Sunday, August 14, 2022

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NXT TakeOver: San Antonio in review: No one is ready for Asuka

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For months now Asuka has been saying there’s no competition in the women’s division. While she lays waste to all those in her path, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce were making their own statements by bullying and taking down the rest of the fractured division. Nikki Cross stood in the shadows waiting for her opportunity to strike.

Using her unpredictability as an asset, Nikki overwhelmed her opponents with a flurry of frantic offense. She’s ruthless, mean, and terrifying. All four women  would face off before NXT TakeOver’s event to take the fight to the Women’s Champion. Asuka would get beaten down and demand a match to face “all of them!” The match was made and all four were set to collide at TakeOver.

Before we get to the anticipated Fatal Four Way, Ember Moon appeared on the pre-show and shared her predictions for the match and who she’d like to face.

Ember praises the women, saying they’re all threats but at the end of the day, she wants to face Asuka. Then we get to our match.

Then we get to our match. All four women make their entrances. At the start of the bell Bilie and Peyton scout their competition and they roll out of the ring, allowing Nikki and Asuka to go toe to toe with each other.

Then the Iconic Duo would jump back in to take advantage of the girls when they were down from fighting each other. Nikki and Asuka would toss them out of the ring before going back to brawling. The next time Billie and Peyton charge in, Asuka fought back with gusto, taking the Iconic Duo down with a double suplex.

Nikki and Asuka would continue to fight. Nikki used her unpredictability as an asset, flinging her body from the top rope to take down the Iconic Duo. While Asuka was downed by a brutal neckbreaker, Nikki and the Aussies would fight each other, making their way to the commentary booth.

Nikki looked to perhaps jump off the commentary booth to take out the Aussies but instead Billie and Peyton would take out Nikki with a vertical suplex through a table.

The fight then continued in the ring as Billie and Peyton targeted Asuka. They would take turns trying to take her out with a double team of vicious blows but Asuka would fight back every time.

The fight was extremely close in the end between all three women until Asuka took down Peyton with a spinning kick to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.

After the match Charly Caruso would catch up with Asuka.

She says the fight was tough but the title belongs to her. Charly asks her how she feels about Ember challenging her. Asuka bascially says, “Ember who? I don’t know her.”

Thoughts: Where do I begin? Let’s start with the positives. The match was fire, until that pitiful end.

Billie and Peyton sealed themselves as a serious team in the division with this match. They did most of the leg work here. Their reactions to their opponents to their strategizing against Nikki and Asuka to elevating the action even when they were knocked down, this match made them look so cohesive and I loved it! Which is why the ending pissed me off so much.

I was on the edge of my seat, which is a rarity for Asuka matches outside the Mickie James matchup. But then, as the Icons were getting fired up, a kick, A BASIC SPINNING KICK, ends it all. Why do all of Asuka’s matches end so anticlimactically? Such a damn shame.

Additionally, the match wasn’t as long as it could have been, which is an issue with all of Asuka’s matches. Right as it’s getting competitive, about to reach new heights, it gets cut short. WHY?! I don’t get it.

Let’s not forget about Nikki. She was my pick to win because it would have been so unexpected. Honestly I’d have been fine with either of the Aussies or Nikki winning. All those possibilities gone, in a stupid instant.

Nikki looked great here too, taking the fight right to Asuka without backing down. She dominated and used her unstable behavior to her advantage. Nikki is fantastic at getting her character traits over. Unfortunately, this insanity was her downfall. The spot with the commentary booth was really something else. I though the Icons were going to fling her completely off the table, which would have been crazy, but going through the table next to it was a really nice spot.

What can I say about Asuka that I haven’t said before? She’s Asuka. The double suplex was nasty and she’s as charismatic as ever, bogarting that championship. I don’t dislike Asuka, I hate NXT’s booking!

This was the perfect opportunity to make a change, to have Asuka grow, have all those women grow. Instead she retained. Why? It doesn’t make the division look good at all and Asuka doesn’t need the rub anymore.

NXT is in a bad place right now across the board. I think we can all see the potential, and they keep dangling the fruit of change in front of us without ever making that change. It’s getting old, it’s getting frustrating, and I’m tired as hell of it.

I’m not sure things are completely over between these three and I’m hoping they aren’t. We need stronger characters and we need actual stories. Having matches for the sake of having matches to lengthen someone’s winning streak isn’t cutting it anymore. Why do we care? When Asuka basically said she doesn’t know Ember Moon, I can relate. I don’t know her either. Who is she? There’s nothing there outside of being a good competitor. This is something that’s an issue with the men too, everyone is saying they are the best without having any defining characteristics. It’s awful writing.

If something doesn’t change, and change fast now that they must begin building Ember’s background quickly, I foresee the division back at square one, with an undefeated champion in Ember and no competition.

NXT creative doesn’t have a spine. They aren’t pulling the trigger on making Asuka a broken, crazy, heel or having the Aussies become a serious threat or allowing Nikki to begin her own takeover. I know there’s still time but I’m tired of waiting for a promise of some sort of development for that development to never come.

What did you think of last night’s match? How would you book the division moving forward? Sound off in the comments below.

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