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. (more…)
I have experienced the buzz you feel after a SHIMMER weekend on a number of occasions, though recently I have been following the enthusiasm from fans in a more remote sense. While the festivities were ongoing in Berwyn, IL on Saturday and Sunday, I was at home in the UK keeping up with results and reaction, and for the most part, everyone was buzzing so much that Chicago could have experienced a very unlikely earthquake.
With volume 63 being called one of the best shows in the promotion’s history and the Tag Team Championship match on the following volume being described as one of the greatest in the company’s seven and a half years. So many wrestlers – be they new faces or long-running stars – impressed and improved their standing that it’s tough to start.
Stew was there to watch the shows and is writing up thoughts for each taping – he’s still got two to do but is in the process of flying home and has been struck down with the dreaded SHIMvirus so we may have to wait a little longer for reactions to volumes 65 and 66 (though you can see the results and thoughts for 63-64 here), but he sent through some overall thoughts on who did well: (more…)
Lots of stuff to cover in this Roundup, and we start with the goings-on in WWE over the last few days…
AJ Lee survived the odds put against her by Vickie Guerrero to retain the Divas Championship at WrestleMania XXX. By tapping out Naomi, she defeated her 13 challengers for the title in a match which played to the strengths of its more skilled participants and managed to generate a slight buzz – which was a herculean effort considering the wave of depression in the Superdome in New Orleans, LA because of Brock Lesnar beating the Undertaker in the previous contest – and also stuck it to Guerrero for putting her in such a disadvantageous position and for emerging victorious. Standing on the middle rope, AJ soaked in the victory, which was her most high profile in her Divas Championship reign…
And her last. (more…)
We’ve learned not to bet against AJ Lee here at Ringbelles. We’ve predicted title changes a number of times in the last year, and every time she’s managed to keep her title – even last night with 13 simultaneous challengers at WrestleMania – but tonight at Monday Night Raw, AJ Lee’s 295 day reign as WWE Divas Championship came to an end with the debut of the NXT Women’s Champion Paige, and a poorly thought out impromptu challenge match, which ended with a Paige Turner and the creation of a brand new star in the Divas Division.
Following AJ’s post WrestleMania victory promo where she berated the entire Divas division for their inability to beat her, Paige came out, in full gear and with her NXT “Stars in the Night” theme. The internationally skewed audience at Raw reacted to her like a star, chanting her name. It seemed, according to Paige, that she simply wanted to come out and congratulate Lee – which for some reason only managed to irritate the champion, who challenged Paige to a match right there and then, so she could beat her like she’d beaten everybody else. Paige explained that she wasn’t ready yet, but a slap from the champion resulted in a change of mind. In the relatively short match that followed, AJ managed to hook in the Black Widow, but Paige eventually reversed her way out of the move and hit her Paige Turner for the win.
The WWE Divas Championship is put on the line for the first time in its five year history at a WrestleMania as AJ Lee defends the belt against Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Summer Rae, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Aksana, Layla, Emma, Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes and even her own bodyguard Tamina Snuka as part of the first ever Vicki Guerrero Divas Invitational.
• After ducking out of defending her title against Naomi on the March 24 episode of Raw by deliberately getting counted out, Guerrero decided to punish (and screw) AJ by booking her in a 14-woman match at WrestleMania XXX against every member of the Divas roster.
• Little was known about the rules until last Monday, when Guerrero declared that the contest would have all the women in play at one time with one pinball deciding the winner.
• AJ Lee has held the Divas Title since June 16, 2013, where she defeated Kaitlyn to win the belt. (more…)
Getting injured seems to have had ultra-positive effects on Athena.
It’s not like the Wrestling Goddess was doing badly for herself when she went down with damage to her shoulder last August. She was a day away from challenging for the Women Superstars Uncensored Championship and was a mainstay in SHIMMER, as well as getting into Absolute Intense Wrestling. Things were going well for her – and while getting hurt could have been a huge setback that sent her skidding off the tracks, she has used the time away to her advantage.
Employing a look inspired by Game of Thrones, the 25-year old revamped her image with new gear, altered her character and has worked on her promos, employing the catchphrase of making “art out of war” and doing away with calling her opponents “hussies”. In addition, while the time off to let her shoulder heal may have been a frustrating wait, it has also allowed her body to recover from the constant grind of being on the road and wrestling on a regular basis. It’s likely that when she returned to action at the start of this year, she had no niggling aches and pains, which seems to have given her a new lease of life.
That renewed vigour was evident at WSU’s Mutiny show where she and LuFisto put together an early contender for Match of the Year which saw the Texan defeated – but gaining a lot of new plaudits along the way. That buzz followed her to AIW’s Girls Night Out tapings last weekend where she was such an integral part of the double show that promoter John Thorne skipped out of his own show to go and pick her up from the airport in Cleveland, OH after her flight was affected by inclement weather. The show experienced a long intermission to allow Athena to get to the building and wrestle Mia Yim in their scheduled match – which against received a wealth of thumbs-up reviews. (more…)
It seems fitting that Trish Stratus inducts Lita into the WWE Hall of Fame in a couple of weeks. After all, their wrestling careers are so tightly intertwined – they debuted in the company at roughly the same time, were each other’s biggest rival and both left the promotion within a few weeks of each other.
We have featured their final match against each other in a previous Retro, but we go even further back for this one. We travel all the way back to 2000, with both about six months into their run, and main eventing Raw as part of a mixed tag team match which had multiple stories crossing over.
Lita and Stratus had been feuding for a few months alongside their respective male tag teams of the Hardy Boyz and T&A, though their programme had taken on a life of its own. Meanwhile, Stratus was one of the catalysts for friction between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and saw Kurt Angle start to muscle in and make a move on Stephanie. Angle and HHH were trying to keep it civil in respect for Stephanie but were secretly wanting to tear each other apart – a situation exacerbated by them both being top contenders for The Rock‘s WWF Championship, with the trio squaring off in a triple threat match at that year’s SummerSlam. (more…)
At last November’s Survivor Series, we watched a pretty rotten 7 on 7 Divas elimination match. Not content with its badness, it was then repeated on Raw the following night. Having not learned that more does not necessarily mean better, WWE has booked a 14 woman match for WrestleMania XXX on April 6.
It came about on last night’s Raw after Divas Champion AJ Lee deliberately got herself counted out in her title defence against Naomi. Irritated, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero decided to punish AJ by booking her in a title defence at WrestleMania with 13 challengers. That means that going for the title in New Orleans, LA will be Naomi, Cameron, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Eva Marie, Emma, Aksana, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes, Layla and Tamina Snuka.
How happy a Diva would be in being in this match depends on the Diva to whom you are referring. Should you ask Eva Marie, Cameron, Emma, Aksana, Alicia, Summer, Emma, Layla, Tamina or Rosa, I would imagine you would get a happy response – especially Rosa and Layla, who have barely been seen in recent months. Under normal circumstances, there would be little to no chance of them being involved in a title match at WrestleMania. Because of this booking, they can say they challenged for the belt at a WM and will receive a big pay-per-view payoff in the process. However the opposite feeling may be forthcoming from the rest – who could have held a claim for at one time being in the frame for a singles challenge on the show. (more…)
Canada’s Sarah Stock received a tryout with WWE in December last year, according to Primera Cuerda.
Probably best known as Sarita during her time in TNA, she won the Knockouts Tag Team Championship on two occasions, though has spent most of her time wrestling for CMLL as Dark Angel, and has also competed under that name in Japan in recent years, winning the Wonder of Stardom title last year. In addition, she wrestled for SHIMMER between 2007-10 under the name of “Dark Angel” Sarah Stock. Clearly, she was worked everywhere and has a world of experience – which is why it is reported that she received very positive feedback.
There are also many benefits for WWE to hire her. With the ability to speak English, Spanish and French fluently, she is very marketable in foreign countries – especially Mexico, where WWE is always looking to establish more market share, so having a woman who Mexico knows very well already and can work the media rounds in the country could be a real boon. In addition, her extensive experience and lucha libre wrestling style will help to separate her from other women in the promotion, and that’s something the company is supposedly after, as it was highlighted in Sara Del Rey‘s interview with WWE.com earlier this month. (more…)
“Candice Michelle went to PWG in 2008 & raved about me to John Laurinaitis. When I saw him, he said ‘What does a Diva know about wrestling?’”
This is a tweet from Joey Ryan which he posted back in January – one of many which he wrote in reference to his tryout with WWE, where he asserts that was told that he was too old and too experienced to be in developmental.
Despite his wrestling persona being someone who is quite misogynistic and employs moves like the Boobplex, it is clear that he would not be allowed to do moves like this unless the recipients were comfortable with him – in fact, because of the amount of inter gender wrestling that he does, you could argue that he’s a huge advocate for women’s wrestling. With these tweets, one would imagine that Ryan is not thinking about trying out again, but it’s difficult to see if he has an axe to grind. If he does, it calls into question the validity of the claim – but if it is real, what does this say about WWE’s former Senior Vice President of Talent Relations?
Laurinaitis – who resigned from the post in July 2012 but still works within WWE – has form with not taking the Divas division very seriously. In 2006, he suddenly hired two models who he spotted in a catalogue – 20-year old Victoria Crawford and 19-year old Barbie Blank, who became known as Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly respectively. It doesn’t show that much respect for women who toil for years to become good wrestlers to see two women hired just by how they pose in swimwear. While WWE still does hire women with no wrestling background, they do seem to go for people who have athletic ability. Summer Rae for example, used to be part of the Lingerie Football League, while new signing Shara used to be a competitive arm wrestler. (more…)
It was a big deal for WWE to sign Sara Del Rey to become a trainer for the women in its developmental system. As is the case with the Queen of Wrestling, her departure from the indies was relatively low-key, but her impact on the Divas division has been very apparent – and that’s now been acknowledged in an article featured on WWE.com.
Around the time of her signing, CM Punk sang her praises, and Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak have also joined in with the support. For example, Del Rey’s former trainer Bryan talked about his protégé’s training – and you can see in her very early days in a Retro we posted last week:
“The person who was giving [backdrops] to her collapsed underneath her, and when she landed, she separated her shoulder,” Bryan said. “She rolled out of the ring, popped her shoulder back in and rolled into the ring.”
Another collapsed backdrop, another separated shoulder. Amato again rolled out of the ring, popped her shoulder back in place, and wanted to continue. Although Bryan admired her tenacity, he couldn’t let her go on. “At that point, we had to say stop,” he said. (more…)
If the plan is still for AJ Lee to defend the Divas Championship against Naomi at WrestleMania XXX, then WWE is certainly going round the houses to do it – that’s if they’re even planning to do it.
Before her injury to her eye socket occurred, it was reported that the plan was for Naomi to be the one to end AJ’s mammoth title reign (which is now the longest run in WWE history be it for singular or combined reigns) though it was said that the plan would still be on for WrestleMania on April 6 if the Funkadactyl could be cleared in time. It was partly because of that possibility that AJ had a title defence against Cameron at Elimination Chamber and again on the subsequent SmackDown. However things have gone in another direction in the last week as there now seems to be a queue of pretenders to the throne.
Natalya made AJ tap out in a tag match on SmackDown on Friday and is to get a Divas Title shot on tonight’s live edition of Main Event. Meanwhile on last night Raw, Nikki Bella got the pin on the titleholder as part of another tag team match, after which she held up the Divas belt while Natalya – who was on commentary – looked on. It seems as if there is a bottleneck of challengers, though it’s also up in the air as to who the champion may be by the time we get to WrestleMania. (more…)
These Brits seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. In WWE, Paige is still NXT Women’s Champion after defeating Emma on the first live show in the feeder system’s history. Broadcast on the WWE Network, social media was buzzing after the match with praise for both women – though it was the 21 year old from Norwich who had the focus as the winner.
As a showcase for the up and coming women in Florida, it was a great piece of work which dispelled the recurring criticism that Divas can’t wrestle. Given the chance to go out there with no gimmicks or distractions as well as enough time to tell a story, the pair proved that women do have a place in a wrestling ring in the top company in the world. That sentiment was shared by trainer Sara Del Rey, who said “Congratulations @RealPaigeWWE and @EmmaWWE you both are paving the way!!!”, and Stephanie McMahon sang their praises in a post-show interview. Indeed, there were many plaudits singing their praises.
As well as having the confidence to let Paige and Emma go out there and do their thing, they also put the marketing machine behind its Women’s Champion by releasing a t-shirt for her. Considering how little merchandise WWE had for its women up until last year and how she isn’t even on the main roster yet, it’s a real sign that the company is high on the former Britani Knight. (more…)
Paige and Emma had the stage to showcase their talents, and they did not disappoint. As part of NXT‘s ArRIVAL live show on the new WWE Network, the Briton made the Australian tap out with a Scorpion Crosslock to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
After going for their respective finishers early and seeing their efforts thwarted, the action swayed back and forth with Paige nailing her big knees with Emma draped in the ropes, while the challenger responded with the Dil-Emma and the Emma Sandwich before the titleholder could respond with a surfboard submission attempt. Taking to the ropes, the champion attempted a superplex but it was countered into a sunset power bomb by Emma for a tantalising near-fall, leading to an amusing “Better than Batista” chant while Paige got a long two count of her own with her Paige Turner finisher before locking in the Scorpion Crosslock – which you can see to your right – for the submission victory. (more…)
The first live show of the WWE Network takes place on Thursday with the first live broadcast of NXT. Dubbed ArRIVAL, it features three matches – one of which sees Paige defend the NXT Women’s Championship against number one contender Emma, in a match which has been a long time coming.
The cheerful Australian earned her crack at the title back in August and then had to defend her right to challenge for the belt by beating Natalya at the start of this year. While carrying on her #EMMAlution in Florida, she also graduated to the main WWE roster by originally appearing in the crowd – antagonising fellow NXT alumni Summer Rae in the process – before taking part in dance-offs and making her in-ring TV debut last night on Raw, defeating Summer with the Emma Lock. While fans who haven’t seen her NXT character evolve are getting used to the newcomer with the awkward dance moves, it seems as if things are going in the right direction.
It could be argued that the NXT Women’s Champion has been ready to make a similar jump for a while. As the sole titleholder – winning the title tournament last June, but the show being broadcast the following month – she has turned back the challenges of Summer Rae and Natalya, though hasn’t wrestled on a show since the end of November. Injury was cited as the reason, though the Wrestling Observer said the layoff was for personal reasons. Thursday’s match will be her first match in more than three months, and in that time, her opponent – and the woman she beat in the tournament final to win the belt in the first place – has caught up with her success. (more…)
AJ Lee defends the WWE Divas Championship against a mystery opponent at Elimination Chamber – that challenger turned out to be Cameron.
• There isn’t really much of one, considering this is an impromptu match. AJ had a pop at Cameron’s partner Naomi before she found out who her opponent was going to be, saying that she would not have minded taking on a new challenger considering she had beaten all of her competition, but said that Naomi had to go and “break her face”, referring to the fractured eye socket that she suffered a few weeks ago thanks to the knee of Aksana.
• AJ then found out that her opponent would be the Funkadactyl, who danced her way to the ring before getting serious by throwing her pom poms at the titleholder. (more…)
Eva Marie is a stunning woman. With her great looks and amazing figure, she is a visual asset to WWE’s Divas division. Her presence is a striking one as she stands out from the pack with her pillarbox red hair, coupled with red lipstick framing a beautiful smile. Looks-wise, she is every inch the Diva, with the sort of figure that teenage boys would likely sketch in a schoolbook. Her appeal is also experiencing crossover value as she made such an impression on Total Divas that she graced the pages of Maxim Magazine last August. On paper, Eva Marie has everything it takes to be a star in the women’s division of World Wrestling Entertainment…
Until she steps foot in the ring, it seems.
The 29-year old made her debut at SummerSlam Axxess on August 18 where she and Brie Bella lost to Natalya and Maria Menounos (still undefeated, by the way), but her first TV contest wasn’t until October 7 when she, JoJo and Natalya defeated Aksana, Rosa Mendes & Alicia Fox. She has wrestled 12 matches in total, all of them in tag team contests or battle royals. However, the 13th and most recent contest technically doesn’t exist as even though it was recorded for last week’s episode of SmackDown, it was never broadcast – and probably never will be. (more…)
There is good news and bad news when it comes to the fractured eye socket that Naomi suffered at the hands (or more specifically, knee) of Aksana on the February 3 episode of Raw. Dr Chris Amann told WWE.com that she will not require surgery for the injury, as “neither the nerve nor the eye muscles are trapped in the fracture itself”, but added that “the break that she has off the medial or inside wall of the orbital bone, [there is] communication between her sinus cavity and the back of the eye socket.” As a result, the 26-year old is not allowed to fly due to the pressure differences, and will not be able to return to the ring for around 4-6 weeks.
That is a big blow for the Funkadactyl, who was reported to be in line to win the WWE Divas Championship from AJ Lee, possibly at WrestleMania XXX – which was one of the options discussed in yesterday’s Bunch of Fives article – but it isn’t all bad news, and WWE isn’t said to be concerned about Naomi’s fortunes. (more…)
We’re on the so-called “Road to WrestleMania” in WWE – a time when, generally, it’s considered to be a good time to be a wrestling fan. If everything is going to plan, storylines and feuds will culminate at the Showcase of the Immortals, and we usually see both the in-ring performers and the booking teams step up their games as we approach the big day. However, rarely does that involve the Divas. Even as WWE prepares to induct its second former WWE Women’s Champion in two years to the Hall of Fame, it’s no shock to anybody that the Divas division is considered a mere afterthought. Statistically, we’ve already mentioned recently that Divas ≠ Ratings on TV – but as we mentioned at the time, it’s been so long since there was a Divas angle or feud with any real strong substance, it’s no wonder their segments are considered skippable. Ironically enough, Kaitlyn, who was Divas Champion at this time last year didn’t even work the WrestleMania show, and spent the weekend giving away tickets to fans who were able to find her in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, “Where’s Wally?” style. As it turned out, no Divas got to wrestle on the show last year, as the mixed tag featuring the Bellas and the Funkadactyls ended up getting nixed for time.
So… assuming that we’ll get some sort of match involving the Divas this year, here are five options (some more likely than others, admittedly) for New Orleans… (more…)
When I was 19 years old, I went to a friend’s house to watch SummerSlam 2000. We had known each other for about a year after meeting at university and discovering that we were both wrestling fans. I was in his house for about 10 minutes when his 15 year old sister came in, introduced herself and then hitched up her underwear over her hips and said that she was a Lita fan.
Apart from not knowing where to look, what to say or anything, I was surprised at how someone who had just met me was so keen to impart the fact that she was a fan of Lita. Granted, she knew that I was a wrestling fan, but that sort of stuff shouldn’t happen, should it? I put it down to how cool Lita was and left it at that, but when you look back on her influence during WWF Attitude, you could argue that she was the best representation of women that the company had ever presented up to that point.
Unlike her rival Trish Stratus, Lita wasn’t a barbie doll. She was rough and ready, looked a little messy and did not dress to impress – she dressed for comfort. Copying the Hardy Boyz look with the baggy pants, she coupled it with a tight sports top or t-shirt and got stuck in against the guys. She delivered flying ranas and bodypresses to the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Test, Albert, Edge and Christian, and was happy to take the lumps too. She was powerbombed by the Dudley Boyz, Guerrero and Test as well as getting speared by Edge. She was a game girl who settled things in a way that no woman before her had done so. As a consequence, she was amazingly cool and was arguably more or a role model for women than Trish was. Stratus was too perfect, like she was almost above it all, whereas Lita would hang out with you, drink with you, share a laugh and be your friend. She was the opposite of a Diva, and that made her stand out from the – admittedly smaller in that era – pack.
It is fitting that Amy “Lita” Dumas is going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. At 38, she is one of the youngest inductees, though she may have done more to draw women to WWE than any other female before or since. (more…)
Remember the infamous PipeBombshell promo from the August 26 episode of Raw last year? AJ Lee came out following Brie Bella’s win over Natalya to talk down the whole Total Divas cast, calling them “interchangeable” and “cheap”. The promo received a lot of buzz and at the time, it was thought that it would factor into the story for the season one extension of Total Divas. As it turned out, it came to nothing as it was never followed up and while Lee defended the Divas Championship against members of that cast until the end of the year – and beyond, considering Naomi is her next challenger – no real mention was made of the promo which started it all. Now, we may have the reason why…
AJ attended the Wizard World Comic Con in New Orleans, LA last Friday, and amongst talking about comic books and video games, the Divas Champion discussed why it was nixed. You can click here to listen to her response, but we’ve got it for you after the jump. (more…)
This week’s Wrestling Observer posted some interesting figures compiled by Chris Harrington, looking at TV ratings for WWE performers. By utilising the numbers over the last year, he has put together the top and bottom 20 for either drawing viewers or losing them. The top ratings grabber in 2013 was The Rock, gaining around 335,698 for every segment he was part of on WWE TV. At number 7 is Stephanie McMahon who attracts 242,841, while Vickie Guerrero is in 8th, pulling in 234,359.
Unfortunately, while the female authority figures seem to get attention, the same cannot be said for the actual Divas, as they take up the bulk of bottom ten… (more…)
Both Shanna and Alpha Female made their first appearances in a TNA ring during the recent UK tour, though they handled the publicity for it in different ways.
Portugal’s Perfect Athlete got the word out early that she would be booked on the February 1 show in London, England, as well as the following date in Birmingham. She wrestled singles matches for the Xplosion tapings – the first against Alpha and the next saw her take on Gail Kim. I was at the Birmingham taping, and while I won’t spoil the result, Shanna looked perfectly comfortable in that ring in what was a big opportunity for her to impress. She wasn’t just cannon fodder for the full-time Knockout either – she got in her fair share and even got to nail the Perfect Press.
Since announcing that she would be wrestling for TNA, Shanna has encouraged her fans to get the attention of the company to demonstrate her fanbase and how much she wants to be part of the promotion. She has retweeted many of the messages sent to TNA, and is showing her enthusiasm and overwhelming desire to sign a contract, while also increasing her brand and marketability. No doubt, she has a lot of people backing her, which is very encouraging. (more…)
It has been a prospect for a while, and we have to wait a little longer before it happens, but it’s official – Emma will challenge Paige for the NXT Women’s Championship on the brand’s first live episode on February 27, airing on the WWE Network. The announcement was made during the February 19 taping which took place at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL, yesterday.
The pair have history – the Briton became the first NXT Women’s Champion on the July 24 episode last year by beating her Australian opponent in the finals of the championship tournament after going through Tamina Snuka and Aksana to make it to the final. Emma earned another shot at the belt on the August 7 episode, but has had to wait for her shot, and also had to defend her right to challenge for the title by beating Natalya on the December 18 show.
Paige hasn’t wrestled on NXT since the December 18 episode where she beat Sasha Banks – though in reality, the 21-year old hasn’t wrestled since November 21, as that’s when the show was recorded. There were rumours of injury, though that was refuted by the Wrestling Observer, who said that she was given time off for personal reasons. (more…)