ Lee that was excited about being the spear-heading this new generation of divas, rather than a bitter woman complaining about every other thing in WWE. Taking time off over and over, not following the script and ignoring what WWE is telling her to do isn’t a healthy outlook on life to be having. If AJ is getting punished, it’s because of her attitude towards the WWE right now. She really needs to get her act together if she wants to not “get heat” and be apart of the WWE.

However, I feel like many others that there is a lot more to the story than the Slammys or even Punk. They’ll be a lot more to come out of this and I would stay tuned.

2013 NoDQ.com Awards – My Vote For… Female Of The Year

Wrestling fans, Tom Robinson on the scene with another NoDQ.com award post for you guys. If you want to read all of the ones I’ve done before, click on this link https://thearmbarexpress.wordpress.com/category/nodq-com/ for all my votes for the awards.

This award is for the female of the year. And the nominations are…

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Miss Tessmacher – The gal with the backside that defies the laws of physics had a relatively quiet year in 2013 in comparison to the year before when she won the Knockouts Title. It wasn’t really until she aligned herself with Bully Ray and The Aces And Eights when she really started to get some attention. She would become one of the strongest knockouts in the knockouts division and even fought for the Knockouts Title at Bound For Glory. With the Aces And Eights finished, what awaits Miss Tessmacher in 2014?

AJ Lee – AJ Lee had an incredible 2012 which ended with her cementing Miss Lee’s heel turn at TLC 2012. And as a heel in 2013, AJ seemed to go from strength to strength. AJ’s main aim in 2012 was to finally win the Divas Title from best friend Kaitlyn. It took a lot of manipulation and beatdowns, but at Payback AJ finally accomplished her dream in a stellar match with Kaitlyn. AJ knocked her off again at Money In The Bank and it soon became clear that the only thing AJ wanted in life was her Divas Championship which in her words would “never leave her”. She targeted the Total Divas from the “hit” reality show calling them out on not been true divas and only caring about being reality stars rather than wrestlers. So far she is winning the war against the Total Divas but for how long can the Divas Champion remain champion in 2014?

Natalya – The Neidhart had an on-and-off year in 2013. Having been stuck in a relationship with the Great Khali and going absolutely nowhere, she found herself in the new Divas Reality show “Total Divas”. She found herself one of the victims of AJ Lee’s rant about the reality show. AJ implied that the only reason Natalya got in the WWE in the first place was through her connections as Jim Neidhart’s daughter. Incensed by AJ’s criticism, she was one of many women that targeted her title. After many shortcomings, Natalya now has the opportunity to regain the Divas Title she had not held in 2 years when she faces AJ at TLC for the gold!

Kaitlyn – Kaitlyn started off the year in style, winning the Divas title from Eve Torres in the RAW 20th Anniversary Special. And Kaitlyn was becoming a dominant champion. Defeating the likes of Tamina Snuka and even former best friend AJ Lee, Kaitlyn’s spear proved to be more than a match for any other diva on the roster. That is until AJ got her rematch for the title at Payback, where AJ used mind-games and manipulation to over-power Kaitlyn’s strength and tenacity. With Kaitlyn stuck in the middle of the war between the “True” Divas and the Total Divas, it is unknown where Kaitlyn goes from here.

Taryn Terrell – Knockouts Referee Taryn Terrell started a feud with Gail Kim after she inadvertently cost Gail a Knockouts Title match at Genesis. This feud escalated further when Taryn was the law in order during Gail’s title match against Velvet Sky. After being physical abused by Gail the entire match, Taryn said “Fuck It” and attacked Gail and costing her the title. After being fired as a referee, Taryn was put on the Knockouts roster where she continued her war against Gail Kim. This saw them produce some quality matches together, including an epic Last Knockout Standing Match at Slammiversary and a hard-hitting ladder match on IMPACT.

Gail Kim – Her feud with Taryn Terrell was easily the best feud going in women’s professional wrestling in 2013. Driven by hatred and anger, the two had some incredible matches together which blew all WWE had to offer out of the window. After winning her feud with Taryn will a ladder match victory for a title shot, Gail set her sights on the Knockouts title she was the first to hold. It took her until Bound For Glory to reclaim that title and right now is all dominant as the top diva in Impact Wrestling.

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Believe it or not, this was a close call between Gail Kim and AJ Lee. I know every WWE fan and their grandmother would have chosen AJ without doubt, but Gail Kim had a quality year herself which a lot of people seem to forget. She’s had a lot more good matches than AJ and her feud with Taryn literally blew me away. I mean Gail is probably the best actual wrestler in either WWE or TNA at this moment. Having said that, AJ takes this award for two reasons.

  1. AJ Lee proved herself to be an amazing talker on the mic and a terrific actor. These factors actually do matter to me, and Gail pales in comparison to AJ on the mic.
  2. AJ had a lot more pressure on her having to compete and showcase her skills in the big leagues of WWE. With TNA being second to WWE, TNA gave Gail and Taryn the opportunities to go bananas and tear each other apart. AJ had to remain relevant in WWE but still be able to effectively carry a divas division that seemed to be dying and she did that.

As much as I’d love to give Gail the victory, I got to give it to AJ.

Winner: AJ Lee