NXT: TakeOver: Dallas (04-01-2016) Asuka vs. Bayley

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Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good thong on the outside of your shorts!

This match is for Bayley’s NXT Women’s Championship.

The sleeper match of the entire NXT card, which is a shame. There’s plenty about this match to love, though it is by no means a perfect match. All the same Bayley and Asuka put together something really great with this match. They told two distinct stories, which were melded into one another in a way that made perfect sense. Though I may have some issues with certain aspects of the end stretch, the final moment and the majority of what went into getting there is gooey wrestling goodness.

Let’s start with the first story being told. The first story is that of the heralded champion using her size to try and thwart the dangerous challenger. I wouldn’t say they go as far as the classic, “If only Bayley could get her hands on Asuka” story, but they come awfully close. Though she trades strikes with Asuka, it is all too clear that Bayley can’t actually do that. She survives the early exchanges through sheer will and a dash of good luck. That’s why Bayley uses high impact moves like the Diving Suicida Headscissors to attempt to control the match. Her best bet is to wear down Asuka, and that’s what she tries to do.

On the other side of the coin there is Asuka, who bases her offense during the first story on quick strikes. She gets the better of those exchanges, because she is faster and her strikes are undoubtedly harder and doing more damage. But, inevitably she stands her ground for a shade too long and it is the champion who manages to hit her with a high impact move that does even more damage. For Asuka the first half is the tale of the challenger being slightly overwhelmed in the big title match and falling prey to the machinations of the champion when it matters most.

The second story they tell is that of Asuka adjusting. At some point our favorite painted lady from Japan realizes that she belongs in the ring with Bayley and that all she needs to do is pull back a notch. That’s what she does, as she still uses quick strikes, but now she’s moving before Bayley can catch her with something big. That leaves the champion in a position where she is still getting offense in but it’s nowhere near the level that she wants. Asuka is in and out, with both strikes and submissions. The more she attacks the champion and puts her at a disadvantage the more the champion relies on guts as opposed to skill.

That is where Bayley finds herself in trouble, she is now the one staying in the pocket too long. She’s not taking advantage of the openings being given to her, such as when she brilliantly goes after Asuka’s legs. She never capitalizes on that moment, and it’s all because she is too worried about a sudden strike or submission from Asuka. What the champion doesn’t realize, until it’s too late, is that by worrying so much about the offense to come she is leaving herself vulnerable to the offense that is happening in the moment.

The end stretch is both fascinating, and a tad frustrating. If one were to have major issues with this match I would imagine they take place during the final few minutes. Asuka’s selling of her leg is spotty, though ultimately forgivable since Bayley never truly committed to the attack on either leg. My main issue with the finale is that after so much careful structure in the first twelve or so minutes the final three minutes feel as if they are flying by too quickly. The actual ending is great stuff, as Bayley suffering the fate she does makes sense story and character wise. It’s just that there are a few missteps getting to that excellent final moment.

Still, this is a fantastic bit of wrestling. Asuka is, for lack of a better word, fresh. She always has been, at least in the way I’ve viewed her wrestling through the years. Her approach is different and the same could be said of the aesthetic she brings to this match. Bayley is Bayley, which means rock solid in the ring and excellent at using her character to tell a story. In this match Bayley does her best, Asuka is right there with her, and though they don’t nail everything what they do nail is more than enough for me to consider this a great match.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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