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WWE Extreme Rules 2015 match card preview: Nikki Bella vs. Naomi

Divas Championship Match

Naomi vs. Nikki Bella (c)

Tumultuous times in the women's division as a retirement and a kayfabe injury angle have forced WWE to plan B. But is that plan just more Total Divas-driven crazy chick drama, or should we give this Divas title bout a chance?

The Road to Extreme Rules

A WrestleMania tag match which featured AJ Lee & Paige versus the Bella twins was supposed to set-up the women's title picture for the next few pay-per-view (PPV) events. But then the woman given the rub of submitting the champ retired, and her frenemy had already been booked into a movie that had to be filmed in time for the winter holidays, and WWE was left with no established challengers to Nikki's butterfly belt.

It's not like Naomi doesn't have a legitimate claim to a title shot, or hasn't done the work to make sure she get one. The former Funkadactyl has shown flashes of brilliance since breaking free from her valet role, and looked to be putting it all together at the right time when she pinned the champ at the Smark-a-Mania Raw.

Still trying to do things the right way, Naomi accepted the challenge of building on that win and earning the #1 contender role (pencilled in for AJ before the powers-that-be found out that the above match would be her last) in a Divas battle royal on the next Monday night show. She came up just short of seizing that spot when it came down to her and The Diva of Tomorrow and Paige sent her over the top rope.

After that, it was no more Mrs. Nice Uso, as Naomi snapped, beat the Brit into an injury angle to cover for her role opposite The Miz in WWE Studios' Santa's Little Helper and took the role of Nikki's top challenger with an evil laugh.

Since then, Naomi has racked up wins over Natalya and the champ's sister. Nikki, for her part, has cut increasingly babyface sounding promos about being a fighting champion. The Fearless One is heading into a fifth month of her second run at the top of the women's ranks. Her continued improvement in the ring has earned her a considerable amount of fan goodwill, which may also be a driving factor in her alignment shift as she heads into this showdown with the now clearly rudo challenger.

What's at Stake?

We're now several months into the #GiveDivasAChance movement, and I don't want to say it's losing steam, but it does kind of look like all involved are okay with the immediate result being a few more minutes of ring time per show.

It's tempting to give Creative a pass since they didn't know AJ was planning a move to the alumni section of, but they're the ones who aborted the once-hot sibling feud between the Bellas like Nik wanted to abort Brie just so they could re-enact AJ's infamous pre-title match kiss with Daniel Bryan as some "hot lesbian action", so screw them.

The fact is that they haven't focused on anyone other than AJ, Paige or the Bellas in over a year (and even the time spent developing their characters has been minimal), and now they're paying for it. Well, "paying for it" is probably overstating things, since that would mean they were invested in the Divas as something other than a change of pace to which they'll give 5% of any given show, but...

Naomi is the person who can benefit most from the situation. She's proven capable of flashy moves and nice spots in the past, but if she can put that with some good in-ring psychology and a compelling heel character, it might be a chance for her to become a mainstay of the division rather than someone who is pressed into top challenger duty when others are busy.

Current queen Bella probably won't get a chance to do much more in this bout than lengthen her reign, since it takes more than a two week build to make a memorable feud. But another strong match would further endear her to hardcore fans who once dismissed her as just another pretty face.

Tune in tomorrow night at 8PM Eastern to give this match a chance, and see who walks out as Divas champion.

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