NXT Redux (May 11, 2016): All Eyes on the Prize

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Welcome to this week’s NXT Redux. After Nia Jax, once again, destroyed one of her opponents last week, this week we see another woman rise to the occasion and stake her potential claim for the NXT Women’s Title with Alexa Bliss continuing her own winning streak. Meanwhile, Bayley also makes her case for her rematch against Asuka.

But, before we get to Alexa’s match against Rachael Ellering, daughter of Hall of Famer and former Road Warriors manager Paul Ellering, she joins her boys Blake and Murphy briefly in NXT General Manager William Regal‘s office.

 

Austin Aries meets with Regal to discuss his impact and what he’ll do next in NXT. But Blake and Murphy bust in, interrupting their conversation, to ask for a tag title match. Aries tells them they are being rude and also accuses them of having the audacity to not even invite Alexa with them. She menacingly appears behind them.

Before her boys can have a shot at the titles, they must work their way up the tag team division again. Regal makes a match for next week between Aries and a partner of his choosing to begin that process.

Next up Alexa’s music hits as we gear up for her match against Rachael.

Both ladies make their entrances, Alexa strutting to the ring while Rachael comes out looking confidently ahead at her opponent. They tie up and Alexa immediately begins to work Rachael’s arm and shoulder by putting a lock hold on her. Rachael reverses it, then Alexa flips her to the mat, transitioning into another shoulder lock. Rachael reverses out of it, trapping Alexa in a headlock. However, Alexa reverses it again but falls to trip to the shins by Rachael.

She immediately covers Alexa, but Alexa kicks out. Rachael goes for a roll up, but again, Alexa kicks out and hits her with a right arm to the face. She then slams Rachael down to the mat. She starts taunting Racheal and kicks her in the ribs. Alexa goes for the pinfall but Rachael manages to kick out in time. Alexa continues to dominate with stomps to the chest.

Alexa stomps Rachael’s shoulder and again works the arm by locking it. She continues to damage Rachael’s arm and shoulder by slamming it against the mat with her knees. Rachael manages to push Alexa off and slaps her twice. Alexa is forced off, she begins to charge at Rachael but instead eats a dropkick.

Rachael hoists Alexa onto her shoulders but Alexa escapes, catches Rachael by the throat and chokes her down to the mat. Alexa then makes her way to the ropes and puts Rachael away with a Sparkle Splash.

After the match Bayley is interviewed by Cathy Kelley about her potential rematch with Asuka.

Bayley says Asuka gave her the fight of her life in Dallas, but she’s been training and focusing on getting back in the ring with her. Just as she begins to elaborate further, Nia enters the picture and starts mocking by saying their match in London was one mistake that she’s learned from, but Bayley has only gotten weaker since losing her title.

Bayley asks Nia if she really has to remind her that she beat her before. Regal sets a match between the two for next week’s NXT.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this match. Alexa has come a long way and I appreciate the chain wrestling at the start with the shoulder/arm holds and reversals in the beginning. Sometimes Alexa gets stuck during a match, winding down the pace with rest holds frequently, but this time you can see she has improved and sped up her timing with Rachael.

She also did a great job working over Racheal’s limbs. I’ve noticed WWE has this thing of rarely letting their wrestlers focus on limbs, but when it comes up in a match, it typically leads to overdoing the spot. However, I think it works here in trying to ground Rachael long enough for Alexa to deliver the Sparkle Splash, which by the way, should definitely be renamed to better suit Alexa’s mean streak.

Working with veterans of the women’s indy scene is helping Alexa feel more comfortable in the ring. But, she still struggles with pacing while working with other inexperienced superstars. I believe she needs a bit more time to hone her skills to really reap the rewards of being able to set the tone of a match. She also should mix it up a bit and add some more high flying maneuvers, perhaps a frankensteiner or variations of tilt-a-whirl takedowns. I think it would hammer home her quick unpredictability and the fact that she could strike anywhere. She already does a variation of a standing moonsault double knee drop and I have seen her pull off headscissors takedowns before.

I’m eager to see if she’ll eventually challenge Nia. Whenever that happens it should be an interesting dynamic, almost another David and Golith scenario with Alexa’s small size and ariel maneuvering versus Nia’s dominate ground based approach.

The backstage segment between Bayley and Nia was OK. You can tell the hugster is still a bit shaken up by her loss but is eager to get back in there and try again. Nia felt a little stiff in delivering her lines but began to sound more natural when laying down the challenge for a rematch.

Since losing to Asuka, it looks like Bayley may regress back into her ultimate underdog fangirl character. It should be compelling to watch where it goes from here and how she’ll handle her possible descent.

I’d be a bit remiss if I didn’t say I wasn’t a bit concerned about where the division is going. Before we entered this transitional phase in NXT, there was a steady mix of focus on the title scene and a healthy build in the division with side feuds between all the competitors. Now the under card seems to have disappeared.

What made the division so special was its detailed construction, with every woman contributing in some way on almost every weekly show. I hope NXT hasn’t lost its focus on highlighting its strongest competitors and removing the stigma that women face so often, being viewed as the weaker sex. Especially now as WWE ushers in a new drive to finally push women for what they are, as being just as important as their male counterparts.