Ruby Riott vs. Natalya
Kind of being involved in Ronda Rousey’s feud with Nia Jax and some personal attacks got the Riott Squad on pay-per-view (PPV) again.
The Road to TLC
This is another one which has been going on for a lot longer than you might remember, mostly thanks to Natalya being everyone’s friend backstage.
Things picked up steam when Nat occassionally filled in for Ronda in the build to Super Show-Down. The Queen of Harts wasn’t on the team that took down Ruby, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan in Australia, but she did join Sasha Banks & Bayley to beat the Squad at Evolution. And Riott didn’t take kindly to that. She decided to focus all her ire on Natalya, and use the memory of her recently deceased father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, to do it.
The wraparound shades-snap-heard-round-the-world escalated things, but it wasn’t until Rousey called Natty out for back-up against Nia Jax & Tamina (to end a really rough promo segment between the Raw Women’s titleholder and her facebreaking challenger) that things heated back up. The Squad’s aligned themselves with Jax, at least as long as it allows them to mess with Natalya. They jumped her when when she tried to come to Ronda’s side, and a week later when Nat was all set to start a tag match with the champ against Nia & Tamina, they struck again:
Since a table was introduced into the program on the eve of a PPV with the word “table” in its name, you knew what kind of match this was headed to. And in case you forgot Ruby was trying to get under the former SmackDown Women’s champ’s skin by mocking her dead father, we got this...
What’s at stake?
THE HONOR OF CLAN NEIDHART!
As with every match, hopefully this means something over the next few months and the winner is more likely to figure prominently in a high profile program, but who knows? What’s more interesting (to this writer anyway) is what it might say about WWE’s attempts to use personal tragedies for heat, how often they seem to be going to that well right now and the diminishing returns it seems to be bringing.
Dean Ambrose has inferred Roman Reigns’ leukemia came back because... The Shield were bad guys for most of their initial run, I guess? That’s failed to do anything but get the company some press they didn’t seem to want. They’ve mostly backtracked and Dean’s wearing a Bane jacket while making less specific remarks dissing Reigns during his feud with Seth Rollins.
Over on the blue brand, Samoa Joe is mocking Jeff Hardy’s addiction issues and the trouble they’ve caused for his family. It didn’t even get them on the TLC card.
And then there’s this one. It’ll go down on Sunday night, but is it any hotter for using The Anvil’s memory? And once you’ve gone after someone’s dead dad for heat, where else can you go?
We’ll see how the fans in San Jose react. You can give us your take right now, though.