Nia and the New Girl

Normally, this column is a rambling and incoherent mess, but given the kind of main event it feels best to break this down piece-by-piece so nothing gets lost in the shuffle:

Bayley taking out Liv Morgan almost immediately with a Belly-to-Bayley was an interesting choice, at least in the sense that they probably could have done the same thing with Dana Brooke (as Mandy Rose is on Smackdown) and literally no one would have noticed. This, of course, doesn’t allow them to do much with the Riott Squad IF for whatever reason you feel like you absolutely need Dana Brooke in the match and don’t want to make it an eight-woman gauntlet. There’s no reason to have Bayley murder death kill someone who is just going to take her out three minutes later.

Which is exactly what happened after Bayley beat Sarah Logan with a good ole fashioned roll-up. That it was immediately followed by a Riott Squad beatdown surely makes a kind of narrative sense for the story they were maybe trying to tell — that the Riott Squadd is the thing she has to get through before she can catch back up to Sasha — but it’s also doing some real damage to Ruby Riott as a serious threat.

Because when Ruby Riott beat Bayley with a Riott Kick, it didn’t feel like it was because Bayley had just went through two and a half grueling matches. It was because the Riott Squad beat her up beforehand, which they could have done at literally any other point during the show. With a wrestler so bursting with talent, making Ruby seem like she’s only able to beat the top stars with the help of her henchwomen is something that can be very limiting when those henchwomen are seen as mostly ineffectual. You can have one or the other — meaning a Shield-esque group of young stars or an independent heel who gets the job done by being a bit of an asskicker and a bit of a chickenshit — but not both.

There’s almost literally nothing of value to say about Ruby Riott doing what comes naturally with Dana Brooke,  beating her in the bathroom break of this match. Dana as hilariously-incompatible-with-reality master tactician is so IRS meets The Genius that it really ties the whole Titus Worldwide stable to some kind of truth (that the truth is that they would have no else place left to go without each other) TOTALLY WORKS. Her as the dictionary definition of cannon fodder struggles to get anyone to give a shit about what’s happening in the ring.

The decision to have Ruby Riott beat Mickie James with a tights-assisted pin in Mickie’s very exuberant and very specific home town was perhaps the oddest decision of the entire evening. If the goal was to have Mickie get heat on Ruby for cheating to beat the local hero, having her then lose to Sasha seems like a perfectly good waste of a performance unless they specifically plan for her to win the contract. Outside of that, you’ve essentially traded three seconds of heat for  a chance to have either A) a better story with Ruby winning and thereby adding the Riott Squaddd to the mix at Money in the Bank or B) a better match with a healthy Mickie in front of a very hot (for her, but also in general) crowd. Now, my territory hasn’t been selling many tickets recently, but this seems like a “shitty ROI from a storytelling tradeoff” issue moreso than a television production or wrestling promotion one.

Unless Sasha Banks beating Ruby with the Banks Statement to win the match makes everyone, including Ruby, realize that she’s probably better off without the Riott Squad going forward. As for Sasha, while she’s seemingly hit another level (from a solid A- to an A+++) in the ring over the past few months, one hopes that she’s not just in this ladder match to take insanely nasty falls but to actually be treated as on a higher level than almost everyone in the match outside of Charlotte. And then kept away from Ronda for as long as is humanly possible.

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