NXT TakeOver: Orlando in review: Do anything it takes to win

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Asuka and Ember Moon have been on a path to collision ever since Ember debuted last summer. Meanwhile, Nikki Cross and Sanity continue to destroy everyone else in NXT.

Nikki stopped taking the fight to Asuka several months ago and instead stuck to fighting alongside her group, proving that she isn’t afraid of any woman or man. She’s ruthless and everyone is her play thing.

Cue Ruby Riot. Ruby made her debut two weeks ago, targeting Nikki to even up the numbers game.

While the rest of NXT lays to waste. The women’s division lies in a pile of rubble. Ember has made her way up the ranks to the detriment of the Iconic Duo. Asuka has sat at the top of the division as its champion for a year as the rest of the division fights among themselves. Before even encountering Ember, she oozes a new air of smugness and dismisses the competition completely.

Last night all four women fought in two separate matches. Who came out on top? Sanity and Nikki Cross vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno and Ruby Riot are up first:

Before the bout even began Sanity dismantled No Way Jose, who was set to join Dillinger, Strong, and Ruby. So, in his absence newly signed Kassius Ohno, formally known as Chris Hero, would join them.

The bout began with Nikki against Ruby, with fists flying all over the place. It wasn’t long before the match broke down entirely, leaving Dillinger to fend for himself. Each teammate would get his shots in before being taken down by a member of Sanity.

Several times Nikki and Ruby clashed with each other and with the men.

But the face team was no match for Sanity’s intense overbearing will and Killian Dain would pick up the win for the destructive team.

After the match it’s time for Asuka vs Ember as a very effective hype video starts us off:

Before the bout begins we’re introduced to the newly designed NXT Women’s Championship.

Then the match would start off with Auska refusing to shake Ember’s hand. We’ve seen shades of this when she faced Mickie James last year!

Then both women would go back and forth, engaging in an all out mat wrestling affair before both would become easily matched at the get go. Asuka would hit Ember with her hip attack three separate times in an attempt to take her down early. Ember battled back each time. She then took to the air for a beautiful cross body as the match spilled outside.

She’d attempt the Eclipse but saw Asuka barrelling toward her and would out maneuver her.

Ember would then get caught in the Asuka Lock but manage to power out at the last moment. She would then dominate Asuka with strikes, falloway slams, and suplex variations. She’s pull off low flying headscissors twice and do her signature back handspring.

However, the bout would come close again and again before Ember would attempt the Eclipse for a second time. Asuka would get up at the last moment and toss the ref at Ember, making her fall and allowing Asuka to retain the championship via shady tactics.

After the match Asuka takes photos with the new title:

She also gets asked, who’s next?

She laughs and says, I’m still champion!

Thoughts: After a very weak buildup, I’m pleasantly surprised that this event still was able to deliver. Let’s start off with the Sanity vs team mid-card match.

I thought the match was fun. I was completely wrong in predicting the good guys would win, which I was happy about. It makes more sense to have Sanity continue to demolish everything in their path. They are indestructible and I feel it’s only a matter of time before they begin to capture titles. I’m all for a desolate NXT. At this point in time, something needs to reboot the promotion and I think Sanity could do it across the board.

I’m thrilled that Ruby and Nikki got time, even if it was sparse, to go at each other and briefly fight the men. I completely hate how segregated the women are from the men though in these matches. It’s baffling to me that they won’t even let them fight, it looks bad all around. Ruby wants to scrap and Nikki is already free to do so without any repercussions? What?

Regardless of their backwards rules, I’m eager to see Nikki and Ruby in a one on one match now. I also LOVE Ruby’s punk rock/hxc/heavy metal look. That’s my aesthetic and it’s so fresh to see a new type of character here.

I have a feeling since Ember lost it’s now time for Nikki to go after Asuka again. I enjoy Nikki’s work alongside Sanity. Your mileage may vary but she has benefited immensely from being paired with this stable when most of the women in the women’s division are completely MIA. I’d be very satisfied if Nikki is ultimately the one to dethrone Asuka. Nikki is truly the one to watch.

Now onto Asuka vs Ember.

Creative did the least while building this feud. They did so little, I was truly dreading this match yesterday. Part of me was extremely excited to watch them lay it all out on the table but another part of me fears for the rest of the division. Asuka completely outclassing the rest of the women makes everyone look bad. I’m unsure how the division is going to recover.

But I’m pleased to say that despite a very flimsy build, the match told the correct story! It’s truly been all about Asuka, which is why Ember’s character is unfortunately still paper thin.

Asuka has been champion for a year now and she’s developed a devious ego. Her work has been god tier. Her promos, her body language, her wrestling (despite having the finishes usually be a let down) have been the best NXT, and probably all of WWE, has ever seen.

She can play a face, she can play shades of grey, she can be hilarious and innocent, she can be brutalizing. Asuka is the real deal and it’s going to take everything NXT has, literally, to take her down. I enjoy her work immensely but it’s also tarnished a division that used to have a strong reputation for creating rich characters and narratives.

This is where Ember comes in. Ember matches Asuka in everything, except character for now although I liked Ember’s werewolf/warrior gear last night. Ember is an amazing wrestler. She pulled out moves that we haven’t seen before, moves that have been dormant since Taz, the original suplex machine, was around.

Asuka and Ember were so evenly matched that Asuka finally had to cheat to win. I’m hoping this is the complete start to Asuka’s heel turn. If it’s not, I’ll tell you right now, I’ll be pissed. We’ve already seen signals that Asuka is too cocky for her own good and it’s about time she starts doing shady stuff in order to keep her precious title.

What I hope NXT does moving forward is include Billie Kay and Peyton Royce back into the feud. We still haven’t seen any more movement in their campaign to ban the Eclipse. This will help build Ember’s character. A rematch between Asuka and Ember must happen too. William Regal should show everyone the footage of Asuka cheating to help build a case for another match.

Nikki should also get involved. This would keep the division busy for the next few months while Ruby helps develop other talent in feuds on the side. I’m not expecting too much, honestly. I still believe NXT needs to be doing more across the board or else we’ll still be stuck in this slow moving cycle of matches with no story.

Lastly, the new title. I LOVED the old design so I was very upset about this new change. The old title was the perfect mix of feminine and strength, with the pink/purple not overpowering the sleek design. I’m still on the fence about the new change. NXT/WWE is striving to make the women equal to the men and this new design makes the two main championships uniform, basically, in that regard.

Otherwise NXT still has a lot of work to do with women’s visibility. Moving forward, I hope creative dedicates more time to building the women so they can continue to stay on par with their male counterparts like they deserve.

What did you think of TakeOver last night? Satisfied with the winner? Do you like the new women’s title? What do you want to see NXT do now? Sound off in the comments below.