Is it prisoner of the moment syndrome for me to think that last night was the single best edition of RAW...ever? Maybe...but when you look at the goal of the Wrestlemania afterbirth television program, which takes place in front of the smartest fans of the year, even smarter than those at Mania itself, the April 7, 2014 RAW was a clinic in how to do it right. Rely on the new generation, don't retread old returns, put the ball in the hands of your future. Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Bray Wyatt, the Shield, Emma got a submission, Cesaro with Heyman, Daniel Bryan on top, and oh yes, Paige.
Tonight's audience was outstanding, not surprising, but they also didn't decide to make themselves stars. Very few random chants as ALMOST everything had a purpose.
When this idea was conceived, one thing I never thought was that I would be composing a piece about the best thing that took place on a RAW episode and that thing would be a segment involving strictly Divas, but that's how I felt. In truth, if you take the Paige and Cesaro segments as a back to back entity, I'm not sure we've ever had a better booked, smarter, and more valuable set of dual moments as what WWE provided last night. But everything could be better, or if couldn't, we'll lie and say it could have been, because that's my gimmick.
First and foremost, AJ Lee didn't say much, but every word had meaning and impact, her facial expressions when people were chanting for her fiancé were well-placed as she made it clear she heard them, smirked a bit, and kept along her path like a professional should. As she spoke about her victory last night, one thing that seemed a little off was that in that group of Divas she beat last night, one was Tamina Snuka, who was standing next to her in the ring. If the world didn't know before, they certainly do now.
Snuka is a lackey, like a RALPHUS-level lackey.
The two set-up lines for Paige's debut were perfect. "I am the savior of your Diva division. I am the Diva division." Cue the Anti-Diva...and it's at this moment your author feels obliged to make the claim that "Stars in the Night" immediately became the best music in the company. It's so infectiously good that you just want to see Paige on your television or in your arena so you can enjoy that theme...and the stellar 21 year old talent that comes along with it.
So with all this gushing about what was basically a five or six minute segment from entrance to title change, what could have been fixed to make it better?
Well, the finish wasn't crisp, but that's not the point of the piece. Botched moves are a part of the game. This wasn't fully botched, but everyone would hope that the moment itself would have come as a result of a perfectly executed Paigeturner.
Paige's "Anti-Diva" character disappeared once she began to speak. After the music unfortunately had to stop, her first line seemed to indicate she was about to verbally spar with the Champion. But it immediately turned to fawning over AJ Lee, and if you refer to last week's column, this woman came from the top of the entrance ramp with music, video, and in full gear complete with boots...to congratulate AJ Lee. It took a little cognitive dissonance to accept this, but because it was Paige and the writing appeared to be on the wall that a match was coming, it was okay.
It's not a given that everyone from NXT maintains their character, much to the contrary, but in the case of Paige, she simply has to have the edge. If she does, she's got a shot to be one of the best of all-time provided she avoids the pitfalls, continues to learn, and keeps her head about her. The look is unique and in many ways, Paige is the heir apparent to Lita, who by the way I was just told is STILL delivering her Hall of Fame acceptance speech.
So in short, she needed more angst, but maybe because AJ was full-bull with the snark herself, it would have confused some watching at home. Also, even though it was supposed to be an "out of the blue" kind of finish, I'd have liked to see them go three or four minutes rather than forty seconds. We know Paige can work. We know AJ Lee can work, even though we forget because of who she's booked against 90 percent of the time. Booked the way it was, it had a "fluke" feeling to it, though that's not the case. If Paige gets in three spots, AJ gets in six, and the finishing sequence is identical to all but the initial assault of what WWE gave us last night, that's a fully realized event.
It was hard to select the best moment of the show, because there were so many, but when a Diva segment affects me from start to finish like this one did, that should count for extra points and even if it didn't, this is about as good a way to bring someone out in a debut capacity...ever, so that rockets it to the top of the list. It's stunning it was a Divas segment, but whoever was responsible for it needs a raise.
So in short, more edge to Paige, maybe a little bit longer bell to bell, and Paige could walk slower so her music could play for a longer amount of time. Yeah I know, this is really nitpicking.
Three cheers to WWE for doing the impossible as the company made us (or at least me) care about a Diva feud that hopefully will go for a while. It's got legs (hot ones at that) and it involves not one Bella or an Eva Marie or...you get the picture. If not, see below. Any questions?
This was great. The segment was great, the night was great, and the decision to debut Paige in this manner was truly inspired. Now let's turn the lights off for her entrance and put a spotlight on her and really make her stand out even more from the usual crop of females.
Kudos WWE...kudos indeed.
That's...how the Paige could have turned just a little smoother.
(Alright, so a little personal business quickly. I had a major family tragedy hit and was woken up with the phone call no one wants...I'll be gone for the remainder of the week so my usual editorial(s) that go along with this weekly installment will likely...well, they won't happen. I'll be back in the saddle next week. I wanted to get this done before I left town. Hope you enjoyed it.)