NXT 03/21/18: Setting the tone for TakeOver: New Orleans

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Tonight on NXT (March 21st) NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon returned to in-ring competition against Aliyah.

The bell sounds off and the women show a sign of sportsmanship with a handshake. They tie-up with and Aliyah takes Moon down with a side headlock takeover that Moon counters from via head scissors.

After a stalemate, the women get to their feet, where Moon locks in a headlock. Aliyah escapes by shoving Moon to a corner and slamming her to the mat after a handful of hair.

Cameras catch Moon’s TakeOver: New Orleans opponent Shayna Baslzer, making her way to the NTX commentary table. Baszler says that while Moon may be the NXT Women’s Champion, it is Baszler who is actually running the division.

Back in the ring, Moon fights out of a grounded chin lock. She runs the ropes to connect a face crusher. Moon charges after Aliyah from a corner but the latter gets the boot up. Aliyah flies off the second rope but Moon catches her and hits a Samoan Drop.

Moon follows up with a springing forearm and Eclipse combination to pick up the win. Post-match, Moon stares down at Baszler and the two trade words.

Zelina Vega also made an appearance on tonight’s NXT while accompanying her business associate the NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas.

Alams interrupts Raul Mendoza during his entrance by attacking him from behind. He then heads to the ring to call out his TakeOver: New Orleans opponent Aleister Black for his lack of respect towards Almas and the muñeca.

Thoughts: NXT played things out safely for their Women’s Division this week. Shayna Baszler comes out as an arrogant heel, Ember Moon picks up a quick win in front of her and they trade words. TakeOver: New Orleans will mark the third title match-up between these two and I have to believe this will be the final blow off match between these two.

While I can’t say that their previous bouts have been some of my most favorite matches, Baslzer’s bullying ways through some of the NXT Women’s Superstars has helped Moon branch out more to her babyface persona. After all, it was Moon who issued the challenge to Baszler at TakeOver as a means to showcase what she represents and wants to be recognized for.

I’m glad to see Aliyah back on our screens again, even if it is to take a loss to Moon. Whether that be because of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are on hiatus or not, NXT has a locker room full of women that they really should start reintroducing on their screens again, which at best, may happen after the WrestleMania 34 weekend.

Speaking of WrestleMania 34, with several Superstars already announcing themselves for the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal on Raw and SmackDown this week, I would like to have seen some NXT Superstars follow suit but perhaps, just as with the Women’s Royal Rumble match earlier this year, we’ll be treated to surprise entrants.

What did you think of this week’s episode of NXT? Who are you rooting for at TakeOver: New Orleans? Which NXT Superstars would you like to see compete at the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal? Let us know in the comments below!