This was a week full of surprises for me. First of all, I had no idea there would be a three hour Raw which is always a good thing because it means the Divas get more time than normal. Second of all, I had no idea Extreme Rules would be this Sunday and I only know three of the matches that are actually happening - make of that what you will. Third of all, TNA's Open Fight Night was upon us which was sure to offer some big surprises. And fourth of all, there was a certain unexpected development in terms of championship gold.
Raw - Beth Phoenix* vs Nikki Bella (Lumberjill Match; Divas Championship):
An 8-minute segment was a nice surprise especially since there was plenty of time for a match, both entrances and a small promo. Speaking of promos, Eve's are getting much better. This week was a step in the right direction and hopefully being in this new administration role will help her improve in that department. It's also a good idea that they've created a new role for her outside the division since we've got two Diva returns to accommodate and Eve herself is a heat magnet so this will help her be featured without stepping on anyone's toes. As a heel vs heel match it didn't offer much excitement, especially since most of the Jills didn't have anyone to cheer for. The match didn't seem that consistent either, simply transitioning from one move to the next which is likely the girls being so used to wrestling matches that go less than minutes that they're stumped when given more time than that. Of course the IWC is buzzing about the ankle injury - is it real or is it a work? Personally when I first saw the match, I thought it was a legit injury. It seemed like Beth and Nikki were calling the finish while the other Divas were fighting on top of them and Beth seemed like she had problems walking, especially with how Brie tried to get her back in the ring. If it isn't real then good job to Beth because she showed off some primo acting skills. Since a rematch has been booked for Extreme Rules, I guess it could be a work to take Beth off TV for a few weeks and recharge. I suspect she might be a little bit injured but not seriously so she just needs a bit of time off. I would have preferred a better way for her to drop the title but I guess it was a good direction they went in, her being injured and Nikki taking advantage of a distraction. In the interviews after this match, it seemed like Beth was very faceish with what she was saying so perhaps the plan is to return her in a face role to feud with you-know-who. As much as I think Beth is a better face than heel I still want to see that match with Natalya. 5/10
Ring Ka King - Angelina Love's Wedding:
And that's the season of Ring Ka King wrapped now and like any good season finale we have to have a wedding in there. It was cool to see them do a nice Bollywood style wedding and Angelina looked very nice in her sari though the traditionalist in me thinks she should have been wearing a veil. I just knew she'd end up going with the midget though I felt some shocking swerve coming on and thought she'd dump both of them on the spot. The wedding was a nice little segment though didn't offer much if you were looking for proper laugh out loud comedy or juicy drama. Fun little moment.
NXT - Maxine & Natalya vs Tamina & Kaitlyn:
Natalya's face-heel revolving door continues. While I know NXT isn't exactly mainstream programming, it seems like they might want to keep Natalya heel for when Beth comes back. Or else they just want to continue with her in a definite tweener role. I will say that I like that Natalya has kept her character fairly consistent with whichever role she's playing week by week so it's not a drastic change to see her heel this week. I mean Tyson's still a face so it's likely she'll be one again next week. The match was a nice length and I especially liked that Natalya and Tamina got to lead the teams to the ring. A little annoying that Kaitlyn was in the ring for 90% and Tamina only came in briefly at the end. The "heels" did a good job isolating Kaitlyn and I was happy to see Maxine using chops because you don't see Divas doing them that often. Natalya did a variation of the abdominal stretch which made it look a bit more effective. I also loved Maxine's top rope guillotine which looked very effective also and would make a nice addition to her moveset. I wonder if it was Nattie's intention to make Kaitlyn's body scissors especially suggestive because her...sounds (for lack of a better word) were quite close to Kelly's orgasm screams whenever she's in a hold. First Layla, now Kaitlyn, Natalya might be able to open a hall of fame for all the girls who have dry humped her on TV. I liked the first thing Tamina did when she got the hot tag but that was about it. I applaud her for trying to think outside the box when it comes to the traditional shine sequence but really the clothesline-dropkick formula works much better than whatever the hell she was doing. The Superfly Splash looked good as always and the crowd seemed really into it too. Relieved that it was Maxine who took the pin here. 6.5/10
Impact - Gail Kim vs Brooke Tessmacher:
First of all, someone explain the rules of the Open Fight Night to me again. I thought the point was that anyone could challenge the champion to a match. So why does Brooke need to fight in a non-title match? Or why does she pick a non-title match if she also has the option to challenge for the title? And what an awful promo from her at the start. Her delivery was weird and the lines could have worked but they just didn't. And why have we suddenly switched from Gail vs Velvet to Gail vs Brooke? Don't get me wrong, I like Brooke and all but Velvet's push should not be over so soon. I really hope this is just an interim or mini feud and they go back to Gail vs Velvet once this is done with. The match wasn't much either. I get that it was one-sided to sell the fact that Gail is a veteran and Brooke is a rookie but I could have seen some more offence from Brooke. Gail was very good with her posing and how vocal she was in the match. She's slowly becoming one of those wrestlers who is equally versatile as a heel and face. Didn't like the ending too much either. While that move was impactful, I don't buy it as a finish and a creative roll-up would have done the job much better. Hopefully the title match is better than this. 4/10
Superstars - Kelly Kelly vs Maxine:
Max is pulling double duty this week and getting a fresh opponent as well. It was interesting (not to mention downright shocking) to see Kelly actually wrestling at the start. True the moves didn't look as good as they could have but I appreciate the effort. What I also appreciate is how although Maxine uses a lot of rest holds, she switches them up so they actually look effective. For example, the first chinlock had Kelly bent across her knee and the second had her driving her knees into Kelly's back. If you're going to use the same rest hold twice in one match then that's what you should do to make it a bit more effective looking. Eve, take not of that. It was good to see her guillotine hold again as well, again switching it up so that she jumped into it instead of coming off the top rope. However in other places she seemed a little lost which I chalk up to her not having sold Kelly's moves before. She didn't feed into the corner after the clotheslines so Kelly had to drag her in there, as well as not feeding out when she got the handspring elbow into the K2. I had to lol at Kelly turning her stink face into a "stink chest". Solid 75% of the match though things got a little iffy towards the end. 6/10
Smackdown - Nikki Bella vs Alicia Fox:
I really wish Alicia wouldn't be jobbing so much. She's too young and too talented to be used as a jobber. I wish they'd given this spot to Kaitlyn or Aksana instead. Oh well, at least she's back on TV. The segment got a bit longer than the ones lately though of course more time is always welcome. Nice to see Nikki doing completely new moves - the chemistry wasn't there at the start but it showed as they went along. I especially liked the way Alicia sold the snapmare. The latter part of the match was much better as well with some crisp and solid fast paced action. Alicia looked so solid and I loved that spot with the Matrix into the mat slam. I'll assume the Bellas switching is to preserve Alicia's credibility. Anyway if the rumours of Nikki dropping the title before she leaves are true, I'm not sure how it'll happen. They might announce that Beth is unable to compete in the title match and have either Layla or Kharma return in her place. If someone has to get the title in their first match it should be Kharma since you'll have something to work with there. Or the Bellas might just be sticking around after all in which case their feud with Kharma will be a bit longer, which could be good as well. I suppose the Bellas could simply be paid per appearance when their contracts run out if they intend to keep them around longer. Either way there should be some thrills at Extreme Rules since it's a very significant PPV for both Layla and Kharma who have been gone far too long. 5/10
AJ slaps Kaitlyn:
A 30-second backstage segment warrants a separate entry here because I really love the direction they're going with AJ in this storyline. After last week there were a lot of questions and this week we got some continuation but still with more questions. She's very unpredictable right now. The question keeps being will she turn heel or not? She's slapping her best friend yet she looks like she regrets it. Is she turning heel or is she just going mad from Daniel Bryan's treatment of her? There's two possibilities I see coming out of this - Daniel Bryan gets impressed with her new attitude and they reform as a heel couple or else she properly turns on him this Sunday. I'm actually inclined to keep her out of the match on Sunday because they were robbed out of a WrestleMania match so I think this could be saved for a backstage segment or else wait until the next Smackdown. Oh and this is the first time AJ and Kaitlyn have actually interacted since Kaitlyn walked out on her back in November.