Welcome, welcome to another NXT Redux! On this week’s show, NXT continued their pattern of booking two enticingly fresh Divas matches, both playing their own role in establishing a new status quo for the division.
Asuka kicks off the show, to the crowd’s delight:
Cameron follows, sporting new purple hair that perfectly matches her gear. You think she could color coordinate her hair every appearance? She could swap out color on bleached ends as she sees fit. I admit that I’m not really familiar with temporary hair color, but that would be a cool way for Cameron to set herself apart from the pack, especially if she’s sticking with her vanity gimmick.
Asuka and Cameron start with a tie-up, Cameron backing Asuka into the corner as the crowd chants, “Asuka’s gonna kill you!” She backs off and goes for a kick, but Asuka catches her leg, walking her back towards the center of the ring. Cameron pleads with her to let her go, and she does. Cameron takes advantage of this gesture by going for a slap, but Asuka, lightning quick, pulls Cameron into an armbar! Cameron frantically kicks out and catches the ropes with her boot, forcing a break.
When Asuka comes for her again, Cameron shoves her throat-first into the ropes and then slams her face into the mat. She runs the ropes and hits a sliding split kick, covering Asuka in three consecutive pin attempts. After Asuka kicks out a third time, Cameron pulls her to her feet and hits a suplex, followed by a slip leg drop. She stays atop Asuka for another pin attempt, but Asuka kicks out again.
Cameron locks in a dragon sleeper, but Asuka’s soon on her feet, elbowing her way free. She snapmares Cameron to the mat and ducks her follow up attack, responding with a spin kick. With Cameron down, Asuka does a little taunting, mimicking Cameron’s mannerisms. Cameron sees this and is furious, screaming at Asuka and hitting her with a few forearms. She runs the ropes, but Asuka’s right behind her, and before she can hit the ropes, she’s taken down with a hip bump.
Asuka sends Cameron into the ropes and hits her with her own version of Naomi‘s Rear View. When Cameron gets back to her feet, Asuka starts to lay into her with kicks, backing her into the corner. Cameron ducks what could have been a “lights out” kick and swings at Asuka, but her arm is caught. Asuka takes her down to the mat with an armbar! Cameron quickly gets free, rolling forward. She doesn’t get far, though, Asuka grabbing her and twisting her arm back into a hammerlock.
As Cameron gets to her feet, Asuka lets go and nails her with a series of chops punctuated by a heel kick. She runs the ropes and kicks Cameron square in the face, flattening her. Asuka pulls Cameron to her feet and quickly locks in the Asuka Lock, dragging her to the mat and trapping her. Cameron taps out!
Next, we check in with Carmella, who updates Tom Phillips on the conditions of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady after last week’s attack:
She’s interrupted by Dash and Dawson, who mock her. She fires back, calling them George Costanza and Danny Devito and telling them to watch their backs.
It’s Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley! They promise to watch Bayley’s back and take care of “Alexa’s lap dogs”.
Next, it’s time for Eva Marie’s return to the ring! She’s back from Paris, and she’s taking on Marley (FKA Gionna Daddio) in her NXT debut:
The Divas tie up, Eva taking Marley down to the mat and immediately celebrating that feat. She whips her hair in Marley’s face and struts around. Marley responds by shoving Eva right onto her backside. Eva comes charging back, but Marley dodges it, Matrix-style, and takes Eva down with a hip toss. She goes for the pin, but Eva kicks out.
Marley pulls Eva to her feet, but Eva twists around, taking back control and slamming her face-first into the mat. Eva takes Marley to the ropes, wrapping her arm around the middle rope and pulling her painfully by the wrist. She soon lets go at the referee’s insistence and hits a suplex, flipping back for a pin attempt. Marley kicks out.
Eva locks in a standing armbar on Marley to tune of competing “Eva’s rachtet/No she’s not!” chants. Marley soon finds it in her to fight out, hitting Eva with forearms and an enziguri. She hits two dropkicks and then leaps onto Eva, rolling her forward and delivering blows to the head. Eva escapes and retreats to the corner. Marley gives her a moment and then comes charging at her, only to eat a big boot.
Eva follows that up with a modified DDT, covering Marley for the pin and the win.
In a WWE.com exclusive post-match interview, Eva spoke about the crowd’s not-so-pleasant reaction to her:
Eva remained confident, claiming that the audience’s jealousy is ugly. She says her victory put her one step closer to getting a shot at the NXT Women’s Title. She vows that she’ll be seeing that belt soon.
Tom repeats the question he had for Emma last week: is she scared of Asuka? She says she isn’t. She even says she respect her. She just doesn’t appreciate Asuka “getting up in her face” and smiling. Dana also doesn’t appreciate being patted on the head. She says she’d love the opportunity to get back into the ring with her. Emma says she’ll have to wait, because she needs to give Asuka a proper NXT welcome.
Thoughts: Cameron/Asuka definitely wasn’t a match I expected to see, but I really enjoyed it. Cameron played off of the sassy Asuka well, and even if her own offense wasn’t super exciting, it was certainly a treat to see her take Asuka’s moves. It’s smart to pair someone like Cameron with Asuka, because the experience can only make her better in the ring, teaching her to work faster and take complicated moves she’d never encounter in the slower main roster matches.
I can’t wait to see NXT work its magic on Cameron: she’s got a lot of potential, and NXT is the perfect place for her to tap into it. I’ve really liked Emma’s work following her NXT return, so maybe the same will happen to Cameron. A “reset”, if you will, allowing her to show a new side and rework herself from the ground up.
Eva/Marley wasn’t as great, but it started out good, and it’s clear that the crowd still gets to Eva. You could see her fall apart at the end, resulting in a pretty flat finish. She did a good job using the crowd to her advantage before, but I imagine working with a debuting Diva added its own pressure. One plus I took away from this match was Eva’s personality: she’s definitely showing more of it, which is great, since that was one of her biggest weaknesses.
I like Marley so far. Her look is cute, if in need of refining, and reminds me a lot of Alexa Bliss. She’s kind of the other side of that coin, embracing her spunkiness. I’d like to see what she can do against a more experienced Diva. Until then, I’ll reserve judgment on her in-ring skills.
I gotta be honest, though: hearing the crowd lay into Eva and try to put themselves over with their chants just makes me root for her even more. I really, really don’t want Full Sail to become some clone of the WWE’s Chicago crowds, who seem intent on making themselves part of the show. That would be insufferable. They’re already working my nerves with how eager that seem to be to rip Eva to shreds, as if they earn cool points for not being “fooled” by the WWE’s attempts to put her over. Yeah, you show that woman! That’ll teach her to work on her craft and earn her paycheck! It’s not a good look, guys. The more gleeful Full Sail gets in their Eva hatred, the more it looks these dudes have deep-seated issues with women.
As I have been for a few weeks now, I’m really excited to see NXT move forward with new talent and fresh storylines. Even if some of the matches aren’t five star classics, they at least serve as a starting point. New faces bring new possibilities. I can’t wait to see what’s next.