The Jan. 10 episode of NXT opened with one of the brand’s most highly anticipated television debuts. Mae Young Classic runner-up Shayna Baszler made her first television foray in the an NXT ring.
“The Queen of Spades” made short work of fellow Mae Young Classic alumna Dakota Kai in the opening bout of the episode.
A little over 60 seconds into the match, Baszler delivered a devastating stomp to Kai’s arm, resulting in the referee stopping the match.
But Baszler was not finished with her fallen foe. As officials went to check on Kai, The Queen of Spades snapped on a Kirifuda Clutch to add insult to injury to her opponent. NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon came out and made the save, but Baszler was unfazed and went to the back.
Baszler’s quick performance against Kai in the ring was only the tip of the iceberg in her time in NXT. Fans were provided samples of her upcoming debut through vignettes, as well as her first NXT appearance where she choked out Kairi Sane on stage – when the Pirate Princess was going to seemingly challenge Moon for the NXT women’s championship. There were also videos of her at the WWE Performance Center, asserting her dominance to the other trainees.
What is intriguing about Baszler’s actions on this episode of NXT, and the last couple of weeks as well, is she isn’t grabbing the microphone and shouting, “I used to be in MMA and I’m a member of the Four Horsewomen.”
Fans know of her mixed martial arts background and her catch wrestling experience but she’s not on a pedestal boosting about those abilities when she comes to the ring. She doesn’t need, partly because the commentary team of Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness are doing it for her, which is what great broadcasters do – put over the talent.
There was also the backstage segment where General Manager William Regal confronted her about her motives and said her blatant attacks won’t get her close to the NXT women’s title, she just answered “Are we done?”
Baszler’s attitude shows she doesn’t care about the proper road to the championship. She will get there on her own terms.
However, her interaction with Regal on her first episode of NXT, as well as the videos, shows the brand is building her to be a big player in the women’s division.
The Submission Magician – as Ranallo likes to call her – has the tools to be a big star in NXT. She has great offense – with her catch wrestling and MMA backgrounds – and can generate a lot of heat.
I also suspect she has a lot of material and feelings she can muster up that will add fuel to her promos – such as her rough beginnings in MMA, her transition to professional wrestling and how MMA fans have blasted her for her association with Ronda Rousey. I’m sure there are folks from the mixed martial arts community who criticized her for competing in WWE.
Yet Baszler has spent the last couple of years building her professional wrestling resume and gaining a popular fan base, which I think will continue to grow during her time in NXT.
She also has the opportunity to be a great foil for wrestlers like Moon and Sane. Both wrestlers are good babyfaces who need a strong heel like Baszler to chase and fend off in order to make them look stronger – assuming she lets them get in their offense.
Baszler is a great addition to the NXT roster and I’m excited to see how the latest chapter of her professional wrestling career unfolds.
NXT UK Premiers on WWE Network October 17
WWE has officially announced the premier of NXT UK on the WWE Network, in a Twitter post that appeared on Wednesday morning.
Per the announcement, the UK division of the NXT brand will debut on October 17th at 8pm BST and will air weekly, featuring male and female wrestlers in the UK.
BREAKING: #NXTUK, a new weekly episodic series featuring the greatest male and female competitors from the UK, will stream on @WWENetwork on Wednesdays beginning 17th October at 8pm BST. pic.twitter.com/L8wVJquMdF
— WWE UK (@WWEUK) October 11, 2018
Lita Praises Bianca Belair
WWE Hall of Famer Lita had some high praise for NXT superstar Bianca Belair, noting her “great attitude” and how “physically gifted” she is, adding that “when I very first saw her she had that intangible star quality that I just want to see more”, during an interview with The Sun.
“Down at the performance center, all the guys at NXT are in the ring every day and in class,” Lita said. “They have everything they need to learn and there is so much talent in regards to physical ability and thinking about their character. But for someone to have that intangible star factor… Bianca Belair, along with some other the others there, is very talented.”
Lita is also impressed with how Blair uses her hair as a weapon.
“It’s crazy, no-one has ever used their hair as a weapon. It’s so cool how she thought of that and how it works. She sure has that star quality and uniqueness.”
Johnny Gargano Talks NXT, Dream Matches
NXT superstar Johnny Gargano remains one of the most popular superstars on the brand and while his callup to the main roster seems imminent, he prefers to stay on the NXT brand, a brand he takes a lot of pride in.
“I do not see why not, everyone’s dream – and mine too – is to wrestle at WrestleMania, but right now NXT is such a special place” Gargano said of a potential call up, during an interview with the Daily Star.
“We are focused on building something wrestling fans can be proud of, and we are building it together.”
But Gargano, during a recent media session, discussed some dream matches he would want to make a reality when he does make it to the main roster.
“[…] so I’m going up to the main roster…after I win the NXT title and everything’s done. After that, man, I’m gonna say, obviously Daniel Bryan” Gargano said. “That’s a dream match that a lot of people would love to see now.”
“I think I just posted a Tweet recently that the internet went nuts for, and that’s me and Seth Rollins,” Gargano said. “Because, of course, I wore my Captain America Infinity War gear and he just wore the Thanos gear, so you never know what can happen there.”
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