Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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NXT Redux (September 7, 2016): The path to Asuka, the path to gold

[media-credit name=”WWE” align=”alignnone” width=”620″]ember-vs-leah[/media-credit]

Welcome to this week’s NXT review! After Brooklyn the only thing on everybody’s mind is, who can beat Asuka? Who’s ready in the division to even try and square up with the Empress of Tomorrow?

NXT has its hands full in rebuilding the division and presenting credible challengers. Leading the pack right now is Ember Moon who makes her debut at Full Sail later on, but first Tom Phillips opens up our first women’s segment for the night with an exclusive interview with the women’s champion.

He starts off the interview asking Asuka what was so special about her match with Bayley? She says the crowd was crazy and she was so excited to share the ring with Bayley. She respects Bayley and says Bayley was the heart of NXT. They both fought hard in that match, she says, but Asuka fought harder.

He talks about her undefeated streak, mentioning that all the women she’s faced before have now moved on. She says they are now safe because they don’t have to face her anymore. He then asks her how important it is to represent her country as champion. She says it’s very important and she takes representing her people very seriously.

Tom caps off the interview by asking Asuka who she thinks is ready to face her and she responds, “No one is ready to face Asuka.”

After the interview Ember stands by awaiting her debut. She’s up against Leah Von. Let’s watch the match!

Both women make their entrances, with Ember entering to welcoming fanfare from the Full Sail crowd. They tie up and chain wrestle/reverse for a little bit. Ember reverses Leah’s reversals with a shoulder block before trapping Leah into a side headlock.

Leah manages to get out but eats the ground after Ember hits her with a second rope cross body. Leah makes her way back up and starts kicking Ember, trying to ground her with rough offense into a rest hold.

Ember fights out of the head lock but Leah backs her into the corner. She sets up Ember for a back hand spring elbow but Ember catches her with a roll up. Leah doesn’t go down for the count, however. Ember plants her with a butterfly suplex and then clotheslines her.

Ember makes her way to the top turnbuckle and takes Leah down with her magnificent flying stunner.

Thoughts: I’m really glad they had this interview with Asuka. It highlights NXT’s strengths and its glaring weaknesses within the division at the moment. The most prominent to me being the fact that she’s really right when she says no one is ready to face her. That’s a problem. While NXT is the developmental territory, the brand has always had a handful of competitors that were rising alongside the champion. We don’t have that yet. To be frank, I’m a little impatient with how they are building the title scene without evolving and involving the other women in side feuds that would serve to further build credible contenders up.

We need to start seeing movement within the division where competitors interact with each other way more than they are now. We need more vignettes and backstage interactions. Where are these girls while Ember, while Liv Morgan, while Aliyah are getting some shine and attention? Who is Mandy Rose? Why is Nikki Glencross here? These are questions that should be asked, answered, and worked into their characters. Matches don’t really mean anything if you don’t give us a reason to care.

Now onto Asuka herself, she was great in this interview. I’m very proud of her progress. Her command of English as a second language is getting better. I was a little disappointed they seem to have cut her match with another debuting NXT homegrown talent, but, I read it lasted all of 15 seconds so, I’m not sure how it would have translated or served her character even more than her continuous undefeated streak is. I also hope that after this interview she doesn’t disappear from NXT television. Now that Shinsuke Nakamura is NXT champ, he’s still taking on all comers. I know Asuka is different but keeping her off television DOES NOT do her any favors. It hurts the division and undercuts the importance of her at the top if she’s barely even there.

Ember vs Leah was good albeit short. Both ladies were able to show off and I enjoyed their chain wrestling at the start. I’m always a fan of fast paced reversals. They matched each other well and though Leah lost, she still looked good in defeat. They are prepping Ember for something BIG. I look forward to her first main feud where she’ll be able to make an even long lasting impact and help her opponent do the same in the process.

That is what NXT should have been doing while they prepped Bayley for her big main roster debut, they should have started our new faces off with some deeper programs with each other. I can only hope this starts sooner, rather than later.

What did you think of last night’s NXT? How do you feel about Asuka’s interview? Who will be Asuka’s next challenger? Sound off in the comments below.

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