For the second week in a row, NXT’s Divas got the Superstar treatment.
Never before has a Diva signing been treated with such pomp and circumstance, recalling the signings of Finn Balor, Apollo Crews and Hideo Itami, to name a few. The set up – a contract signing – was a meaningful gesture on behalf of NXT, almost a promise to fans that the much-hyped Diva Revolution is alive and well in NXT, despite any fumbles the main roster might have committed lately.
The bell sounds, and Carmella charges out of the gate, driving Eva into the corner. She pummels her in the head and tosses her into the turnbuckle twice before dumping her out of the ring. Catmella moonwalks in celebration as Eva recovers. Eva is quick to return to the ring, but she’s immediately rolled into a pin attempt. She kicks out and takes back control with a knee to Carmella’s stomach. Eva hits a suplex and goes for the pin, but Carmella kicks out.
Eva pulls Carmella to her feet and slams her face into the turnbuckle, driving her shoulder into her stomach. She hits a back elbow and a big boot, laying Carmella out. She goes for another pin. Carmella kicks out again. Eva grabs Carmella by the hair and mocks her “How you doin?” catchphrase, hitting another suplex. Another pin attempt, another kickout by Carmella.
Eva delivers some more trash talk, prompting a slap from Carmella. Eva beats her on the back and slams her face to the mat. Carmella crawls to the ropes, where Eva chokes her. Eva goes for another suplex, but it’s blocked, Carmella pulling her into a small package pin. Eva kicks out.
Eva sends Carmella to the mat with another knee to the stomach. She locks Carmella into a submission, pulling her arms back. Carmella eventually powers out, getting to her feet. Eva doesn’t let her get far, though, whipping her into the corner. Carmella fights her off, hitting a back elbow and a headscissors takedown off the corner. She then propels herself towards Eva, hitting two consecutive Lou Thesz presses.
When Eva gets back to her feet, Carmella drives her into the corner with her shoulder. She then pulls her back by her hair, slamming her face right into her propped up boot. Carmella plants Eva with a reverse X-Factor and goes for the pin. Eva’s boot saves her, though, hitting the bottom rope for a rope break.
Carmella can’t believe this, and after a few moment of frustration, she grabs for Eva. Eva telegraphs this and shoves Carmella through the ropes. Carmella has a rough landing on the floor outside, hitting her head on the steel ramp. She makes no move to get to her feet and is counted out. Eva Marie is your winner!
A bit later, we’re treated to a new Nia Jax promo:
Still good stuff. Hopefully she makes her debut soon! There’s only so many ominously confident things she can say, right?
It’s still a lot to take in: a main event 30 minute Iron Man match for the NXT Women’s Title. Is it October 7th yet?
Later on, it’s time for Asuka to officially arrive! NXT GM William Regal heads to the ring to make the introduction.
Regal says she may be the WWE’s greatest female signee, which is mighty high praise. He introduces her as Kana, but when she steps out onto the stage, mask and all, the screen changes to present her as Asuka. She rips off her mask and excitedly makes her way to the ring.
Regal invites her to put pen to paper and make her signing official, but first invites her to say something to the NXT Universe. She says she’s happy to be here, setting off a “N-X-T” chant. She calls this moment a dream come true and stakes her claim on the NXT Women’s Championship. She then signs the contract, making it official!
As soon as that’s done, the ceremony is interrupted, Dana Brooke and Emma joining them in the ring. Regal warns them that this intrusion is incredibly rude, but Emma takes the microphone nonetheless. She greets Asuka and introduces herself and Dana in mocking fashion, calling them NXT’s welcoming committee.
Emma says they came out tonight to make sure she knows that they are in charge. Dana says they were the ones who ran Charlotte and Becky Lynch out of NXT, so they can end Asuka’s NXT run before it even starts. She dismisses Asuka, who leaves a little too easily.
She walk up the ramp slowly, but before she departs, she throws a menacing smile their way. Emma and Dana don’t like that one bit.
Afterwards, Regal spoke about Asuka’s signing, hyping it up:
He invites anyone unfamiliar with Asuka to search “Kana” on YouTube. Or… *cough* check out full matches on ClickWrestle *cough*. He says her ferociousness is exactly what the women’s division needs.
Last but not least, we have an appearance by Alexa Bliss, who accompanied Blake and Murphy to the ring for their NXT Tag Title rematch against The Vaudevillains:
Very early on, Alexa’s chased from ringside by her old friend Blue Pants. Blake and Murphy eventually lose the match, Alexa’s absence ensuring that The Vaudevillains held on to their belts.
Thoughts: I love how they treated Asuka’s signing like a truly prestigious moment. It’s great to see a woman get the treatment some of the bigger men’s signings got. It’s things like these that put women’s wrestling on equal footing with the men: treating them as integral parts of the program. Acknowledging her lengthy career as Kana adds to that – she’s not some mysterious Japanese woman: she’s a major player.
I enjoyed seeing Asuka look so excited – you’d think the WWE would want to present their big prestige signee as poised and “important”, so it felt very real to see her enthusiasm. It was weird to see her be so easily intimidated by Emma and Dana, but I appreciate how it flips the script a bit, since one would expect her to be all badass and refuse to back down. Then again, that was likely a ruse by Asuka, judging by her smile at the end of the segment. She’s got plans for them. I can only hope she brings in another newbie to even the score. You ready, Athena?
It is so smart for NXT to lean fully into Eva Marie’s infamy. Like I said previously, she gets nuclear heat for just being there, so booking her as a heel only makes sense. Having her get a cheap win adds to that – fans already think she doesn’t “deserve” a push, so it’s genius to book her to climbs up the ranks through luck and hijinks. That way, when fans disparage Eva, they’re playing directly into the WWE’s booking. What will the fans do then, chant “You deserve it!”? That I’d like to see.
Eva seems much more comfortable in a full heel role. Her leisurely pace plays into that well. It doesn’t make for the most exciting matches, but it’s an easy way to soak up boos. The constant “How you doin’?” mocking got a little repetitive after a while, but I’m glad she did it, making it clear that she’s no babyface, like the last few weeks might have indicated. She should bust out a moonwalk too – the worse, the better!
With NXT’s recent signings, it doesn’t seem likely that Eva will be getting a title shot any time soon, and I think that’s to her benefit. Pushing her that quickly is the opposite of what they should be doing with her, since fans are predisposed to hate her. Let her grow into her role, becoming the heel that, against all odds, remains undefeated. By the time she’s next in line for a title shot, you’ll have a match worth talking about: she’ll have racked up a ton of wins, and even though she probably won’t win the belt on her first go, her undefeated streak would lend the match some unpredictability.
Things look to be ramping up quickly in the NXT Divas division. You’ve got Bayley and Sasha’s main event match at TakeOver, Asuka’s introduction, Eva Marie’s rise, Alexa’s crucial role in Blake and Murphy’s success (or lack thereof), the impending debut of Athena and the host of other new Divas that still need to cement their place in the division. Suddenly, the loss of Becky, Charlotte and Sasha doesn’t seem like such a big hurdle to overcome. The future is bright!