NXT: 08/22/18 – A Debut, A Return and A Revelation

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Hey guys! Welcome to this week’s review of NXT. I want to apologize for the delay in getting this review out for you guys to read. I had a personal commitment on Wednesday when the show aired, and first got the opportunity to review what aired Thursday evening after work. I definitely do not want to make this a habit and I want to make sure the reduxes are finished as soon as possible. I’ve been a reader of this site since 2009, so I know how long it can feel like when you’re waiting on a redux to be posted. I would also like to give a quick shout out to Josue, who once again came to my rescue and covered this past Saturday for me. The man is a lifesaver and one of the backbones of this website, so thank you Josue!

On this week’s episode of NXT, we saw the reemergence of Bianca Belair. A month ago, it was reported that Bianca Belair had suffered an undisclosed injury. This injury not only kept Bianca out of action, but it also cost her the opportunity to participate in the number one contender’s match several weeks back. Last night, Belair was able make her return to the ring. She competed against a newcomer to the NXT women’s division and Mae Young Classic II competitor Deonna Purrazzo. While Belair looked to make a statement on her return to the ring, Purrazzo looked to make just as big, if not bigger, statement for her NXT television debut.

In addition to the contest between Belair and Purrazzo, we heard from Shayna Baszler regarding her match with Kairi Sane. We also got an interesting development on the attack of Aleister Black that included NXT’s twisted sister Nikki Cross.

The match started off with some chain wrestling between the two competitors. Purrazzo grounded Belair with a headlock take-down, only for Belair to counter with a headscissors. Deonna responded by doing a handstand, escaping the headscissors, and bowing towards Bianca. As Bianca and Deonna went to lock up again, Belair hit Purrazzo with a knee to the gut, allowing Bianca to gain momentary control with a headlock. Purrazzo would shove Belair off, but Bianca retaliated by demonstrating her athleticism from corner to corner before nailing Purrazzo with a dropkick. After a little more back and fourth between the two individuals, Belair would take control of the match with a gut buster.

Flash forward a bit, and Bianca was shown giving Purrazzo shoulder tackles in the corner. Bianca whipped her into the other corner and charged, only for Purrazzo to move out of the way and attempt to roll up Belair. Belair missed with a stomp but connected with a shoulder tackle. Belair then connected with three consecutive elbow drops, followed by a bodyslam. Bianca then acknowledged the Brooklyn crowd, who was chanting “EST,” before mocking Purrazzo. Yet as Belair went for a standing moonsault, Deonna was able to move out of the way.

Deonna capitalized on Bianca’s folly by hitting Belair with a bicycle kick, hip toss and dropkick. Purrazzo then attempted to lock on an armbar, but was thrown into the ringpost by Bianca. This allowed Belair to hit Deonna with her signature sitout facebuster maneuver and earn the victory.

After Bianca and Deonna’s match, security camera footage of Aleister Black being found laid out in the parking lot was shown. Mauro Ranallo would then note on commentary that a figure was shown on the rooftop when the footage was enhanced. Furthermore, Ranallo stated that the figure who was believed to be on the roof in the footage was Nikki Cross. Despite that belief, it was not confirmed whether or not Cross was actually the person in the footage who was on the roof.

Later on in the evening, a recap of Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane’s encounter from this past Saturday aired. Following the match, Cathy Kelley interviewed Baszler. Shayna, flanked by Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, and Ronda Rousey, accused Kelley of not knowing wrestling when she sees it, just like everyone else. Baszler was adamant in stating that Kairi did not beat her. Rather, Shayna insisted that she lost. Baszler stated that she was the better fighter, before her and her fellow Horsewomen walked off.

Thoughts: I think it goes without saying that I am pretty pumped to see Bianca back in action. She was building up a lot of great momentum before her injury was reported. But now that she’s back, I’m hoping she can pick up where she left off. If last night was any indication, I believe Belair is on track to be one of Kairi’s first challengers.

I liked the match between Belair and Deonna. I think there were a few moments in the match that seemed off. But those moments didn’t last long. And I would watch these two wrestle each other again in a heartbeat. It was without a doubt an enjoyable bout between Belair and Deonna.

Speaking of Deonna, this was my first time watching her wrestle in a while. I didn’t really follow any of her WOH work. But after watching her wrestle Belair, I regret that a lot. It’s continuously tripping me out that almost two years ago, Deonna was the person being run down by Alexa Bliss on SmackDown. And now she’s competing on NXT and in the Mae Young Classic. I think Deonna has a ton of potential. It does make me worried that with so much talent already being featured in the NXT women’s division, Purrazzo will get lost in the shuffle. Hopefully though that won’t be the case.

I’m intrigued to see what may come of Nikki’s possible involvement in the storyline regarding Aleister Black and his mystery attacker. I still can’t determine whether or not Nikki will be sticking around in NXT for a while or will be called up to the main roster soon. She made that appearance on Raw when Evolution was officially announced, and worked some SmackDown live events teaming with Becky Lynch. Maybe this will only lead to a one off segment with Cross. But I am looking forward to see how or if Nikki will play a role in this developing story regarding Black and his unknown assailant.

I was thoroughly shocked, in a good way, that Kairi won the title at Brooklyn: TakeOver IV. I did not see the company taking the title off of Shayna that soon. I haven’t been able to watch the match yet. But so far I’ve heard good things about the encounter, so I’m looking forward to catching up and watching the bout sometime soon.

I enjoyed Shayna’s reign as champion. I know that opens me up to an onslaught of criticism which is understandable. Shayna’s reign wasn’t my favorite. But I definitely think there were enjoyable parts of her time as champion. That being said, thinking of Kairi facing off with challengers such as Lacey Evans and Bianca makes me incredibly excited. I also get excited thinking about if Sane were to have competitive matches with Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae and Nikki Cross. Kairi is such a skilled wrestler, so I have no doubt that she can put on classics with whoever she’s paired with going forward.

There is also one correction I have to make. Last week, when I hypothesized that Baszler would win, I said that it could be compelling to have her continue her story with Candice LeRae. After reading some of the comments, I realized that I kind of contradicted myself. While I enjoyed Baszler and LeRae’s match from three weeks ago, I kind of forgot how little their parking lot brawl did for me upon my initial viewing of the segment. I do believe the in ring action between Baszler and LeRae was, and could continue to be, solid. But I can understand how the prospect of those two having promos with one another may not excite viewers.

What did you guys think of the match between Belair and Purrazzo? Do you think Cross will have a prominent role in the storyline regarding Black? Who do you think will be Sane’s first challenger? Let us know in the comments below!