We’re two weeks into the shocking return of Paige with two NXT recruits in tow on Monday Night Raw and the subsequent NXT invasion from Ruby Riott and her posse the following night on Smackdown Live. With week two in the books, we have a little more info on the two squads, most notably their respective monikers, Absolution and The Riott Squad.
Initially, Paige’s new faction name, Absolution, drew ire from the internet fan base. Webster’s Dictionary defines “absolution” as the formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment – in other words, forgiveness. Why would Paige and her two co-horts, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, be asking for forgiveness? Paige herself answered the questions surrounding the name this past Monday when she addressed Sasha Banks. While Paige was on the shelf for over a year, the other women in the WWE’s women’s division, notably the likes of Banks, Bayley, and Alexa Bliss, have been clamouring over the fact that they were the ones responsible for the Women’s Revolution in the WWE. Paige argues that it was her ascension from NXT in 2014, as the NXT Women’s Champion no less, and winning the WWE Divas title in her Raw debut, that erased the term Diva from the WWE lexicon, therefore officially starting the Women’s Revolution. She offered to forgive Sasha Banks for her erroneous claims if she joined their stable, an offer Banks declined. So in terms of the name Absolution, it isn’t that Paige and company are asking for forgiveness themselves – they’re offering absolution to those who will bow down and accept Paige as their one true leader of the Revolution.
THE RIOTT SQUAD
As we saw last night on Smackdown Live, not only has Ruby Riott gained a stable name, but added a T to her last name as well. Alongside her two companions, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, the trio continued their assault on the Smackdown Live women’s roster, taking out Naomi in assault and battery. An interesting point is that Ruby Riott is a well known punk rock enthusiast, and in the 1980s, there was a political punk band out of the UK named The Riot Squad, whose songs were about political oppression.
IS THERE A CONNECTION?
That’s still the big question, isn’t it? There have been rumblings and speculation that this could all be revealed as an elaborate invasion plan from Paige all along, sending NXT recruits to Smackdown Live, lead by Ruby Riott, to take out the “false idols” of the Women’s Revolution on the Blue Brand while Paige and co. do the same on Raw. After all, The Riott Squad’s principal targets have been the likes of Naomi, Natalya, Becky Lynch and Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. But in a day and age where many fans have low attention spans for long term storytelling, the main complaint has been the lazy booking of having both trios debut in almost identical details, regardless how it plans out.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Ultimately, no matter which way the story unfolds – either the full dual brand NXT Invasion of Paige or the lackadaisical duality of similar invasions – the full focus should actually be on the fact that the WWE is doing something that it hasn’t done in ages. Created not one, but two women’s factions, that are creating a buzz as much as anything that the men are doing on WWE programming. Both invasions created huge on-line chatter on Social Media and their powerful interactions with the rest of the women’s locker rooms have become the kind of “when will they strike next” ponderings that are usually reserved for men’s factions like Nexus, The Shield or Undisputed Era. As we noted in a past article looking at women’s factions of the past 25 years, the WWE hasn’t exactly embraced a proper women’s faction in some time. Sure they had the Women’s Revolution battles with PCB (Paige, Charlotte and Becky) vs. Team BAD (Naomi, Tamina and Sasha) vs. Team Bella (The Bella Twins & Alicia Fox), but the NXT women that came up for that war didn’t “invade” – they were called up and introduced by Stephanie McMahon in more of a “coming up” party. They then essentially picked sides and started fighting. The intention may have been there, but the execution lead many to wonder if the WWE was actually serious in their revamped women’s division. It took months for it to pan out and it wasn’t until the Divas title was finally retired at WrestleMania 32 and the Women’s title returned that WWE’s women’s division got the serious attention it deserved.
Women’s factions have had more success on the indies, with groups like C4, Valkryie and Las Sicarias in SHINE, The Queen’s Court and The Dollhouse in Impact Wrestling, or Queen’s Quest, Threedom or Triple Tails in Japan, but the WWE has never had a women’s faction come in with such explosiveness out of the gate, and dominate an entire division with such force. And now they have two. And as long as the two groups continue to build, through storytelling and great match-ups, in a few months, it ultimately won’t matter what their “origin” story really was. It’ll show that perhaps the WWE is actually starting to give their women’s divisions angles and storylines usually reserved for the men and beyond simply cat fights and Mean Girls rhetoric.