NXT: 07/04/18 – A Race to the Top

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Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s review of NXT. For Americans, today marked not only a new episode of NXT but also our Independence Day Holiday. We happen to be just three days behind Canada, who recently celebrated their Independence Day holiday on Sunday. If you have celebrated a holiday throughout the past couple of days, I hope your respective holiday went well. If you haven’t celebrated a holiday recently, I still hope your life is going well too.

Tonight’s episode of NXT featured Shayna Baszler‘s return to Full Sail University. Coming off of successful title defenses against Nikki Cross at Chicago and Toni Storm during the UK Tournament, Baszler came back to Full Sail to address the NXT Universe and the women’s division. In addition to the reemergence of Baszler, we heard from a confident Bianca Belair as she was on our honeymoon. We also heard Kairi Sane respond to the comments made by Vanessa Borne last week. However, before all of those segments, we were treated to a one on one match between Dakota Kai and Santana Garrett.

Garrett and Kai started off the match with a feeling out process. Santana would soon take control of the match using a few submission moves as well as an impactful Russian Leg Sweep. Despite Santana’s offense, Dakota was able to bounce back using her speed and educated feet. The end of the match saw Dakota Kai hit her new finishing maneuver on Garrett for the 1-2-3. A notable aspect of this match was how the commentators referenced Lacey Evans‘ recent comments about Dakota Kai being a loser on Twitter. Mauro Ranallo also reminded the audience of the encounter between Kai and Evans that took place back in March.

Following Kai’s win, Baszler came out to the ring to address the crowd. Baszler quickly dismissed Nikki Cross, saying she put Cross to sleep in Chicago. Baszler then moved on to addressing and knocking other members of the women’s division such as Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane, and Candice LeRae. Baszler went as far as to state that the sole reason for a second Mae Young Classic was to find her a new competitor. Most importantly, Baszler consistently reiterated that no matter who she faces, she will win and remain the NXT women’s champion.

Later on in the program, Bianca Belair would make comments that bared a strong resemblance to the ones that Baszler made. Belair, shown enjoying her honeymoon on a yacht, talked about how women within the division were petitioning to be the next number one contender. Belair then ran down members of the women’s division such as LeRae, Kairi Sane, and Dakota Kai. Belair reminded the audience that she is currently undefeated in competition. Belair then ended the segment by saying she was going to enjoy her vacation and give the other girls a chance to catch up to her level.

Right after Belair’s segment, an interview with Kairi Sane aired. Sane said that she heard Borne’s comments from last week, and thinks that Borne should turn her focus to fighting. Sane then stated that she would beat Borne, make Borne walk the plank, and then take the treasure known as the NXT women’s championship.

The impending encounter between Borne and Sane was then made official for next week’s program.

Thoughts: I enjoyed the match between Santana and Dakota. It was a short but solid affair. Kai is such a strong babyface, so it was nice seeing her pick up some momentum with this win. I find it hard to believe that Santana has not been signed yet. She has made various appearances for NXT since her 2013 match against Charlotte. The woman has a lot of talent. At the same time, with all of the talent that is currently signed, I am worried that if Santana were to get a job with the company, she would get lost in the shuffle. It’s a tough call.

I also enjoyed how commentary highlighted Evans’ comments about Kai on Twitter. One of the readers actually posted the tweet in the comments a few weeks back. But I wasn’t sure whether or not that would actually turn into a program. However, with the announcers making light of Evans’ remarks, I’m hopeful we’ll see another side program within the division. As Mauro stated on commentary, Kai already beat Evans back in March. So if there is a second contest between Evans and Kai, perhaps it will be Evans who wins this time around.

Shayna’s promo was good for what it was. I think she did just fine and delivered her lines well during the segment. The only thing is that the segment sort of felt like the equivalent of treading water. There wasn’t necessarily a clear story that developed as a result of that segment. It was mostly Baszler reiterating her dominance within the division. But we still have a good amount of time until Brooklyn. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks, a feud or story will come to the forefront and solidify between Baszler and a challenger.

Bianca’s promo was short but effective. I think it goes without saying that I think that women has a ton of potential. Her demeanor and attitude continue to shine positively, and it’s fun to watch each time she gets airtime.

Kairi also did a good job with her promo. It’s a tricky situation with talents such as herself and Asuka due to the language barrier. Despite that, Kairi did well for herself. It also helps that the segment didn’t really have a need to be long. The segment served to set up next week’s match as well as for Kairi to state her intention of becoming the next champion. The writers were able to accomplish that with a short amount of words which is good. It’s a little tricky if Kairi can’t do long segments due to a lack of English. While a mouthpiece is an option for some talents, I cannot remember for the life of me the last time a babyface female superstar had a manager/mouthpiece. I could be totally wrong so if I am please feel free to correct me. That being said, the writers made it work for Asuka, so I’m sure they can make it work with Kairi.

The one intriguing common element of Baszler, Belair and Sane’s promos was how each woman kind of laid out the landscape of the NXT women’s division. Right now, it feels like the women have been booked to all be on a somewhat similar level. It’s not necessarily a given who will win a match between, say Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae or Kairi Sane and Bianca Belair. The booking the past couple months has added a certain level of unpredictability to the matches. Which is really nice. And a welcome contrast to when Asuka was in the midst of her winning streak. At this time, it feels like it could be anyone that steps up to be Baszler’s next challenger. And that makes me curious to see who will step out and be the one to officially challenge Baszler.

What did you guys think of the match between Kai and Garrett? Are you looking forward to Borne and Sane clashing again? Who do you see being Baszler’s next opponent? Let us know in the comments below!