Friday, September 29, 2023

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NXT Redux (May 3rd, 2017): Everyone’s coming for Asuka

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Welcome to this week’s NXT review. This week we are treated to a Battle Royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Women’s Championship! The match promises to showcase the division in a way we haven’t seen in quite a while. It’s easy to forget how many women are truly in the division every week, since limited time is given to few.

Let’s get into our main event!:

We have several name changes and debuts during this match. Macey Evans is now Lacey Evans, Daria Berenato is now Sonya Deville, Candice LaRae makes her local competitor to Full Sail debut, Rachael Ellering is back, Victoria Gonzalez and Sarah Bridges, formerly known as Crazy Mary Dobson makes their official debut and Bianca Blair is back.

Chaos ensues from the get go as Victoria goes after the Iconic Duo. Nikki Cross goes after Ruby Riot and all the other women square up. Then Billie Kay and Peyton Royce work together to eliminate the competition in the most brutal ways possible. The crowd boos Aliyah as she eliminates Rachael.

The order of elimination is as follows. Victoria Gonzalez, Bianca Blair, Rachael Ellering, Sonya Deville, Lacey Evans, Kimberly Frankele, Candice LeRae, Aliyah, Liv Morgan, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce.

It comes down to the final three with Ember, Ruby, and Nikki. Nikki attacks Ruby, Ember then goes after Nikki. Ruby tries to dump Ember after she hit Nikki with the Eclipse. Asuka runs down and knocks Ember off the top rope, then throws Ember out of the ring. Ember essentially suicide dives and nails the guardrail with her shoulder. Asuka hits Nikki and Ruby with kicks and the refs throw the match out.

After the match General Manager William Regal announces a Fatal Four Way for the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Chicago.

Thoughts: huh, so only NXT can make something with so much promise fall flat, I guess. I wasn’t too impressed by the lack of action here at all. An elimination happened during the break, that’s how little NXT cares for this. Half the women didn’t even get entrances, it was confusing to even pick out who was in this Battle Royal.

It’s quite shocking how the brand is failing at creating talent from scratch. The standouts here were the Icons, Nikki, Ruby, Ember and Asuka, all of which are carrying extensive independent backgrounds. I know it takes time to develop but, this is pathetic. I feel like a broken record every week.

What worked here were the tiny seeds that planted future feuds. Sonya and Macey could develop into something. Otherwise all the new talent were one note. I still get the feeling like there’s absolutely no direction for anyone. It’s telling when the two low tier baby faces, Aliyah and Liv, get boos or no reaction from the crowd.

Moving on to the positives, though I give Liv some crap, she did fine here. Her dropkick that took out Rachael was mighty impactful, I just still want her to give us a deeper character. I want to be able to take her seriously, I really do. The good news is, she’s still in her early 20s so, she’s got so much time to develop something more concrete.

I firmly stand behind my statements of Nikki being the wildcard of the division. The crowd was firmly behind her in this match and I feel like she’s holding back so she can unleash her fury of chaos in our upcoming title match.

I don’t think anyone should count the Iconic Duo out at all after this match. They were the last ones to be eliminated, that means something. They’ve been given a proper build in online and backstage segments, they are still our top heels in the division and they have so much to offer. Everything they did enhanced the match and moving forward I know they’ll still stay right outside the title picture.

Though Ruby is getting a rocket push into the title picture, I’m here for it because she carries herself so well. Like I said previously, I’m already a big fan. I know this immediate push may be a turn off to some, but I can’t wait to see what she does and I don’t have any doubt that she’ll deliver. I don’t think she’ll win the title any time soon but she’s a very welcoming addition to a division that is in desperate need of strong characters.

Ember is still a treat but, I’m going to need more from her. I really wish creative wasn’t so scared of pulling the supernatural card with her. She’d be much more interesting if she had some sort of power or actual fantastical backstory, instead of just cosplaying warrior werewolf women. I really hope the rumors aren’t true and she’s not injured and she’s healed in time for TakeOver, but if not I still think it would make sense to have Nikki finally end Asuka.

I’m pleased to say that Asuka’s actions also fully solidify her as a heel now. She’s completely bogarting the title outright and I’m happy NXT is FINALLY doing this. Though the ending kind of made no sense whatsoever, a DQ in a battle royal really?, it got us to another unpredictable bout for TakeOver where she must lose her title. If this craziness is any indication of what Asuka will be like when she’s broken, we are in for a wild and fun time.

NXT is still inconsistent and I was hoping this was going to be better than it turned out. We need development from top to bottom, it’s now more clear than ever.

What did you think of this week’s NXT? Who did you want to win the battle royal? Sound off in the comments below.

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