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NXT Redux (January 20th, 2016): Friend or Foe?

A few weeks away from her next NXT Women’s Title defense, Bayley, for once, isn’t fending off a cruel adversary. In fact, she’s doing the opposite, teaming with her soon-to-be challenger. If that sounds unrealistic to you, you must not know the power of Baymella.

Carmella aims to prove her worth as #1 contender when she teams with the champ to take on two women who would love nothing more than to get a shot at the belt: Alexa Bliss and Emma. Can Baymella stay strong, with so many factors working against them?

Our first Diva sighting of the night comes from Alexa, who is interviewed backstage by Rich Brennan alongside Blake and Murphy:

Alexa accuses Blake and Murphy of “humiliating” her by losing at TakeOver: London. She has faith that they’re better than that, though, and she’s going to lead by example in her tag match tonight. She says what she’s going to do to Bayley and Carmella will be quite “Blisstasteful”.

Later on, Bayley and Carmella put in their two cents in an interview of their own:

Carmella says she feels “fabulous” about facing Bayley for the title, but she knows she’ll have to put their friendship aside when the time comes. Bayley starts talking about tonight’s tag match when she is interrupted by Dash and Dawson, who target Carmella. They insult her and her boys Enzo and Cass, firing her up. Bayley manages to calm her down, though, convincing her to take her frustrations out on Alexa and Emma.

Following a commercial break, it’s match time!

Emma makes her entrance first, accompanied by the trusty Dana Brooke. Alexa’s next, and once the trio are in the ring together, they present a rather fragile-looking alliance. By contrast, Bayley and Carmella’s friendship looks tighter than ever.

Before the bell can even ring, Emma strikes, knocking Carmella off the ring apron. Alexa pounces too, attacking Bayley from behind. Both Divas beat down Bayley until Carmella comes to her rescue. When the dust settles and the match finally begins, Bayley and Emma square off. Emma is on the attack immediately, isolating Bayley in the heel corner and tagging in Alexa.

Alexa drives a few shoulders into Bayley’s midsection before tagging Emma back in. Emma gets in a few more licks as Dana does her part, talking trash right in Bayley’s face. Emma tags in Alexa and the two double-team Bayley once more, slamming her to the mat. We then head to a commercial break.

When we return, Alexa’s got Bayley locked in a shoulder submission. Bayley eventually gets to her feet, but Alexa keeps her at bay, driving her into a corner. She taunts Carmella as Bayley fruitlessly tries to reach her and continues to take punishment to her midsection. Alexa lifts Bayley up onto the top rope, but Bayley battles back and comes flying off the ropes with a back elbow, knocking Alexa off her feet.

Bayley favors her ribs, unable to capitalize on her attack. Alexa crawls to her corner and tags in Emma, who flies across the ring, knocking Carmella off the apron. She tries to continue the beat-down on Bayley, but the champ fights back, taking her down with double axehandles and attacks in the corner. Bayley hits Emma with a suplex and is quickly distracted by Dana, who does her best to buy Emma time. Alexa is the one to capitalize on this distraction, though, unceremoniously knocking Bayley off her feet.

Bayley crawls to a nearby corner, where Emma squashes her with a well-timed Emmamite sandwich. She goes for the pin, but Bayley kicks out. Emma tags in Alexa, who continues the assault. She punishes Bayley’s ribs in a neighboring corner and then stands on her back, stomping on her mercilessly. Alexa locks in the arm submission again, but Bayley quickly battles out of it. It’s not enough to free herself, though, because Alexa sends her back into enemy territory.

Alexa tags in Emma, who hits Bayley with a double underhook suplex. She goes for another pin, but Bayley again kicks out. Frustrated, Emma pummels Bayley in the head. When Emma sends her back into the corner, though, Bayley starts fighting back, slipping past Emma and delivering the hot tag to Carmella. Emma tags in Alexa, who runs right into a series of Lou Thesz presses from Carmella.

Carmella then drives Alexa face-first into her corner-propped shoe and climbs to the second rope, from which she takes Alexa down with a hurricanrana. Alexa seats herself in a corner, bringing upon herself a Bronco Buster-like move from Carmella. Emma tries to attack Carmella from behind, but is swiftly tossed out of the ring. Alexa tries to capitalize on this with a roll-up pin, but Carmella kicks out.

Carmella gets to her feet quickly and slams Alexa face-first to the mat and locks in her signature headscissors submission. Alexa taps out. Baymella are victorious!

Thoughts: This match wasn’t particularly memorable – it worked the usual “babyface in the midst of a push getting an easy win off of the hot tag” thing – but Carmella looked pretty good, and that was the mission, after all. The few moves she busted out demonstrated her progress and the swiftness with which she picked up the win proved that she’s worthy of her title shot. In a way, this was necessary, since the Battle Royal win didn’t prove her in-ring prowess as much as her sneakiness.

It was interesting to see them double down on Bayley and Carmella’s friendship leading up to their title match. It’s definitely a unique form of build-up, with there being absolutely no tension between the two. Usually, at this point, there’d be an overwhelming sense of imminent betrayal, but despite Corey Graves‘s insistence, their friendship looks absolutely solid. I liked how Alexa and Emma’s heelish, fleeting partnership contrasted Carmella and Bayley’s, the heels getting plenty of offense in but ultimately falling short because they can’t fight the fire of a frustrated babyface who was forced to watch her best friend take an extended beating.

Seeing Carmella step into the spotlight is refreshing, even if it’s not destined to last for long, since she’s obviously not winning the belt on this go-round. I’m sure, when Bayley eventually makes the leap to the main roster, Carmella will be one of a handful of Divas stepping up to topline the division. When that time comes, these few weeks will have been very valuable, establishing this colorful character as a real threat inside the ring. Up to this point, she’s mostly talked the talk. Now, she’s finally getting the chance to walk the walk.

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