Friday, 25 September 2015

Turning the Paige

On the Monday 21 September episode of Monday Night RAW is WAR, TV's longest running episodic action adventure soap opera (or something), Paige cut a scathing promo. Or, if you prefer, she dropped a pipebomb. Personally I don't prefer, finding the term trite and irritating when applied to anything other than the segment which originated the phrase, CM Punk's show-closing hijacking of RAW on June 27 2011.

Paige cut her promo during the in-ring celebration of new Divas champion Charlotte (let the record show she'd defeated Nikki Bella for the title at Night of Champions the previous evening). After claiming she was the one who'd made the upturn in women's wrestling in the Fed possible, calling the interaction between Charlotte and her pa Ric patronising, and reminding everyone that she'd won the Divas title on her first night on the roster Paige laid into every member of the roster. Alicia Fox was labelled a third wheel. All three members of Team BAD were written off as all flash and no substance1. Natalya was sarcastically referred to as MIA. Charlotte was called a placeholder champ, Lynch irrelevant, and there was heavy implication that storyline Paige believes the Bellas only got to and keep their spots because of who they're romantically linked to2. It was good stuff, believable, relatable and understandable. Charlotte's response was slightly disappointing because she undersold the betrayal she should have been feeling and simply lashed out angrily. But it was at least spiritied.

Paige there, working herself into a shoot.
It's not the specifics that are important here, it's what Paige's words set up. And they set up a lot. There's the obvious Paige versus Charlotte match for the title. It also created issues between Natalya and Paige and Becky Lynch and Paige, the reasons for each being pleasantly different. Natty has been positioned as the old guard whom 'The Anti-Diva' considers irrelevant/past her prime, which Natty will clearly want to prove wrong.

Meanwhile Becky was labelled "the least relevant" woman on the roster by Paige. Since Monday she's taken the initiative (or been ordered to follow up on the verbal assault) and launched a series of pun themed insults at Paige on Twitter. The pun aspect isn't doing anybody any favours but 'The Lasskicker' firing back as opposed to meekly accepting Paige's low blow or waiting until the next TV show to assert herself is absolutely the right thing for everyone involved. It creates an issue between two wrestlers that gives them a reason to have a match that doesn't involve a championship. That's rare in WWE, especially in their women's league.

In a little under a week WWE have set the decidedly non-progressively named Divas up to have an interesting, layered division. Charlotte has a rematch with Nikki to come as well as her fresh issue with Paige to resolve. Paige has matches ready with both Natalya and Becky, which could both be run through before she gets her title shot opposite 'The Nature Girl' (no way Nikki's getting the belt back for a while). Sasha Banks has also been quietly set up for a larger role with TV wins over Paige and the emphasis on her being an established rival of Charlotte from NXT.

Whether the writing team follows through on any of this is something else. History tells us they'll mishandle things and deliver an uninspired sequence of matches revolving around the Divas title. But thanks to Paige's promo and the work that's been put into the division we can dare to get our hopes up that the MSG Network special or the Hell in a Cell PPV could feature Charlotte v Nikki and Paige v Becky, instead of the standard issue lone title match.


1 The only one that could possibly apply to is Naomi, although I think it would be an unfair statement. Tamina has neither flash nor substance while Sasha Banks has both.

2 The irony here is that until a few weeks ago that seemed to be a largely unfair statement. Then rumours started doing the rounds about Big Match John pulling strings to extend Nikki's title reign.

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