Sunday, October 24, 2021

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NXT: 07/18/18 – Claiming the Spotlight

Hey friends! Welcome to this week’s review of NXT. One week ago, we learned that tonight’s program would feature a number one contender’s match featuring Candice LeRae, Bianca Belair, Nikki Cross and Kairi Sane. However, due to an undisclosed injury, it was announced this past weekend that Bianca had to be pulled from tonight’s contest. As a result, LeRae, Cross, and Sane did battle to see who would have the opportunity to challenge Shayna Baszler at NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn IV.

Additionally, during last week’s show, a confrontation occurred between Dakota Kai and Lacey Evans. Evans and Kai have been going back and fourth on social media over the last couple of weeks. Their virtual hostilities led to Evans interrupting Kai’s interview with Cathy Kelley. Refusing to be intimidated or insulted, Dakota challenged Lacey to face her in the ring this evening. The challenge laid out by Kai led to tonight’s opening match up.

Although Evans started off the match mocking Dakota, it was Kai who was able to take control early on. However, as Kai went for a Facewash, Lacey Evans moved out of the way, leaving Kai hung up on the turnbuckle. Lacey then used the rope attached to the top turnbuckle to tie up Dakota’s leg and hit a variation of her signature bronco buster maneuver. Evans then took control of the contest. Kai was able to mount some offense again after Evans missed a moonsault. However, Kai’s comeback was not enough to put away Lacey. After missing an enzuguri attempt, Kai fell victim to the Woman’s Right and was defeated by the First Lady of NXT. Following the match, Evans aggressively talked trash and mocked her fallen opponent.

Later on in the program, Kairi Sane, Candice LeRae, and Nikki Cross battled in the main event to see who would earn the chance to face Shayna Baszler at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV. Baszler ended up joining the commentary team to get an up close and personal view of her who her next contender would be. The action in this main event match was fast and furious. At numerous times, each woman gained control of the match and seemed to have the upper hand. The finish of the match came when Candice LeRae hit a LionSault onto Nikki Cross. Before Candice could earn the victory though, Kairi Sane hit LeRae with the InSane Elbow Drop off the top rope. Kairi’s familiar aerial assault earned her the victory and a match with Shayna Baszler at the next TakeOver. The show ended with a stare down between Shayna and her next challenger.

Thoughts: It’s refreshing to have two matches on television. Granted, there were two women’s matches that were featured on NXT two months ago. But anytime there is more than one meaningful contest to help develop feuds and stories within the women’s division is a huge plus. For me, the women stole the show tonight and made it theirs. Which is always great to see. And it makes writing about it that much easier.

I thoroughly enjoyed both matches this week. Dakota and Evans’ match was enjoyable. The part of the match where Evans tied Dakota’s feet to the top rope was a very creative spot. Definitely one of the more unique things I’ve seen in a while. Dakota showed a good amount of aggression, and Lacey’s ring presence continues to evolve and get better. I like how Evans did variations of her springboard elbow drop and bronco buster. Little things like that are noticeable and fun to watch. This win tonight definitely helps propel Evans’ name into the title picture. Although the number one contender for Brooklyn was determined tonight, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch for Evans to be battling for that spot in the future.

I cannot speak positively enough about the triple threat match. I know in recent weeks there hasn’t been a lot of positivity regarding the NXT women’s division. But if you get a chance, I would recommend checking out the full match. It was fun and fast-paced. And one thing I enjoyed was that I could see any of the three women winning the match. That level of unpredictability is a nice change of pace as opposed to when Asuka was in NXT. All three women worked their butts off.

It is a shame that Bianca Belair was not in the matchup. I personally feel she would have only added to the excitement of the match. Plus it would have been nice to see Belair compete in a high profile match up. Because aside from the Mae Young Classic, I don’t think Belair has had a too high profile of a match. She’s definitely ready for it and the spotlight that comes with a big bout. Hopefully, sometime soon we’ll see Belair show off her skills in a marquee match.

The one part of the match that I didn’t enjoy as much was Shayna’s commentary. It did feel a little basic. Her message came across clear enough, which was that it didn’t matter who won because she wasn’t going to lose her title. But it felt a little repetitive. I’m not necessarily sure what I would have had Shayna say besides that. Yet I feel like there could have been more creative dialogue to help Shayna come across better on commentary.

The title match at Brooklyn between Shayna and Kairi, to my knowledge, serves as kind of a rubber match between the two. Kairi won the Mae Young Classic. Yet Baszler beat Sane back in February. Which definitely helps add a little bit of a backstory for Baszler and Sane’s upcoming encounter at TakeOver. I truthfully don’t necessarily remember their match from February that well. But I thought Baszler and Sane did a good job at the Mae Young Classic. As is always the case, I’m hoping Baszler and Sane have a great match and blow it out of the water come August 18th. I believe there’s enough chemistry between the two athletes to put on an enjoyable match.

What did you think of the match between Evans and Kai? Did you enjoy tonight’s main event? Are you looking forward to Baszler vs Sane at Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments below!

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