Natalya vs. The Riott Squad

Natalya vs. The Riott Squad

This week’s induction involves three misfits, one heir to a wrestling dynasty, and a whole lot of exploitation.

On one side of this feud, you had Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, and Ruby Riot(t), a trio who’d been called up out of the blue from NXT as the “Riott Squad” a year earlier.

While on the surface, the group seemed randomly thrown together, the women had much in common: all three were signed by WWE, were in developmental together, and wrestled on NXT.

Backstage, the Riott Squad raised all kinds of heck, carving a path of minor property damage and general untidiness wherever they went.

These detention-worthy antics included:

Defacing a mirror with lipstick

Cutting this guy’s tie

Throwing this other guy’s laptop

Drawing on Bayley with Sharpie

Ripping Tyler Breeze’s extra t-shirts

Knocking over a trash can full of mops and brooms

But the Riott Squad crossed a line when they feuded with Natalya in late 2018.

When WWE announcers informed us on a weekly basis that Natalya was a good friend of Ronda Rousey…

…viewers knew it was only a matter of time until Nattie turned on her and feuded with her for the Women’s title.

But plans changed when Natalya’s dad Jim Neidhart died that August; now they couldn’t have Natalya turn heel so soon after her father’s death. That would be tasteless.

Giving grief to a woman who’s father just died is something a heel would do…

…Say, that sounds like a a good Plan B!

In late October, WWE stuck Natalya together with Bayley and Sasha Banks in a last-minute match against the Riott Squad at the Evolution pay-per-view. And while Natalya and company won that match, that ended up not mattering. What did matter was the rematch eight nights later on Raw, a sort of audition for the Raw women’s team for Survivor Series.

Before the rematch, Natalya put on Jim Neidhart’s sunglasses because “tonight’s for my dad”…

…and because Creative hadn’t thought of it eight nights earlier, when it would have made more sense.

Still, if Nattie couldn’t honor her dad at the historic all-women’s pay-per-view, then she could at least honor him on this night in England, the country of his wife’s sister’s husband’s birth.

As the match entered its third segment, Natalya put Sarah Logan in the sharpshooter, but got distracted by Ruby Riott…

…who picked up the Anvil’s glasses, snapped them in two, and stomped them.

This one was on Natalya; with her wrestling pedigree, she should have known that you just don’t bring certain things to ringside and expect them not to get destroyed:

Family heirlooms, trophies, cakes…

With Natalya mentally crushed, the Riott Squad simply walked out of the match. Natalya picked up the pieces of the glasses outside the ring as her teammates consoled her.

In a bygone era, a heel announcer like Jesse Ventura would have had a field day ridiculing Natalya for slobbering all over herself, but on this night all the announcers were sympathetic…

…while the crowd, unswayed by the acting and attempt at heart-string-tugging, tried to get Natalya counted out.

The Natalya’s fragility, coupled with her inability to finish the match, couldn’t have impressed Raw Survivor Series team captain Alexa Bliss, which after all was the entire point of this match in the first place. (For the record, neither Natalya nor the Riott Squad made the team)

The next week, Ruby Riott issued a fake apology before declaring that not only did she not take it too far by breaking Anvil’s glasses…

…she didn’t take it far enough!

Ruby then claimed that Jim Neidhart only wore those sunglasses because he was ashamed to look at his daughter.

(If it was any consolation, she didn’t specify which daughter)

This drew Natalya into a fight with the Riott Squad, which ended when they hit her with her dad and uncle’s finishing move, Hart Attack…

…kind of.

Natalya picked up a victory on the next Raw by reversing a roll-up, but the feud wasn’t allowed to end there, getting dragged out until TLC.

Thus, two weeks later, the Riott Squad put Natalya through a table…

…and the week after that, Ruby unveiled a special table just for Nattie, with a cutout of her late father pasted on it.

Why a table? Because the “T” in TLC stood for “tables” (and the “C” in TLC, thank God, did not stand for “caskets”).

Riott verbally assaulted Natalya with the dreaded baby talk and told her she disgraces her family.

This accusation just tore apart Natalya, wondering if that included Teddy Hart.

On Sunday, vowed Ruby, she would bring Natalya closer to her daddy than ever by putting her through his particle board effigy.

In their tables match, Natalya took the other members of the Riott Squad out of the picture early on…

…but that couldn’t keep Ruby from dragging Natalya to her dad’s picture to tell her, “He’s ashamed of you, Nattie. He’s ashamed of you.”

After Riott set up Jim “The Table” Neidhart in the corner…

…Natalya nearly committed the sacrilege of breaking through the table with her late father’s picture…

…then immediately tried to suplex Ruby through the same table.

When that failed, she put Ruby in a sharpshooter, which was broken up when Jim “The Anvil” Table smacked Natalya in the head.

Natalya regrouped and pulled out some secret weapons from under the ring.

First, in response to her opponent’s cruel Jim Neidhart table…

…Natalya pulled out a table with an absolutely gigantic sticker of Ruby Riott.

Then she put on her father’s old Hart Foundation jacket, as was family tradition…

…and pointed up. As it was not yet Wrestlemania season, this meant she was pointing at heaven.

Natalya prevailed, and Ruby, fulfilling George Costanza’s life’s ambition…

…plowed through the really tall woman.

Natalya held up the mutilated Ruby Riott sticker as a trophy (and I think took home the Jim Neidhart table to put in her dining room).

To cap off her celebration and restore honor to her family, Natalya put on a pair of her dad’s trademark sunglasses.

Hold up, she had another pair!?

Why were they feuding, then?

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