Welcome to another NXT Redux! We have two (count ’em, two) Divas matches for you today. And that’s not all. What if I told you, within the span of one hour, NXT managed to put over seven women? You’d think I was lying, right? Ha! Observe….
We open the show with a video package that looks to provide some much-needed character detail for Dana Brooke:
Dana says the negative reaction she gets from the crowd fuels her. She calls herself the “total Diva” and the “total package”. Despite any hate leveled at her, she says she will go down as the most talented, inspiring and driven female wrestler the world has ever seen.
Okay, so there wasn’t much new there. We still have the vague idea of her as some “total Diva” who’s got a well-honed physique and is ultra-confident. She’s got lofty goals, too, aspiring to be the best female wrestler ever. It feels weird for a heel to be so aspirational – most would claim to already be the best. Unfortunately, Dana’s character still seems murky to me. She’s got a lot of pieces that don’t fit together. I just don’t see anything to latch on to yet.
The bell rings as the fans honor Blue Pants with a “happy birthday” chant. She’s hyped, but Emma looks over it. When Blue Pants starts to mock Emma’s signature dance, the Diva strikes, knocking her down and slamming her face first onto the mat. Emma fights off Blue Pants’s attempt at battling back and tosses her across the ring by her hair.
Emma hits Blue Pants with a dropkick to the chest and covers her for the pin, earning only a two-count. She then whips her to the mat by her hair and kicks her square in the back before going for another unsuccessful pin attempt. Emma props Blue Pants up and pulls her hair in a submission hold, her boot planted between her shoulder blades. She then pulls her arms back in a more legal submission hold.
Blue Pants starts to fight to her feet, but Emma takes her back down, locking her in a tight headlock. When Blue Pants again starts to free herself, Emma beats her down and pummels her in the head. Emma eventually relents and turns her back, the distraction allowing Blue Pants to sneak up with a surprise roll-up. Emma kicks out.
Blue Pants swoops in with another pin attempt, but Emma again kicks out. Emma gets to her feet and plants Blue Pants with a clothesline, covering her for a pin. Blue Pants kicks out. Emma locks in another headlock, but it’s not long before Blue Pants is battling out, backing Emma into a corner repeatedly until she lets go. She doesn’t get far, though, Emma booting her to the mat and flattening her with an elbow. Emma covers her, again earning a two-count.
Emma sarcastically wishes Blue Pants a happy birthday, but her subsequent elbow drop meets nothing but mat. This gives Blue Pants an opening, and she takes it, hitting Emma with a series of kicks and taking her down onto the back of her head. She covers Emma, who kicks out at two.
Blue Pants is still hyped, though, and goes for another kick. Emma ducks it and sweeps her legs out from under her, leaving her in the perfect position for the Emma Lock. She locks it in, and soon Blue Pants is tapping out. Emma is your winner!
Devin reveals that the trio will be taking on Alexa Bliss, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy in a Six-Man Tag Team match next week.
Carmella calls them cheap, saying it’s embarrassing that Murphy and Blake had to use a “chick” to beat Enzo and Cass. She counters Alexa’s claim that she’s “trash” by making fun of her red hair. Enzo makes a Hunger Games reference, saying Alexa was like one of the Gamemaker’s tricks. He says she wouldn’t last one night in the real games, and neither would Blake and Murphy. Cass closes out the interview by calling Blake and Murphy cowards and telling them that they look ridiculous. He says NXT would be a much better place without them around, and they’re going to take care of that next week.
Love the mic work by Carmella. It’s far from cookie cutter babyface talk, which I love. Sometimes, when babyfaces try to venture outside the “good guy” box, it becomes hypocritical and odd (see Paige‘s most recent promos), but Carmella’s character has been developed to the point that we expect her to be nasty and love her for it. I’m really looking forward to the tag match next week!
Later on, we take a look back at the aftermath of Becky Lynch‘s unsuccessful NXT Women’s Title shot at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable. We see the crowd give Becky a standing ovation, applauding her heart:
After a commercial break, it’s match time for Becky! She’s in action for the first time since TakeOver, and will most certainly be riding that hype wave to victory.
She heads to the ring, giving us our second look at her her new steampunk style. Her opponent, new signee Jessie McKay, is already in the ring.
The Divas tie up in the center of the ring, Jessie taking control with a side headlock. Becky shoves her off, but Jessie hits the ropes and knocks her off her feet on the return. Jessie goes for an early pin, but barely gets a one-count before Becky bridges out of it, standing up easily.
Becky runs the ropes and telegraph’s Jessie’s avoidance, rolling forward and propelling Jessie into the opposite ropes, taking her down with an arm drag on the return. She hits another arm drag and a dropkick before Jessie’s looking for a breather, taking refuge in the ropes.
When Becky finally gets around the referee, Jessie plants her with the kick to the face. She goes for the pin, but Becky kicks out. Jessie pounds Becky’s head against the mat a bit before pulling her up and capturing her in an armbar, keeping her at bay by latching onto her chin. Becky starts to fight out, but is tossed to the mat by Jessie.
Jessie mocks Becky’s headbanging and immediately pays for it, Becky pulling her into a small package pin attempt. Jessie kicks out and is back on Becky quickly, kneeing her in the midsection and pounding on her back. She latches on that armbar again, stomping to add some pain to the hold when Becky starts to power out. Becky forearms Jessie in the face and ducks her subsequent attack, rolling her into a pin. Jessie kicks out quickly.
Becky stays in control, ducking a clothesline from Jessie and hitting one of her own. She hits a dropkick and then takes her down with a unique suplex, wrapping Jessie’s arm around her back to deliver some payback arm punishment.
She continues her offensive streak, taking down Jessie with a dropkick and two leg drops. She covers Jessie, but only earns a two-count. Becky looks to be going for another suplex, but Jessie flips and slips behind her, shoving her away and going for a kick. Becky catches her boot, though, spinning her around and capturing her in a new hold, hooking her arms in Jessie’s right arm and right leg. As soon as Jessie’s latched in, Becky drops to her back, planting Jessie flat on her stomach. If that wasn’t enough, she then locks in an armbar, prompting Jessie to tap out immediately. Becky salutes the crowd in victory.
Thoughts: Wow, a WWE-produced event with four Diva segments! And not just any Diva segments: these were segments that provided character development for seven Divas. You had Dana provide some background on her (still to be defined) character, Carmella getting herself and Alexa over in her interview segment, Emma and Blue Pants putting on a match that went far beyond the bounds of your typical Blue Pants bout and, last but not least, Becky and Jessie reminding fans that the international indy scene is churning out some of the best women’s wrestlers in the world.
These two Divas matches could have easily been squash affairs, but clearly weren’t. It says a lot about NXT that they’re willing to have their better-known talents – the ones they’re investing in – take some punishment in order to tell a good story and flesh out the division’s landscape. It’s a much better story for Emma to break a sweat taking out the unflappable Blue Pants, who has been gaining confidence and adoration from the fans with every loss. It means more for Emma to earn the victory in a hard-fought way and gives us a chance to see her dig deep. An effortless win does nothing but tell us she’s a threat. Having her fight for it shows us that she is one.
It was great to get a first look at Jessie in NXT – it’s awesome that the WWE is hiring indy talents that are ready to go and can wrestle these matches right off the bat. It’s a little surreal to see her going by her indy identity and not being an “enhancement talent”. Sure, she’s largely fodder for Becky here, but she’s still an actual contracted talent. She got in a lot of offense too, and did a lot to establish herself as a heel. Still, she may yet reappear later on as a babyface, but she played her role really well here.
Becky is amazing, of course. She’s well on her way to the top of the division, her unique moveset ever-evolving and helping her carve out a niche. I love the new set-up to her armbar. It doesn’t feel clunky, as some inventive Diva moves tend to be. Like in Emma’s match, it was really valuable to see Becky have to battle for her win. The crowd got a chance to really get behind her. Her heart was on display, overcoming the damage to her arm (that’s probably still smarting from TakeOver) to get a splashy win.
I’ve said it plenty of times, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to say it again: NXT’s Divas division gives me hope. I’m positive that its blossoming will be the legacy of #GiveDivasAChance. Triple H, I honestly believe, is listening to the fans’ criticisms, and his efforts to improve the WWE’s treatment of its female wrestlers are being felt in the one area he has complete control over. One day, the division will grow to the point that the changes will have to “trickle up” to the main roster. There’s only so long that the differences can grow before embarrassment takes over, before ego forces those in charge of booking the main roster Divas to make changes. Otherwise, they’ll look like dinosaurs, booking cookie cutter Diva feuds while NXT is in the 21st century. It’s one thing for your competition to be showing you up: when your “developmental” system is the one doing it, it’s much harder to ignore.
Keep it up, NXT: when the WWE finally changes, it will be because of you.