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Bobby Between The Ropes: A Look Back At Divas On PPV – 2010
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
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2010:

2010

The first year of the new decade saw a changing of the guard once again. Three shock releases and a couple more departures would leave the division in a questionable state. Maria Kanellis would be gone before WrestleMania was even here, with Katie Lea and none other than Mickie James soon following. Jillian Hall eventually hung up her boots and left the company – while Taryn Terrell would debut in the ring but be gone before the year was out. Further diminishing the roster were noted ACL injuries for stars Melina and Beth Phoenix. As such it fell to LayCool to carry the division on their shoulders. But even they couldn’t save it completely.

Royal Rumble – Michelle McCool* vs Mickie James:

We kicked off the year 2010 with a continuation of the Piggy James feud. The majorly silly angle eventually delivered a memorable in-ring segment where LayCool threw a ‘going away party’ for Mickie – culminating in Michelle force-feeding her cake and then dumping punch all over her. Mickie appeared so broken by this treatment that people doubted if she’d even show up. Michelle of course takes the opportunity to cut a promo mocking her even further – bringing out Layla dressed in a fat suit. However Mickie’s music plays and she hits the ring! Immediately she plants Michelle with her DDT and wins the title! She becomes a 5-time Women’s Champion in less than a minute. Afterwards Maria (in her final PPV appearance) leads the rest of the face Divas to the ring with a big cake. They then proceed to smash it all over LayCool, humiliating them. Usually not delivering a match is worthy of criticism – but they more than made up for it with the quality of the mic work and the pay-off. It was a fitting end to the Piggy James storyline, and the crowd were super into it. You had to laugh at Michelle and Layla’s reactions to the cake being smashed all over them.


Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Mickie James. Match Rating: N/A


Later on in the night, we saw history being made. We’d already seen one woman compete in the Royal Rumble before. And in the PG Era of WWE – where the women were handicapped routinely by management – we saw our second. Beth Phoenix entered at number six and used her feminine wiles to seduce the Great Khali over the top rope. Proving there was more to her than kissing, she proceeded to clobber the hell out of future boyfriend CM Punk. He eventually hit her with the GTS and threw her out.

Elimination Chamber – Gail Kim vs Maryse:

As noted earlier, Melina tore her ACL at the end of 2009. As the injury was so serious, they had to vacate the Divas’ Championship straight away. Gail Kim and Maryse made it to the finals of a tournament to crown a new champion. Maryse had apparently been trying to show sportsmanship towards Gail – but was secretly trash talking in French. At the PPV, she tries to do so again…only for Gail to reveal that she was a fluent French speaker and hadn’t been fooled at all. But throwing a spanner into Gail’s championship hopes was Vickie Guerrero; due to Maryse making rude comments about the Smackdown Divas, Vickie postpones the title match and makes it a tag match instead. Gail and Maryse must team together to face LayCool. The opening moments of the match are very sweet – and make me wish we’d seen a proper singles bout between Gail and Layla. LayCool work over Gail nicely enough. But when she gets momentum back, Maryse refuses to tag her in. As such, Gail falls prey to a big boot and Faith Breaker. Afterwards Maryse lays her out in the ring with the French Kiss. Doing this kind of bait and switch works fine if you’re planning to give the babyface a nice pay-off. However Maryse won the title back the next night and Gail was forgotten about. So this whole thing really made no sense – unless it was an excuse for Maryse to not have to wrestle on the PPV.


Winners: LayCool. Match Rating: 5/10

WrestleMania 26 – LayCool, Maryse, Alicia Fox & Vickie Guerrero vs Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly:

This match had actually hijacked two brewing Divas’ feuds on both brands. Maryse was Divas’ Champion once again – but had suffered a recent submission loss to Eve Torres. Michelle McCool was Women’s Champion again too – Mickie having to drop the title to undergo treatment for a staph infection. Although LayCool had Vickie Guerrero backing them, they had to contend with a newly babyface Beth Phoenix. Oddly enough, Beth is the clear leader of the face team – yet they enter to Eve’s music. Anyway this match is a complete clusterfuck that morphs into a rush of finishers: Kelly Killer from Kelly to Vickie, Faith Breaker from Michelle to Kelly, DDT from Mickie to Michelle, Layout from Layla to Mickie, botched Eat Defeat from Gail to Layla, French Kiss from Maryse to Gail, horribly botched flipping senton from Eve to Maryse, sick scissors kick from Alicia to Eve and finally a Glam Slam from Beth to Alicia. Beth sells that she wants to go after Vickie now – but is laid out with a superkick from Michelle McCool. The heels convince Vickie to climb up top for a Frog Splash in a heartwarming tribute to Eddie. However the execution is less than pretty – and Vickie scoops Kelly’s shoulders up off the canvas and has to pancake her and pin her again. This is one moment I always came back to whenever some fans called Kelly the female John Cena: she had to get pinned by Vickie Guerrero twice at WrestleMania. What I have to say about this match could probably fill twelve paragraphs – so I’ll just let the rating speak for itself.


Winners: LayCool, Maryse, Alicia Fox & Vickie Guerrero. Match Rating: 1/10

Several other Divas were fortunate enough to have actual Mania moments on the night. Serena made her only Mania appearance managing CM Punk with the rest of the Straight Edge Society. She proved to be a very effective manager, interfering on Punk’s behalf more than a few times. Natalya also appeared as one of the Lumberjacks along with the rest of the Hart family – for Vince’s match against Bret. Natalya got to slap Vince in the face (“best of luck in your future endeavours Natalya”) as she turned face herself. Jillian Hall was brought in for a pre-match serenade by Vickie Guerrero – which was a horrendously wonderful rendition of ‘Simply The Best’. This turned into a plug for Slim Jim – as Santino bit into one. Jillian turned into Mae Young, Mean Gene Okerlund and finally the injured Melina. Likewise Angela Fong (Savannah) made her ring announcing debut for the MITB Ladder match. Each one of these moments was more satisfying than the tag match.

Extreme Rules – Michelle McCool* vs Beth Phoenix [Extreme Makeover Match]:

So after WrestleMania, Beth’s feud with LayCool continued. Figuring that insulting one Diva’s appearance did wonders for them, they tried it with another; LayCool began claiming that Beth was really a man. As a result of this, they actually got a gimmick match at Extreme Rules. The stipulation is that it’s a hardcore match with various household objects at ringside. Something to note is that Mickie James was shockingly released the week before the show – and there are audible “we want Mickie” chants during the match. What’s also to note is that Beth shows off a new babyface moveset – demonstrating nice dexterity and agility in addition to her strength. Michelle blinds the Glamazon with hairspray to take control and then brings ironing boards in for some more punishment. Beth responds by throwing Michelle onto the make-up table and turning it over. She dishes out more with the ironing boards and a plastic bucket. Although Michelle gets a near fall by throwing Beth from the top onto two ironing boards, the Glamazon capitalises with the Glam Slam – becoming a 3-time Women’s Champion. Although it was nice to see the girls get a gimmick match, you did feel a bit like they were holding back. Or rather management were holding them back. Always enjoy seeing Beth as a face though.


Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix. Match Rating: 6/10

Over The Limit – Eve Torres* vs Maryse:

So shockingly enough, Maryse’s second title reign did not last long. After winning a ‘Dressed to Impress’ battle royal, Eve relieved Maryse of the belt on Raw. The build to the rematch was more enticing however – including Maryse taking selfies over Eve’s unconscious body and a nice little brawl at the make-up table. What’s also worth noting is that both Divas get very good reactions from the crowd – so clearly WWE was doing something right with the build. At this point in her career, Eve was getting over nicely with fans. She got respectable pops whenever she appeared. If WWE had properly invested more time in her, she could have evolved into a bankable star in this stage of the game. Indeed she is what makes this match halfway decent. Maryse’s strong character gives her a lot to play off – and she comes across as a nice valiant fighting face. What’s not as strong is Maryse’s wrestling. True, she did more moves in this match than she did for the entirety of her return push – but it was still mostly her hitting her standard spots. This would mark the final time Maryse was pushed as a serious competitor – as it was apparent that she was just a shell of her former self. The match ends with Eve reversing the French Kiss into a scissors facebuster for a rather weak finish. But still a decent effort from the two.


Winner and STILL WWE Divas’ Champion: Eve Torres. Match Rating: 6/10

Fatal 4 Way – Eve Torres* vs Gail Kim vs Alicia Fox vs Maryse:

Another of WWE’s new stream of gimmicked PPVs saw championships defended in 4-way matches. So in a way, this was technically counted as a main event (despite being second on the card). Maryse and Eve continued to feud after Over The Limit, though it seemed more like a formality than anything else. Gail and Alicia were also feuding on the side – so their paths crossed for this one. Naturally with ¾ match participants being very green, there’s some sloppiness starting off. A couple minutes in though, things tighten up. The heels gang up on Eve initially – but Gail quickly jumps in and locks Alicia in the Flying Dragon. At the same time, Eve traps Maryse in a cross arm breaker. Maryse becomes the guinea pig for arm-related submissions – as Alicia and Gail each put one on her. Alicia herself then ends up trapped in a double submission: a camel clutch from Eve and a Boston Crab from Gail. Gail then takes out Eve and Maryse with a double dropkick, then landing a missile dropkick on Maryse. She attempts a hurricanrana on Alicia off the apron – but gets faceplanted instead. Eve looks to have things won with a moonsault on Maryse – but Alicia throws her out of the ring and covers Maryse for herself to win the title. I was happy with this result at the time but in hindsight, it did no good for either woman. Eve was still a fledgling star and losing her title so soon did not help matters. She should have retained to end her feud with Maryse for good – and then feuded with Alicia. WWE’s trigger happy booking sadly didn’t make things better for both women. The match was enjoyable though.


Winner and NEW WWE Divas’ Champion: Alicia Fox. Match Rating: 7/10

The Hart Dynasty vs The Usos & Tamina:

The Hart Dynasty had enjoyed the benefits of Bret’s return and gone from dead crowds to standing ovations. Soon enough, the Unified Tag Team Championships were theirs. They then had to contend with a debuting tag team known as The Usos. At this point in their career, they were heels with the gimmick of not wanting to be stereotypical Samoan wrestlers (look how well that turned out). But the feud showed lots of promise and it continued with a 6-person tag match on PPV. As Tamina was incredibly green – she had only a couple of months in developmental – the Divas’ action is quite brief. Tamina does cover up for her greenness by being intimidating and menacing in the ring. She had the character down at this stage of the game. The tag team work between the Harts and the Usos is just fantastic. My writing really can’t do it justice. Anyway Natalya comes in off the hot tag and lays Tamina out with a Michinoku Driver. The pin is broken up and the men brawl at ringside. Tamina is able to connect with a Samoan Drop but misses a Superfly Splash. That’s all Natalya needs to blast her with a discus clothesline and win the match.


Winners: The Hart Dynasty. Match Rating: 7/10

Money In The Bank – Alicia Fox* vs Eve Torres:

WWE’s inaugural PPV based around MITB matches offered us two Diva bouts as an extra treat. Although Eve had been granted her rematch on Raw, Alicia faked an injury to connive a win for herself. The Anonymous Raw GM then awarded Eve a second match. At the time, both Eve and Alicia were two young rookies who had lots of potential. They’d shown steady flashes of brilliance in all their matches so far – but this was their first outing where they’d have no veterans helping them out. But it turns into a surprisingly brilliant match. There’s a great psychology to the whole thing – with Alicia working over Eve’s back. She properly works it and Eve in turn sells it. There’s even a spot where Eve can’t suplex Alicia because her back is in too much pain. Alicia plays the aggressor very well – and looks miles ahead of her patchy performance with Mickie James at Hell In A Cell. Eve likewise plays face to perfection, getting nice and fiery when the match calls for it. The end is a good one, where Eve goes for a senton splash…only to hit Alicia’s knees back-first. One scissors kick later and Alicia retains her title, looking very strong. This win seemed to signal good things for her – building her up as a capable champion. Sadly within a month it’d all be undone and Alicia would never regain this kind of prominence again. It’s either very good or very bad that this remains her most notable match.


Winner and STILL WWE Divas’ Champion: Alicia Fox. Match Rating: 8/10

Layla* vs Kelly Kelly:

So for the second time, a champion suffered a torn ACL and had to drop the belt. Beth Phoenix defended against LayCool in a 2-on-1 handicap match. Layla got the pin, but she and Michelle wore identical belts and declared themselves ‘co-champions’. They feuded with Smackdown’s newest Diva and Layla’s old Extreme Expose partner Kelly Kelly – who brought Tiffany along for the trip as well. Now I’m going to shock a lot of you with my super controversial opinion on this match:

This was all Kelly

I like Layla a lot. When she returned from her ACL injury, I became a real fan of hers. And in 2010 she was really improving. This match however? Well Kelly brought a lot of nice fire and intensity. She did her best to sell her frustration at LayCool – and almost make you forget the feud was based on them calling her “Smelly Kelly”. She was batting for both players in this match because Layla gave her very little to work with. The only truly solid part of Layla’s offence is when she has Kelly trapped in the ring apron. A real problem with Layla at this point in her career was her tendency to clearly put herself in position for spots. She does it a good bit in this match and it does not look good. There are a couple of good spots on the outside where Kelly shoves Michelle into the crowd – and she and Tiffany take her out with a double shoulder block. In the end Layla wanders into position for a Kelly sunset flip – which she blocks to get the win. Another big Layla problem at this point was weak finishes to her matches. She did not come out of her first title defence looking too good. Kelly however came out looking a lot more like a top Diva than before. The match wasn’t completely bad; it was just too short and not very memorable.


Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Layla. Match Rating: 5/10

Other Divas had some good moments on the show too. Natalya and Tamina were of course at ringside for the Unified Tag Team Championship match. Tamina attempted to interfere and was slammed by Natalya towards the end. But the moment of the night has to go to Maryse; after Fatal 4 Way, she had hooked up with Ted DiBiase Jr to be his valet. This was a wise move on her part – as her strength was her character. So in the middle of the second MITB Ladder Match, everyone was down. So Maryse got up, took off her heels and tried to climb the ladder herself. She was stopped by John Morrison but she gets points for effort.

SummerSlam – Alicia Fox* vs Melina:

So after MITB, not a lot happened. That is, until two weeks before SummerSlam. Alicia Fox cut a promo about being the most dominant Diva the WWE had ever seen. Cue Melina’s music as the A-list Diva made her return – and a week later she had a win over the champ. Thus a title match was made for SummerSlam, in Melina’s hometown. Since it’s her hometown, Melina goes all out for the occasion – with a bold outfit complete with feathers and Aztec headdress. One should remember that this is only Melina’s second match back in nine months. Not only does she look very hesitant with everything she does, she obviously tweaks her injured knee a few minutes in. It seems very much like the rest of the match is called on the fly – with Alicia working the arm because she obviously can’t go after a legit injury. Sadly she still has barely any offence before Melina mounts her comeback and pulls out the abrupt win with a snapmare driver. This booking leaves a lot of frustration. Rather than giving a really good return storyline to the most over Diva in WWE – they rush her back into the ring before she’s ready and before most casual fans are even aware she’s back. What’s more is that instead of using a program like this to elevate their new top heel even higher, they bury her and kill all her credibility. This hot-shot booking will be ‘explained’ a little further down. But for now, a meh match that’s made even worse by horrible booking.


Winner and NEW WWE Divas’ Champion: Melina. Match Rating: 4/10

So Melina is in tears over her title win (though it’s more likely because of the pain in her knee). She’s about to be interviewed but LayCool’s music plays. The co-Women’s Champions come down to the ring to ‘congratulate’ her on the victory. Of course it leads to a two-on-one attack where the new Divas’ Champion gets her head smashed into the side of the announce table. You see, LayCool had exhausted every combination of themselves vs Kelly Kelly and Tiffany – meaning there was no one else for them to feud with on Smackdown. Oh there were plenty of girls on Raw that were doing nothing and could have been moved over. But WWE decided to put LayCool against Melina for the following reason…

Night of Champions – Melina vs Michelle McCool [Lumberjill Match]:

LayCool challenged Melina to a match that would unify the Women’s and Divas’ Championships. And they rushed the Melina/Alicia program to presumably get out of having to deliver two Diva matches at this PPV. There had been a little bit of tension between LayCool over who would get to be in the match against Melina. It turned out that Michelle had connived her way into it – and Layla vowed that Michelle would be standing alone at the PPV. She’s at ringside with the other Lumberjills however. In a great callback to their previous match, Michelle attempts to ambush Melina while she’s doing the splits – but this time Melina moves out of the way. What follows is nowhere near up to the calibre of their match at the previous NOC event. But it’s a respectable match – and their chemistry is still intact. Michelle was thankfully able to get a good match out of the still-rusty Melina. Notably the Lumberjills were strangely not doing very much. Melina was thrown to the outside several times and they didn’t do anything. But when Michelle was on the outside – everyone ganged up on her. However while this was going on, Layla snuck into the ring to attack Melina. She was thrown to the wolves but Michelle used the distraction to boot Melina in the face and get the win. LayCool revealed that it had been a ruse all along.


Winner and Unified Divas’ Champion: Michelle McCool. Match Rating: 7/10

Hell In A Cell – Michelle McCool* vs Natalya:

So in a little bit of foreshadowing, Natalya got into a very specific scuffle with Michelle in the Lumberjill match. Not long after, she won a #1 contenders’ battle royal on Raw. This PPV was only two weeks after the previous one, so that’s pretty much all the build. Sadly there’s no mention at all that these two were in the match to crown the first Divas’ Champion. What’s not as sad, is that their chemistry is even better here than in that match. The action is very basic but it’s done so well, you don’t mind too much. Despite being short, it’s well storied and nicely back and forth. The absolute spot of the match comes when Natalya puts on the Sharpshooter. Michelle reverses it into the MAD-T – and Natalya reverses back into the Sharpshooter. Sadly this nice match is marred by a craptacular finish. It ends in a DQ but that’s not the crappy part; Layla gets Michelle disqualified by throwing her shoe into the ring. It seems Layla wasn’t content to ruin her own matches with weak finishes – she had to do it to Michelle’s too. From a storyline perspective, the DQ finish was a good way to go; Natalya had only just started the feud with LayCool – so a DQ did more for her than an outright loss. It’s just that a DQ over a frickin shoe? Layla hitting Natalya with the belt would have been more satisfying. Anyway Natalya clobbers Layla immediately and puts her in the Sharpshooter too.


Winner via DQ: Natalya (Michelle retains the title). Match Rating: 6/10

Bragging Rights – Layla* vs Natalya:

So for the second Bragging Rights, there were no longer any best of three inter-brand matches (the trophy being won solely on the result of the 14-man tag) – so we got a Divas’ Championship match. Logically as Natalya had faced Michelle at HIAC, she gets a crack at Layla here. Comparing this to Layla’s disastrous performance at Money In The Bank, it’s like two different wrestlers. Natalya and Layla share even more chemistry than the former did with Michelle – and that’s saying something. The match is a bit more technical, with some nice grappling at the beginning. Natalya even busts out a vertical suplex and squats. Layla shows that she’s no slouch and traps Nattie in a nice looking crucifix submission. But after it becomes clear that she can’t outwrestle Natalya, Layla grabs her belt and tries to walk out of the match. As Natalya throws her back in, Michelle hits a timely boot to the head – allowing Layla to retain. It was a nice little match with good chemistry between the women. It sadly was far too short – and I wasn’t crazy about the ending. Like a lot of Layla’s matches then, it wasn’t impactful or believable enough. Her hitting a finisher or rolling Nattie up after the boot would have been more believable.


Winner and STILL WWE Divas’ Champion: Layla. Match Rating: 7/10

Divas were also pretty heavily involved in another segment. The infamous all-Divas season of NXT had begun. One Diva rookie who was enjoying more exposure was Aksana. Her pro Goldust had been sending strange messages to Ted DiBiase and Maryse for weeks. But it turns out he wasn’t interested in either of them – but rather the Million Dollar Championship. After some interesting weeks of TV, Goldust and DiBiase got a PPV match out of it. The match is pretty darn great and it gets even greater towards the end. Maryse absolutely lays into Aksana and throws her into the ring. Distracted by this, Goldust is hit with a DDT by DiBiase. Maryse grabs the belt to celebrate the win…only to be speared by Aksana! Aksana then tries to seduce DiBiase – only to sucker him into a sneak attack from Goldust! God I loved this pairing.


Survivor Series – LayCool* vs Natalya:

So since Natalya had come up short against the individual members of LayCool, she finally got one more chance. But this time she would have to face both of them at once in a handicap match. LayCool have to tag in and out, thankfully avoiding this from becoming too messy. They show off some of that good tag team awareness – working very well as a unit to keep Natalya down. However Nattie is able to suplex them both and even send Michelle into the crowd. She then sends Layla flying into Michelle. Back in the ring, Michelle inadvertently takes out Layla and falls prey to the Sharpshooter. And then it’s over. Just like that. In almost poetic fashion, much like how Michelle won the Divas’ Championship from Natalya in 2008. The match was good but far too short. The ending was also too easy. Michelle really should have put up more of a fight to take Natalya out. It almost detracts from the absolutely wonderful moment of realising that Natalya has won the match.


Winner and NEW WWE Divas’ Champion: Natalya. Match Rating: 5/10

Of course LayCool are ever the sore losers and attack the new champion. The crowd actually chant “you tapped out” to Michelle. Cue none other than the Glamazon’s music – as Beth Phoenix makes her return. She clears the ring and drops Layla with a Glam Slam. Afterwards she and Natalya hug in quite possibly one of my favourite Diva returns ever. The heart-warming reunion does kind of make up for the short and disappointing match.

TLC – LayCool vs Natalya & Beth Phoenix [Tables Match]:

You read that right: a Divas’ Tables Match. It’s almost shocking to believe that the year 2010 saw Divas get two gimmick matches on PPV. Anyway Beth had returned and was renewing her old feud with LayCool. But those pesky Valley Girls kept finding ways to one-up her and Natalya. That is until the anonymous Raw general manager announced that they would be facing the Glamazon and the Divas’ Champion in a Tables Match. The rules are simple: only one Diva must be put through a table to end the match. As the powerhouses, Beth and Nattie obviously dominate early on. However LayCool find a way as they always do – thanks to some trusty big boots from Michelle. There are plenty of nice teasing and false finishes in the match here – including one wild moment where it looks like Nattie will take a Faith Breaker through a table. Beth also takes two incredibly nasty looking falls to the outside, seemingly landing right on her head. The new Divas’ Champion brings out a double Sharpshooter to both members of LayCool – but finds herself almost about to take a double superplex through a special pink table with a caricature of LayCool on it. However in an instance of a botch making a match better, when Michelle and Layla are thrown from the top, the table does not break. Natalya then has to vault off the top rope, splashing them both through. I loved this little match; even now it’s exceedingly rare to see the Divas getting to do something different. It wasn’t the best match in the world but boy did I love it.


Winners: Natalya & Beth Phoenix. Match Rating: 7/10

So there’s the year 2010. We saw the Women’s and Divas’ Championships unified, matches getting even shorter and less Divas being used at a time. We bid farewell to Divas Mickie James, Katie Lea, Tiffany, Serena and Jillian Hall – and had to deal with injuries for Melina and Beth Phoenix. LayCool remained a beacon of hope for the division, getting a push we weren’t used to seeing. They were given gimmicks, mic time, storylines, backstage segments, meaningful feuds etc. They even got to be pros on the second season of NXT. We saw Natalya finally get the push fans had been clamouring for since her demotion in 2008. With the news that WWE were considering Awesome Kong, 2011 sure looked promising for the Divas.








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