A bumper week of TV in prospect here, kids. Not only do we have the return of Trish Stratus on Raw and Alissa Flash taking the Madison Rayne open challenge on Impact, we’ve got women’s matches on the secondary shows too (Superstars and Xplosion), so given that these shows actually feature longer matches, I had initially planned to deal with the “B” shows first, but believe it or not, my favourite match of the week was from the next level down, namely Florida Championship Wrestling, as AJ takes on her former NXT buddy Kaitlyn.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t “the greatest match ever” or anything, but it was a good solid match from the two friends. Kaitlyn is still green, but she’s doing enough to not stink the place out, while AJ remains in this writer’s opinion, considerably better than almost all the main roster divas. The finish reversal into the Octopus was particularly sweet. Note to WWE: I need this woman on TV. And yes, I know the match is theoretically outside the timeframe for this column, but as I have to wait for FCW stuff on YouTube, we’ll make an exception here!

So from the world of FCW, we go big time… well, slightly more big time at any rate, as we check out this week’s edition of Superstars, as Eve Torres leads Natalya, Gail & Tamina against the dastardly Bella Twins, backed by Melina & Alicia Fox.

Hey look, that was actually pretty decent, and God help me but I’m really enjoying The Bella Twins. Their heel turn has been such a breath of fresh air for the duo, who had been slowly withering on the vine as babyfaces. They haven’t made any significant improvements in the ring, but they’ve certainly ramped up their characters and they have become more than just wallpaper in the division. Speaking of wallpaper, the continued slide of Alicia Fox continues with another very average performance. How can you bump on your ass from a vertical suplex? Girl’s going to do herself an injury with stuff like that. Some nice work from Gail, who continues to be underused – though speaking of underutilization, Eve Torres tagged in for a single move. OK, it was the finish, but still. All in all though, that was mostly fun.

TNA Xplosion aired a match this week featuring Angelina Love vs Rosita in Rosita’s first singles match in the company.

Rosita made a great first impression when she debuted on Impact, but has been struggling to really stand out in any meaningful way since. She’s still green in the ring, and while I was initially a bit annoyed at the ongoing Sarita/Velvet dog and pony show outside the ring, I suppose the idea was to distract us from the actual Angelina vs Rosita match. Not a lot to comment on other than Angelina’s absolutely stunning backbreaker and Sarita’s comedy sneaking back to ringside. Disappointing. And no, I’m sorry… as an irregular viewer of Xplosion, I have literally no clue what’s up with the lighting.

WWE Smackdown had the usual Laycool vs RBOTW (Random Babyface of the Week) match. This week’s contestant? Kelly Kelly.

This was surprisingly good, as Kelly (who has had her reported WrestleMania spot taken by Snooki) proved to everybody how much she’s progressed in the last year and how much she would contribute to WrestleMania if she had only been a bigger star than… yes, Snooki. K2 was energetic and competent in this, which was also Layla’s best match in quite a few weeks too. I’d have preferred the finish to be more than just “Layla pulls Kelly off the ropes, she is knocked out”, but hey, it’s certainly not the worst finish of the week.

Over on Impact this week, we have the latest iteration of Madison’s Brush With Greatness tour, this time featuring the return of the Future Legend, Alissa Flash.

I don’t need to review anything here, do I? Hardly a match. Sixteen seconds, in fact. I hope Melissa was well recompensed for her time and travel. The post match challenge with Mickie James was perfectly well executed, but gets a massive thumbs down for one simple reason… it gives away the result of the PPV match, as there’s no way in hell Mickie James is losing her hair. And besides, if Mickie is winning the title from Madison at Lockdown, it means that we don’t actually get a decent payoff to Madison’s “open challenges” gimmick, which I figured would either be the babyface turn of Tara or the debut of a new Knockout (maybe Serena Deeb, for example). Sometimes in wrestling it’s fine to book an obvious result, since people may happily pay to see the heel get their comeuppance, but the amount of people who are buying Lockdown specifically for the Madison vs Mickie match is infinitesimally small, and while I like Mickie a lot, for some reason I think I’m going to feel disappointed when she wins, because there were so many other interesting places to go with Madison.

That wasn’t the only Knockout-related match on Impact, as the Latino trio of Hernandez, Rosita & Sarita took on the team of Matt Morgan, Angelina Love & Winter.

This match is just full of TNA miscasting. Hernandez (who went to AAA with the idea he’d come back and be a big latino star) was brought back as a heel and was immediately lost in the “Immortal” shuffle, while Sarita & Rosita are a far more likeable duo than that of Love & Winter. As far as the Knockouts were concerned, they did nothing other than a ringside brawl, and Winter destroying Rosita with the backbreaker for the pin. As a match, it was barely there. Move along, folks…

Raw featured the return of Trish Stratus, who will be working at WrestleMania this year, taking on Vickie Guerrero – with Guerrero’s employment on the line.

“Who throws a shoe? I mean, honestly…”

As a match, and as a return for the seven time champion Trish Stratus, it was just awful. As a spectacle, it had its moments. Vickie continues to be a wonderfully charismatic performer, even if she’s clearly not able to do anything, and the whole match was really a backdrop for getting Snooki involved in the WrestleMania match. The angle was quite good, as a matter of fact – my only major issue was the lack of emotion on Snooki’s face. She’s not an actress, but I’m sure she could’ve tried. Her addition to the WrestleMania lineup lessens the match, but will up the coverage WWE will get on TMZ and similar sites, which – as far as WWE are concerned, is worth it.

So, it’s time to wrap up this jumbo sized edition of the TV review with the alternate TV match of the week. If you’ve seen recent SHIMMER Volumes, you’re well aware of Misaki Ohata, the cosplaying cutie from the S-Ovation Office in Japan. Well, here, she takes on the masked LEON in JWP in January. Lots of fun for what was basically a simple “second on the card” match, and Ohata is tremendous at eliciting sympathy and fire. Oh, and watch out for the cross body…

Next week: WWE continue the road to WrestleMania. Not sure if Trish will wrestle again before ‘Mania, or I’d expect at some point to see a Trish/Kelly vs Laycool match. The bigger question is what happens with Eve and the Divas title at WrestleMania. Is it defended, or does Eve get to appear in a backstage skit in lieu of a match? Impact promises the continuation of the Winter/Velvet rivalry. Promises… or threatens?

— Stew

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