Hi everyone! Welcome to this week’s review of NXT. Tonight was the last episode of NXT before TakeOver: Brooklyn IV. Before her big match with Shayna Baszler on Saturday, Kairi Sane went one on one with Aliyah this evening. Baszler has made her beliefs known in the past couple of weeks Kairi did not possess any sort of killer instinct. It was these remarks from Baszler that fueled Sane as she went into her match up with Aliyah tonight.

In addition to Sane and Aliyah’s bout, we got a quick update on the status of the EST of NXT Bianca Belair.

Prior to her encounter with Kairi, Aliyah was shown backstage receiving advice from none other than the NXT Women’s Champion herself Shayna Baszler. Specifically, Baszler could be seen warning Aliyah about Kairi’s InSane Elbow Drop.

Following the coaching session, Aliyah faced off with Kairi Sane. Before the match began, Baszler joined the commentary booth to gain a closer look at the action. Shayna’s presence was initially a distraction for Sane, which allowed Aliyah to gain early momentum with some forearm strikes. However, Sane was able to counter Aliyah’s onslaught quickly by putting her in a stretch muffler submission hold. From that point onward, the match was almost entirely Kairi.

The end of the match saw Sane hit Aliyah with three consecutive InSane Elbow Drops. Despite having the ability to end the match after the third elbow drop, Sane refused to do so. Instead, she made a point to lock in The Anchor, pointing to Shayna as she bridged back on the hold. Aliyah quickly tapped out, giving Sane the emphatic victory. The segment ended with Sane and Baszler starting each other down.

Later on in the evening, we were also shown clips of Bianca Belair rehabbing her injury. Percy Watson noted how the staff at the Performance Center stated that Bianca was almost impossible to deal with. Aside from her attitude, Watson also told us that Bianca should be ready to compete again in the near future.

Thoughts: Tonight’s segment was okay for me. I don’t think it was bad by any means. But I almost feel like more could have been done to try and show Kairi’s “killer instinct.” Hitting Aliyah with three InSane Elbow Drops, and then pulling her up to continue the match was definitely a nice touch. But rather than have Kairi beat Aliyah clean, I think it would have been cool if maybe Kairi would have gotten herself disqualified because she refused to listen to the referee’s count. Or if Sane would have caused a brawl with Shayna following the match. This segment had potential, but I don’t think said potential was fully reached.

In general, one of the big things that have been repeated leading up to this match was Shayna mocking Sane for not having a killer instinct. There have been glimpses of Kairi’s fierceness, such as her staredown with Baszler two weeks ago, as well as her aggression towards Aliyah tonight. But I don’t think Sane’s killer instinct was developed as well as it could have been. Maybe that was done on purpose so that heading into Brooklyn, viewers would still have doubt as to whether or not Sane would be able to beat Baszler. But I feel like more could have been done in the weeks leading up TakeOver to establish Kairi’s attitude as she prepared for her match with Baszler.

Despite my beliefs and doubts about Kairi’s character, I am looking forward to this Saturday’s Championship bout between Kairi and Baszler. Their last two meetings have been enjoyable to watch, so I’m hoping the same can be said for their match in Brooklyn. I do believe that Shayna has improved over the last couple of months in the ring. And Kairi is a very skilled wrestler. Knowing that this is one of NXT’s biggest events out of the year, I look forward to seeing what Sane and Shayna do when they face off with one another.

I do see Shayna retaining the title on Saturday. For some reason, I don’t see her losing to Kairi at TakeOver. Baszler has pre-existing stories with Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae that could be furthered if she were to win this weekend, which could be compelling to see if played out right. It would be cool to be surprised and see Sane win the title. However, my gut is telling me that Baszler will leave TakeOver still champion.

As far as Aliyah, my sentiments are unfortunately the same that they have been the last couple of months. I find her in-ring work to be solid. Unfortunately, there is still no character there that is being developed. Like I’ve said last week, I feel like Aliyah’s lack of a proper character really hurts her status within the division. She’s been around for so long, but yet no character has really ever been assigned to her, other than being referred to as the “Cat’s Meow.” I wish there would be a different character or attitude developed for her. But as yet, there’s no sign that anything will change for the Canadian native.

I am excited to see Bianca get back into the ring soon. I know I have made it no secret how much of a fan I am of Bianca throughout the last couple of months. Aside from my personal bias, Bianca is one of the competitors in the division that has not yet challenged for the NXT women’s championship. I believe throwing her into the number one contender’s spot can really help freshen things up for the title picture. She has shown so much potential in the last few months. Hopefully following Brooklyn, whether Sane or Baszler win, Belair’s potential can be capitalized on and she can go after the championship.

What did you think of the match between Aliyah and Kairi? Are you looking forward to TakeOver: Brooklyn IV on Saturday? Are you excited to see Belair return to action soon? Let us know in the comments below!