Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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NXT Redux (August 12th, 2015): A TakeOver Contender Steps Up

Hello NXT faithful, and welcome to another NXT Redux! Oh, would you look at that: another NXT with a Divas main event! You’d think this was becoming the norm, huh?

The number one contendership for the NXT Women’s Title is on the line in the headlining match, Bayley looking to take the final step towards a title match against Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. All that’s standing in her way is Becky Lynch and her arsenal of armbars. This will be tough for Bayley to overcome, but what hero’s journey is ever easy? Well, outside of that new Fantastic Four movie. That final act? Woof.

Before we can get to that, though, we have a bit for foreshadowing from The Vaudevillains heading into their NXT Tag Title match at TakeOver.

They vow to “take care” of Alexa Bliss. They’ve got a plan. Alexa pops up, and doesn’t seem threatened at all. She taunts them and slaps them both.

So, who will neutralize Alexa? I like the suggestion of using Blue Pants for the job, since her quirkiness would fit in well with them. Could she actually get signed, though? Please?

It’s time for our main event!

Bayley and Becky are joined at the ringside area by champ Sasha Banks, who takes a seat at the commentary table. The bell sounds, and the competitors circle each other and tie up, Becky taking control. Bayley quickly turns the tides, taking hold of Becky’s left arm. She tries to take Becky down to an armbar, but Becky reverses it, taking and twisting Bayley’s left arm.

After delivering a bit of punishment to the arm, Becky is taken down with a surprise pin attempt by Bayley. She kicks out. Out of the pin, Bayley immediately takes hold of Becky’s left arm, determined to neutralize her strongest asset. However, a bit of twisting and turning puts Becky back in the driver’s seat, and soon she’s got Bayley’s arm back in her grasp.

Bayley rolls forward and frees herself, catching Becky in a side headlock. She snapmares her into a seated position before running the ropes and nailing her with a back elbow to the neck. She tries to punctuate it with a clothesline, but Becky rolls out of the way. When Becky gets to her feet, Bayley sweeps her legs out from under her and covers her for the pin. Becky bridges out and the two make a frantic bid for control, Becky tumbling out of the way of an attack from Bayley, running the ropes and sending her flying with an armdrag. She hits another armdrag and turns it into an armbar.

Bayley soon gets to her feet and backs Becky towards the corner to fight her off, but at the last moment Becky simply tosses her into the corner instead. She knee her in the midsection and goes for another attack, but Bayley slips out of the way, climbing to the second rope and springing off of it, taking Becky down with an armdrag. Becky heads to the opposite corner, where Bayley hits her with a back elbow and a bulldog. Bayley covers Becky, but only earns a near fall.

Once on their feet, the pair battle with waistlocks until Bayley rolls Becky into another pin attempt. Becky kicks out, but Bayley simply hits her with an elbow drop and tries again. Becky again kicks out. When Bayley pulls Becky to her feet, Becky takes control, hitting her with a suplex. She covers Bayley, who kicks out at two.

Becky follows Bayley into the corner, where she pummels her a bit. Bayley stumbles a few feet away, but Becky’s still on her, wrapping her left arm around the top rope and applying some pressure. She holds it as long as the referee’s count allows, which isn’t long. Bayley heads to an adjacent corner, and Becky continues her assault. Bayley starts to fight back, but that’s all halted with another armbar from Becky, the creative Diva using her boots to hyperextend the arm. As soon as she lets go, Bayley’s flat on the mat. Becky goes for the pin, but Bayley kicks out.

Becky has hold of Bayley’s left arm as the Divas get to their feet. Bayley battles back with some blows to the midsection, and Becky releases her, but not without a strike to the back. Bayley falls to the mat and Becky follows, again trapping that left arm. Bayley gets to her feet, and Becky decides to break the hold by hoisting her up and dropping the prone arm onto the top rope.

Bayley heads to the corner, where Becky again wraps her arm around the top rope. This time, though, the right arm joins in on the fun, Becky grabbing both and placing a boot on Bayley’s stomach, pulling with her arms and pushing with her foot. Bayley’s shoulders are surely screaming as loud as she is. Becky soon lets go and is met with some blows by Bayley, the Diva digging deep to use those injured arms. When she tries to whip Becky into the ropes, though, Becky turns it into another opportunity to punish her left arm, Becky twisting it and slamming her to the mat. Becky goes for the pin, but Bayley kicks out. As Becky locks in a sleeper hold on Bayley, we head to a commercial break.

When we return, Becky’s got Bayley in yet another armbar. Somehow, Bayley battles free, stopping another amrbar attempt and knocking Becky off her feet repeatedly with double axehandles. She charges in on Becky in the corner, nailing a shoulder to her midsection. Her follow-up back elbow attempt gets nothing but turnbuckle, though, and Becky kicks her in the side of the head with the aid of the ropes. When Bayley stumbles toward the middle of the ring, Becky goes for a suplex, but Bayley twists free, eventually taking Becky’s feet out from under her. Bayley flips forward into a pin attempt, but Becky kicks out. Bayley dives towards Becky again, rolling her into another pin. Becky kicks out again.

Becky comes charging back at Bayley, but she’s then hooked by the arms, Bayley taking her down for a backslide pin. Becky kicks out, but remains hooked to Bayley. The pair, still hooked at the arms, slowly get into a standing position. Becky gets free and takes control, tossing Bayley with a suplex. Becky covers Bayley, who kicks out. Becky runs the ropes and hits a legdrop, following it up with another and then attempting a third. Bayley rolls out of the way, though, leaving Becky to land on her tailbone. Bayley is quick on the attack, running the ropes and hitting the seated Becky with a low clothesline. Becky stumbles into the corner and Bayley beats her down a bit before taking to the second rope, flying off of it to hit her with a back elbow. Bayley goes for the pin, Becky kicking out at two.

Becky fights off Bayley’s attempts to maintain control, but is soon tossed out of the ring. She manages to hang on to the middle rope, though, and lands on the ring apron. A blow from Bayley lays her out, but she’s quick to return the favor, kicking Bayley in the head to fight her off. She climbs to the top rope, but Bayley stops her, joining her up in the high risk area. Becky fights her off, avoiding a top rope Bayley-to-Belly, but is still taken down, Bayley grabbing her and slamming her to the mat. Bayley pins her, but it’s not enough.

Becky slips free from Bayley’s follow-up slam, but her kick is blocked, Bayley grabbing hold of her right leg. Becky flips free and captures Bayley’s left arm, locking in the Dis-Arm-Her! Fortunately, Bayley’s near the bottom rope, and she grabs it, breaking the hold.

Becky pull Bayley to her feet and preps for a suplex, but Bayley fights back and hits one of her own. She sees the end in sight, getting ready for a Bayley to Belly. When she goes for it, though, Becky blocks, capturing her arm and trying to take her down for an armbar. Bayley slips free and rolls up Becky. The leverage is enough to keep Becky down for the count, and Bayley wins! She’s heading to TakeOver! She locks eyes with Sasha, who stands up at the commentary table and holds her title high.

After the show, Bayley spoke about her big win and even bigger opportunity at TakeOver:

Bayley says this is a long time coming: she’s been knocked back countless times, but she’s not going to let it happen again. She’s leaving TakeOver with the Women’s Title.

Thoughts: This was so great, and surprisingly, it was like night and day from Bayley’s awesome match with Charlotte last week. It just goes to show how diverse Diva matches can be if you arm them with distinct arsenals. For Bayley, battling Charlotte became a conditioning battle, a constant attempt to outmaneuver her. Battling Becky, though, was more of a frantic battle to avoid getting trapped in the Dis-Arm-Her, Bayley trying to take Becky’s arms out of the equation. It was strange to see Becky playing a quasi-heel here, since she’s one of the few babyfaces in the Diva Revolution. It’s understandable, though, since Bayley’s playing Cinderella here, and anyone in her way is going to be seen as trying to stomp on her destiny. I can live with that.

I loved that this was the main event, especially since this didn’t involve either of NXT’s golden girls, Charlotte and Sasha. What’s even cooler, in my opinion, is that it’s steadily becoming normal for the Divas to main event. That’s what we as Diva fans should be hoping for: that Diva main events become commonplace, almost standard. Eventually, that attitude will have to trickle up to the main roster, where the occasional Diva Raw or SmackDown main event could be possible. I’m not sure if, in the near future, main eventing those shows could become “normal”, but we could at least hope for it to happen a few times a year.

Sasha’s commentary was good: it didn’t distract from the match and gave a new dimension to her character, actually sounding a bit humble at times. The main roster’s bookers should take note.

I like how this ended with a roll-up – years ago, it was a finish that plagued the Divas division, but lately, we’ve been spoiled with big, definitive finishes. In a way, a roll-up is unexpected and sells the fact that the win was a lucky one. Bayley is entirely capable of beating Becky straight up, sure, but the frantic style of the win just adds to her Cinderella story. It’s like a buzzer beater in basketball.

I can only imagine how Bayley vs. Sasha will play out at TakeOver. I’m sure it’ll be fantastic, especially since Bayley’s now facing a full-fledged heel. She’ll be able to play the underdog to the fullest, and I’m expecting the crowd to get behind her like we’ve never seen before. This is the moment Bayley’s been working towards for years, and that will make this feel huge. For her to compete in this match at NXT’s biggest venue so far, live on the WWE Network just one night before Sasha’s due to compete at SummerSlam, the stars couldn’t be better aligned for her to take the gold. I’m completely convinced that she’ll be winning that match, but it’s not in a way that makes me say, “Ugh, this is so predictable.” It feels inevitable, sure, but only in the same way that it’s inevitable that the hero in a movie will prevail. You want Bayley to finally make it to the top, because she’s been fighting for it for years. You’ve been on this journey, and you want to see a happy ending. Nothing else will do.

It’s appropriate that Bayley, the perpetual underdog, is poised to become the ultimate hero at TakeOver. It’s a superhero origin story come true: she started at the bottom, toiled tirelessly, overcame the odds, earned the world’s love and is on the cusp of making it to the top of the mountain. Needless to say, with her at the helm, the next stage of NXT’s Divas division will be in good hands.

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