Thursday, July 29, 2021

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NXT Redux (June 28th, 2017): The Last Woman Standing

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Welcome, welcome, welcome to this week’s NXT review! We have an action packed episode in store for us, with glimpses of the old NXT we know and love returning to form. I’m excited, you’re excited, let’s jump into this!

Asuka and Nikki Cross‘ rivalry has been brewing in the background for months as Asuka defended her title and steam rolled through the entire women’s division.

Their rivalry has become so heated and violent that William Regal announced the first ever Last Woman Standing Match, so the two could settle their differences in the most depraved way possible.

Before we get to our main event, the third in a series of main events this week for women in the WWE, Nikki couldn’t help herself as she attempted to attack Asuka as she pulled into Full Sail earlier that day!

Asuka’s SUV starts pulling up to the venue as Nikki cross bodies the front of the car. Screaming her head off, she starts trying to get at Asuka. It takes three security guards to hold her back!

Now we get to our main event:

Nikki waits in the ring as Asuka makes her entrance. Commentary starts really putting over Asuka’s dominance, her winning streak, her unstoppable nature.

They tie up on and off and stare each other down before Nikki takes control.

Highlights throughout the match include Nikki getting a bunch of chairs out and trying to suplex Asuka on them, but instead she sends her into the stairs.

Asuka tosses Nikki into the stairs and pulls out a trash can. Asuka puts the trash can over Nikki and hits her with kicks and a dropkick off the top rope.

Asuka gets more chairs, but Nikki cuts her off. Asuka tosses Nikki into the pile of chairs off the top rope, but Nikki back drops Asuka into them too.

Nikki hits her swinging fisherman’s neckbreaker several times, but Asuka gets up at 9. Nikki runs at her with the title belt, but Asuka nails her with a kick to the head. Asuka nails a spinning backfist and hits 4 German suplexes in a row.

Asuka attempts to suplex Nikki out of the ring onto the pile of chairs Nikki pulled out earlier, but Nikki slides out and powerbombs her onto them.  Asuka knocks Nikki off the ramp and jumps off with her hip attack from the ramp.

They brawl to the announce table area. Nikki grabs a plastic table and a ladder. Nikki lays Asuka across the table and climbs the ladder, but Asuka climbs too. Asuka suplexes Nikki off the ladder and through the announce table. Asuka barely gets up at 9 to pick up the win!

Thoughts: WOWWWWW, this is everything Asuka needed to put back the spark in her high profile and lengthy reign. This is what I’ve been craving for, for months!

This match was the perfect climax for Asuka’s and Nikki’s rivalry. The spots, the brutality, this had everything and really expressed the fact that Nikki wants to fight any way possible and she takes pleasure in it while Asuka will do the same, but better.

We’ve seen Asuka rise through the women’s division in spectacular fashion, taking down the ace of the promotion, Bayley, to capture the title. She squashed local talent, she granted matches to those who thought they could step to her, like Liv Morgan, she’s taken out monsters like Nia Jax and she began competing in triple threats to defend her title.

Though this natural progression has stalled at times, we’ve finally arrived to a much more brutal and apt place for her, actual stipulation matches. Asuka has been there, done that, in regular one on one competition and slowly but surely she’s reached a point where she’s clutching the title by a thread.

Her last rematch with Ruby Riot and Nikki a few weeks ago saw her struggle much more than she has been and her first match with those two opened up more vulnerabilities and we caught glimpses of her weak spots.

We all know who the nail in the coffin will be for her but, what if it escalated to another stipulation match? Ember Moon needs more development before they, more than likely, collide at Brooklyn. I’d like to see more of this ruthless aggression and I’d like to see her more often on NXT television.

My question now is, where does this leave Nikki? When she was signed there was such anticipation from the women’s wrestling community, the “Best in the Galaxy” had arrived. This insane heel turn has been a revelation for Nikki. Your mileage may vary when it comes to pairing women with a male stable but having Nikki cause chaos with Sanity was the perfect way to introduce her. It slowly opened up a crack into what she was capable of, even if she rarely ever had a set plan.

We haven’t seen someone this sadistic, this unpredictable since Luna in the 1990s. Nikki is fantastic in her role and here her character beats were on point. She reveled in her masochistic nature when Asuka was hitting her, smiling and laughing. She’s wonderful. She also pulled out some more effective moves, which moving forward will put her over the top.

I’d really like to see her take a role similar to Samoa Joe last year and interfere in matches or beat up girls backstage while demanding another title shot.

Also, that backstage segment where she basically dive bombed Asuka’s car was amazing, I was losing it. It’s the little things that NXT can and should be doing to really build character and matches. Stories guys, matches benefit immensely from them.

What made the NXT Women’s Division stand out in the first place was the willingness to allow the women to shine and build to fantastic, all out wars. This match is on par with what we’ve come to expect from the brand. While NXT has struggled over the year to be consistent, allowing the women to go back to brutal, hard hitting matches with edge of your seat action and near falls, will signal to me that they still care about the division.

There’s still a lot to work on and NXT needs to step it up but this match is proof that creative can create magic when they really try. It’s time to stop letting the division flounder and instead build it to flourish. If this match is any indication, the brand is on the right track to showcasing a budding division again.

What did you think of last night’s match? What do you want to see next? What do you think Asuka will do now? What’s in store for Nikki? Sound off in the comments below.

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