Over The Limit: Layla hobbles away with the title

Layla faces a big challenge in her first PPV defence since winning the WWE Divas Championship against former titleholder Beth Phoenix.

The Background:
• Beth Phoenix was due a rematch against Nikki Bella last month at Extreme Rules after losing the championship the previous Monday due to a freak ankle injury, but was not cleared to compete. Instead, Layla was the surprise new challenger and won the title.
• As a result of not getting her rematch, Phoenix was named the top challenger to the title, and the match was scheduled for Over The Limit.
• There had been a few physical squabbles leading up to the match, but the main story was the plucky champion who had recently returned from a year out against her much larger and more powerful challenger.

The Match:
• Beth’s power was the difference-maker at the start of the contest, as she started to bully the titleholder around, but Layla tried to counter with a tilt-a-whirl armdrag, a double springboard crossbody and a basement dropkick while Phoenix was down.
• However, Layla’s surgically-repaired knee was the focus of Beth’s attack, as she went after it in the corner, rammed it against the ringpost and then stretched it over the apron, with the champion screaming out in pain.
• Back in the ring, Phoenix stayed on the leg, using a half crab and tying it up in the ropes to test the ligaments. Layla managed to hit a couple of desperation moves to buy herself some time, but the challenger resumed her attack quickly.
• A gorilla press attempt was countered into a DDT by Layla which helped to sway matters, but a Face Lift (somersault stunner) attempt ended badly, as she was lifted up for the Glam Slam, but reversed it into a victory roll, which was countered by Phoenix for a tights-assisted near fall.
• Out of nowhere, Layla hit the Lay-Out for the pinfall to retain her title.

• At seven minutes, this match was probably a bit too long. I understand why it was given the time – to sell the attack on Layla’s knee – but the near-silent crowd didn’t care a jot. They only reacted to the gorilla press/DDT spot and the Glam Slam reversal. I’d say that Divas matches should be short, high-entertainment spot-fests for a while to keep the crowd interested, as they didn’t care about the story with Layla’s knee at all, which is a shame, as it was totally logical.
• Speaking of the spots though, Layla does her best to be exciting in the ring, but some of the things she does feel like they’re going in slow motion. While they look aesthetically pleasing, the tilt-a-whirl armdrag and double springboard crossbody felt like time was slowing down. And that’s a shame, as I applaud her for trying to be something different. There is nothing wrong with what she does, it’s just that it takes a little too long to do them.
• That Lay-Out neckbreaker is becoming the move that you can’t kick out from. And for a finishing move, that’s good.
• I’d like to see another match between these two, though.
• As a whole, the match itself was fine, the result is the right one and Beth and Layla did nothing really wrong – it’s just that it all felt a bit flat, and that’s a real pity, as there are no real complaints. It was as good as it could have been, the story made total sense and nothing was botched – and yet it still didn’t click with the fans, who have been conditioned to not get excited for Divas matches.

- Lee Burton

Uraken says:

Nearly everything Layla did offense-wise looked badly choreographed and almost took me right out of the match at points, and there was already enough of that crap from her in the early portion before Beth even took control of the match.