clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WrestleMania 31 match card preview: AJ Lee & Paige vs. Brie & Nikki Bella

Divas Tag Team Match

The Bellas vs. Paige & AJ Lee

The belt isn't on the line, but for the first time in a long time, there's an actual, logical story leading into the multi-woman match on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Are Divas getting a chance at long last?

The Road To WrestleMania 31

Not even on the main roster for a year yet, Paige makes her WrestleMania debut in Santa Clara to end an up-and-down rookie campaign. After debuting on the Smarkamania Raw in 2014 to take the title off of the woman she'll tag with this weekend, Creative struggled with how to present her as a face or heel and many feared she wasn't connecting with the mainstream audience despite two Divas championship reigns.

Many of her passionate fans were upset when she was announced as a cast member of the latest season of E!'s Total Divas, but it was there that the 22 year old's personality was finally allowed to shine. While the Brit hasn't held the title since crossing over, she is showing flashes of becoming the division defining star WWE clearly hopes she can be.

It was on season three of the 'reality' show that much of Brie and Nikki Bella's kayfabe sibling rivalry played out. What once seemed like it could be a breakout angle last Summer as Nikki turned heel and aligned with Stephanie McMahon to squash her sister ended up fizzling out. While Brie suddenly deciding that she was alright in a subservient role and helping her twin win the butterfly belt from AJ with a kiss was one of the low points of the year for the women of WWE, it and sub-one minute tag match on the February 23rd Raw may end up being a boon for female wrestling.

Even without a satisfying story arc, the reunited Bellas have been a force to be reckoned with in the Divas' division. Finally disregarding how their characters and angles line up with their 'real' adventures on TD has freed them to flaunt their power and give fans a reason to root for their rivals. That both, and especially Nikki, have developed into strong in-ring performers doesn't hurt at all either.

AJ has been the dominant force in WWE's women's scene for a couple of years now, but she's in many ways the most creatively adrift of the four in tonight's match. Perhaps because she has avoided appearing on E!, she remains a fan favorite who's booked like a paranoid, unhinged heel. Even that works for this angle though, as it feeds into the tension and unease between she and Paige. The less we hear of the "frenemies" tag the better, but Lee is more interesting that she's been in quite some time as a character who wants to stand up to the twins' bullying but who also wants her precious butterfly belt.

What's at stake?

Well, that depends.

Do they get ten or so minutes to tell a decent story, with plenty of time for each women to highlight her strengths (which, in my humble estimation are: Nikki - power offense, Brie - aerial offense, AJ - selling & general character work, Paige - professional wrestling) and a finish that doesn't involve lesbianism and/or a roll-up?

If they do, it might be time to be cautiously optimistic that women's pro graps has a future outside of Full Sail Live and the Berwyn Eagles Club. But if the shuffling of the battle royal to the pre-show means they're worried about a time crunch, and a sub-three minute contest ends because AJ returns Brie's show of affection from Survivor Series...

Will the Divas get a chance on the Grandest Stage of Them All?

You know where you can find out, and celebrate or complain, Cagesiders.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats