Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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NXT Redux (June 17th, 2015): Flying Fists, Fighting Words and a Bit of Flair

Another NXT Redux brings you another hour filled with Divas booking that the main roster could only dream of (or, in the case of its creative team, have nightmares of). Last week saw the booking put over no less than seven Divas. This week, we’re not that fortunate, but six Divas still see the spotlight. That’s damn good.

Again, we’re treated to two Divas matches, the first coming in the night’s opening bout: Carmella and Alexa Bliss take their feud to a Mixed Tag Team match, Carmella teaming with Enzo Amore and Big Cass while Alexa pairs up with NXT Tag Team Champions Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake:

The trio heads to the ring, a mic already in Enzo’s hand. He soon hands it off to Carmella, who addresses Blake and Murphy directly. She says they started things off trying to be “charming”, but have proven themselves to be nothing but cheating pigs. She calls them “pathetic” for having Alexa do their dirty work for them. As for Alexa: she’s about to get “dissed”: disfigured and dismissed.

With that, Alexa, Blake and Murphy make their way to the ring for their disfigurement. Enzo and Blake start things off, leaving Carmella and Alexa to stick to verbal sparring for the time being.

Action breaks down a short while later, Cass taking out Murphy while Carmella enters the ring to hit Alexa with a Lou Thesz press. Alexa escapes quickly, and Carmella retreats to her corner. After Enzo and Cass send both Blake and Murphy out of the ring, the trio celebrates in the middle of the ring while we head to commercial.

When we return, Enzo and Blake are back in action. Some time later, every man but Enzo is disposed of, so he tags in Carmella, automatically bringing in Alexa. Alexa comes charging at Carmella, who kicks her through the ropes and enters the ring. She takes down Alexa with shoulder blocks and running kick to the side. She captures Alexa in a waistlock, running her front-first into the ropes and knocking Murphy off the apron before rolling her into a pin. Alexa kicks out.

Alexa, having gotten in no offense, doesn’t see the tides turning any time soon, so she tags in Blake. Cass volunteers himself as Carmella’s replacement and pulls Blake into the ring as Carmella exits. He makes quick work of Blake and Murphy, giving Enzo a boost for a big splash onto Blake that earns the team the three-count and the victory.

Carmella, Enzo and Blake celebrate, saying bye to Alexa Felicia.

The next Diva on the docket is Becky Lynch, who makes a touching appearance in a video exploring the background of Finn Balor:

She talks about his instrumental role in her early days as a wrestler, stating that without Finn, there’d be no Becky.

Next, we’ve got former NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte in action. She takes on KC Cassidy/Cassie:

The bell sounds and Charlotte immediately displays her Flair trickiness, running the ropes and ducking around Cassie to capture her in a side headlock. Cassie soon shoves Charlotte off into the ropes, but is knocked over by a shoulder block on the return. Charlotte runs the ropes again, hops over a flattened out Cassie and takes her down bodily on the return, tossing her by the head.

Cassie uses the momentum to her advantage, though, immediately flipping atop Charlotte and latching on a side headlock. She spins around the ring, thwarting Charlotte’s wild attempts to break the hold. After a few moments, Charlotte finds her way out, latching her legs around Cassie’s throat and turning the hold into a headscissors. Cassie soon kips up out of the hold, prompting Charlotte to do the same.

Charlotte appears to be impressed, applauding Cassie and offering her a hand. When Cassie looks to accept it, Charlotte swipes the hand back through her hair. Wooooooo! She does a little Flair walk before circling her again to resume the action. This time, when they go to tie up, Cassie takes control with waistlock. Charlotte backs her into the corner to break the hold, turning around and charging back at Cassie. Cassie lifts herself up and out of the way, though, rolling Charlotte into a pin attempt. She kicks out after the one count.

Cassie is tossed into the ropes by Charlotte, but blocks the follow-up hip toss. She kicks Charlotte in the midsection and climbs onto her shoulders, taking her down with an impressive hurricanrana. She keeps up the momentum, following Charlotte into the corner with a spinning heel kick. She then tries for a monkey flip, but is caught and tossed away by Charlotte, who then kicks her square in the chest.

Charlotte plants a few knees onto Cassie before going for the pin, earning only a near fall. She chokes Cassie with her shin while admonishing the referee. She then grabs Cassie by the head in a headlock, planting her face with some knees before dragging her roughly to the mat and resuming the punishment on her neck. As Cassie fights to her feet, Charlotte hangs on, only letting go when tossed away.

Cassie fights off Charlotte’s next attack, hitting her with a back elbow. Her own kick is ducked, but she follows it up with a crossbody off the ropes, which takes Charlotte down for another pin attempt. Charlotte kicks out. Both Divas spring to their feet, Charlotte ducking a blow from Cassie and rolling her into a pin, bridging it uniquely. It’s not enough to keep Cassie down, though, and she kicks out.

Charlotte lands some chops on Cassie and hits her with a neckbreaker before planting her with a spear. She kips up and sees the end in sight, locking in a figure four on Cassie. She bridges it, turning it into the figure eight leglock. Cassie has no choice but to tap out and award the victory to Charlotte.

Finally, we have an appearance by Charlotte’s foe Dana Brooke, who is interviewed by Devin Taylor:

Before Devin can get her first question out, Dana interrupts her to request that she address her as “Miss Brooke”.. no, wait, “Miss Understood”. This is because she was referred to at TakeOver as a “former fitness competitor” when she’s still actively competing. She just returned from the Arnold Classic in Brazil, which is great for her fans, but terrible for Charlotte. She says Charlotte is in the process of being replaced by the “total Diva”.

She says some people earn their way into NXT, while others use their family to get in the door. She promises to shover Charlotte out that same door and slam it shut. Dana departs, reappearing for just a second in order to pat Devin on the head.

Sadly, I still don’t *get* Dana. The writers keep pushing this fitness competitor angle when it really has no way of being translated to a wrestling character. Sure, she does those poses, but how does that inform her performance in the ring? Should she be busting out poses mid-submission? It just feels like a character trait we’re supposed to find interesting without being given any reason to. And no, Corey Graves‘s incessant fawning over her doesn’t count.

The “total Diva” moniker is strange, too, given that Total Divas is a thing. Why not go whole hog on the Arnold Schwarzenegger thing and have her be the Terminator? Like, not an actual Terminator, but a machine-like monster of a Diva that lays waste to everyone else. Display her strength in devastating ways. The rest of the roster is filled with fast-paced wrestlers, so there’s definitely an opening for a Diva like that.

Her delivery left a lot to be desired too, making me wonder how this even made it to TV. I mean, the blatant cue card reading reminded me of an unprepared SNL host. NXT is intent on getting her over, obviously, but I’ve yet to see a compelling reason why she deserves this spot over that numerous other Divas waiting in the wings.

Thoughts: Another Diva-packed edition of NXT. Again, the Divas were used in interesting, diverse ways that got them over. The Alexa/Carmella Mixed Tag Team match wasn’t exactly full of Divas action, but I’m sure we’ll see more of that in the future. At the very least, they weren’t treated as afterthoughts. Carmella’s pre-match promo ensured that. It’s the little touches, after all, that make the Divas feel important to the bigger picture.

The one quibble I have about the feud is their insistence on calling Murphy and Blake cowards for having a “chick” do their dirty work. I know Carmella, Enzo and Cass aren’t the strictest babyfaces, though, so it kind of makes sense for them to stick to the old ideas of fragile masculinity. It just annoys me a bit.

Charlotte and Cassie’s match, like last week’s two bouts, could have very well been treated like a squash match, but instead took the time to establish Cassie as a flashy babyface and remind us of the threat Charlotte poses to every Diva who enters the ring. This match, even more so than the Becky/Jessie McKay and Emma/Blue Pants matches, had every reason to last two minutes, since Charlotte is a former champ. Despite that, they found a way to keep Charlotte looking strong while giving us a fun tete-a-tete between two babyfaces.

It felt so energetic, Cassie proving that she’s more than ready for prime time. Again, it proves how beneficial it is to hire Divas with in-ring experience: they’re ready to go immediately and provide fresh blood to the division.

I loved seeing a bit of heelishness seep into Charlotte’s moveset. She’s very over with the NXT crowd as a babyface, yes, but I’d love to see her work the main roster as a heel, taking full advantage of the Flair dirty tricks. At the very least, she should be a rule-skirting babyface, because it would be a waste to not let her show off the family traits.

Many are expecting an NXT Diva to come to Paige‘s aid on the main roster in her feud with Brie and Nikki Bella. Charlotte would be the most eligible Diva for that role, but I’m not so sure I want that, since she would likely be overshadowed by the feud itself. I won’t object to an NXT Diva getting called up, though: the future is bright, but we can only get there by moving forward. For that to happen, Divas need to advance to the main roster. Otherwise, we’re going to get a major traffic jam, Divas backed up on the sidelines while more are added to the mix through tryouts, Tough Enough and the Diva Search. I don’t wish the half-assed booking of the main roster on any NXT Diva, but make no mistake: change is coming. It may be slow, but it’s coming.

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