Friday, 24 February 2012

Vintage Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #1

Well as you all know my addiction to writing random stuff keeps increasing so I decided to dip down into the archives and do my typical week in review for the good old days. We can relive old feuds, rewatch classic matches and reminisce about the good old days for the WWE Divas. I had a big debate on when was best to start but I eventually decided to go with when the WWE Women's title was reinstated at the end of 2001. Let the nostalgia begin.

Survivor Series 2001 - Trish Stratus Wins A Six Pack Challenge To Become The New Women's Champion:
At this point in time Chyna took the title with her when she left WWE and they couldn't crown a new champion until her contract expired, which it did in November. So this match was booked for Survivor Series, with Trish, Lita and Jacqueline representing the WWF and Ivory, Mighty Molly and a mystery Diva representing The Alliance. Of course the mystery Diva is the debuting Jazz (fun fact: Nidia was originally meant to debut here but management felt it was better to have someone who already had a history with WCW/ECW especially since it was the last night of the angle). Jazz and Lita start off with literally three moves before Jacqueline and Molly tag in. We get a proper exchange between them until Ivory tags herself in and then there's a series of pin reversals, ending when Ivory catapults Jacqueline into the top rope. Trish tags in to an amazing pop but is quickly double teamed by The Alliance girls. The match breaks down as Molly hits the Molly-Go-Round on Jackie, Trish Chick Kicks Molly, Ivory plants Trish with the Poison Ivory, Lita hits a Twist of Fate on Ivory and then lands a moonsault. Molly is thrown out of the ring, Trish backdrops Lita out and Jazz goes for what was obviously meant to be a suicide dive through the ropes but botches it and Lita has to pull her out. Trish gets the Stratusfaction on Ivory to win her first title.
I enjoyed this one though it wasn't without some problems, namely time and a couple of botched spots. The girls could have done with maybe three more minutes to work since Jazz and Molly were really lost in the shuffle here, though Molly was amusing with some of her antics. The action was nice and fast-paced though it was more like the match was on fast forward. The breakdown at the end was really fun and the reaction Trish got when she won was insane. Bear in mind at the time Trish winning was greeted with similar reception to Kelly Kelly winning her title or even Michelle McCool. And look what we think of her now. 6/10

Also, Stephanie made her presence known in nearly every backstage segment where she claimed she was terrified that she would have to become a normal person if the Alliance lost that night. When they did, her reaction backstage was priceless. Also Torrie Wilson came down to the ring after Tajiri lost to William Regal, though she probably shouldn't have since Regal gave her a powerbomb as well.

Raw - Trish Stratus def. Lita to retain the WWE Women's Championship:
Well isn't this is a way to kick off Trish's first title reign. Lita has Matt Hardy with her for moral support, the announcers drawing attention to the night before when Lita caught Matt coming out of the same locker room as Trish. There's an incredibly awkward series of Irish Whip reversals to start us off before Lita spears Trish rather aggressively. Trish actually does body slams and Lita drops her with a weird looking flapjack. Trish misses an elbow drop off the top rope but when Lita climbs up for the moonsault, she pushes her off and sends her flying right into the security wall. Trish then baseball slides both Lita and Matt Hardy through the bottom rope. Matt puts Lita back in the ring and Trish gets the win with a backslide. They play up tension between Lita and Matt afterwards.
Well they've had good matches and bad matches and this one wasn't without its flaws, namely that painful looking attempt at chain wrestling at the beginning, Trish not moving out of the way after a catapult and her very obviously waiting for Lita to get into position for an elbow drop. Everything else was fine though, interestingly it was Trish who was playing the heel figure in this match. Notice here when she had her first title, she was not polished in the ring and neither was Lita really. It's to be expected since she was only wrestling for nearly one year. But we do see a vast difference in that a Women's title match was just given away easily on Raw, one night after a PPV too. And the girls got five minutes for their segment, and accomplished plenty with it. If WWE could give their girls 6 minutes on Raw and Smackdown every week then the matches would be more than satisfactory. 4.5/10

Elsewhere in the night, Stephanie tried to smarm up to Vince and claim that everything was Shane's fault and that she'd only been doing what he told her. Predictably Vince told the audience to say goodbye to Daddy's Little Girl. The amount of heat Stephanie had was insane. Also Stacy Keibler was managing the Dudley Boyz for their match, though she did nothing of note.

The Coach (who also happened to be Trish's WWF Excess co-host) interviews the new Women's Champion and asks her if she'll accept Stacy Keibler's challenge for a Gravy Bowl match. Trish says she'll accept any challenge. Oh lord...
Sharmell was also doing her thing as a backstage interviewer, interviewing Tazz about something we don't really care about.

Trish Stratus def. Stacy Keibler in a Gravy Bowl Match to retain the Women's Championship:
Oh my, is this mood whiplash or what. This is actually billed as a "Gravy Bowl Invitational" and the women are wrestling in dresses. There's also a table beside the gravy bowl, set with a Thanksgiving dinner. You know what that means - Food Fight! Stacy draws first blood with a helping of mashed potatoes and Trish gets her own back with a pitcher full of cider. Stacy takes further punishment with a pie to the face and is nearly drowned in the cranberry sauce. In revenge, Stacy drags Trish through the rest of the food but finds herself being catapulted right into the gravy. The champ jumps in herself and actually gives Stacy an Alabama Slam and makes her submit to a Camel Clutch. An enraged Stacy throws the referee into the gravy after the match.
That was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I could complain about undermining the women's division but it was still a hilarious little skit. Sometimes you need to have good horny fun on the show and it was pretty entertaining as opposed to awkward like those silly pillow fights. My only problem is the title being defended in a match like this. A regular match is fine but you shouldn't have the title on the line. 5/10

Backstage we also see the Hardy Boyz bickering about their loss at Survivor Series. Lita enters the argument and yells at Matt for being selfish in their relationship before walking out. Pretty good that eventhough they had one big babyface as Women's Champion they still had Lita heavily involved in another storyline so as not to let her get lost in the shuffle. Sadly it reminds us that WWE has always been extremely trigger happy with breaking up tag teams.

So there's a look back at history in WWE. It reminds us that Divas have always had to struggle with bad calls from management but they have also always taken the ball and run with it, making the best of their situation. The Gravy Bowl match undermined the division but the girls still made it fun and entertaining instead of cringeworthy. We also get a reminder that inexperienced girls holding the title isn't just a new problem, and I can also remind people that Brie Bella and Kelly Kelly had more experience wrestling than Trish did when they won their first titles. And I'm sure plenty of people are relieved that we haven't seen slop matches in years now.

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