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[2016-07-25-WWE-Raw] Sasha Banks vs Charlotte

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I don't think sloppiness is inherently bad but with the kind of workrate matches they're attempting to have they are a clear obstacle that I don't see going away any time soon unless they start doing crazy AJW dojo excersises which I don't see happening on road life. Sttill there was a lot of good stuff in here that gives me hope a month of reversal could be enough for these two to come up with something really good. Sasha's straight jacket looked great and using a pin to set up the Banks Statement was something you'd expect from Dick Togo and not a random Raw match. I really love how they follow through on their bumps, it made Sasha's Baseball Slide and Meteora from the apron look absolutely amazing. They also did a good job of using kicks as transitions, so anyone making a case for Emma's inclusion into a hall of fame based on influence take notice. Sasha's facial expressions while Charlotte stretched her were the most cringe worthy thing I've seen in a long time. It's frustrating how in the same match there are times they come off as doing something amazing and revolutionary and at other times it looks more like a 2008 Diva match. Sasha's Suicide Dive was insane-but also something worth criticising for its recklessness a lot more than a 70 year old man headbutting a ringpost. I have nothing against emotional performances in pro wrestling but Sasha faux-crying after not getting a pin isn't exactly reminiding me of Hokuto, Ohtani and Santo. Charlotte's Suplex-twisting Neckbreaker move also looks incredibly stupid. The Moonsault is a thing of beauty tho. Finishing stretch was fun and it was surprising to see them actually go through with a clean finish instead of opting for a DQ and delaying the title change once again. **3/4

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While I would've liked this to feature some more focused limb work by either or both, and there were unquestionably sloppy spots, they produced enough big moments and a compelling, sound finish to knock this too much. I hope these two don't kill themselves one day because the execution puts them in dangerous positions, particularly Sasha, but hell if it doesn't make for great television. They built to the moonsault to the floor very well. That, along with Sasha's shoot suicide dive and some of the kicks that came across very stiff added to the drama as the match wore on. Loved the tease on the initial Bank Statement as I was sure that was setting up the inconclusive finish that expected early on. Then going right back to it for the tap in center ring was great. Not as good as Mania but it built very well and is probably my second favorite women's match from the company this year.

 

***3/4

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WWE is kind of mess right now, but they can still occasionally put together a match that feels important in the way that few other wrestling matches can. Having this match given such a focus an so much time on a big RAW like this might make this the most meaningful women's match since Wendi Richter v. Lelani Kai. The work was excellent too, both Banks and Charlotte can work this kind of produced big match epic well, the crowd cares about Banks and this was a shockingly good babyface performance from someone who I thought needed to be a hell. Charlotte is pretty green but she went above and beyond to make Sasha look awesome, including trying that nutso moonsault and using every bit of her flexibility to make the submissions look super nasty. Even little production changes like post match interviews and no ringside announcers freshen up RAW so much.

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Overall, very good but not great...but I'd almost argue that it has very little to do with anything that actually happened between bells. For starters, this was essentially an unpromoted match, meaning you really didn't have the "air" of it being a big deal the way you would had they saved this exact same match (move for move) for SummerSlam. Similarly, as this was on a TV show, you're stuck with accepting a 4-minute commercial break (thankfully there was only one during the match).

 

Again, this may just have to do with time constraints or whatever instructions they were given, but Banks' suicide dive and Charlotte's moonsault were BIG moments that I feel like would've been sold longer and given more room to "breathe" on a pay-per-view show rather than on RAW where, literally within 2 minutes of Charlotte backflipping from the top turnbuckle to the arena floor, we were seeing them trading submission finishers. Too rushed.

 

Finally, the post-match. I sound like a broken record at this point but, again, just seems like it would've been a bigger moment in Brooklyn. The Pittsburgh crowd did their best to show their NXT love and obviously were behind Sasha (and Balor), but you really can't compare the crowds of a city like Pittsburgh (or even my beloved Cleveland) with the atmosphere of a NYC crowd.

 

***1/2 is how i rated it. It will likely make many lists of Best TV Matches of the Year, but I doubt it will make my Top 10...which is just a bit sad because I'm fairly convinced that, if you adjust the setting and add an extra 2-3 minutes of just ssstttrreeetttcchhhinng time between the big spots with ample selling or just letting the performers bask in the "Holy Shit" and "This is Awesome" chants that they received, this would've been an easy 4 stars.

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I really liked how there was a scrappy feel whenever they would work holds, right from the opening collar-and-elbow to Charlotte attempting the Figure 8 during the finish, which kept a competitive feel throughout the match. The structure felt a bit wonky as the middle of the match felt stretched out while the finish felt compacted, like they weren't sure when they were going to take a commercial break. That kept it from feeling as epic as it probably should have been but both women were able produce memorable performances to provide a memorable moment. ****

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Catching up on 2016, I have already seen their late-year cycle that included their fantastic HIAC, Iron man, and FCA matches. They're superior.

 

By then, these gals had worked everything out. Here, they sometimes feel out of sync in places, and Sasha's suicide dive had me thinking of 2004 Lita's neck-crunching dive. That's not fair to this match, though, which has so much to love. Probably my favorite moment is Sasha's baseball slide out of nowhere to kick Charlotte's head off. Good use of the belt and Dana Brooks, too, for a nice bit of comedy that puts over Sasha as a smart worker.

 

Their intensity really makes this. Unlike so many WWE matches, especially from the women, they really really feel like they want to win. (as opposed to just get out there and work through their moveset, look sexy, get a pin, and go home) And Charlotte continues to be the most entertaining in-ring heel Vince's women maybe have ever had.

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