Beth Phoenix is currently having a whale of a time as the WWE Women's Champion on RAW, as she's hamming it up along with Santino Marella, being part of what's largely one of the better things about RAW in recent weeks. Sadly, it doesn't appear that the Women's Division is one of them.
Currently, RAW has three face Divas who are challenging Phoenix—Candice Michelle, Kelly Kelly, and Mickie James. The problem WWE has at the moment is that out of those three, only Mickie James is over with the fans, and the company has already done the Beth/Mickie rivalry to death this year.
They've had no other choice, as Candice Michelle has been injury prone, and despite her attempts to improve, is still an awful worker. Kelly Kelly is one of the fastest improving workers in the company, but no-one currently buys her as a threat to Phoenix's title, and she isn't being booked as one.
Most of her wins over Phoenix in non-title matches have come via some sort of distraction, which does not really put Kelly over.
So that leaves Mickie as the only real alternative. Until now.
Back in June, Melina injured her ankle in a tag team match with James against Natalya and Victoria after taking a tumble from the top rope—a move which was ironically responsible for sending Jim Ross to SmackDown.
Melina, at that point, was fresh into a face turn, having dissolved her friendship with Beth Phoenix after Phoenix accused her of costing the Glamazon the Women's Title whilst James held it. Melina and Phoenix then had what may well be the Divas match of the year at One Night Stand—an "I Quit" match, which Melina just came up on the wrong end of.
Melina still had momentum coming out of that match going into the Draft Day tag team match, when the injury occurred.
Melina was originally projected to miss six months due to the injury, which would have ruled her out for the rest of 2008. However, on Thursday night at the Florida Championship Wrestling taping in Tampa, Melina made a shocking early return to the ring, teaming with Tyler Reks against Alicia Fox and Jake Gabriel.
Reports suggested that Melina was right back on form, not showing any effects of ring rust whatsoever. Some now say that this will allow Melina to return to RAW as soon as the show after Survivor Series, possibly even at Survivor Series itself.
And that's good news for Melina's fans...and for Mickie James.
Since Candice Michelle was originally injured at the end of 2007, with the exception of WrestleMania XXIV, when the Bunny Mania Match meant that Maria and Ashley had to be pushed, Mickie James has carried the face side of RAW's Women's Division on her back.
Originally, Kevin Dunn suggested that Ashley Massaro carry out that role, but Vince McMahon overruled him, stating that Massaro was unreliable, and that only Mickie could connect with the fans—a rare occasion where a Vince McMahon overrule proved the right move.
At the time, Mickie was the only option, as Melina was still a heel, and the move to turn Melina face was in some ways designed to lighten James' workload. But then Melina went down, and the roster moves had already been made. Kelly Kelly's move from ECW to RAW went some way to helping James out, but Kelly did not quite have the same connection to the fans that Melina did.
Now that Melina's back, this gives James the chance to catch a breather, allowing her the chance to possibly renew her lower-card feud with Layla, which seemed to be developing a couple of months ago, before the failure of Candice Michelle required another promotion to the title matches with Phoenix.
The Melina/Beth feud was getting good before Melina's injury, and they should pick things up right where they left off with a few matches for the title, leading to the fans being ready for James to come back in and not feel like they've seen it all before.
Heck, if Melina wins the title, they could go back to the 2007 Melina/Mickie feud, which was always a fun match to watch. This could also allow WWE to allocate Gail Kim to SmackDown, and help the Michelle McCool problem I wrote about in a previous article.
I for one can't wait to see Melina back on RAW, and for her to put a spark back into the RAW Women's Division.
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