This week on NXT, the Diva Revolution finally got around to fulfilling the “revolution” part of its mission.
After a week spent marking out, we finally got to see the official booking of a humongous match: Bayley will defend the NXT Women’s Title against Sasha Banks in the main event of TakeOver: RESPECT…in a 30 Minute Iron Man match.
Before that bit of history could be made, we had to work our way through the rest of the show, since that segment was in the main event of this week’s program. No biggie. We’re used to that by now, right?
Well, shit. I’m not the only one who got chills from that, right?
Nia Jax‘s promo made its third appearance on this week’s episode, but by now you’ve seen it, right? Right.
Emma says they requested this time because there’s a lot of things going on in the NXT Divas division, and they seem to be getting lost in the shuffle. Dana says they’ve decided to shake things up and show the newbies who’s boss. Playtime is over. Wait.. seriously? Is that her catchphrase now? Is NXT just kicking TNA while they’re down or something?
After patting Devin on the head, Dana returns for a few more, treating her head like a turn table. I’m waiting for Devin to snap and take out the entire locker room one day. That’s what we’re building towards, right? Serial killer Devin?
Even later, Alexa Bliss pops up for a short appearance alongside Blake and Murphy:
They interrupt the Vaudevillains‘ interview. She says they’re invoking their rematch clause next week. Took you long enough, guys!
Lastly, we have the return of the champ! Yes, Bayley’s in the building!
She heads to the ring, where she’s joined by her superfan Izzy. They have a cute little moment with their matching Women’s Title belts before Bayley gets down to business, squaring off with her opponent Sarah Dobson (the artist also known as Crazy Mary Dobson).
Sarah starts the match out with a big statement, headbutting Bayley. She beats her down a bit before Bayley starts to fight back. The champ is halted with a drop toe hold into the ropes, though, and Sarah continues her assault, hitting a double knee drop off of a cartwheel. She covers Bayley for the pin, but she kicks out.
Sarah pulls Bayley to her feet and sends her into the corner, getting in a few licks before locking in a front facelock, rolling backwards and seating herself in a submission hold. Bayley is frantic but manages to get to her feet, Sarah still latched onto her. She charges, driving Sarah back-first into the corner repeatedly before she’d freed from the hold.
Bayley is focused now, tossing Sarah into the ropes and knocking her down with a double axe handle on the return. She hits two more of those before sending Sarah into the corner, hitting a running shoulder to the midsection followed by a back elbow. She suplexes Sarah and gets herself in position for the finishing touch: the Bayley-to-Belly! She plants Sarah with it and covers her for the three count.
Bayley celebrates her win and takes the microphone for what surely would have been a heartfelt speech if it hadn’t been immediately interrupted by Sasha Banks’s music. The Boss is in the building! I mean, we saw her arrive earlier, but still…
Sasha joins Bayley in the ring, mic in hand. She assures Bayley she’s not out here to belittle or berate her. She says she’s here to congratulate her. All she’s heard since TakeOver is how she ad Bayley stole the show. Some are saying that it was the Match of the Year and the greatest women’s match in WWE history. That’s great for everyone else, but she’s not satisfied with that.
Sasha says she’s not here to put on great matches or steal the show. She came here to be the best. She says Bayley’s good; she earned her respect at TakeOver. Sasha admits that Bayley was better than her for the three seconds it took to pin her. However, she’s still not her. She has a point to prove.
Bayley interrupts, saying that she has a point to prove to. She has a legacy to cement. If Sasha wants a rematch, she’s game whenever she wants to do it: tonight, a week from now, whenever.
Sasha isn’t satisfied with just any rematch. She wants to send a message. Bayley’s game for that, too. She suggests a Two out of Three Falls match. That’s not enough for Sasha, though. She says she doesn’t just want to beat Bayley twice. She wants to beat her again and again and again… The crowd seems to catch on (or maybe they checked their Twitter feeds), because they then start to chant for an Iron Man match.
Before Bayley can weigh in on that idea, NXT GM William Regal‘s music hits, and he comes out onto the stage. He immediately books Bayley and Sasha in a 30 Minute Iron Man match…in the main event of TakeOver: RESPECT!
Bayley and Sasha like that idea, coming toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring for a handshake. It’s on!!!
In a WWE.com exclusive, Bayley and Regal spoke about the historic significance of this match:
Thoughts: Whew. Okay, let’s look at the match first. I really like Crazy Mary Dobson’s performance here. Even though she was filling the standard jobber role, she absolutely stood out, looking strong and demonstrating a unique moveset. It allowed her to show off her offbeat toughness despite being far removed from the hardcore matches she’s made her name on.
Seeing Bayley overcome that new threat sold her as a credible champion in a way no bland squash match could. We know she can win matches – how else could she have become champ in the first place? What’s beneficial and entertaining is seeing her be met with new challenges and finding ways to overcome them. In that way, this match was anything but a waste of time. After two weeks of predictable squash matches, this was a breath of fresh air.
I admit I never expected Sasha to be Bayley’s first title challenger, but it makes sense. NXT needs to establish Bayley’s reign as legitimate, and there’s no better way to do that than putting on a TakeOver: Brooklyn rematch. If/when Bayley beats Sasha again, no one will be able to doubt her worthiness. It’s also a damn good way to get a Divas match in the main event – there’s no way a Bayley/Dana, Bayley/Eva or Bayley/Emma match could have gotten that slot. The combination of Bayley and Sasha’s history and Sasha’s main event status (undefeated in singles competition, no less) gives this match a unique pedigree. Of course, the Iron Man stipulation doesn’t hurt either!
I loved Sasha’s reason for demanding a rematch. It’s such a heel move to not be concerned with how lauded you are by the fans if you’re walking away empty handed. You rarely hear heels say that, but it’s a perfect way to look at it: the biggest heels have egos the size of the building. They want to be able to prove that they’re the best. They want the tangible perks of the glory wrestling brings: the gold. Give them a Match of the Year distinction, fine, but unless that match puts them on the throne, they aren’t interested. It’s so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t see it as a possibility. I guess I just figured TakeOver: Brooklyn was Sasha’s NXT swan song. I’m so glad it wasn’t, though.
This segment itself was so great, too. Bayley seemed like every Diva fan out there, throwing out dream stipulations. It feels surreal, to see one actually be implemented. If you had pitched that to me a few weeks ago – a 30 Minute Iron Man main event match – I would have laughed. Keep dreaming! Welp…
But really, the Iron Man stipulation is perfect, because it gives Sasha a chance to get back her mojo in a way a regular singles match could. Theoretically, she could trounce Bayley as many times as the thirty minutes would allow and take her place back atop the NXT women’s division. It adds stakes to the match much greater than just the belt: if Bayley can’t meet the challenge, she could be humiliated and sent to the back to the pack all in one night. I’m so excited to see them raise the bar again, wrestling-wise and story-wise. It’ll be a rollercoaster, for sure.
I have all the confidence in the world that Bayley and Sasha will deliver. I just hope their performance is enough to convince those that still need convincing (Vince McMahon, for one) that the Divas – NXT or otherwise – are absolutely deserving of wrestling in main events and in matches that push them to their physical and mental limits. That’s a lot of pressure to place on the shoulders of two women, but it’s not just them who will be on the hot seat here: the doubters, those who don’t see the need for real, lasting change to the way women are booked in the WWE, will be under extreme pressure as well. When Bayley and Sasha steal the show again – and they will – the pressure will be on the Powers-That-Be to prove that booking this match wasn’t a stunt, that the Diva Revolution isn’t just a hashtag. Make this the start of real change. Put up or shut up.