NXT: 10/03/18 – Setting the Stage

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Hi friends! Welcome to this week’s NXT recap. Tonight, we saw Lacey Evans and Candice LeRae square off in a grudge match. This encounter was a result of an argument that occurred last week. As Candice was talking to her husband Johnny Gargano, Evans appeared. Lacey would call Candice’s abilities as a wife into question, which infuriated LeRae. This evening, Candice and Lacey had the chance to settle their differences in the squared circle.

In addition to Candice and Lacey going toe to toe, tonight’s NXT also featured a video package that highlighted Shayna Baszler‘s preparation for Evolution. We also received confirmation as to when Nikki Cross and the EST of NXT Bianca Belair will have their next encounter.

At the start of the show, Nikki Cross was shown backstage, talking about how fun games can be, especially games that involve other people. Nikki recounted all of the fun she had “playing” with Bianca Belair. Nikki discussed how anxious she was to play with Bianca again. Addressing Bianca directly, Nikki stated that she hoped she didn’t scare off Bianca with her bad behavior. While on the subject of disobedience and bad behavior, Cross ended the segment by repeatedly saying “I know!”

After the show’s usual introduction, it was time for LeRae and Evans to go one on one. The match started off with an aggressive collar and elbow tie up. After backing Candice into the corner, Lacey missed with a right hand. This allowed LeRae to give Evans a chop and smash Lacey’s face into the turnbuckle twice. Lacey attempted to throw Candice outside the ring, but LeRae countered with a jumping jawbreaker for a one fall. Evans backed LeRae into the corner again but received a boot to the face for her efforts. Candice then attempted to deliver an aerial maneuver to Lacey. However, Evans moved out of the way and nailed LeRae with an emphatic shoulder tackle. This move by Lacey would give her control for the majority of the matchup.

Evans would hit her signature bronco buster maneuver on LeRae, as well as relying on a choke hold and a headscissors submission from the corner to ground Candice. After sending Candice into the turnbuckle, Lacey charged and received a boot to the midsection. LeRae then sent Evans over the top rope. Lacey landed on the apron and swept the legs of Candice, but missed her signature springboard elbow drop. The miscalculation by Evans allowed LeRae to regain some control of the match. Candice hit Lacey with an enzuguri followed by some strikes and a clothesline. LeRae then kicked the left leg of Evans and hit her with a running dropkick. Candice followed up with a running back elbow, a snapmare, and her signature jumping facebuster off the second rope for a two count.

LeRae looked to then hit an unprettier, which was countered by Evans. Lacey then told Candice she was a loser just like her husband. The comment by Evans infuriated LeRae, who unloaded on Evans in the corner. However, by getting caught up in her emotions, Candice lost momentary focus. That lack of focus from Candice allowed Lacey to hit LeRae with the women’s right and secure the victory.

Later on in the evening, we were shown footage from last week, where Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler made their match for WWE Evolution official. Following last week’s recap, a video package aired to highlight how Baszler is getting ready for the big event. Shayna reasserts previous comments she’s made, telling the interviewer that her abilities and mentality has evolved immensely since last year’s Mae Young Classic.

Baszler admits that she got too comfortable as NXT Women’s Champion, which is why she went back to her basics in training camp. Shayna also stated that the training camp was much more intense than anything the rest of the NXT women are used to doing in terms of training. The package ended with Baszler stating that the world and women’s wrestling have evolved, and that come Evolution, Kairi will see first hand that Shayna has also evolved. Additionally, throughout the package, Baszler could be seen sparring with fellow horsewomen Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke.

Elsewhere in the program, Bianca Belair was interviewed by Cathy Kelley. Responding to the comments made by Nikki at the start of the program, Belair stated that she was not here for any games. Bianca also made it clear that she didn’t care what that “scraggly haired widow” wanted. Rather, Belair stated that it was about what she wanted, since she’s still undefeated, which according to Bianca is not changing anytime soon. Belair told Cathy that Cross had her chance to walk away, but chose not to. As a result, Bianca stated that she would not just beat Nikki, but embarrass her. Belair ended the interview by letting Cathy know she would remain undefeated.

Towards the end of the show, we were informed that in two weeks time, the rematch between Nikki Cross and Bianca Belair will officially be taking place at Full Sail University.

Thoughts: This was a pretty solid episode of NXT for me. Nikki and Bianca’s segments set up their next match really well. Both Cross and Belair had the opportunity to further their personas that we’ve seen develop over time. While Nikki was up to her usual antics and pacing around, Bianca was given the chance to once again let the audience know that she is undefeated. For me, both of their personalities came across well in their respective backstage segments. Additionally, in general, I think Bianca and Nikki’s personalities play off each other very well.

I am excited for two weeks from now and seeing these two square off again. My only gripe is that I wish this next match would have a stipulation of sorts. Something like no count outs, no disqualifications or something along those lines. Even without a stipulation though, I have no doubt that Cross and Belair will put on a great match. I was initially skeptical as to the type of match these two could put on. But after seeing their encounter from three weeks ago, I’m really pumped to see these two in the ring together again.

Speaking of in-ring competition, I thought the contest between Lacey and Candice was solid. What stood out to me the most in this matchup was how comfortable Candice looked in the ring tonight. When LeRae first started wrestling on NXT, I don’t think she was quite as comfortable as an in-ring competitor. But over the last couple of months, she looks a lot more fluid in the ring, and it definitely showed during tonight’s matchup.

My only complaint with the way the match ended is similar to what I’ve been saying the last couple months. Evans insulted LeRae’s husband, which made Candice get lost in the moment, which then, in turn, cost her the match. I wish that they would develop a storyline for Candice where she wasn’t being associated with her husband. She is wickedly talented in the ring. But by always being associated with Gargano, I’m worried that her in-ring abilities will always be overshadowed by who she’s married to.

The video package for Shayna Baszler was short and sweet. I think it did what it needed to in regards to establishing Shayna’s mindset going into Evolution. It’s a nice way to build up the match between Kairi and Baszler. I have a feeling we’ll see a similar package air for Sane soon. Which I am all for. These video packages give a little more depth to the matches, which is always nice to see. Especially with such a historic matchup that will be going down on October 28th.

Lastly, I want to give a quick shout out to Mia Yim, who was recently signed and made her NXT live event debut this past weekend. I’ve been following Mia since her appearance at the inaugural Knockouts Knockdown 2013 PPV. Yim is insanely talented when it comes to in-ring competition. Again, it does make me nervous that since there are already so many females down in NXT, Mia will get lost in the shuffle. But I sincerely hope that’s not the case. That girl has an immense amount of talent, and I hope she gets utilized properly.

What did you guys think of the match between Candice and Lacey? Are you looking forward to the rematch between Nikki and Bianca? Are you getting excited for WWE Evolution? Let us know in the comments below!