NXT women's division having another resurgence? Submitted by Tim Dorst on 09/24/2018 at 06:07 PM
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Why the NXT Women’s Division is on the verge of another resurgence
By Tim Dorst
If you’re a long time NXT viewer as I am, then you were a witness to the beginning of what eventually became known (and marketed) as the Divas Revolution/Women’s Evolution. It became increasingly clear that this was about to be a very mercurial time for the WWE and for the pro wrestling business as a whole.
Remember Paige defeating Emma to become the first-ever NXT women’s champion in a match that was actually given the time it needed and deserved? Remember the emergence of Charlotte Flair as she won the women’s title at the first TakeOver event? Remember when AJ Lee, the WWE Diva’s Champ at the time, made a rare appearance on NXT television to defend the belt against Bayley? What about NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, when Bayley and Sasha Banks tore down the Barclays Center with a match that is still considered to be one of the best in the brand’s history?
It’s obvious that the NXT women’s division, as well as the brand’s treatment and portrayal of its female athletes, was one of the catalysts that drove NXT to being the must-watch, can’t-miss program that it had become at this time. By 2015, NXT was about as hot as pro wrestling TV shows can get, as evident by it winning the Wrestling Observer Award for “Best Weekly TV Program” for the third straight year. With the reputation it had built up for its women’s division, it was never a huge deal or surprise to see the women main-event an episode of NXT on a regular basis; or at least not as big of a deal as WWE’s main roster makes of it every time the women “make history.” (But that’s another discussion for another time.)
Sadly, not every good thing lasts forever. Once the “Four Horsewomen of WWE” all received their main roster call-ups, the magic that once was the NXT women’s division wore off pretty quickly, and what was left was an incredible Japanese talent named Asuka (FKA Kana) and a load of developmental talent who were coming along, but not nearly at the level of their predecessors. Asuka’s winning steak made for somewhat compelling television, but the buzz around the brand’s blossoming women’s division faded and was replaced with borderline boredom from the same fans who watched Sasha and Bayley main-event a TakeOver in a Last Woman Standing match just a year before.
The effort was there. NXT’s commitment was still strong. But the talent just wasn’t up to par quite yet.
WWE’s acquisition of Ember Moon signaled that NXT was about to make a conscious effort to revamp the women’s division with a new batch of fresh indie talent, as they normally did and continue to do with the men’s roster. With this new initiative, never again would NXT have to scrounge up opponents to face its unbeatable champion, bringing back past talents like Mickie James to oppose Asuka on a major TakeOver event. NXT was putting a plan in place for a “Women’s Resurgence.”
Such a plan culminated with the introduction of the Mae Young Classic tournament, now in its second iteration. With this, NXT combined a collection of the best female talent from around the world with a slew of its most impressive Performance Center trainees in order to showcase the glory of women’s wrestling in a form unlike any before. And as NXT continues to sign many of the competitors in this year’s MYC, its women’s division will only grow and improve as a result.
Shayna Bazsler. Kairi Sane. Toni Storm. Deonna Purrazzo. Bianca Belair. Candace LeRae. Io Shirai. Mia Yim.
This is only a handful of the names that NXT fans will hear as the driving forces of the NEW NXT women’s division, as these women all bring their unique skills and personalities under a single umbrella. Throw in the emergence of NXT UK and its assortment of European talent, and women’s wrestling connoisseurs will have much to be excited about while watching the WWE Network in the coming months.