Hey guys! Welcome to this week’s review of NXT. This week, Taynara Conti and Vanessa Borne battled for the opportunity to participate in the second annual Mae Young Classic. Both women were involved in the inaugural tournament last year. However, Conti and Borne were respectively defeated in their first round matches. Based on that and the hype surrounding this year’s tournament, both women looked to make a strong statement by qualifying for the big event.

Before that match though, we saw the return of Nikki Cross. Cross was last seen on NXT television three weeks ago, coming up short in the Triple Threat number one contender’s match. This week, she faced a newcomer to the NXT women’s division in former Impact Wrestling knockout Amber Nova.

Cross took it to Nova early on in the match with an impactful belly to back suplex. However, Nova was able to gain momentary control when she rammed Nikki’s head into the turnbuckle while in a corner hurricarana position. Nova would then apply a straightjacket submission hold onto Cross. But Cross refused to be deterred. Nikki broke out of the submission hold and came at Amber with a fury of offense. The end of the match came when Nikki hit Amber with The Purge to secure a victory.

Prior to her qualifying match, Vanessa Borne was asked what her game plan was for this evening’s match. Borne stated that the game plan was to simply win. Vanessa went on to say that she wouldn’t want to deprive the world of seeing “The Vision.” Vanessa talked about how the Mae Young Classic features the most immaculate female performers from around the world, and that if she wasn’t involved in the tournament that reputation wouldn’t be upheld. Borne concluded her comments by confidently stating that she would take the final spot in this year’s tournament. Borne then told the interviewer and camera crew to go away, adding in that she hopes it’s the last time they interrupt her before a match up.

Borne and Conti started off the contest with a lock up, jockeying for position. Conti would then take down Borne with a judo throw, only for Borne to come back with a jackknife pin attempt. Taynara countered by throwing Vanessa overhead, floating over and attempting another pin. After Borne kicked out, Conti went to work on Vanessa’s arm. Borne attempted to break the hold by pulling on Conti’s hair, but it did not work. Instead, Taynara whipped Vanessa into the ropes, only to receive a shoulder block from Borne. Once Taynara got to her feet, she applied a waistlock on Vanessa. Vanessa would fire back with an elbow to the face before knocking Conti into the turnbuckle. Vanessa followed up by repeatedly smashing Taynara’s face into the second rope turnbuckle while yelling that she deserved the win over Taynara.

Borne maintained control of the match using a dragon sleeper, and then a body scissors. Once Conti escaped the body scissors, Borne missed with an elbow drop. This gave Taynara the opportunity to gain momentum in the match, which she capitalized on. Conti implemented strikes and a few judo throws to ground Borne. Vanessa would try to bounce back by slapping Taynara, but that would backfire. As Borne attempted a crucifix pin, Taynara countered the pinning maneuver by slamming Vanessa to the mat and picking up the win. Following the match, Taynara was overcome with emotion at earning the final spot in the Mae Young Classic.

Following Conti’s advancement to the Mae Young Classic, the announcers recapped the events that transpired last week between Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane. It was then announced that for next week’s episode, Kairi would face off with the “Cat’s Meow of NXT” Aliyah.

Thoughts: I, unfortunately, am not very familiar with Amber Nova’s work. I believe I saw one or maybe two of her matches during her time in Impact Wrestling. But I think she did a good job against Nikki Cross tonight. Her turnbuckle maneuver was very unique, and I thought she sold for Cross well.

I am kind of interested in seeing where Cross fits into the division going forward. She was the only woman from NXT on the stage when the announcement for Evolution was made. I don’t know if that was WWE’s way at hinting that Cross may be coming to the main roster sooner rather than later. I would prefer to see Cross win the NXT Women’s Title at least once before she went off to the main roster. However, she’s been such a great addition to NXT since her debut with Sanity. Her brawls with Ruby Riott and Asuka were an absolute treat to watch. And the table bump she took at last year’s Takeover: Brooklyn was nuts. She has worked her butt off the last two years. If Nikki gets moved to Raw or Smackdown in the near future, it’s definitely well deserved.

The match between Conti and Borne was okay. It wasn’t the cleanest of encounters. And the end of the match, unfortunately, came across kind of wacky due to the botch. But I hope Taynara is able to improve as the months go on. Something I found kind of intriguing was Conti’s character throughout the match. She came across to me kind of arrogantly in her entrance. But by the end of the contest, she seemed to be a tweener at least, grateful that she was able to earn a spot in the Mae Young Classic. Maybe this was just a one-off thing, or maybe Taynara could remain a tweener. I think having Conti as a tweener could be an interesting development within the women’s division.

I am surprised that Taynara went over Vanessa tonight. Vanessa has appeared consistently on NXT television the last couple of months. In comparison, I think this is the first match Taynara has had on NXT TV since her loss to Nikki Cross last November. I truthfully thought Vanessa would have won. Instead, she took another loss. I am curious if the writers are planning on turning Vanessa’s losing streak into a storyline soon. Vanessa has all the confidence in the world. But that confidence has yet to earn Vanessa a win. Again to me, that seems like it could be another interesting arc to see played out. But as with everything else, time will tell.

I’m kind of torn about next week’s match. I’m happy that Aliyah is getting a chance to compete next week. But considering it’s against Kairi Sane, I’m about 98% positive that Aliyah will be pinned. Aliyah has been around for a while. But she has always been on the losing end. Also, it is kind of upsetting that they still are sticking with the cat gimmick for Aliyah. Mainly because I feel like Natalya already has that gimmick on the main roster. I wish the writers would give Aliyah a different gimmick, or find something to help Aliyah stand out a little more. She is definitely talented in the ring. But her lack of character hurts her stock within the women’s division a lot.

With next week being the last NXT TV before Brooklyn, I’m hoping that we see a solid post-match segment between Baszler and Sane. The announcers made mention of Shayna’s belief that Sane doesn’t have a killer instinct. Yet we saw a hint of Kairi’s hidden rage last week. Hopefully, that potential Kairi showed seven days ago is furthered a little bit more before the fourth annual Brooklyn event.

What did you guys think of Cross and Nova’s match? Are you excited to see Taynara Conti advance to the Mae Young Classic? Are you looking forward to next week’s match between Kairi and Aliyah? Let us know in the comments below!