The best laid plans of mice, men, and Triple H, it seems, often go awry. Recent budget cuts and the caprices of other minds have changed streams at his pet project, NXT, a few times this summer. Plans for the cruiserweight division of 205 Live to become a more featured part of the action at NXT were abandoned due to budget cuts that sent several cruiserweights off to ‘future endeavors’; Samoa Joe was hastily signed onto the black and gold brand after being unexpectedly released from Monday Night Raw; Tegan Nox and Shotzi were unexpectedly called up to Friday Night SmackDown, just days after Nox returned to NXT at The Great American Bash to poke holes in the NXT Women’s division.
Bruce Lee said, “To change with change is the changeless state.” The NXT spirit is one of constant motion, as the landscape is often changed by releases, main roster call-ups, or crowd feedback on developing WWE superstars. July 13’s broadcast exemplified that rolling with the punches is no problem for the NXT team.
NXT Women’s Division Reloads Following Departures
The show kicked off with a singles match between Dakota Kai, with her formidable tag team partner, NXT women’s champ Raquel Gonzalez, at ringside, against a newly solo Ember Moon. Moon has already had her time in the sun on the main roster, and did not accompany former partner Shotzi to Friday nights. If the contest was to test the waters as to how Moon’s popularity with the crowds would sustain the end of their partnership, Moon passed with flying colors. She rallied the crowd ardently to her side as she gave her all against Kai, but Kai’s viciousness and tenacity paid off, and she got the win.
Xia Li is another performer caught in flux due to an unexpected change of plans. Her supernaturally tinged beef with Mercedes Martinez was a serviceably intriguing mid-card program, but it’s cut short now that Martinez is out recovering from a concussion. After Kai’s victory over Moon, Li marched up to Gonzalez and challenged her for the NXT women’s championship. The pivot makes perfect sense: after cutting her teeth on the rugged Martinez, Li is now coming for the top spot.
The women’s division is down a tag team, but they had the talent to tap in to make up for the loss of the compelling Moon and Blackheart. Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro are a sporadically featured tag team, despite having a similar team cohesion and high energy to their men’s division counterparts, current men’s tag champs MSK. The high-flying team had a victory over The Robert Stone Brand, Aaliyah, and Jessi Kamea. When a disappointed Stone confronted Aaliyah over the loss, she finally snapped on the sleezeball and quit in a face turn which went over well with the CWC crowd, and seemingly allied her with Franky Monet, who swooped in as Aaliyah dumped Stone. It’s been a slow start for the former Taya Valkyrie since arriving at WWE, but things might be moving in earnest for her, now.
Sarray and Gigi Dolin interacted at Great American Bash, and their storyline commenced in earnest with another victory for Sarray. Hopefully, more will be seen from both of them-Sarray is a perky powerhouse, and the indie provocateur Dolin has a Paige-like intensity. Raw’s Mandy Rose was looking on at Dolin’s and Sarray’s match, presumably signaling a move to NXT.
This would mean that her tag team with Dana Brooke, and their feud with current WWE women’s tag team champions Natalya and Tamina, are both finished, which has a butterfly effect of intriguing possibilities for all parties.
NXT is meant to serve as the proving ground for the future of WWE. As such, the gears seem to be moving ever forward in spite of recent changes. The women’s division, especially, is ripe with new and previously underutilized players ready for their shot.
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