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NXT Redux (March 16th, 2016): TakeOver Gains a Showstopper

With mere weeks separating us from NXT TakeOver: Dallas, we finally know how NXT Women’s Champion Bayley will be spending that night. She will defend her title against the phenom Asuka, presenting us with an intriguing scenario: will Bayley lose the title, or will Asuka suffer her first loss?

Before that match could be booked, though, those Divas had to prove themselves against two foes determined to wedge their way into the title picture in Asuka’s stead: Eva Marie and Nia Jax.

Meanwhile, Emma continues to stoke the fires of the Emmalution with a match against the newest target of her ire, Deonna Purrazzo.

We kick off the night’s Divas action with that very angle when Emma and Dana Brooke come across Deonna backstage:

They run into Deionna Purrazzo, who they mock for getting beaten by Asuka (again) a few weeks ago. Emma says it’s nothing compared to what she’ll do to her tonight, because the Emmalution can’t stop, won’t stop. Deanna says it can be stopped, and she’ll be the one to do it – tonight.

Emma and Dana laugh at Deonna’s confidence, and though Dana promises to take her seriously, she can’t resist giving her a head pat.

Immediately following that, we head to ringside for the match. After their entrances and the opening bell, Emma starts the match with a display of disrespect, shoving Deonna around. Deonna answers with a big shove of her own, earning herself a pummeling from Emma. Emma snapmares her to the mat and stands on her hair before following her to the ropes, wrapping her in them and yanking her hair once more.

Emma goes for a double undertook suplex, but Deonna starts to fight back. Emma halts her momentum, though, with a clothesline that flattens her. Deanna heads to a corner, where Emma stomps her in the midsection and chokes her. Emma traps Deonna in the tree of woe, pulling her up by her hair to land kicks to her spine. With Deonna slouched to the mat, Emma hits her with the Emmamite Sandwich.

Emma stays on Deonna, standing on her throat before kicking her back. She then locks in a headlock, taking a struggling Deonna to the mat.?? Deonna soon gets to her feet, using elbows and a jaw jacking to free herself. She goes on an offensive streak, nailing a kick to Emma’s chest that stuns her. When she charges for a corner attack, though, Emma dodges it, sending her straight into the turnbuckle. This allows Emma to lock in the Dilemma for a few moments. When she relinquishes that hold, though, it’s only to lock in the Emma Lock, which prompts a quick tap out from Deonna.

We also got a glimpse at the action at the NXT events at the Arnold Classic two weeks ago:

A bit later, it’s time for more Diva action! Bayley and Asuka team up to face Eva Marie and Nia Jax:

Nia and Bayley start the match for their teams. Nia quickly takes control, tossing Bayley to her corner and tagging in Eva. When Eva goes make a move, though, Bayley takes her to the mat with a drop toehold and embarrasses her. She locks in a front facelock and takes Eva to her corner, where Asuka tags herself in. Eva frantically tries to escape, but Asuka blocks her way to freedom. After a bit of hesitation, Eva hits Asuka with a forearm. This only fires up Asuka, who ducks her follow-up slaps and proceeds to nail her with knees to the face.

Asuka hits Eva with a series of vicious kicks. Eva manages to send Asuka into the ropes, but she’s greeted with Asuka’s flying hip attack on the return. Asuka pulls Eva to her feet and takes her to her corner, where Bayley enters the match. Bayley resumes Asuka’s front facelock, but Eva manages to get free and lock in a side headlock. She hits the ropes, where Nia covertly tags herself in. Bayley takes Eva to the mat and doesn’t notice Nia approaching her from behind, allowing Nia to scoop her up and take her down with a Samoan drop.

Nia takes Bayley back to her corner and tags in Eva, who promptly locks in a submission on Bayley, focusing on the champ’s back and shoulders. Bayley soon fights out, rolling Eva up for a pin attempt. Eva kicks out, but soon finds herself in another pinning combination. That one’s no good either, and Eva quickly gets to her feet and attempts to isolate Bayley by taking out Asuka. Her slap has little effect, and when she turns her attention back to Bayley, she’s taken down with a suplex. Bayley goes for the pin, but sees Nia approaching to break it up. She goes for a legdrop, which Bayley evades, leaving Eva to take the move herself.

Nia moves to leave the ring and Bayley helps her, dropkicking her to the outside. Eva is all alone, and a kick to the back of the neck from Asuka leads her right into a Bayley-to-Belly suplex! Bayley covers Eva for the pin and the win.

Bayley and Asuka stand tall and Nia collects Eva and departs. Before the winning duo can leave, they’re greeted by NXT GM William Regal, who stands at the top of the ramp and addresses them on the microphone. Her congratulates them on their recent accomplishments, hyping their talent. He then makes a big announcement: Bayley will defend her NXT Women’s Title at TakeOver: Dallas against Asuka!

Bayley looks a little uneasy, while Asuka’s face is plastered with her trademark grin. It’s on!

Post-show, Bayley talked about that match and the road that’s lead to it:

Thoughts: Following last week’s Diva-less show with two Divas matches was a nice touch. And, though neither match set the world on fire, the stories they told more than made up for it. You had Emma and Dana’s continued dominance, more focus on the should-be-Diva Deonna, Eva and Nia’s complicated partnership and the burgeoning feud between fan favorites Asuka and Bayley.

Even though she’s gotten handedly beaten every time, I’m still intrigued by NXT’s use of Deonna. She’s almost like a newbie Diva, losing matches but being written to earn the audience’s sympathy. I know this is mainly serving to emphasize Emma and Dana’s bully tendencies, but not even Blue Pants got this much mic time. Emma dominated her and proved her point, but I feel like we’re moving towards a point where someone will “put her in her place.” I’m not sure who that will be, but the focus on Deonna makes her an obvious choice. Though, it would make a lot more sense for her to open the door for a debuting Diva to do the job. Athena, please!

Seeing Eva and Nia’s alliance blow up in their face a bit was interesting. It would lead one to believe that Nia might be forced to reevaluate the situation: if the strategy of doing the heavy lifting and handing (or trying to hand) Eva all the glory isn’t producing victories, why is she doing it? I hope we see some tension between them, if only to lead to an explanation as to why Nia’s doing this, switching from the fearsome undefeated Diva to Eva’s errand girl. Playing that role isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for a heel, but that’s only if we know why she’s doing it.

Bayley vs. Asuka has the potential to be Match of the Year, and I’m so ready for it. Aside from the obvious barnburner these two could put on, it’s ballsy for NXT to pit the division’s two most popular Divas against each other. While it’s easy to see why they’d do it, given how easy it will be to get the fan’s psyched for the encounter, it’s a story that would have been shied away from not too long ago. NXT is definitely changing the game when it comes to face-versus-face and heel-versus-heel matches, but this will probably be the biggest challenge of all: allowing fans to side with the Diva they favor without fear that either’s popularity will suffer as a result.

Bayley might get booed, Asuka might get booed, but at the end of the day, both will emerge having wrestled a match that will, in all likelihood, put jaws on the floor. How does that quote go? “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.” As much as that applies to the Divas, it also speaks to the division as a whole. Pushing barriers and changing the status quo is what put NXT’s Divas division on the map in the first place. If all goes as planned, this match will be yet another moment where NXT changes the game for good.

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