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NXT Redux (February 24th, 2016): A Test of Teamwork

NXT TakeOver: Dallas takes place two days before WrestleMania 32, so it stands to reason that its card will start taking shaping pretty soon. Before NXT Women’s Champion Bayley can set her sights on her next challenger, though, she has a loose thread to tie up in the form of Eva Marie and Nia Jax, who attacked her and Carmella after their main event title match two weeks ago.

Baymella, strong as ever despite their clash for the title, will team up to take on Eva and Nia in this week’s main event. Is revenge in the cards? Let’s see…

We kicked off the show with Alexa Bliss, who managed Blake and Murphy in their match against Chad Gable and Jason Jordan:

Later on, we caught up with Carmella and Bayley in an interview:

Bayley admits that tonight’s tag match will be tough, but luckily, she has Carmella by her side. She says Carmella pushed her to her limit in their Women’s Title match, and she’s sure she’ll make a great champion one day. Carmella gamely says she’s coming for that title again sooner rather than later.

Carmella says tonight will be payback for Eva and Nia’s attempt to ruin the biggest night of her career. When asked about Asuka making the save, Bayley says she’s grateful that she was there, but it’s clear that she has her eyes on the title.

In the main event for the evening, the Divas did battle:

Carmella and Eva start things off, Carmella explosively taking Eva down with three consecutive Lou Thesz presses. she sends Eva into her corner and tags in Bayley. The duo hit a double suplex and Bayley goes for the pin, earning a near fall. Eva scrambles to her corner and tags in Nia, who easily fends off Bayley, tossing her across the ring and blocking a rollup attempt, deftly lifting her up and headbutting her.

Nia drags Bayley to her corner and tags in Eva, who soaks in the crowd’s adoration. This gives Bayley time to regroup, and she strikes before Eva can, knocking her off her feet and slamming her face to the mat. She pulls Eva to her feet and tags in Carmella. Baymella take turns whipping each other into Eva and squashing her in the corner. They celebrate with moonwalks as we head to a commercial break.

When we return, Carmella has Eva on the mat, having latched on a side headlock. Eva yells for Nia, but her partner can only stand helpless on the ring apron. She gets to her feet, backing Carmella into the ropes and getting within reach of Nia’s tag. Nia enters the ring as Eva exits it, and she scoops up Carmella, dropping her with a shoulder breaker.

Nia toys with Carmella before bringing her back to the corner and tagging in Eva, who spends too much time vamping and finds herself rolled up into a pin attempt by Carmella. Eva kicks out and spring to her feet, kneeing Carmella. She brings Carmella to her corner and tags in Nia, who hoists her up into a bearhug. Carmella is in excruciating pain, but powers through it, catching Nia in a front facelock. This forces Nia to drop Carmella, and she tags in Eva.

Eva stomps on Carmella and then chokes her against the middle rope before tagging Nia back in. Carmella manages to battle back, though, delivering right hands to Nia. She dives for Bayley, but is snatched out of the air by Nia, who keeps her at bay. Nia locks in a modified cobra clutch, swinging Carmella through the air and generally wearing her down. Eventually, she finds it in her to jab Nia with a few elbows, and that’s enough to force her to release the hold.

Nia shoves Carmella into the ropes, but she hangs on to them, baiting Nia into a charging attack. Carmella slips out of the way, though, and Nia goes crashing through the ropes, all the way to the outside. This gives Carmella time to get to her corner, tagging in Bayley and Nia tags in Eva. Bayley comes in with a full head of steam, taking down Eva with a series of attacks. She hits Eva with back elbows in the corner before climbing to the top rope for one more. She then hits Eva with a the Bayley-to-Belly, but when she goes for the pin, Nia pulls her off of Eva.

Bayley confronts Nia, but earns a headbutt for her troubles, which the distracted referee doesn’t see. Bayley tags in Carmella, who rolls Eva up for a pin. Eva kicks out, only to be locked in Carmella’s headscissors submission. Nia saves Eva’s skin here too, kicking Carmella and forcing her to release the hold. Nia takes down Bayley and drags Eva to her corner in order to make the tag. Now the legal wrestler, Nia hits Carmella with two legdrops. When she hits the ropes for a third one, Eva tags herself in, crawling into the ring to pin Carmella for the win and claim the spoils.

After the win, Eva and Nia spoke to

Nia took offense to the labeling of their performance as “dominant”, claiming that everything she does is dominant. Eva concurs, calling them the most dominant Divas in NXT. She says Bayley better hug her title tight, because they’re coming for it.

Thoughts: It was almost refreshing to see the heels pick up the win here. I may be way off, but it feels like most NXT Divas matches these days have ended in babyface victories – aside from Nia’s streak of wins, of course. There was a lot of really interesting team dynamics at play here. I like how Carmella showed her studious side, using Bayley’s tactic from TakeOver: London to free herself from Nia’s bearhug, while Eva showed her opportunistic side, happy to pick the bones of Nia’s prey. Both Divas are using their affiliation with more successful women to their advantage, but in vastly different ways that speak to their characters. It all serves to dress up what could have easily been a bland, good vs. evil tag match.

Bayley and Carmella are a great team, and I hope we’ll get to see more of them working together before either (or both!) head to the main roster. Eva and Nia’s partnership is even more intriguing, as it’s a lot more than it would seem at first glance. Nia is not Eva’s enforcer, and Eva isn’t Nia’s mouthpiece. They defying conventions, which is incredibly cool, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep complaining about how unclear Nia’s motivations are, especially when both of them have their sights set on Bayley’s title.

During this match, the announcers surmised that part of Nia’s motivation in teaming with Eva is the exposure the Total Divas star gives her. I could buy that – I just wish they’d have Nia acknowledge it to drive it home. As it is, it seems incomprehensible that a woman as dominant and driven as Nia is content with Eva getting the glory while she does all the heavy lifting. I really enjoy the dynamic, don’t get me wrong; it just doesn’t gel with the Nia we know. The good news is it wouldn’t take much to explain it. Have an interviewer ask her, point blank, what she gets out of an alliance with Eva Marie. Any explanation will do, really.

With Bayley acknowledging Asuka’s interest in the Women’s Title, it’s only a matter of time before these two start feuding in earnest. A match at TakeOver: Dallas hasn’t been booked yet, but logic points us toward what could be Bayley’s biggest challenge yet: Hugs vs. Smiles, if you will. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

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