Wednesday, January 25, 2023

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NXT Redux (June 3rd, 2015): The Princess and the Villain

Welcome to another NXT Redux! This week, we witness the full blossoming of a new Divas feud as Alexa Bliss and the “Princess of Staten Island” Carmella go head-to-head for the first time since Alexa’s heel turn at TakeOver.

Also on deck is a moment so cringeworthy, everyone who watches it all the way through automatically earns an honorary medal for their steely resistance to secondhand embarrassment.

But let’s get to the wrestling first. Let’s talk about the match!:

Carmella and her boys are out first, followed by Alexa and hers. It’s cool to see two distinctly different trios held side-by-side, showing the effort NXT’s put in to making their talent unique. Here we have two arrogant blonde Divas that are aligned with tag teams, yet they couldn’t be more different. Okay, they could, but there’s no mistaking the two.

Alexa mocks Carmella’s anger as the bell rings, bringing upon her the Diva’s full wrath. Carmella takes her down with a Lou Thesz press, pounding on her until Alexa slips free. She doesn’t get far, though, crawling across the ring and turning around to be met with another press and more punches. Again, Alexa gets free, but is taken down. I’m sensing a pattern here…

Carmella jaws with Murphy and Blake, giving Alexa time to regain her bearings. When Carmella pulls her to her feet, Alexa’s able to sock her and send her into the corner. Her attack is blocked by a back elbow, though, and when she charges again, Carmella dodges it and leaves her standing in the corner.

Carmella leaps up to take Alexa down with a monkey flip, but Alexa sweeps her legs out from under her, sending her face-first into the top turnbuckle. She slams Carmella down by her hair and goes for a pin. Carmella kicks out.

Alexa slams Carmella by her hair once more before propping her up for a submission, putting pressure on her neck. Carmella quickly get to her feet, but is slammed right back down by Alexa. Alexa then locks in a variation of the same submission, twisting Carmella’s head painfully. She mocks the referee’s admonishments and manages to maintain the hold for longer than the first. The crowd is firmly behind Carmella, though, and soon there’s a thunder of claps driving her forward. She elbows herself free, but a swift kick from Alexa sweeps her legs out from under her and drops her back to the mat.

Alexa then goes for the Glitz Flip, but Carmella rolls out of the way, taking refuge in the corner. Alexa goes charging at her, but gets nothing but turnbuckle when Carmella ducks out of the way. Carmella goes on a string of offense, knocking Alexa down with body blocks and kicks. She delivers some damage in the corner before hitting a reverse X-Factor.

She goes in for another attack, but Alexa ducks it, rolling her up into a tight pin attempt. For leverage, Alexa grabs the second rope, and it’s enough to earn her the three count and the win.

Murphy and Blake cart Alexa off and prop her up like she just won the Women’s Title from Stephanie McMahon. But, you know, heelishly.

Earlier in the night, we witnessed the ritualistic humiliation of Eva Marie, who was brought out in front of the bloodthirsty masses to discuss the Divas of NXT:

Eva Marie can barely get a word out without boos drowning her out. She tells the crowd that they’re “amazing” and talks about attending TakeOver, saying that she was there to witness the women. She says the women of NXT are revolutionizing the business and expresses her hope that she’ll be able to compete with them in the future.

I’m sure this was the WWE’s plan – why else trot her out in front of the crowd? Surely they know she’s the embodiment of every smark’s distain: hired for Total Divas, not so great in the ring (so far) and not exactly brimming with personality. There’s no way that this could have blindsided them: they’re not that clueless. This was probably constructed to either A) draw sympathy from the audience at home or B) set up a heel turn where she’ll reference this moment as when she stopped giving a fuck what the fans thought. I hope she really is progressing in the ring, because I’d love for those super cool dudes chanting “You can’t wrestle!” to eat their words.

Lastly, we have a Sasha Banks video package that covers her reign and reminds us exactly why she’s The Boss, in case any of us have forgotten:

Love it, love it, love it. It’s a shame we still haven’t seen her post-TakeOver, but I have no doubt she’ll make up for her absence soon.

Thoughts: Alexa and Carmella’s match was well-booked, hiding their newbie shortcomings while conveying the hate these two have for each other. I’m used to seeing Carmella wrestling in short showcase matches, so it’s nice to see her display more fight and babyface qualities in the ring. Alexa is golden as a heel – even her resthold was unique and interesting. I’m interested to see how her flashy moveset translates as we move forward.

Carmella’s ring presence reminds me a lot of Summer Rae, who’s similarly built, a bit clumsy and prone to screeching. It works for Summer because that’s been built into her character. I’d like to see Carmella be a bit more contained, since she’s got that “cooler than you” persona going on. Then again, she does call herself the “Princess of Staten Island”, so maybe some prissiness is to be expected out of her. I guess it’s still too early to judge. From what I’ve seen, though, she could be a very different kind of babyface Diva: she gets the crowd behind her, but has plenty of arrogance to spice it up. The crowd loves her, and she knows it. She should be oozing confidence.

All around, this was another fresh edition of NXT for the Divas. That’s one of the things I love best about NXT: the fact that so many Diva stories are running at once, giving us any number of combinations from week to week. We see so many different women, and that’s great, even if it means we have to sit through moments like that Eva interview. I love seeing Carmella and Alexa’s feud running alongside the inevitable NXT Women’s Title feud, Bayley and Emma‘s feud and whatever’s going on between Charlotte and Dana Brooke. It displays a real interest in the women on behalf of the creative team, and let me tell you: it’s so refreshing.

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