Sunday, July 14, 2024

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NXT TakeOver: Toronto in review: A champion meets a legend

[media-credit name=”WWE” align=”alignnone” width=”620″]asukasuplexmickie[/media-credit]

Asuka‘s reign has toppled a division that has held a vast amount of talent. No one has been able to beat her, not even the best NXT had to offer so when William Regal brought in Mickie James, a seasoned veteran of the game, women’s wrestling fans knew we’d get something special.

Before the two would even meet, would chronicle Mickie’s return to a WWE ring, a place she hasn’t stepped foot into in six years.

An interviewer would ask her how she felt and she says she’s been nervous even though she’s coming “home.”

She then arrives at the arena and we see her take in the backstage atmosphere.

Then she takes in the feel of the arena and reminisces on the last time she was there.

After that she meets with other women backstage. Among them is Liv Morgan and they talk family while Mickie gets ready.

Then we see Mickie preparing moments before her entrance.

Throughout TakeOver we see Asuka getting ready and Mickie greeting the rest of the women. We finally get to our championship match and the entrances are nothing short of surreal.

Asuka enters to a sea of masks.

Then the match begins.

Asuka postures and takes in “Asuka’s gonna kill you” chants. They tie up shortly after, chain wrestling through multiple smooth transitions.

Throughout the match Mickie plays mind games with Asuka and Asuka plays right back. They take the action outside of the ring briefly where Mickie pulls off a frankenstiener from the ring apron. However, as Mickie goes to kick Asuka as she regains composure, Asuka catches her in a trapped legged German Suplex. Completely flattened on the outside, Mickie lays there for what seems like an eternity as Asuka counts along with the ref.

Mickie makes it back into the ring in the nick of time where they start matching strikes. Mickie takes control of the match here and when the balance of power shifts, she tells Asuka to hit her harder.

Later on when Asuka looks to put Mickie away, she counters all of her submissions. But through some sort of miscalculation Mickie can’t break free of a chicken wing submission. She taps right away and Asuka retains the championship.

After the match Mickie extends her hand in respect but Asuka gleefully raises the title in her face before exiting the ring.

At the end of the night catches up with Mickie again to ask her about the loss.

She said being back in the ring was amazing. She said she had Asuka’s number and Asuka was incredible but she’s also lost a lot of respect for her after she refused to shake her hand. She thanks the fans for welcoming her back even though she lost.

Thoughts: Wow! I really liked the nice touches WWE used here in documenting Mickie’s return. It was really sweet to see her emotions throughout the day. I also liked her interaction with the few women backstage, including Liv. It would help to serve Liv’s character more if they explored some more personal aspects to her. For someone who is poised to be our next big babyface, Liv is still missing that factor that helps the audience relate to her. Yeah, she’s the scrappy underdog that doesn’t back down, but, why? It was a simple, yet effective, touch for the veteran to meet a new star that’s positioned to someday take the spotlight.

Onto the match, I loved it! It really helped give Asuka a sense of context. I enjoy Asuka’s work thoroughly but NXT has booked itself into a corner with her. She’s only been able to compete at a high level for big matches against her opponent. What made the Four Horsewomen era, and to an extent the trio of Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, and Carmella, so special was the ability for those girls to consistently have competitive matches. Every match the stakes got higher and higher and the 4HW pushed, and pushed, to make all their matches stand out. Of course we had squash matches here and there, but there was a back and forth aspect that we don’t necessarily see all the time in the division right now.

And it starts with Asuka. She’s overpowered to the point where it makes the division look a bit in shambles. That’s not totally her fault, it’s booking that’s making things difficult.

With Mickie in the ring, they both went the distance and I think they could have gone some more. The ending for me felt flat, again. I’m not sure why but, many of Asuka’s big matches end quickly and anti-climatically. It’s feels as though the match is about to reach a new height before it’s abruptly stopped. I wish that wouldn’t happen anymore.

Onto Mickie, she stunned me! I really, really appreciate chain wrestling and reversals. I also cover Lucha Underground and one of the things I love about that style is the impressive mat counters. It was refreshing to see such fast paced reversals in an NXT women’s match. We don’t see them too often, but when we do I pop everytime! All of her selling, movements, and facial expressions were on point. She matched Asuka pound for pound and I’d like to see them fight again.

I’m hoping this begins a short rivalry between the two. From the interaction at the end of the match I can’t help but feel they may be setting up something more between them. Or even if this is a one off for Mickie, I’m hoping this starts a story line of other legends coming to knock down Asuka. They’ve done stories like this for the men, it’s about time we get something like this for the women.

Asuka needs a wrench thrown into her reign to make it stand out even more. Asuka is a unique and titillating talent, she needs to be pushed more often. I’d love to see her get even more cocky and turn heel completely, maybe come out or sit on a throne while the rest of the division competes in front of her.

Who can stop the unstoppable?

What did you think of TakeOver: Toronto? Do you think Mickie will be back? Who do you want to see challenge Asuka next? Who will dethrone her? Sound off in the comments below.

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