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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (4/21/20)

Oh yes, it’s Ladies’ Night!

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WWE Backstage 2020

WWE Backstage continues FoxSports1’s ladies’ night!

Join Renee Young, Ember Moon, Beth Phoenix and Natalya in a special women’s revolution edition!

 

The panel welcomes us to the show!

After FS1’s marathon of The Best of WWE: Becky Lynch, WWE 24: The Year of Ronda Rousey, The Best of WWE: Charlotte Flair, and WWE 24: Becky Lynch: The Man, the Women’s (R)Evolution continues! For the first time, the Shenom, the Glamazon and the Queen of Harts are on the same episode together! Beth confirms Edge is on “Dad duty” so Mama can enjoy ladies’ night. Natty has a cutout of Uncle Bret but Renee teases that they need a TJ (Tyson Kidd) one. But with WrestleMania far in the rear view, we move ever closer to Money in the Bank! Things are heating up, but for now, here’s…

Just the Highlights!

On SmackDown: Sonya Deville reveals the reason she betrayed Mandy! It’s not out of love, but out of loathing for “the most selfish human being” Sonya’s ever met. Fire & Desire has broken up but Otis will always be there for his “Sweet Peach.” Meanwhile, the NEW WWE Universal Champion’s past is coming back to haunt him. Will Bray Wyatt #GetTheseHands? Or just get inside the head of the Monster Among Men. And then, Lacey Evans makes sure Bayley doesn’t screw over Tamina, and now both the Sassy Southern Belle and Samoan Steamroller have big money matches! Will Lacey shut down Banks while Tamina goes for gold? And speaking of gold, the NEW~ DAY~ are EIGHT TIME W, W, E, World, Tag, Team, CHAMPIONS~! Big E won for his brothers in positivity, but will eight be great for ya bois?

On Raw: Aleister Black is headed to Money in the Bank! Will he climb the “corporate ladder” and make all others #FadeToBlack? The Monday Night Messiah accepts Drew McIntyre’s challenge to fight for the WWE World Championship, but not because he wants to. It’s because he has to. The Queen of Spades BROKE one poor Indi Hartwell not because she had to, but because she wanted to. And speaking of McIntyre, he took the fight back to Zelina Vega’s team, and left them down and out in #ClaymoreCountry. Will he do the same when Seth Rollins comes to #BurnItDown?

The panel discusses the week.

The MITB matches are filling up, but they’re taking a unique turn! This year’s matches will be at WWE headquarters in Connecticut! All 12 entrants will enter Titan Towers and head for the roof, where there will be a ring and ladders to still climb up and grab for the briefcases! What does everyone think about this change to an already considerable challenge?

Beth says that first of all, not even a competitor with MITB experience will know what to do. This new environment creates a level playing field. It is no longer an advantage to be an MITB veteran. There will be different weapons, different obstacles, and there might still be others inside that “corporate arena.” There is a gym in there, after all. Perhaps weights can be weaponized. What part will the elevators play? There are so many variables in this, so this is a brand new challenge. Ember adds that she’s really into it. This is a Hardcore match with a whole new environment. And just like Beth said, will there be random intertwining with the WWE 24/7 Championship? Renee sure hopes so!

Ember continues to agree with Beth that anyone could show up. There are so many fun things to think about, but the best thing is that there are fresh faces getting an opportunity. Apollo Crews qualified and he deserves this opportunity because of all his hard work. Ember felt like Apollo might get emotional after his win, but he still has THE match to go through. There is the ladder on the roof, putting a superstar at at least 20 stories up in the air! That’s scary! Beth agrees with Ember’s point on Apollo. MITB has traditionally been a star making match. It is an opportunity for someone working hard yet hasn’t had “that platform” to showcase what they can do. Beth feels Apollo will surprise the world with this match. We might even get a surprise winner out of this.

Natty agrees with that, too. This is an awesome move, especially during this time of being without the live crowd. It is a challenging time, obviously, but also an exciting time for everyone to push themselves and think outside the box! The superstars can build on each other’s energies and “create new rules” in a way. The crowd is usually who you play off of, but without them, now it’s time to “color outside the lines” and push boundaries! And to piggyback off of what everyone’s said about Apollo, Natty thinks back to when TJ was in his first MITB. TJ was so excited because he hadn’t gotten that opportunity before. Seeing these opportunities go to those who have been waiting, both Apollo and Dana Brooke, for example, this is an exciting time. There could be surprise winners, and even same-night cash-ins!

One competitor to keep an eye on in the Women’s Division is Asuka! Especially if you consider her practice routine. Asuka tweets a video of her playing old school Donkey Kong! If Mario can climb to save Pauline, can Asuka climb to become Ms. MITB? Beth says there are similar principles. Ducking and dodging go a long way to advancing. Natty has experience in Ladder matches, too, but how would being on the roof and still having the ladder match, what would that do? Natty confirms that being on even a 12 foot ladder is scary. Now add that it’s the WWE HQ, who knows who might end up in Vince McMahon’s office! Take the briefcase to the house! Natty says Vince’s office is wild, it has a real dinosaur skull in there!

But at the same time, that’s what’s cool about this match. Anything and everything could happen, and Natty loves the unpredictability. This is shaping up to be really cool, but her favorite part is that, given the tough times in the world, the WWE continues to think outside the box and find ways to entertain everyone. That’s a cool feeling. Renee says the adaptability is really interesting. The Boneyard Match, the Firefly Fun House, and now MITB at Titan Towers. WWE switching stuff up for a match that’s been around for some time now, this will add a special little something to hook the fans. From the fan standpoint, Renee will soak it all in.

Beth notes on the fear of heights that Natty brings. Being on top of a ladder is scary enough. Someone is going to be on top of a ladder, inside a ring, on the roof of a building! If you have a fear of heights, this is the worst situation ever. And even then, there’s also the competition happening! The winner will be who digs deep and brings out some courage from within. Ember says that is going to make this match even better. Sitting at home as a fan, watching everyone each night, Ember feels there is even more aggression and passion right now. Without the crowd, you are 100% focused on the other people in the ring, and 100% focused on destroying them. And yes, Ember is referencing Shayna here.

Shayna is the favorite in Ember’s mind, because we’ve seen how relentless she has been. Ember’s not sure how many people will even be able to make it to the roof. Shayna just snaps arms like nobody’s business. But speaking of breaking, Backstage takes a break, but promises to return with a classic showdown that helped spark the Women’s (R)Evolution!

 

It’s a WWE Backstage Watch-Along!

We flashback to May 29th, 2014, the ORIGINAL NXT TakeOver event! Renee has Beth and Natty with her to watch the NXT Women’s Championship match! The Queen of Harts has been a strong part of the Women’s (R)Evolution, and that even goes for her first-ever showdown with Charlotte Flair. In fact, this match is the first one players take on in the Women’s (R)Evolution game mode in WWE 2K20. For historical context, this match was for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship after Paige had to relinquish it because she had become WWE Diva’s Champion.

Natty had Uncle Bret Hart in her corner while Charlotte had her father, Ric Flair. The two circle and tie up, go around and Natty throws Charlotte down with a hip toss! Cover, TWO! Natty grins as Charlotte gets up in a huff. The two go around, tie up, and Natty gets a waistlock. Natty trips Charlotte, floats along her back, and gets a facelock. In the present, Natty speaks to the importance of this match. This first TakeOver obviously led to all of the great TakeOver events we’ve had the last five years, but that match specifically was like Natty’s personal WrestleMania Moment. She knows it was only in front of the 200 or so Full Sail crowd, but it was a game-changer. Natty could feel it before the match, and knew it after. She even told HHH that from that first lock-up, she and Charlotte had natural chemistry.

In the match, Charlotte slips out of the facelock to get Natty with a hammerlock. The two stand up, Natty reaches back and drops down to fireman’s carry throw Charlotte. Natty has the arm and cranks back but Charlotte kicks and flails. Charlotte reaches up to headscissor and bring Natty down. Natty moves around and manages to kip out! Natty in the present continues to speak to a conversation she once had with Beth. On the main roster, she was so ready for the Women’s (R)Evolution. Beth was ready, the entire locker room was ready! So the TakeOver match with Charlotte, in which Natty currently headlocks Charlotte for a takeover, this showed the world what both of them could do.

It was also paying it forward. Everything Natty learned in the Hart Dungeon and from traveling around the world, she gave back to build the Women’s Division as a whole. There is no Women’s Division if they aren’t giving back to each other. Giving Charlotte “that kind of match” was a crowning moment for Natty, regardless of the result. In the match, Charlotte throws Natty off the headlock and the two have a stand off. They circle and tie up, and Natty gets the arm. Charlotte cartwheels through to wrench her back, and drag her down to a Fujiwara armbar! Natty endures as the fans rally up.

Renee says Natty has given back to so many women in the WWE. Natty is the unsung backbone of the Women’s (R)Evolution. Both Natty and Beth laid down the ground work that helped so many have the incredible matches we’ve seen. Does Natty remember how nervous Charlotte was going into the match? Yes, she was so nervous. HHH and Natty talked beforehand, and she asked how much time they were being given. He said there is no time limit, so they can “tell the story that you want to tell.” All HHH wanted was for Natty to keep Charlotte calm out there, because that’s how nervous she was. Natty loves when people are that nervous because she is the same. That is the energy she needs, and channeling it the right way is the best feeling. It means the match matters to you.

Speaking of the match, Natty rolls and gets to her feet to then roll and handspring. Natty gets a leg and trips Charlotte up for a toehold! Natty cranks back on it but Charlotte endures. Charlotte reaches with her leg but Natty resists. Charlotte keeps trying, and manages to bring Natty down! Natty lets Charlotte go and the two reset again. They circle, approach, and Natty kicks! But Charlotte blocks it to clamp on. Natty pie faces Charlotte so Charlotte pie faces back! Natty rolls and brings Charlotte down! She laces the legs for a modified deathlock! But Charlotte reaches back to wrap around Natty’s head and drag her off the hold! Charlotte has a headlock but Natty pops out to facelock again.

Meanwhile, Beth speaks to the build to this match. She could tell so many stories about Natty right now, but she’s earmarking a lot of them for Natty’s Hall of Fame induction. Not to sound cliche, but Beth says the WWE Women’s Division “is on fire right now.” This is the hottest it has ever been, and this NXT Women’s Championship match lit that flame! Beth remembers watching this match, and she couldn’t have been prouder. She couldn’t have been more emotional, either, because it was so amazing. For one, Beth knew Natty was capable of so much more than she got to show on the main roster.

Beth speaks for both herself and Edge, and just about anyone who knows Natty, in saying that Natty isn’t just one of the best women wrestlers. She is just one of the best period. That is why Beth loves this match. It was the perfect showcase not just for Natty, but a platform to see what Charlotte could become. And again, the emotion of this moment was great, because it was a generational match-up of two wrestlers with pedigrees behind their names. There was something so special about the timing, because the world was ready to see this. The world was ready to see that it’s not just men who can come from wrestling families and succeed. There are women just as hungry and can do the exact same thing. For Beth, this match is truly the start of the (R)Evolution.

In the match, Charlotte reverses the facelock but Natty powers her way up. Natty wrenches free of the facelock to whip. Charlotte reverses then drops down. She hurdles over Natty on the return, but Natty wheelbarrows to a victory roll! Cover, TWO! But Natty gets Charlotte in a body scissors! Charlotte endures but Natty pulls hair to bring her into a chinlock. Charlotte elbows free of the chinlock, but Natty body scissor clutches! TWO, but the body scissors stay on. Charlotte manages to move around and throw some hands! She starts thrashing and bouncing Natty off the mat! The ref reprimands but Natty reaches back with a leg. Charlotte gets away to avoid an armlock and scrambles to the bottom rope. Natty gives chase but the ref keeps her back.

Renee says that from the look on Natty’s face, this match really gives you something to chew on. This match had Natty salivating because it was something she wanted for a long time. Natty says she can still go back to that moment, it is ingrained in her memory. It is a warm and wonderful feeling associated with the WWE. Having Ric Flair and Bret Hart ringside, what nuggets of wisdom did they give? Looking back, there was no real story going. They had one video package for that match. Now there’d be a build that starts with the Royal Rumble and then the following months would just add and add to how big the match felt. But back then, just one little video told the whole story of what the match was.

The story was built more in the match, and it was Natty wanting to prove she still had it while Charlotte wanted to prove “she could hang.” It was about them both coming from wrestling families with big shoes to fill. Having Bret and Ric around made for nice accent pieces. In the match, Charlotte SLAPS Natty! So Natty SLAPS her back! Charlotte rushes Natty but Natty waistlocks to attempt a suplex. Charlotte blocks so Natty rolls her up, TWO! WWE Backstage takes a break but there will be more of this flashback to come!

 

The Backstage Watch-Along continues!

In the present, Natty is joined by her cat, 2Pawz, as the match continues from the kick out. Charlotte knees Natty low and then knees her in the back. Charlotte spins to add to the CHOP! She also kicks Natty down, and Ric gives a big “WOO~!!” from the apron. The ref warns Ric to keep his distance but Charlotte gives her own “WOO~!” Charlotte drags Natty up but Natty CHOPS her! Natty whips but Charlotte reverses, but Natty goes up and over! Natty waistlocks and wants to try the German again, but Charlotte turns things around to RAM Natty backwards into buckles! Charlotte throws elbow after elbow to get free, but Natty just jumps back on!

Beth speaks to Natty noting Ric and Bret in the corners. This was an interesting shift in the dynamics. Usually, the women are in the corners as the valets and managers. Here, it is the legendary male wrestlers being the supporting roles to highlight the women in the match. That alone is a cool detail in the (R)Evolution. Natty agrees with that. As iconic as Bret and Ric are, they both wanted to let the women have the spotlight. That in itself was so special. Natty remembers asking Bret if he’d be part of that night. She wasn’t sure if he’d say yes, because Canada to Florida is a long way to travel. But he jumped at the opportunity to do that, and that meant so much to Natty personally. So many people look up to Bret and Ric, so them giving the match a marquee feel was so special.

Renee agrees, the match tells such a great story when there wasn’t a lot of story told beforehand. But to use the family dynamic, and Natty’s journey in the WWE, and then giving Charlotte this match, it’s so cool to sit back and watch. Renee also vividly remembers this match since she was in NXT at the time, so she saw them put in the work. In the match, Natty has a sleeper hold while being a backpack, but Charlotte reaches back to hit a BACKPACK STUNNER! Cover, TWO! Charlotte is shocked and tries again, TWO! Charlotte is furious so she bounces Natty’s head off the mat again and again and again! She stomps a mudhole into Natty at the corner! The ref backs her off, but Charlotte yanks Natty out of the corner to let her hit the mat. Cover, TWO!

Renee notes how Natty mentioned the crowd of 200 in Full Sail. What is it like being there versus a mainstay PPV? Well first, 2Pawz needs to go for now, he’s getting grumpy. But for Natty, she’s said it before and will say it again. That very first TakeOver was like a WrestleMania Moment. It was about the feeling in that moment. As cool as it is to be in front of 80 thousand, there was an emotional connection between herself, Charlotte, Ric, Bret and the audience. It speaks to how much the audience, even when it’s just 200, enhance the match when you let them in and tell such a beautiful story. This match is perhaps the most special and wonderful moments in Natty’s career.

In the match, Charlotte keeps on Natty with the headscissor hold. Charlotte turns Natty over to drive her head into the mat again and again and again! Charlotte squeezes tight but Natty endures. So Charlotte just rolls and THROWS Natty away! Cover, TWO! Charlotte doesn’t let up, she brings Natty up to lock on the cobra twist! She pushes Natty’s head down to add to the stretch! Natty endures so again Charlotte thrashes her about. But Natty endures, slips out and gets around, to put Charlotte in the cobra twist! She grabs a leg to really stretch Charlotte out! Charlotte endures now, fights free, but Natty turns her for a backslide! Cover, TWO, but Charlotte basement dropkicks Natty down! Cover again, TWO!

Renee asks if there were any key moments or spots in this match where Natty and Charlotte could feel they had something special. Natty says that when Charlotte steals the Sharpshooter, Natty was a little reluctant to let her do that. This was their first ever match against each other, so should she do that? Natty realized that in this kind of match, knowing how big it will be, she just knew the feeling everyone would have. Everyone would be talking about this match for years to come, so this was the right time to have a moment like that. The funny thing is, Charlotte didn’t really know how to do the Sharpshooter, but it didn’t matter because technically she’s not supposed to. It added to the match and Charlotte’s character. Of course, there’s also the spectacular moonsault Charlotte does, and the first hints of the WrestleMania main eventer.

Charlotte whips Natty into a corner then stomps a mudhole again. The ref counts and Charlotte backs off at 4. Charlotte rushes back in but Natty dodges! Natty catches Charlotte on the rebound to spin her around for a butterfly suplex! Charlotte flounders up but Natty clotheslines her down! Natty fires up as she snapmares Charlotte down hard. Natty runs, walks all over Charlotte, then comes back with a basement dropkick! Cover, TWO! Natty can’t believe it but Charlotte still lives! Natty drags Charlotte back up, whips her to a corner. Charlotte tumbles up and out to the apron, but Natty DECKS her off! Natty wants after Charlotte but the ref keeps her back. Natty refuses to leave it at that, but Charlotte anchors her foot! Charlotte trips Natty up and THROWS her to the floor!

Natty says Charlotte is one of her favorite female performers in the world to wrestle. There is just magical chemistry there. Renee asks Natty how much Charlotte has changed since this match. Obviously she is now a ten-time women’s champion just between Raw and SmackDown, but how does that reflect in the ring? Well it’s been awhile since Natty wrestled Charlotte, wink wink nudge nudge let’s go again. However, it is interesting to see what Charlotte is doing, especially with her character. Charlotte is once again NXT Women’s Champion, which is a fascinating move. Even before she won the title, Natty had a bit of doubt. Would Charlotte really win the NXT Women’s Championship to go back to NXT? So when Charlotte did win, there was that unpredictability. Just imagine all the new match-ups now!

Natty wants to see Charlotte VS Tegan Nox, Charlotte VS Dakota Kai, and all these other possibilities. Charlotte’s evolution has been great, but Natty would love to have another rematch, even as soon as next week’s Raw. Renee would love it, too! But what would Beth’s dream scenario be in a Charlotte Flair NXT Women’s Championship defense? There really are so many women in NXT “stepping up to the plate.” Beth has really enjoyed the transformation of Dakota Kai, as has Natty. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg on Dakota, and the shackles are off. To see what Dakota could bring, and see her and Charlotte elevate each other, that is something to look forward to. One of Beth’s favorites is Mia Yim, who has the passion and ruggedness that Beth can connect with, as do many fans.

Renee notes how during the second Mae Young Classic that she and Beth called together, that was before Mia was signed. They both remember the passion from the crowd when HHH came out and they wanted Mia to be signed. It was nuts! What the NXT Universe wants, the NXT Universe gets! Natty adds that even before the MYC, Mia had that tryout for NXT. She was at the PC but got rejected. Mia contacted Natty, saying how they weren’t interested and not knowing what to do next. Natty called “the powers that be,” which wasn’t HHH back then. Natty told Mia to not stop, to not take “No” for an answer. You have to keep going and keeping getting in their faces. That door may be slammed on you over and over, but you just have to turn each “No” into a “Yes.” And the rest is history.

In the match, Charlotte throws Natty back into the ring. Cover, TWO! Charlotte stomps Natty in frustration, then heads up top. Charlotte MOONSAULTS, but FLOPS as Natty moves! Ric freaks out but Bret rallies up the fans. Natty rises and aims at Charlotte, for the DISCUS! Cover, TWO!! Natty has Charlotte’s legs, and puts on the SHARPSHOOTER! Charlotte endures as Natty sits down deep! Charlotte reaches and claws and crawls towards ropes, but Natty drags her away! Natty sits down deep again, but Charlotte powers up! Charlotte rolls Natty backwards and goes after the leg! She gets the Figure Four! Now Natty endures a signature leg lock! Natty powers the hold over, but Charlotte rolls it back, but Natty reaches for the ropes!

Charlotte SLAPS Natty! So Natty SLAPS back! It’s a SLAP fight while locked in the leg lock! Charlotte eggs Natty on, then rolls her away fro the ropes! Charlotte cranks back harder but Natty refuses to quit! And the SLAP fight continues! Charlotte and Natty keep battling with the leg hold, and they roll to the ropes on the other side. They’re underneath so that’s a ropebreak! But Charlotte doesn’t let go. She drags Natty into a HANGING FIGURE FOUR! The ref jumps out to make Charlotte let go, but she just stomps and kicks Natty’s legs! Charlotte finally lets go, and Natty flops to the floor! Both women manage to stand, and Charlotte stomps the back of Natty’s leg! Bret is concerned but Ric is rabid as Charlotte goes after Natty more.

Beth adds that what’s great about Charlotte being NXT Women’s Champion again is that the spotlight is even bigger on NXT now. The women of NXT have all busted their butts just to get eyes on them. Think about this: the WWE now has three brands, and we’re discussing which Women’s Division is the best. Not even individual wrestler, but the entire locker rooms! They have so many great wrestlers and diverse, that now they can even have that discussion! And all thanks to the Glamazon and the Queen of Harts, the #BossBabes, paving the way. Beth says it was also the careers of Bull Nakano, Alundra Blayze, and all the women to come before them. It does a bit of a disservice to those generations to say 5/29/14 is the “start of the Women’s Evolution,” because it is really a mountain all women wrestlers have climbed as a community.

Renee says it is interesting, even going back to the MYC. Meiko Satomura being part of the second, and Mercedes Martinez finally signed with WWE via NXT. It is incredible to see the growth of the division, and wondering who will sign next and lay down more groundwork. What’s amazing now is the technology allows Beth in the US to watch all of the women wrestlers around the world. The fanbases are growing so that it isn’t just what’s on cable television anymore. We see more and more women, and it becomes a melting pot in the WWE, and we get these amazing dream matches. “It has never been a better time to be a lady wrestler.”

Natty agrees, because it is so great for the WWE to be embracing women of all kinds. Race, religion, ethnicity, every walk of life. Just looking at the diverse backgrounds and body types, there are small girls, big girls, short girls, tall girls, the mold has been broken. Everyone has a different flavor, and Natty gets excited thinking about all the dream matches she could have. In that case, who is on that list? Well, if Beth is okay with it… Oh, she has to ask permission? Renee politely interrupts because in the match, Charlotte puts Natty in the ring. Charlotte has the legs, and steals the Sharpshooter! Natty jokes that she’d love to put Beth in the Sharpshooter one more time.

But a really great thing would to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships with Beth. There are so many teams they could work with! Even just building dream teams to face, like Rhea Ripley with Bianca Belair against Natty and Beth. Renee suggests one more go with the Kabuki Warriors. There are so many women to choose from, especially in NXT. She’d love to win the women’s championship- Wait, the tag titles. Well, actually, another run with a singles title would be great, too. It should be off Beth, though. But whatever Beth is up for, Natty is up for. Teammates, opponents, whichever. Beth says Natty will never be rid of her either way.

In the match, Natty powers up and rolls to throw Charlotte down! Natty wants to steal the Figure Four in return but Charlotte boots her away! NATURAL SELECTION! Cover, Charlotte wins!! Ric celebrates his daughter’s crowning achievement! What was going through Natty’s mind at this point? Well, she was thinking how exhausted and thirsty she was. That was almost 30 minutes of wrestling. But also the emotion, because Charlotte dedicated this match to her brother, Reid. There was this big, special energy being directed to his memory, and they did it. There was relief and happiness, and they accomplished the story of Natty proving she still has it. It was a great feeling all around. But while reliving this moment is over, there is more to come, with Maria Menounos!

 

Backstage relives Maria Menounos’s Dusty Rhodes impression.

“You don’t know what hard times are, daddy! Hard times are when the textile workers around the country are outta work. They got 4 to 5 kids, they can’t pay their wages, can’t buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are outta work, and they tell ’em, ‘Go home.’ Hard times are when a man has worked a job for 30 years, 30 years, and they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say, ‘Hey, a computer took your place, daddy.’ That’s hard times. That’s hard times.”

Maria Menounos joins the panel!

Once again, Renee loves that killer Dusty Rhodes tribute. Maria is happy to be back, and Beth points out Maria kicked her butt on several occasions. Renee wants to talk about that WrestleMania 28 moment. Maria could cry thinking back to that amazing moment. She was so lucky to be part of that moment. The most exciting and emotional movement ever, especially for a lifelong fan like herself. To be part of WrestleMania like that, against the Glamazon, no less! Maria can die happy. As for Beth, putting the match together, no one has the enthusiasm like Maria. It was also still when the women didn’t get a lot of time on the big stages, and that match in particular was one of the longest Beth had been a part of.

A lot of that was Maria getting mainstream attention for them, and the work Maria put in to get them on E! Network and all that. It was another big part of why women were featured on WrestleMania 28, and Beth just loves how much energy and enthusiasm Maria had. Renee knows the advice is to soak up the moment. Did Maria get to do that? Maria is pretty sure she did. She was also part of the go-home Raw and Tribute to the Troops, so there was a lot of build for that match. Maria admits to being terrified because of a bad injury on Dancing with the Stars. She feared breaking a rib and puncturing a lung, or even breaking her feet. But when you work with pros, and some of the best ones, it is really easy.

Renee asks how Natty and Maria became friends. Maria is part of the WWE Family because of her passion and respect for the business. Even when they’re not local. She traveled pretty far for some. But Maria has a great love that you can feel, even for someone who grew up in the business like Natty. Natty loves Maria’s enthusiasm and genuine personality, and her love of the WWE. They share that energy, so having Maria as a tag team partner, it was a lot of fun. It reminded Natty of why she loves the business. Seeing it through the eyes of a beginner like Maria, who wasn’t on the independent scene or raised in the business, the love for the business was genuine.

Renee asks Maria about Sonya Deville. Maria basically helped WWE make that signing happen, so how did that friendship start? Sonya was a host at After Buzz TV, the after show network for E! Network. So basically, it was the ESPN of entertainment. They were covering everything in TV, and that was Sonya’s start. Maria and Kevin watched Sonya’s MMA fight, and then they got to meet and talk. Maria was so impressed by Sonya’s toughness, and then a meeting with USA Network led Maria to Tough Enough. Should she be saying all this? Maria knew she wasn’t tough enough, but she had a good feeling Sonya was. And so the idea was pitched, and they called her and made the offer, and the rest is history.

Yes, Renee confirms Sonya crushed Tough Enough. But wow, Maria wasn’t going to host Tough Enough but compete? Maria’s machine gun laugh goes off, confirming that true story. Beth says Maria is tougher than she thinks, and she probably could’ve won. But hopefully Maria can be in the ring again some day, alongside some great friends.

 

Backstage returns to discuss Fire & Desire’s BREAK-UP!

Speaking of Sonya, obviously we saw her get everything off her chest in regards to Mandy’s apparent selfishness. “All I want is to see you hurt.” WOW! What does everyone think of this development? Natty has worked alongside Sonya, so what does she think about SmackDown this week? Natty felt that, as someone who has known both Sonya and Mandy, this made her take sides. She sees things from both perspectives, with Mandy being shocked by Sonya’s bitterness, but also the reasons why Sonya would be bitter in the first place. Their duo entrance was more Mandy than Sonya. This has shades of Becky and Charlotte where Becky didn’t want to be second fiddle. A lot of people can relate to that, Natty included. There comes a time when you don’t want to be second, and Sonya lit it up.

Beth adds that it is great to see both talents getting the opportunity they’ve wanted and worked for, for five years now. Having a best friend to go through that with is amazing. Beth and Natty know what that’s about, so this really resonates with them. There is a big difference between getting the big opportunity, and nailing it. What happens when a talent goes out and crushes it, this will bring more opportunities because they can’t be denied. Love her or hate her, Sonya just became a star. Now she and Mandy can both showcase what they can do, even if it has to be against each other.

Ember says she’ll try to keep it short and sweet, just like Booker T taught her. But there was Tough Enough where Mandy and Sonya were best friends. Then in NXT, they were best friends. Absolution behind Paige and Fire & Desire, they were best friends. Now, all of that history makes for a perfect feud. Ember says that fiery delivery works so perfectly during this time without a crowd. You can tell perfect stories and make stars! Ember loves Mandy, Sonya, Otis and Dolph Ziggler, and it all comes together in a beautiful story that makes a star out of everyone.

Renee says there is no easy transition, but it was last Thursday that the WWE Universe suffered a huge loss in the passing of Howard Finkel. Finkel was always proud of being the WWE’s first full-time employee, and will always be remembered as the most iconic voice in the business. On behalf of all the WWE, Backstage’s thoughts and prayers will be with the Finkel family.

A career spanning five decades, #TheFink is arguably the best ring announcer in WWE history. He basically invented the way to say “AND NEW…!” in pro-wrestling. He called classic moments like Shawn Michaels surviving elimination in the Royal Rumble, and would even join in the fun with some future legends. Finkel will always be remembered as a friend to all in the WWE Universe.

 

The Gronk unretires from the NFL!?

Yes, as Jay Glazer tweeted earlier today, Rob Gronkowski simply said, “I’m baaaaaack!” He’s now on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reunite with Tom Brady! The WWE wishes Gronk the best of luck. Well, all but one.

R-Truth has a message for Gronk!

“If nobody congratulated this man yet, allow me to be the first one to do so. Robert! Er, Rob Gronkowski, congratulations. You’re back to playing football! You’re the man!” The only problem is… He still has the WWE 24/7, 48-7, 7/11, I-95 South European Television Championship. And that’s Truth. Truth is the “rightfullest owner” of that title. So if Gronk wants to meet on the I-95 South to hand it over, that’d be nice. And don’t expect to throw, pass, toss, juggle or shuffle any balls until Truth has his baby back. And Truth knows where Tampa Bay is. It’s in Tampa, Florida! So give Truth his baby back, or he’ll show up at press conferences, picnics, church services, all that. This is still the WWE, Gronk.

The panel loves that promo!

Anyone else notice Truth had his new music video in the background, too? Ember’s gonna check that out later. She loves Truth, he always puts a smile on her face. And with that, Backstage is a wrap! See everyone back here next week!

 


 

My Thoughts:

A really good episode here, with so much good content. I was wondering if they were ever going to do a ladies’ night episode, and here it is! It was great seeing that match from the original NXT TakeOver, and to hear everything Natty and Beth had to say about it and the WWE Women’s Division as a whole. Though Natty talking about the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships really only emphasizes how Vince has dropped the ball on the Women’s Tag Division. I hope something changes so that the already red hot division can get even hotter. Maria being back on was great, and learning how she was the connection that brought Sonya Deville to the WWE. I do wonder, though. Why isn’t NXT part of Just The Highlights? That is the next thing for NXT to achieve to then become THE brand of WWE.


Let us know what you think on social media @ChairshotMedia and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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