Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Natalya: Mainstream Wrestling's Broken Clock

You know what they say about broken clocks, right? That they have much more value than a collection of Natalya matches, and are much less insufferable. BUT, they have also been known to be correct upwards of - but no more than - twice per day. Twice! Broken clocks are correct in one day as often as there have been uniquely memorable Natalya singles matches. I am someone who enjoys giving credit when it is due, so here are two Natalya matches that pleasantly surprised me, one from last week, one from 5 years ago:

Natalya vs. Lacey Evans WWE Raw 9/2/19

ER: Sometimes there is a match that overdelivers so unexpectedly that it really gets my attention, and you don't get much more unexpected than this. Natalya has been one of my least favorite TV workers for some time, and Lacey Evans has been in at best maybe one decent match that I've seen. I am not interested in a Lacey Evans vs. Natalya match, on paper. This match was on in the background while I was writing up something completely different, and it caught my attention. I love when that happens. Had I been actively watching I would have fast forwarded this one with no second thought, and yet because it was background noise it was allowed to exist. And somehow they managed to catch my attention as background noise. They kept a nice fast pace up for 5 tight minutes, and kept things chippy the whole time. There were little unprofessional pie faces and slaps, and a couple shots taken through gritted teeth. Lacey had a couple cocky little cheapshots that felt more like a heel in World of Sport, and that is something I'd welcome from her. Natalya does all the offense she usually does, but there are occasions where she tightens it up, and this was one of those times. Watch her ground Lacey with a high atomic drop tailbone to the mat, and then really stomp on the back of her neck to shove her down and set up the low dropkick. Her clothesline landed well, and I dug the way they set each other up. Lacey Evans misses a pretty great Mero-sault, and finishes the match by tossing her hanky in  Nattie's face and then popping her. It looked great, as a lot of stuff in this match did. These two are not two that I seek out, but they did something notable that caught my attention. I love surprises like these.

Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair NXT TakeOver 5/29/14

ER: This match was not at all what I was expecting. It was really, really good. I mean really good. Better than any match I have seen involving either Charlotte or Natalya. I was fully expecting the entire focus to be on Bret and Flair at ringside, and the bulk of the match be taken up by each person laughably aping the signature offense of their respective cornermen. Instead, they somehow filled an engaging 17 (!) minutes of time that never felt like it was dragging, felt like either woman could win, and left me completely impressed. Charlotte working a tribute act to her corpse father on Raw has been really bad this past year, and seeing her here doing none of that was eye opening. The match felt different right away, with tons of simple but really great matwork. It all felt really snug and felt like they both had to fight over holds. It all looked exhausting. Natalya pulls out a tricky single leg and every tight headlock or waistlock or kneebar or body vice felt like it meant something, and pretty soon Charlotte has Nattie in a nasty figure 4 choke, just squeezing those legs around her neck, and she stands up with it, doing a forward roll that sends Nattie flipping over and slamming onto her tailbone, and I am now totally in love with this grind. Natalya was making all sorts of great faces during the mat portions, grinding in elbows, laughing over her shoulder at Charlotte. We build to a figure 4 spot that could have felt derivative but I don't think did. It felt like a logical peak of the match, with both reaching out to slap and scratch at the other, both stubbornly refusing to back off, apparent it was never going to end the match but was merely taking them through to a struggle none of their prior matches have shown. Then rolling to the floor off it was a cool bit of desperation and being out of strategic ideas. It felt like when a fighter abandons his gameplan and just starts following the mood of the fight, often a poor choice. Natalya takes a big bump into the steps and back in Charlotte starts going for the figure 4 again, but then throws side eye at Bret before locking on a Sharpshooter. Natalya does a realistic looking counter but gets kicked in the face trying to get too cute and lock in a Sharpshooter of her own, and this leads to Charlotte hitting her rolling blockbuster. This match shot so far past my expectations, just totally unexpected. This really felt like it elevated the Divas title, which is a funny thought in the history of WWE. But this felt like two people who wanted nothing more than to win that belt.

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Blogger Davey C said...

I think Lacey is improving to the point of being almost good. She's been adding little touches like grinding her forearms into her opponent while grounding them on the mat, so she's either been talking to Finlay or watching tape, and either of those suggest a promising future

4:44 AM  

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