Preview: NXT Takeover New Orleans Ember Moon v Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship

Ember Moon v Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship
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Ember Moon v Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship

Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler are terrific foils for each other. One has been a babyface since her debut, the other a heel; one is high-energy and acrobatic, one just wants to break limbs; one supports other competitors, one stalks them. Both in terms of in-ring style and character, Moon and Baszler inversely reflect each other. They are the perfect pairing to represent the women’s division in NXT, earning the right to be in the highest profile women’s match of the night. Each had their individual path that led them to the biggest match of their careers.

Shayna Baszler, one of the Four Horsewomen of MMA, has made quite the splash in professional wrestling. Since debuting in 2015, after a nine-year MMA career, she’s quickly made herself into one of the biggest names in women’s wrestling in under three years. Her first pro wrestling appearance was as a valet for reDRagon in Ring of Honor, but her debut was in Quintessential Pro Wrestling. While working smaller indy promotion like Magnum Pro Wrestling and, she made her name in Shimmer and Stardom, two of the most prominent women’s promotions on the planet. She debuted for WWE last year as a participant in the Mae Young Classic. Since losing in the finals of the tournament, Shayna Baszler joined NXT and has been on an absolute tear.

Ember Moon started with pro wrestling from the get-go, debuting in the business when she was just 18. Being from Texas, she started out in the Texas-based Anarchy Championship Wrestling before she became a regular for Shimmer five years before Baszler made her way there. In 2016, Moon made her NXT debut, a victory over Billie Kay at Takeover: Brooklyn II. She went undefeated, until the similarly undefeated Asuka stopped her in her tracks for the NXT Women’s Champions at last year’s ‘Mania weekend Takeover. After failing to overcome the Empress of Tomorrow again at Takeover: Brooklyn III, she eventually won the title in a Fatal Four Way over Peyton Royce, Nikki Cross, and Kairi Sane, which she’s held ever since. But that’s going to change this Saturday.

Shayna Baszler’s first big statement was viciously attacking Dakota Kai, and kayfabe injuring her in a savage-looking arm stomp. Ember Moon came out to make the save, but that didn’t deter Baszler from preying on the other women in NXT, until Baszler got what she wanted: an NXT Women’s Title shot. Their match from Takeover: Philadelphia is underrated. Baszler focused on Moon’s arm, and Moon sold for most of the match, as she tried and tried to find some way to beat her more physically dominating opponent. She finally did, as she countered a submission into a deep roll-up, and caught Baszler for the one, two, and three. Baszler, though, got her rematch two weeks later, focusing again on Moon’s left arm, but Kairi Sane attacked Baszler during the match, which therefore ended in disqualification. Moon, however, was injured in kayfabe from the brutal attack on her arm, and was out for weeks, during which time Baszler disposed of Kairi Sane to avenge her previous interference. Moon returned sometime later to save Dakota Kai from another beatdown at the hands of the Queen of Spades, where she, the champion, challenged Baszler to a match at Takeover: New Orleans to put an end to all of Baszler’s predatory tactics.

Having the champion challenge Baszler for both of their Takeover bouts really puts her over as a major threat, that Moon is willing to put to title on the line in order to stop her. The outcome this time, however, will be different. The match will be much more 50/50 this time around, with plenty of callbacks to their previous two encounters. These two have very good chemistry together, with Moon’s athletic and flashy offense are a great contrast to Baszler’s quasi-shoot style arsenal. Moon’s selling has also improved immensely in the last year and a half, which is a perfect compliment to Baszler’s bully-like character. But in the end, Baszler will pick up a submission victory, setting up a blow off match for sometime later this summer. Moon will lose that one as well, as she seems closer and closer to that main roster call-up.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler