I was going to do a review of the PPV last night, but I think I’ll hold off on it. Short form: I enjoyed it. I thought the Wyatt Family would win the tag titles, but I was also of the mindset that if they won then Bray would win later as well, and I knew Bray wasn’t going to reign victorious. It was a terrific match all the same: the Usos and the Wyatt Family have some good chemistry.
The briefcase ladder match was excellent, arguably the highlight of the evening, and it did the impossible in letting us think for ONE moment that Kofi Kingston was actually going to succeed, and the crowd was behind him too, which was even more incredible. Did I get mad at the interference by Kane to help Seth Rollins win? No. Because “Plan B” is a terrific scapegoat, and while I didn’t care who won this match I was big on how it all played out.
Big E took on Rusev, and lost. Again. Proving that America is weak compared to the almighty force that is a Bulgarian with an American manager praising Russia (Reverend Father Pastor Uncle Sam Big E Langston the Third must not be preaching right). I anticipate he’ll want a rematch soon. And he’ll lose again. Because… he does that.
Layla fought Summer Rae. Layla beat Summer Rae. But the focus wasn’t on those two but Fandango, who is likely grinning like Ludacris in a Ciara video anytime someone brings up this storyline. Even so, he did deliver the line of the night when he said, “Fandango loves triangles.” Me too, Dango. Me too. A lot of us do.
The brothers Rhodes took on Ryback and Axel, and for the life of me I wonder if Dusty was around them when they were children. The gimmick is one thing. The way Goldust was feeling up his brother upon their victory made me raise an eyebrow. I mean, I can only look at Dusty here: the two are half-brothers, SOMETHING has to be in Dusty’s genes.
And of course, our main event pitted eight superstars against each other for the coveted dual belts of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title, and while it wasn’t as exciting as the briefcase battle, it was more intense. We were dealing with more grounded superstars, not flyers who leap from ladders and to ropes and then to the floor (another highlight, and a rather impressive one due to its flow). Cena won, and that was no surprise. Like I said, he and Orton were the safe choices, and perhaps that exactly what we need right now. I assumed Orton would win, but I just wanted the tension that would come from Orton and Rollins being potential enemies so suddenly after they came together. That can fester for a bit though. More interesting to have a potential little feud between Rollins and Cena, but since it’s going to be Cena vs. the Authority… at least until they bring Lesnar back to the fray. It’s all a web, but it’s easy to navigate.
Oh, and Adam Rose fought Damian “Paul Revere” Sandow. Sandow is forever underrated and this match proved it yet again. Here’s hoping they do him right in the future.
I think that’s it. Uh… oh, wait, I forgot one match. It was the second one, and it was for the Divas Championship. Paige, the champ, took on Naomi, and it was the best match on the card. Now what does that mean? It means that as far as a wrestling match goes, no gimmicks, no fanfare, no bullshit, it was far and away the finest match in Boston that evening.
Imagine that? In fact, it was a good night for Divas wrestling both qualitatively and quantitatively. From the perspective of quantity, there were two. One focused on Fandango’s love for triangles (it still cracks me up) and thus NOT the actual Divas, and the other focused on two athletes who can actually wrestle. Quality wise, both matches were pretty good.
Well, the title match was terrific, the other was okay. Layla kicking Summer Rae will always be worth watching. In any case, the awesome match put on by Paige and Naomi was met by the crowd with a lack of enthusiasm. Shameful. I can assume that this is partially because it was a Divas match, and that doesn’t sit right with me. At what point do we turn our nose up at something the second we hear what it is? Who does that? Maybe it’s just me, but we should never judge a book by its cover (the cover this time is a Divas match). To know a book’s worth, you have to read it through and through, page by page, resisting the urge to add an “I” to those words when they come up.
But let’s talk about the match and some of the build up. It started with Paige fighting other Divas, because that’s what you do in the WWE: you fight people. Eventually it came to Naomi, because Alicia Fox isn’t so much a thing anymore. While the athletics of Naomi and Paige were never in question, it did come down to the possible feud. The showings between the two have always seemed tense, even a bit aggressive, but respectful. Enter Cameron, who is there because… I don’t know: let’s say because she’s light-skinned. She comes through as “My time is now!” and whatnot, and even when Naomi was taking on Fox the other day, the focus of the commentary was on Paige and Cameron, who were arguing over something or the other, it doesn’t matter.
This is a glaring issue with this is how it seems like the Divas aren’t a priority in the company, and this dialogue and commentary doesn’t help. I spent a minute tweeting about the match and the nonsense surrounding it, nearly exacerbated because I was actually pretty excited to see Paige vs. Naomi. Sadly, as I’ve been saying:
Paige has been misused so far, and I don’t often say that anything has been misused. Dolph Ziggler? Possibly. Zack Ryder? Most definitely. Kofi Kingston? Perhaps. And I’m sure they all have a story to tell, but Paige herself was doomed from the start by the virtue of her being brought in as a replacement for AJ. You can try and convince me otherwise all you want, but from how she just won the title off of her to how at one point they had her dressing like her, Paige was brought in not because she’s arguably the best female wrestler alive (citation needed) but because AJ was going on sabbatical. And it shows. And it fucks with me because she deserves much better.
More than that: they just aren’t developing her character. Like I fear Prince Devitt and KENTA might be in their WWE matriculations, she might be best served as a trainer or one who puts others over. We know all three of the aforementioned can wrestle: KENTA could come into the company as a mid-card powerhouse with the sole intent to get revenge on the Second City Saint and the American Dragon for stealing his maneuvers (GTS and Busaiku Knee Kick respectively), but he could also be in the training facilities acclimatizing indie cats to the WWE style, or playing with the WWE style of wrestling himself.
But when it comes to developing character, especially with the Divas Champion, we’ve gotten little to nothing. We know she was the NXT Women’s Champion, the FIRST NXT Women’s Champion, and we know that she’s one of the youngest champions in the WWE’s history. We know she won it off of AJ in an impromptu match, but that’s all we’ve gotten from the whole of character arc. Otherwise she’s your stereotypical babyface: she goes in, gets beat up, hulks up, straps on an impressive submission and wins. That’s all fine and good, but it’s not great, and we know Paige is great.
Say what you will about Alicia Fox and the mess she was doing (might still be doing): they gave her character. They let her develop that character. I remember Space Jam and how much I never really liked Lola Bunny. She was okay I suppose, but she wasn’t a character so much as a caricature, a female counterpart to Bugs with breasts. Fast forward a few years and you get The Loony Tunes Show. Lola is in this too, but she’s a ditzy, well-meaning bunny obsessed with Bugs and from a rich family. You know what that is? Character. And over the seasons, that character actually developed. It’s the same with Alicia Fox. At one point the only thing that defined her was how she kind of looked like Rihanna when she dyed her hair (and before that an “affair” with Edge (yeah, that’s right, I remember that!)). Now she’s a spoiled brat who throws a tantrum anytime she wins OR loses. She steals hats and paraphernalia, and yells at the crowd. It’s not a perfect character but it is character.
When she and Paige were going to blows, it was one of my greatest complaints: she had character and Paige was merely the champion. And after the little feud faded, Paige is still merely champion and Fox is somewhere or the other. People were booing Fox and cheering Paige, somewhat, but I’m pretty sure they were booing Fox because she had personality, and kind of cheering Paige because she wasn’t Fox. Personality and character go a long way: it’s hard to root for a character when you don’t know why you should cheer for them.
I sit back and ponder on how big Paige could be if she wasn’t there to make the other Divas look better. Corbin once alluded to how Paige might be greater than AJ because she can bring championship level material out of her opponents, and sure enough that’s a prerequisite for being a great worker in the business, but what else? AJ had character, arcs, storylines and something (don’t ask me what that something is, it’s just a something) that other Divas, hell, other superstars period didn’t have, and she used it. It was one thing that she could beat you in the ring: it was another that she could navigate between insanity and calm collectedness, face tactic and heel tactic; it was almost as if she was absorbing the mic work of Punk and improved ring work of Bryan (or maybe all Punk, I don’t know). But she was given time and arcs to deal with, from jilted girlfriend, to abusive relationship girlfriend, to GM, to Best Diva in the World. And Paige, so far, has none of that. Just tremendous talent and hopefully time.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but AJ’s absence is Paige’s open door, and she hasn’t been given much to work with. Maybe she can do something more with it, maybe she’s literally working with everything she has, it’s hard to say, but until they actually invest something in her more than just slapping the belt on her, she’s not going to be the breath of fresh air the Divas division needs. It says something when the fans are more into (for better or worse) the grudge match between two women who want a guy who can’t say triangles without making someone laugh. Much like the game Catherine or anything involving a twisted romantic triangle, it’s one of those scenarios that could have easily be solved had Fandango just stopped one of them and said, “I have a girlfriend”. But that’s not compelling TV, is it? Neither is Summer Rae implying she’s a natural blonde (oh my god, who the hell cares?!), and Layla pointing out her wonderful chest is something of an acquired taste. One I acquired a long time ago but that’s neither here nor there; I just keep abreast of those kinds of things. I mean, I’ve noticed them, I always have, I’d have to be knockers to not! I mean bonkers. It’s bust who I am. Just.
It comes down to how unfortunate it is that someone who is blatantly talented can’t so much as get a response when she and another great talent put on the best match of a terrific evening of wrestling. It’s terrible that the match two women have over a man who doesn’t care about either one of them garners more of a reaction than the quality that came on an hour before, even if the funbags were in full gear in the Layla/Rae match. As I always say, praise and hatred are good: that shows that people are responding, even if they don’t appreciate you. But apathy is death. Apathy is worse. Praise will bring someone to your funeral to mourn you. Hatred will bring someone to your funeral to make sure you’re dead. Apathy will keep someone at home watching Scooby-Doo and eating stale Pop Tarts, because somehow they let Pop Tarts get stale.
Now, everything above this paragraph was written before RAW, and now watching it we have the return of AJ. She came back and promptly won the Divas Championship from Paige. On one hand, it just goes on to confirm what I’ve been saying, and that’s disgusting. On the other, it opens up the possibility that AJ and Paige can go on to feud and make even last night’s exquisite match seem tame in comparison. Only time will tell, but for the love of God: can we PLEASE not just toss Paige aside? She’s an awesome talent: she does not need to just fall to the wayside and simply be another page in the history of the Divas. She can take the place that AJ occupied/occupies.
If that’s a tale they think deserves to be written.