It is unusual to see a thriving women’s division under a WWE banner but on their triple-A league NXT you’ll find some of the best women wrestling today. Since the beginning the division has been hot, first of all ruled by Charlotte Flair and then, after a strong ascendancy, by “The Boss” Sasha Banks. More than any other title in NXT, the NXT Women’s Championship comes close to equalling the prestige of its main show cousin. At NXT Takeover: Unstoppable, that quality of competition was proven again when Banks met the challenge of Becky Lynch.
As I’ve mentioned before (and will continue to as long as it’s true), I haven’t really watched the show in a while and that includes NXT. I know they’ve been lighting it up, and I know Sasha Banks, but Lynch got going after I stopped following closely. I know she worked SHIMMER and comes from Ireland but that’s about it. Seeing her come out, appearance-wise she seems like a modern-age “punk rock chick,” thrown in elements of sci-fi dorkiness on top of the usual aggressive distortion-pedal vibe. Not sure of how she works from that but she looks confident, not rattled by how much the crowd loves the champion.
Sasha Banks I have seen before and I always thought she was good. This was maybe a year back. The word on the street these days is that she got great. Definitely she’s oozing overconfidence, to a level that’s almost overcompensating, though you’d never know it by the crowd reaction. She’s got an incredibly nasty presence, like you’d want to ask for an autograph but you’d be afraid she’d get her entourage to beat you up… or, given it’s Banks, just do it herself. How the NXT crowd doesn’t hate her is a bit crazy to me. On the other hand, what people pay to see is good wrestling. If you’re the person who delivers that week in and week out then maybe the crowd doesn’t care what you’re like.
probably the best ever summary of sasha banks, courtesy of parv
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks© vs Becky Lynch
We start things off with a fierce lockup. Banks sends Lynch into the corner, but after an exchange Lynch hooks Banks into a pin. Banks showed plenty of ring intuition in the opening portion but Lynch seemed to have enough tricks to keep Banks guessing. Banks gets Lynch into the corner and takes a cheap shot. They fight their way to the apron and Banks finally turns things 180 degrees by snapping Lynch down into the apron onto her shoulder. Before this, Becky Lynch had done some arm work to help set up her seated armbar finish, but it was Sasha Banks who upped the ante on limbwork. An extended series of ground holds pretty nearly ruined Lynch’s arm. Against all odds, Lynch fought to her feet despite an armlock and lifted Banks overhead into a suplex. Lynch rallied, putting pressure onto Banks’s arm and even managing to lock the seated armbar in, only for Banks to get the ropes. Banks played a ref screen to distract Lynch and sent her out to the floor. Her dive only half-worked as Lynch caught her and sent her into the steps. Lynch gets Banks back in the ring, then tries for a top rope dive to finish it but it’s countered into the Bank Statement hold. Lynch can’t hold on and she taps out.
To me one of the hallmarks of NXT is really solid execution and this was right in that echelon. Both Banks and Lynch displayed good knowledge of escapes and counters, to the point that they were basically even on that score. Banks played up her evil side a hell of a lot and to great effect persona-wise. I liked that it played into her attack; the cheap shot which seems to just be out of spite is actually what sets up her comeback. Plus, she wasn’t fazed by the crowd loving her: she didn’t reject them but didn’t become a fan favorite, either. Strategically it was very basic — both tried to set up their finishing maneuvers, which were arm holds — but they worked the formula very well.
The major issue I have with the match is really in its solid-ness, though that sounds contradictory. Both women have their quirks — Banks tends to use more of a ground and speed moveset, while Lynch likes to hit and throw — but largely they work a very similar style: active, mobile, technical, with a good bit of artillery. Both of them simply want to wear down their opponent enough to win the match. No one’s trying for a massive offensive onslaught, no one’s trying to slow the match so far down that their opponent can’t build momentum. They were both looking for the same finish, it’s true, but why? Banks didn’t really try and disrupt what she had to know was Lynch’s target. It’s true she did get more offense on the arm, but really she was just the winning ram in a headbutting contest. Plus, if Banks had really worked the arm that badly, how could Lynch have hit that series of suplexes? As they always say, wrestling is a game of chess. You can have an exciting game between two masters but that doesn’t make them grandmasters. Skill does.
Bottom Line: A very fun limb-work match, great attitude from Banks and a great gutsy performance from Lynch. Not top level but these two can certainly get to a higher rung.