Smart Marks 7.05.14: The Softer Side
Posted by Dino Zee on 07.05.2014
Join me this week as I break down the past week in wrestling as it pertains to the women in wrestling! Divas, Knockouts, Champions, Challengers, and New Feuds... it's all here!
Another week in the books means it's time for another edition of Smart Marks, your weekend stop for all things wrestling, whether important or trite. I'm Dino, and it's my duty to pick out a few talking points- Marks, if you will- and try to break them down as intelligently as possible, before throwing it to you guys to continue the discussion down in the comments.
Last week a couple readers took umbrage with my idea that Bray Wyatt came out of his Cena feud all right, paraphrased to being that Bray "held his own". Now, I won't try to argue that he won the feud, or was even dominant. However, I think the counterpointers were taking what I said to the extreme, and arguing that stance. I just didn't see Bray as being any worse off than he was after the Cena feud. It was much better than the Kane feud of last summer, that's for sure. He won a match, lost two, and this was to the dominant superman who never loses. On top of that, he scored a victory when Cena was freaked out by a kid who sang creepily. Sounds like a major mindgame victory to me. But, alas, we agree to disagree, because it's wrestling and who's losing sleep over this?
This week saw the start of yet another John Cena title reign, the reign of Seth Rollins as Mr. Money in the Bank, an extreme return to TNA, and a dominant win for the World Champion. However, this week, to me, really stood out as being quite the week as far as women's wrestling goes, in both WWE and TNA. So, let's hit the Marks, as we have a Femme Fatale themed week!
All Hail the Queen
And we'll start things off by talking about Monday Night Raw, and the return of AJ. As I was leaving work last Monday, a couple guys started talking about Paige. I basically went into a super butthurt spiel about how I hated Paige. When they asked why, I said that she ruined the awesomeness of AJ's reign as champ, that she did it by slapping AJ's ankle and getting a pin, and that outside of the Scorpion Crosslock, she hadn't done one impressive thing in three months. It was prime level shit you'd expect someone in the mythical "IWC" to cry about, and I was absolutely whining.
Somehow, the wrestling gods were ready to appease me. With Paige out in the ring, AJ made her big return, and the two talked some trash, as Paige appeared to be leaning heel by attempting to weasel out of a rematch, while the former heel AJ appeared to be rather popular with the fans in attendance. Before we knew it, the rematch was underway, and while I hoped, I had a bad feeling that this was being done to cement Paige's status. And then, just like that, it was over, and AJ was the champion again. Since this isn't Fanboy Corner, however, let me break down why I think this was the absolute right move for the Divas division.
First off, I don't think it's exactly a well guarded secret that Paige was struggling to gain any real traction with the fans. Not all of this is her fault, but it's still a fact. She struggled to get reactions, period. I've seen many fans who were upset that Paige lost this rematch as a win here would have "made" her. I don't see it like that at all. To me, Paige was a huge fluke that went from surprising the champion to defending against the likes of Cameron and Alicia Fox, who hadn't been on TV for quite a while in any meaningful way until she was plucked out of obscurity to feud with Paige.
Since Paige got off to such a bad start, many fans were turned off. Sure, having her beat AJ the first time and then instantly going heel with it, bragging how she stopped the Diva that no one else could would have been a good move, but they didn't do that. They tried to keep Paige plucky, and she got nearly zero time to talk or develop a character beyond "I'm the champ!" Shockingly, this failed to get over.
By hitting the Reset button, WWE has a proven commodity sitting at the top of the division, instead of waiting for a rookie to catch fire with the fans. Losing to AJ also helps protect Paige in the sense that she didn't lose to Naomi, or Summer Rae. AJ, whether you think she's actually good or not, has the respect of the fans to make a win over her matter somewhat. If Paige had lost to one of the cookie cutter Divas, I feel she would have suffered much worse damage than she receives by losing to the former champ in a surprise rematch she wasn't exactly ready for.
Paige can now be brought along in a much more normal pace, and without all the expectations of being amazing placed on her anymore. Hey, Gail Kim had this same problem all those years ago, and she's now considered one of the best female wrestlers in America of the 2000s. I don't think Paige is damaged goods by any stretch, but I'm absolutely happy that her reign is over.
Welcome back, AJ.
Your turn- what'd you think of the Divas title change on Monday? Are you an AJ fan? Sad for Paige? Blame WWE and ONLY WWE for Paige failing to attract a following? Hit me up in the comments!
The good times didn't stop Monday night, however, as they kept on rolling Thursday night for Impact. As usual, if you haven't watched Impact yet, SKIP AHEAD OF THE IMPACT SPOILERS.
Thursday night saw Gail Kim get a title shot against Angelina Love. I'm not a big fan of Angelina Love, and have been waiting for someone to stop the madness of her title reign. I also can't take hearing Taz or Tenay say "The BPs" anymore, and will literally pay anyone in TNA five dollars to tell them that "people" is plural.
With this match, the dynamic was much different than Monday's outing. Here, we had two veterans, two multiple time champions who are very familiar with each other. I may not be an Angelina fan, but I don't mean to imply that she's not good at what she does. She just grates on me, one of those things I can't really explain properly. We'll all live, I'm sure.
The match itself was a fun outing, with both showing what they're capable of in the ring. It was a close outing that saw some shenanigans (both pre-match and during) with the BP trying to seduce the referee (first Stifler, then Brian Hebner after Kurt Angle switched them), leading to Velvet Sky being kicked out from ringside, which in all the commotion, eventually led to Gail Kim forcing Angelina to Eat Defeat.
Again, another fun women's match, and a title change that I was actively rooting for. I know we all like joking about how the Divas/Knockouts don't matter, but when they put on a good match, I can get just as into it as anything the guys can do. Just have to have the right combination of characters and motives, and we'll get interested.
On top of the title change, I think it'd be unfair if I didn't mention that we saw a little something from the plainest Knockout in the land, Brittany! I definitely ripped into her a bit a few weeks ago, but last night's heel turn wasn't the worst thing in the world. I'm not going to completely flop and say she's amazing now, but it was good to see that TNA has a plan for her outside of "be super weak, annoying, and incapable." Dropping Madison Rayne allows for an actual feud against an established wrestler. I expect her to lose, but the lessons she'll learn in the meantime will be totally worth it.
What'd you guys think of the Gail Kim/Angelina Love matchup? Happy with the title change? And what about Brittany's turn? Do you see anything on the horizon for her? Hit me up in the comments!
Who's the Queen Bee?
To end the column this week, I figured we'd keep the theme, and stick with keeping this final mark dedicated to favorites. So, who's YOUR favorite female wrestler?
I was always a huge Madusa/Alundra Blayze fan as a kid, as I thought her physical style was unlike anything else I saw growing up. She had fun matches in the AWA, WCW, and WWF. Her series with Bull Nakano in the mid-90s remain amongst my favorites. Watching her kick the crap out of a young Paul E. Dangerously is also another moment I won't forget.
Aja Kong is another woman who I only saw very few matches of, but who impressed me in everything in which I saw her. She was extremely physical, once smashing someone's face on a WWF raw with a spinning backfist. She was almost like a prototype of Awesome Kong, which I'm sure is where the name was derived from in the first place.
Which brings me to the next one for me, Awesome Kong! A woman that can throw out chokeslams, powerbombs, Implant Busters, and manhandle anyone in the ring with her? Count me in! I was a huge fan of Kong, and was bummed to see her run as Kharma essentially mean nothing when it was all said and done. I hope she's doing well wherever she's at now, but she's absolutely missed.
While it feels unfair to list them since I never saw them in their primes, not listing Fabulous Moolah or Mae Young just seems so, so wrong. Both legends, and both greatly missed.
And, to end it, let's give another round of props to AJ. She's not the greatest wrestler ever, but I really dig everything that she does. She's the perfect mix of athletic, charismatic, and has that "crazy chick" routine down pat. In a world of fitness models trying to act like wrestlers, AJ rings through as someone who actually loves wrestling and is doing all she can to be remembered when it's all said and done. She's my favorite current Diva/Knockout by a large margin.
So, you know the drill- hit the comments, and let me know what female wrestlers YOU liked!
With that, I think we'll call it a column. Hope you all have a great weekend, and remember to enjoy your WWE, your TNA, your Lucha, your Puro, and your Indies.
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