Welcome to the first post-TakeOver edition of the NXT Redux! I’ll be joining you on your NXT journey for the foreseeable future, and what better time to do so? Excitement abounds, the NXT Divas having all but eclipsed their main roster counterparts in a series of fantastic matches and interesting character twists. What’s next? Let’s see…
This edition of NXT doesn’t follow up on Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks‘s incredible TakeOver match, unfortunately, but NXT has plenty of arrows in its quiver. This week, we’re taking a look at how the still-burning rivalry between Bayley and Emma is shaping up. The Divas go one-on-one:
Bayley makes her entrance first, still sporting some TakeOver streamers on her arms, but this time just on her wrists. I love how fleshed out her character is becoming, slap bracelets and all. The crowd adores her.
Emma’s out next, complete with some new music. I like the “idea” of it – her old music cutting to a new, less fun tune – but the new music couldn’t be more bland if it tried. Okay, it could be more bland, but it certainly doesn’t fit Emma. I say stick with the Rick Roll nature of the music switch – it keeps the familiarity – but find something to cut to that doesn’t feel like a bargain bin selection.
The match begins to a chorus of “Bayley’s gonna hug you!” and then competing “Let’s go Bayley!”/”Let’s go Emma!” chants. Emma, not pleased by any of this, backs Bayley up against the ropes in an attempt at intimidation. It doesn’t work – Bayley’s past all that – so Emma just shoves her onto her backside.
Bayley gets up and charges at Emma, trying to back her into the corner. Emma takes control, though, and tosses Bayley into the corner instead, nailing her midsection with some kicks. Bayley tries to fight back, but it does no good, Emma simply continuing her assault.
She brings Bayley out from the corner to wrench her arm, giving Bayley the opportunity to flip her way free and take Emma down with a drop toehold. The (normally friendly) Diva then pummels her former friend in the back of the head with some closed fists.
Emma, reeling a bit, backs into a corner, and Bayley sandwiches her into it before going for a pin. Emma kicks out before the two-count, but soon finds herself whipped into the ropes. She manages to hang on to the ropes, though, and plays some trickery on Bayley, tripping her up and folding her into a pin attempt. Bayley kicks out.
For good measure, Emma nails Bayley with a low dropkick to the face. She again goes for the pin, but Bayley kicks out. Showing some classic heel frustration, Emma tries for the pin again, but gets the same result. What is it that Einstein said about insanity?
Emma continues her onslaught, choking Bayley in the corner with her boot. Dragging her back to the center of the ring, Emma grabs hold of Bayley’s ponytail and takes her down with a rather painful-looking snapmare. She mocks the crowd with one of Bayley’s “high fives” and decides to try do the snapmare trick again, liking the results she got last time. She then ups the hair-pulling ante, wrapping Bayley’s hair around the bottom rope and yanking it.
When she finally lets go, Emma goes for the cover, but Bayley kicks out again. When Emma then tries to taunt her, Bayley snaps, charging Emma into a corner, nailing a back elbow and taking her down with a suplex.
Feeling that the end is near, Bayley climbs to the second rope. Emma is quick to respond, though, and stops her, grabbing hold of one of her boots. She drags her away from the corner leg-first and drags her to the middle of the ring, setting her up for the Emma Lock! Bayley has no choice but to tap out.
Emma celebrates her win by inviting Dana into the ring. Dana holds Bayley prone while Emma slaps her across the face. This draws out Charlotte, who meets Dana’s attack on the entrance ramp. She then heads straight for Emma, taking her down and pummeling her. Dana reenters the ring and pulls Charlotte off of Emma, propping her up for the same slap Bayley just took. Dana then hoists up the former Women’s Champion and plants her with her signature Samoan driver. The Divas then revel in their dominance.
In a “WWE.com exclusive” interview after the match, Emma talked about her recent change of heart:
She made sure to clarify that there is no “new Emma”, just the “real Emma”. She’s bitter that she hasn’t seen the success other Divas have after stealing the show back at the first NXT live special. She’s going to help teach newbie Dana a lesson. The rest of the Divas, she says, will learn why she is here soon enough.
But wait – that’s not all! Later in the night, Alexa Bliss got the chance to show off her new heel side when she accompanied Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy to the ring for their non-title match against Elias Sampson and Mike Rallis:
After her boys get the win, Alexa gets in a lick of her own, hitting the Sparkle Splash on Rallis. I dig it – it’s more Lita-and-the-Hardy Boyz than your average managerial situation and allows Alexa become a greater threat to the Divas division while expanding on her character. I also like that she only made minor changes to her look, the blue switching to red. It allows her to maintain her signature look while mixing things up a bit.
Speaking of character development, Alexa pulled an Emma shortly after, taking the time to explain the source of her new attitude in a backstage interview:
After mocking Devin Taylor‘s question selection, Alexa says she, Blake and Murphy are winners. They gravitated towards each other because winners tend to do that. She turns her attention to Carmella, claiming that the “princess of Staten Island” is used to being surrounded by trash. Alexa promises that when they go one-on-one next week, Carmella is being sent back to the garbage dump.
Not too shabby heel work from Alexa! She’s a natural. Sure, holier-than-thou bitchiness isn’t groundbreaking, but Alexa is in the midst of carving out her new identity, and she’s taking to it like a duck to water. I’m looking forward to seeing it get fleshed out as we move forward.
Heel Alexa gets the thumbs up from me so far. I can’t wait to see what’s next for her and Carmella.
Thoughts: I enjoyed the Bayley/Emma match, especially the fact that it signals that their feud isn’t quite over yet. I would’ve liked to get this match at the last TakeOver – it would have made more sense than the rather thrown-together tag match – but maybe there’s hope for it yet.
Emma got the chance to show more of her heelishness this time. I like it – it’s a good “reboot” for Emma – but I do miss some of her quirkiness. She’s always had a knack for adding little touches that aren’t over-the-top, but still give her an air of strangeness. I hope she finds a way to implement that more as she goes on, because without it, she could easily become a generic heel. Nobody wants that.
She did manage to bust out some unique heel moves, though, the hair pulling lending her an air of a bratty bully. That’s different, and is certainly better than a match full of rest holds, which seems to be the heel standard on the main roster. She’s showing aggression, which is (apparently) what she came back to NXT to find. That makes sense for her character development, but I hope it manifests itself in a way that keeps her from generic heel territory. She could, say, play up a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing, her pent-up aggressive side unleashing itself in the ring and a more normal, confused-but-still-unfriendly Emma showing up outside of it. She doesn’t know what happens – her aggression just takes over! Her history of off-kilter behavior and lack of success on the main roster would set the stage for that gimmick easily, I’d think.
I still don’t know what to make of Dana. My main complaint lies in the unfocused nature of her gimmick. None of it – the look, the music, the taunts, the wrestling – seem to blend into a fully-realized character. This moment here didn’t call for much from her other than playing Emma’s muscle, and she executed that well enough. The high top Converse shoes just added to my confusion over her unfocused look, though.
If these two are destined to be a duo, there needs to be something tying them together. Emma seems to be taking Dana under her wing, which makes sense, but it still feels like a “strange bedfellows” situation bordering on the tired heel-Diva-gets-a-bodyguard thing. This is NXT, though, so I have faith they’ll figure it out eventually. It’s a scary, different feeling to be able to give an organization the benefit of the doubt, having watched so much main roster WWE.
I’m not sure what the plan is for Charlotte. She seems poised to leap to the main roster, so I don’t know why she’s feuding with a new girl at this point, as this doesn’t feel like a pass-the-torch scenario. It could just be that NXT is desperate to get Dana over and think Charlotte’s the woman to help do that. Hey, a Diva could do worse!