Naomi vs. Paige
Four days after brutally assaulting AJ Lee and executing a much-needed heel turn, Paige arrived on SmackDown to take on Naomi in a rematch of their Money in the Bank bout.
Paige skipped to the ring, clearly mocking the current Divas champion, then grabbed a microphone and cut an interesting promo. She giddily claimed that she and AJ were still friends, then revealed that she still liked Naomi as well.
She capitalized on interference from Cameron, beat Naomi in seconds with the PTO finisher and continued skipping around the squared circle.
It was an interesting development in the Paige character. One would assume that, yes, she is completely disingenuous with everything she says and does. At the same time, one cannot help but feel like WWE is falling back into the same tired booking methods of making a young Diva a crazed, unstable performer.
After AJ two years ago and Alicia Fox two months ago, the last thing the company needs is another Diva with an unpredictable, psychotic edge to her. There are far better and more effective ways to turn a woman heel that do not include her losing her mind.
Case in point: Cameron.
The former Funkadactyl attacked Naomi after the match. She could be overheard yelling, "I'm not the shadow," insinuating that she is driven to prove herself as Naomi's equal or superior. That is an effective way to tell a story, and Cameron did not have to snap or pour soda all over herself to do so.
There is no proof that Paige will be portraying an insane Diva as she continues her rivalry with AJ. And that is a good thing. The company has not devoted itself to telling that story, and it should distance itself immediately. Let Paige be the angry, intense anti-Diva she has proved to be in the past. It works and will continue to do so, if it's given the opportunity.
The Usos vs. RybAxel
The WWE tag team champions continued their incredible hot streak on SmackDown Friday night, wrestling a great match against Ryback and Curtis Axel to kick off the show.
Much has been made of The Usos' greatness, especially by this writer in particular, but there has not been nearly enough spotlight afforded to Ryback or Axel. Those two Superstars were thrown together in a makeshift tag team after their respective singles heel pushes failed miserably and were left to wallow in the crowded midcard.
Instead of feeling bad for themselves or working any less hard than they did before, they dedicated themselves to developing as a team and have quietly become a tremendous tandem.
Axel provides the more traditional fundamentals, while Ryback is a juggernaut, a powerful force capable of beating anyone at any time. It is the Big Guy's reluctance to carry himself as anything but a main event star that has helped the team retain legitimacy, despite losing more than they win.
The quality of competition they present was solidified by the sneaky trick The Usos had to resort to in order to defeat them. The champions used "twin magic" to knock off the heel team and continue their winning ways.
Stardust and Goldust
Anyone familiar with "The Good, the Great and the Awesome" knows of this writer's reluctance to include Stardust. For whatever reason, it simply had not clicked the way it had with others.
That changed Friday night.
For the first time since his debut, it felt like the Stardust character finally came into its own. Cody Rhodes was outstanding, using facial expressions and tics to enhance the character. The bit at the end with Goldust was a great punchline for the entire backstage segment.
The pretaped segments have helped establish the character without overexposing him in the ring. By the time the team returns to the squared circle, not only will it be a special occasion, they will also be more over as a result.