NXT – May 18th

This week’s NXT saw the contract siging of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe for the NXT Title rematch at TakeOver, which will be inside a steel cage. As this is the first cage match of NXT’s history, it signifies how big of an event this match will be. I personally would like Finn to move up to the main roster, so losing is the best option, but if he moved up as champion (similarly to Kevin Owens) and took control of the Balor Club, his dominance will quickly be asserted. Joe could even follow him onto RAW seeking revenge.

The show kicked off in fine fashion with a tag match between former tag team champions Blake and Murphy and Austin Aires with surprise partner: Shinsuke Nakamura. Just the entrance of the King of Strong Style gave this a big match feel, and invested the fans immediately. The pair worked fantastically together, with some invented team moves and a lot of fluidity. AA and Nakamura picked up an easy victory with little-to-no resistance. Shinsuke is a scary man in the ring and everything he does looks like it hurts. A lot! Surely, his rise to the top can’t be far off.

Following the match, we saw something which could be huge in terms of the tag division. First, Alexa Bliss turned her back on her team – obviously upset at yet another defeat. Then, Blake walked out on Murphy, who seemed in shock at what he was seeing. This could lead to a potential feud between the two men, which would be a welcome storyline, and one I would be very interested in seeing.

From the tone of her pre-match interview, Carmella seems to be on course to challenge for the Women’s Championship in the future But first she had to face the challenge of Peyton Royce. The two women put on a fairly good encounter in which both looked strong before the Princess of Staten Island locked in head head-scissors submission for the win. I’ve said before that Peyton possesses all the in-ring ability to rise up the women’s card in years to come. However, currently I can only see two women capable of challenging Asuka for the belt: Bayley; and Nia Jaxx. Until there is a title change, I can’t see anyone else getting near the top without shenanigans.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa took on newcomers Danny Burch and Rob Ryzin in the penultimate match of the evening, in what can only be described as a toilet match. There was no real interest by the fans except for chanting “Johnny Wrestling” throughout. There wasn’t much of note in this one except the push which is evidently being given to Gargano and Ciampa. If these two are going to form a formidable team, they need to start knocking off higher quality opponents. With the dissolution of Blake and Murphy there is a spot for them in the division, they will just have to go out there and make it their own!

The main event, as publicised on last week’s show, featured the former Women’s Champion Bayley squaring off against Nia Jaxx. In my mind Jaxx is next in line to challenge for the strap, so a win for her would certainly put her in the frame. Following a long, slow match – and a couple of injuries to Bayley – Nia won the bout with her Legdrop. For Bayley, this will give her a chance to take some time off to come back to challenge, or start her transition to the main roster. As for Jaxx, I think her title challenge should come sooner rather than later, possibly even at the next TakeOver. I am slightly fearful NXT may be booking themselves into a corner with the dominant Asuka, and Nia could be a good get-out card to keep the division competitive.

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