So in typical me-style I’ve held off a couple of days before posting this, mostly because I wanted to watch the match again. People say a lot of great things about NXT, to the point it may become tiresome. But believe me when I say this: Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch put on an absolute classic last Wednesday.
The ring psychology was incredible, right from the very start. It’s not often I say this about matches, but I could clearly see the influence of one of the NXT mentors here: William Regal. There were a few different points that just had Regal written all over them. In particular there was the trip up early on in the match. It was innocuous, obscure in the grand scheme of things to the point that you may not remember what I’m talking about. How often in matches do you see someone throwing themselves to the ground after an Irish Whip, and then leapfrogging the returning opponent second time around? The first action should be an attempt to trip the opponent. It never comes across like that, but that’s what it should be. I attribute seeing Lynch actually succeed in felling Banks to Regal because I heard him talking about that exact move just a couple of weeks ago on Chris Jericho’s podcast. At the time I thought he made a lot of sense, and I loved seeing it come to fruition on Wednesday.
Another thing I loved about the match was the physicality of it. These two were going at it like you would expect Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to fight. They were holding nothing back, they weren’t scared of anything. We don’t see that enough in the divas division. Taking bumps on the apron shows everyone these two are tough, and can only help the women’s credibility. Plus, the torque these two managed to put on some of their submissions made them look painful by anybody’s standards. The athleticism on show was great, they even managed to pull off the pin-bridge-backslide combo that I always think looks great. Speaking of which, the test of strength to see who could get that backslide was also pretty cool. Again, it’s not something we see enough of. Considering the competitors are moving around and changing direction so much, it’s unreasonable to think it can always be momentum that gets one person through. Little touches like that make a difference to the match as a whole.
If there’s anything you need to know to convince you that the women down in NXT are the real deal, just look at how they are positioned on the show. On a roster that now includes Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Neville, Tyler Breeze, and Samoa Joe, women’s wrestling is right up there with the stars. The crowd is a smart crowd, and they love the women just as much as the internet darlings they have been supporting for years. They gave both competitors a standing ovation long after the match had finished. When was the last time you saw that for women? We have seen divas segments main event NXT, and rightfully so. Even looking back at past debuts, Paige got a bigger reaction on her debut than Neville did. People know these ladies are seriously good, and treat them as such.
A lot of credit has to go to William Regal, Sara Del Rey, Finlay (if he’s still there, I’m not sure how involved he is with NXT), as well as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Whether it has been driven by the prominence of Ronda Rousey or not, women’s wrestling is approaching a renaissance on Raw. People behind the scenes want to give the women more of a spotlight, and crucially the talent are now more than capable of shining in that spotlight. Paige has proven that. Charlotte has proven that. On Wednesday, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch proved that. If you haven’t seen it go out of your way to find it. It is the best divas match I can ever remember seeing.