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Nikki Bella and Sasha Banks were set up to fail on Raw last night

WWE.com

Last night was yet another concerning night for the #DivasRevolution, after the debacle on SmackDown a couple weeks back. There were myriad problems with this one, and aside from one spot, this one really wasn't on the women themselves, unlike the SmackDown match. This one might actually be even more concerning for that reason.

So let's break down everything that was wrong with Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Bella on Monday Night Raw in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

First of all, the card placement was brutal. As Geno said in his recap, just because it's the last match doesn't make it the main event, just like the "Double Main Event" they're promoting at Takeover: Brooklyn is not the case. The last segment or the last match is the main event, period. You can't just put something anywhere and call it a Main Event. Ask Dale Torborg. They put the match right before Brock Lesnar's segment in his hometown building to the SummerSlam main event. The people in the arena had waited nearly four hours to see Paul Heyman and Brock. Obviously it was going to be greatly difficult to hold the crowd's attention there. It's presented as "the main event match" but the matches that normally go in that slot are heatless matches to give the crowd a break before the main event angle, just like a cool down match before main events on pay-per-view (PPV).

Secondly, you have the grand problem of an absolute failure to tell a story that fans have any reason to invest in. Unless you know these women from NXT, you have absolutely been given no reason to care about these women other than #DivasRevolution, Maggle! They've ‘told' a lot, but have yet to really show. It's the exact same catty, largely unlikable characters with longer matches. MidnightDeeds did a fantastic fanpost you can see here looking at the way they've done a terrible job developing any of these women as characters since the "revolution." As much as WWE loves to talk about Ronda Rousey, they don't seem to really get that a big part of Ronda Rousey's appeal is her character and her story, along with her dominance.

But even ignoring all of that, they actually still could have gotten the match over, but the agenting was fundamentally flawed. Certainly, the whiffed Enziguri was sloppy, either from Nikki under-shooting or Sasha not feeding enough, but Cesaro's rope tie-up adventure in the earlier match wasn't great either and that didn't kill the match. The problem was a more macro issue than that in the layout of the match.

Minneapolis is actually a pretty good smark town. They're the ones who debuted the ‘Si! Si! Si!' chants for Alberto Del Rio when the crowd had turned on Batista. They were into Sasha Banks here at the outset. And at the start, it seems like they structured the match to correspond with the crowd wanting to cheer Sasha.

For the first segment, Nikki was arrogant; she was taking Sasha lightly. Banks was working from underneath as the plucky but somewhat cocky babyface. Nikki worked the match heel. She was working sustained rest holds, building heat for a Sasha comeback. The crowd was with them here. Going into the break, Sasha found her opening and hit the double knees on the ropes and made fun of Nikki's earlier taunting. A fine structure, and the crowd cheered Sasha's transition and the mocking of Nikki's push-ups. Everything seemed to be going well enough. They were put in a really tough spot, but seemed to be holding the crowd.

But then we went to break, and when we returned this was when the wheels fell off. After being built as a heel in the first segment, Nikki had inexplicably started to work babyface, and the crowd started to turn on the match as Sasha was now working rest holds for a comeback from Nikki that the crowd was not interested in because they had been told in segment one that Sasha was the babyface (and she was the one they were interested in) and Nikki was the heel, and now were being told that Sasha was the heel and Nikki was the babyface.

Making matters worse, the WWE style is one that requires the heel to work a whole lot of rest holds, which can get mighty tedious. Given the way they structured the match with Nikki working heel, Sasha hitting her transition, and then working heel herself, rather than making a fun babyface comeback, which her offense is capable of, it made the match consist almost solely of rest holds, and no one wants to see that. The crowd responded to this by turning on the match, and I really can't blame them. This wasn't the crowd being unwilling to give the match a chance, they were just handed a poorly put together match with no indication of who was the hero and who was the villain.

Whoever was the road agent that laid out this match is the one (in addition to the person that put the match in this spot) that deserves the most blame for what happened, because even if it was a match with Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens, and you had one person work the first half face, and just switched the alignments mid match for no reason, it's going to be extremely hard to keep the crowd with you because the crowd would be lost on how to react.

It's entirely possible the crowd would have turned on the match anyway, given the slot the match was placed in, right before Brock's big homecoming, but the way the match was laid out gave it absolutely no chance to get over in the second half, no matter who was working it. What happened here was really inexplicable. You never want to blame something on malice that could easily be explained by incompetence, but the people that agent WWE matches are not typically seen as incompetent, and when I, some guy on the internet that watches wrestling, could lay out a more coherent match structure than the one that was laid out here, it definitely makes you think, especially when you combine the structure of the match with the card positioning.

They really were set up to fail here.

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