Extreme Rules: Nikki Bella drops the title… to Layla

New Divas Champion Nikki Bella was all set to defend the title against former champ Beth Phoenix, but a spanner was thrown into the works because of the sprained ankle injury that Beth suffered on Raw. Still, there was a new challenger waiting in the wings…

The Background:
• Bella won the title last week after Phoenix jumped from the apron to the floor during their Lumberjill match, “injuring” her ankle, and giving Nikki an opportunity to score the flash pin.
• A rematch was announced for the title at Extreme Rules.
• Before the match, a backstage segment was shown where Executive Administrator Eve Torres ruled Beth out of the match due to her injury and told Nikki that she would still have to defend the title against a mystery opponent, but reassured her that it wasn’t Kharma, who many had speculated would be the one to take the title.
• The mystery opponent turned out to be Layla, who had been out for a year after legitimately tearing both her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, and needed reconstructive surgery and rehab.

The Match:
• In a short encounter, Layla got the early advantage, but came unstuck when she climbed the ropes and was pushed off by Brie.
• Nikki then concentrated her attack on Layla’s surgically repaired leg with kicks, leglocks and a heel hook DDT.
• Layla rallied back and even took to the air with a springboard flying bodypress, and also took Brie off the apron with a low dropkick to take her feet out.
• The Bellas attempt to execute Twin Magic came unstuck though, as Brie entered the ring, but fell to the Lay-Out neckbreaker for the pinfall, giving Layla the Divas Championship.

Thoughts:
• It’s good to see Layla back, though WWE felt they had to eliminate any speculation about Kharma being the mystery opponent as early as possible, considering all the speculation for the last week indicated that she would be the one to challenge for the belt.
• Despite the surprise of Layla’s return, the fans chanted “We want Kharma” at the start of the match. Many fans watching at home probably felt the same.
• Having said that, Layla hasn’t missed a beat. She was becoming one of the better women wrestlers in the company when she went down with her knee injury, and she seems to have picked up where she left off. She was driven, committed to everything and had a sense of excitement about her.
• It was great to see her back, though her LayCool music remains, and that sucks. Hopefully it is changed soon.
• After the match on WWE.com, Layla teared up while talking about her injury, having to learn to walk again and proving how committed she is to wrestling. For someone who is pegged as a Diva Search winner, Layla has heart, that’s for sure. As a babyface promo, it was wonderful, and deserves to be put on TV.
• What is Eve’s deal? She screwed over Beth by making her title defence against Nikki on Raw by making the match a Lumberjill Match with no notice, and then screwed over Nikki (who may or may not be a heel, depending on which direction the wind is blowing) by giving her a surprise opponent in Layla. Is Eve just trying to piss off every Diva?
• It should also be noted that Layla technically pinned the wrong Bella. This may or may not lead to an extended Dusty Finish with the belt being returned to Nikki. Though we’ve tried to redict it a bunch of times and it doesn’t come to fruition, could this mean a Kharma return on Raw tonight?
• Hopefully, this will be a kick up the arse for the Divas division. There are storylines, talking points and speculation everywhere. About time too – the Divas division has been on life support for far too long.

- Lee Burton