Induction: Natalya vs. The Riott Squad – Featuring Jim “The Table” Neidhart

16 Submitted by on Thu, 05 August 2021, 20:00

WWE, 2018

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?

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
16 Responses to "Induction: Natalya vs. The Riott Squad – Featuring Jim “The Table” Neidhart"
  1. Jerry says:

    What do you think, is Absolution or the Riott Squad the bigger failure? And have those even been different teams, or just secondary skins in a video game?

    • Autrach Sejanoz says:

      To answer the first question, Absolution, hands down. I think they didn’t even last a month.

    • Si says:

      I can give Absolution a pass because it was a vehicle to reintroduce Paige and her have drag Mandy and Sonya up with her but she got her career ending injury a month after they formed and that caused creative to panic, especially as they refused to confirm it for months afterwards so she was reduced to standing a long way from anywhere where she might have taken a bump and pointing. I know Riott Squad were/are IRL besties but in kayfabe it felt like “us too!” especially being introduced in the same week, and the plan turned out to be for them to be collateral in Charlotte’s march and the rest TBC.

    • Guest says:

      Laughs in Team Bad & Team Bella.

    • KTown says:

      I honestly thought The Riott Squad ended up having more chemistry than Absolution ever did. Even without Paige getting hurt, they probably weren’t going to last as long.

      In fact I think that’s part of why this feud didn’t work; I never really bought them as such devious heels, despite Ruby’s glorious evil face pictured above. That bump Liv Morgan took for her mate is a total babyface move, something we’d see little Spike Dudley do for the sake for his brothers.

  2. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    That Teddy Hart line…*chef kiss*

  3. ThePWBPoster says:

    Selective memory strikes again, while I do remember this it was bad and perhaps dare I say tasteless but of course WWE. 😛

  4. Christopher Haydu says:

    If somebody showed up to the funeral of my relative with their image printed on a folding table, I’d gladly accept a gift like that. WWE should sell tables with wrestler’s images printed on them.

  5. CP says:

    Clean shaven Jim Neidhart is a shock to the system. Just saying.

  6. Hulk6785 says:

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

    I laughed too hard at that.

  7. Evan Waters says:

    This is what happens when you want to have a destructive heel team but also you’re cost conscious and don’t want to break anything it would cost a lot to replace.

  8. Mav says:

    This is so bad. When people die in real life making it part of the show is tasteless. You’re really out of ideas when this is what you come up with. Embarrassing.

  9. Mr Boing says:

    I am shocked Ruby didn’t steal Bossmans car
    And drag Anvils casket around since today’s
    Wwe fans is not expected to remember this

  10. Morgan Wick says:

    “When we had people harass Rey Mysterio over Eddie Guerrero’s death it resulted in the Gooker winner that angered RD more than anything else ever, so surely it’ll be a fantabulous idea to do it again 12 years later!”

  11. Preparation Triple H says:

    Jim Neidhart: I AM THE TABLE!

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