After winning the WWE Divas Championship from AJ Lee in her debut match on April 7, we now know who Paige‘s first challenger for her newly-won title will be. It’s AJ’s bodyguard Tamina Snuka, who earned the number one contender status by winning a battle royal on last night’s episode of Main Event, and the pair will face each other at the Extreme Rules special event (WWE has done away with the term pay-per-view since the launch of the Network) on May 4.
Tamina was dominant in the match, eliminating Nikki Bella, Naomi, Cameron, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella and Natalya to get the victory – the last of whom was sent packing with a big superkick. Conspicuous by her absence was former titleholder AJ Lee, who PWInsider reports is taking some time off from the promotion and there is no word on how long she will be gone. In fairness, it’s fine that she keeps out of the way for now as it means that some other faces can step to the forefront in the Divas division, and it should be a lot stronger when she resurfaces.
The fact that AJ’s bodyguard is getting the first title shot is interesting, as it could create a tense situation if Snuka is holding the belt when the former champion returns. The match also gives Tamina the chance to step out of being AJ’s hired help and puts her firmly in the spotlight instead – though there are variables to consider.
The pair share similarities. Both are second generation wrestlers – Tamina’s father is Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, while Paige is the daughter of Ricky and Saraya Knight. Both also have an aggressive nature to their characters, though Paige’s is yet to be seen by viewers who aren’t privy to her work in NXT – though that raises a sticking point which, in a roundabout way, benefits the titleholder over the challenger.
Firstly, Paige has been put into the forefront straight away, which is a massive vote of confidence for the Briton by the company. For her to fall at the first hurdle when it could be argued that her title victory was a fluke which came about because of AJ’s overconfidence more than anything else would hurt her credibility which she sorely needs to legitimise her as being worthy of holding the title. From a storyline perspective, you could say that because the “Diva of Tomorrow” will be more familiar with her opponent’s work than Tamina will be of the champion’s, it also means Paige can be better prepared for what she will face.
Snuka has been part of the main WWE roster for a month shy of four years, and has yet to score a Divas Championship. We have mentioned that if WWE is going to pull the trigger on her then they should get a move on – she’s 36, while her Extreme Rules opponent is 21 – so if the company wants to turn her into a force it will have to be soon. She seems to have been positioned as the big scalp that new titleholders can claim to establish their reigns, as she was the first challenger for Kaitlyn in early 2013 just after she won the title, and was pretty easily turned back at Elimination Chamber. We will find out on May for if the same thing happens again, or if Tamina will dethrone Paige.
– Lee Burton
– Photos by WWE