AJ Lee and Paige compete again for the WWE Divas Championship after trading the title in a pair of angles, while Brie Bella sought revenge against Stephanie McMahon’s tormenting.
WWE Divas Championship
AJ Lee v Paige
• The pair competed at Battleground last month with AJ getting the victory with a Shining Wizard. Paige turned heel the following night by attacking AJ though declaring that they were still friends and described their relationship as “frenemies”. Paige has shoved the champion off the SmackDown stage and cost her two victories against Eva Marie in the last week.
• Paige extended her hand in a show of sportsmanship but had her hand bitten by AJ who then chased Paige to the outside to continue her beating, though Paige got the edge with an Electric Chair drop onto the ringside barricade.
• Paige delivered some knees in the ropes before the pair climbed to the top rope, with the champion gaining the advantage before delivering a top rope clothesline to the floor.
• Back inside the ring, AJ connected with the Shining Wizard for a near-fall though Paige responded with a superkick – however the Paige Turner was reversed into the Black Widow – though the challenger countered with the RamPaige for the title-winning pin. Paige hugged an unconscious AJ Lee during the celebration.
• The match lasted less than five minutes but it was five minutes well spent. This was far better than their match at Battleground with no botched moves or awkward exchanges, and also had more heat because of the defined nature of babyface AJ and heel Paige.
• The result was the correct one as a second straight defeat on PPV for Paige (who was celebrating her 22nd birthday) to AJ would have done her no favours and would have cut the legs off her heel turn, which has really gained traction and has seen her be able to display more of a character. It was also her best performance on PPV to date, which bodes well for the future.
• John Bradshaw Layfield also mentioned Paige’s mother Saraya Knight on commentary, which was very unexpected.
• As for AJ, it is up for debate as to what happens to her. She could certainly vie for a rematch to continue the feud but playing hot potato with the Divas Championship will not help either their credibility or the credibility of the title. Some reports reckon that AJ is to take more time off to start a family with her husband CM Punk, but there were claims that she was pregnant before her comeback, so we can take it all with a pinch of salt for now.
Brie Bella v Stephanie McMahon
• Bella quit WWE at Money in the Bank in June to save her husband Daniel Bryan from having to forfeit the WWE World Heavyweight Championshop (which he had to do anyway because of injury) because McMahon had threatened to fire her if he didn’t vacate the belts. As a consequence, Brie’s sister Nikki was placed in a series of handicap matches by McMahon as a punishment by association.
• Stephanie was arrested on the July 21 Raw after slapping Brie – who was a ticket-buying customer at ringside – and was facing assault charges, which prompted McMahon to do a deal with Bella to reinstate her if the charges were dropped. In addition, Brie demanded a match with Stephanie, which was granted.
• Both Bellas were attacked during the contract signing on August 4, and Stephanie twisted the knife the following week when she brought out a woman who was referred to as Bryan’s physical assistant to help with his rehabilitation. Under a certain level of duress, Megan Miller said that she had been having an affair with Brie’s husband, which brought out Brie to slap her and attack Stephanie – and saw her arrested for the assault on Miller.
• Stephanie showed her strength advantage with the opening lockups, though Brie surprised her opponent with a couple of armdrags. McMahon retaliated with shoulder barges in the corner followed by a series of kicks and forearms. A desperation attempt at the Yes Lock came to nothing though, Stephanie scooted out of the ring and clobbered Brie as Bella attempted a tope through through the ropes.
• Back inside the ring, McMahon hit a DDT for a two-count before nailing a rolling neck snap and locking in a surfboard. Brie fought back with some up-kicks and hit a Thesz Press before mounting a comeback including some Daniel Bryan-esque kicks in the corner and a missile dropkick from the second rope for a near-fall.
• This prompted McMahon’s husband Triple H to hit the ring, followed by Brie’s sister Nikki. Meanwhile, Bella applied the Yes Lock to Stephanie but HHH pulled the referee out of the ring, which led to Brie delivering a baseball slide to the Game.
• Inside the run, McMahon tried to escape but Nikki cut her off and found herself sandwiched between the twins, only for Nikki to nail her sister with a forearm, which Stephanie sold as if she didn’t know it was coming. McMahon them connected with a Pedigree for the winning pinfall.
• Brie did a promo before the Divas Title match took place saying that she believes that Stephanie paid off Megan Miller to say that she had been having an affair with her Daniel Bryan. It didn’t really help to clear up the confusion over her reaction to the announcement on Raw, where she slapped Megan – though if she believed she was being coerced into doing it, why would she attack her? Having said all that, this was probably Brie’s best promo to date, though it’s still miles behind Stephanie’s work.
• First off, the result was probably the right one, and it was a heel turn which had been mentioned beforehand. While commentators Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were insinuating that Nikki was in cahoots with the Authority, John Bradshaw Layfield more astutely pointed out that it may have been an independent acto of aggression. We will find out on tonight’s Raw and I expect it to be a plausible reason because aside from the Miller mess, this has been tightly-booked.
• As for the match, I’m less positive as there were two glaring issues for me. The first is the booking, which saw a 37-year old non-wrestler who hasn’t had a match for 11 years dominate a full-time wrestler who is also a former Divas Champion. If they were both wrestling on a regular basis it would have been fine but Brie spent much of the match being beaten up by a woman who by all rights shouldn’t be wrestling. As a basis of comparison, how much offence did Vince McMahon get in during his matches against Steve Austin? Very little. Brie should have beaten her up with Stephanie having to cheat to get an advantage.
• The other issue is that both women were essentially facsimiles of their husbands. Brie threw kicks in the corners like Daniel Bryan and also went for the Yes Lock, as well as pumping her hands in the air for the Yes chant. Meanwhile, Stephanie was using Triple H’s Pedigree as a finisher. Why couldn’t both have their own movesets instead of being copies? It’s especially disappointing for Brie, who used to have her own repertoire but has regressed as a wrestler since getting married.
• Finally, we’re left with the prospect of Brie Bella v Nikki Bella. I’ve no idea what to expect, so I’m keeping an open mind.
– Photos by WWE