With two weeks to go until NXT TakeOver: London, it’s time to start finalizing the card. This week on NXT, we had confirmation of two big Divas matches that have been in the works for some time now.
NXT Women’s Champion Bayley will look to extend her title reign and conquer her most fearsome challenger yet in the unstoppable Nia Jax, while Emma will try to not let Asuka rattle her when they square off for the first time.
These matches were set up over the course of the hour, starting with another statement from Nia: the decimation of the returning Blue Pants!
Blue Pants has new music! Does that mean she’ll be back regularly? I guess we’ll see. The match starts with Blue Pants ducking Nia’s opening attacks, earning her a vicious clothesline. Nia stands on Blue Pants’s hand, stomping on it. She tosses Blue Pants across the ring by her hair twice, wearing her down.
Nia looks fired up, hosting Blue Pants up. The underdog slips free and tries to battle back with kicks and a running attack, but Nia easily scoops her up and drops her shoulder-first onto her knee. She plants her with two elbow drops and then tosses her into the corner, squashing her there. She plants her with a Samoan Drop and a leg drop before stepping on her chest for a cocky, successful pin.
Later, we check in on Dana Brooke and Emma:
When asked by Alex Reyes to explain their attack on Asuka last week, Dana calls it a “wakeup call” for Asuka. She says she wishes Emma hadn’t let go of the Emma Lock last week so soon, because she had been on her way to dole out more punishment on Asuka.
Emma says Asuka messed with the wrong girls. She claims that last week was just a warning, and you won’t even want to know what she’ll do the next time she gets her hands on her.
Emma heads off to wrestle her match, leaving Dana backstage to “cool off”, which she does by patting Alex on the head.
Next, it’s time for Emma to hit the ring! She takes on Liv Morgan (the artist formerly known as Gionna Daddio and fleetingly known as Marley):
They tie up, Liv backing Emma into the ropes. Emma shoves her off and the tie up again, Emma once more being backed into the ropes. When they tie up a third time, Emma manages to take control, grabbing Liv by the hair and slamming her face-first into the corner. She does this a few more times before capturing her in the Dil-Emma.
When she’s released from the hold, Liv slouches in the corner, inviting an Emmamite Sandwich. Emma waits for Liv to get to her feet before grabbing her by the hair again, snapmaring her to the mat, kicking her in the back and then standing on her hair. Emma toys with Liv some more, fending off her attempts to battle back and choking her in the corner.
Emma latches on a front facelock, which Liv manages to battle out of by hopping onto Emma and rolling her to the mat for some right hands. Liv hits a dropkick, but Emma recovers and whips her into the corner. Liv blocks her attack, though, flipping over her for a jackknife pin attempt. Emma kicks out by bridging out out the pin, hooking her arms around Liv’s and slamming her flat onto the mat.
Emma hits Liv with a curb stomp and then locks in the Emma Lock. Liv can’t fight it, and soon taps out. Emma maintains the hold a bit longer than necessary, demonstrating more of her newfound viciousness.
As Emma celebrates, Asuka appears on the Titan Tron, delivering some blows to a punching bag. She delivers a simple message to Emma: “See you in London.” Emma looks less than pleased at this news, her mood likely not helped by the crowd’s chorus of “Asuka’s gonna kill you!”
Immediately following this, we head backstage again for an interview with NXT Women’s Champion Bayley:
Alex Reyes recaps Bayley’s slew of successful title defenses and asks her about Nia’s attack last week. Bayley says if Nia wants a title shot, she’s willing to accept any challenge head on. Despite the fact that she’s never faced anyone Nia’s size, she’s confident.
Nia then appears, shoving Alex out of the way. She simply stares down Bayley, smiles, and walks off. Alex interprets that as a challenge, and Bayley reiterates that she’s open to it.
Just as she finishes her sentence, Nia reappears, grabbing Bayley and tossing her into a door, knocking it off its hinges! Nia smiles at her handiwork and departs.
Thoughts: After the past two weeks of lengthier Divas matches, it’s a bit of a let down to be back in the pattern of pushing forward storylines with two squash matches. Though, as I’ve said before, NXT Diva squash matches aren’t pointless, so the booking’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nia obviously can’t look weak heading into TakeOver: London, and neither can Emma. That means they need wins that send a message, and naturally, their opponents aren’t exactly big time Divas. I can live with squash matches that benefit a bigger story, rather than just telling us what we already know: the squasher is dominant, the squashee isn’t.
Seeing Blue Pants again was nice. I don’t have a problem with her coming in an getting the crowd interested in predictable matches, but I do think she’s best in small doses, especially after her relative overexposure earlier this year. Nia looked dominant as ever, though it was pretty much “same old, same old”. The fact that she didn’t use her finisher didn’t exactly serve to mix things up – it just told me that Blue Pants wasn’t much of a challenge. I really hope, come London, she’ll be ready to bust out some new moves and not get trapped in the “monster” box.
Emma and Liv wasn’t much more exciting, but I liked what Liv showed with her character, though it comes across as a sportier version of Carmella. She’ll have plenty of time to refine it, though, so I’m not worried. She looked better here than she did against Eva Marie, which is understandable, given that Emma’s a much more experienced wrestler. Maybe one day she’ll actually get some real offense in!
So, it looks like we’re set for TakeOver: London, with the gauntlets being tossed at Emma and Bayley. Both of these matches have the opportunity to deliver in very different ways, and I’m excited to see how they play out. It’s an interesting set-up, with both a heel and a face attempting to conquer their fears. Time to woman up, ladies: only two weeks to go!