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Old 01-12-2018, 01:34 AM
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Default Shayna Baszler's NXT Debut

When we were introduced to Shayna Baszler, those of us who don't really follow MMA, during the Mae Young Classic, I got something of an "she's okay, but nothing all that special" vibe about her. I never really got her delivering anything that Sonya Deville couldn't, given their mutual MMA histories, plus a bigger upside for Deville in that she's only 24 years old whereas Baszler's 37. Baszler was believable as a badass during the Mae Young Classic but I just simply pictured her being...well, basically what Sonya Deville is on the main roster right now.

Now, fast forward to this past Wednesday in which Baszler made her NXT debut. It started out with NXT showing a video that Baszler was filming while in the WWE Performance Center and she comes across some women training in the ring, including fellow Mae Young Classic competitor Dakota Kai. Kai was performing a reverse chin lock/choke on someone and Baszler offered to get in the ring to show her a few things. Baszler gets into the ring, gets into position and begins chokes this girl out and refuses to let go even though she's tapping. She eventually lets go and walks off smirking, which leads to a match with Kai. The match itself was really short with Baszler dominating Kai, working over her joints before delivering a vicious looking stomp to Kai's left arm, while it was at an angle, that lead to the ref stopping the match while Kai sold the hell out of it. She kept it up until Ember Moon comes out, Baszler smirks but backs off and heads to the back. William Regal confronts her backstage, lectures here a bit in which she responds only with "are we done here?" before walking off.

So what's the point of me going over all this? I guess the point is that Baszler was impressive as hell this past Wednesday and she very, very much reminded me of a female version of Pete Dunne. The way she carried herself, the cocky smirk, the "I don't give a shit" sort of swagger she had, along with the mouthpiece and just seeing her work Kai's joints, all just made me jokingly think that Baszler was Pete Dunne in drag. The overall segment left me wanting to see a lot more of her, to see her continue with this heel persona that the women's division needs and to see how she's progressed inside the ring.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:59 AM
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When Baszler was announced for the MYC, I was worried she would make a run based on her legit MMA experience. Never mind that she had a very middling MMA career and was 0-2 in the UFC, getting KO'd both times. That, coupled with her association with Rhonda, lead me to assume the worst, and it came true. She never really left me wanting more after her MYC run, something that could actually be said about a handful of the other gals.

Cut to the last few weeks and the vignettes hyping her up, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach. They were going to hotshot a basically green as goose shit nearly 40 year old just to say "Hey Rhonda, look how we treat your friends." The first few appearances didn't help either. They made it clear when she choked on Sane that she was headed to the top of the pack.

This showing though does at least peak my interest. Not only did it show a more rounded Baszler, but she is being given a persona we haven't seen in women's wrestling in some time. It also helped build Kai, who I adore, into a sympathetic character. It was classic NXT booking in that both are set up to reap the benefits.

I still have reservations. I'm a bit tired of the whole strapping a rocket to the ass of the latest indie signing and pointing them toward gold, though in Baszler's case she doesn't have much indie experience. I'm also worried this is all part of the song and dance they are using to lure Rhonda in, especially after it has been reported that the other two four horsewomen have quit their wrestling training. Also, at 37 and without the pre established fan base some other older signings like AJ and Joe and Balor had, this isn't going to be as easy of a build.

At least they gave me some reason for optimism though, which isn't something WWE can say often these days.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:09 AM
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While I see concerns about the mega push of a 40 year old, you have to look at it contextually. She is being built as the Kane of NXT women, a monster for a while, only to later go on to be a gatekeeper and put people over. I'm also fairly certain she is going to be a trainer in NXT working on shoot-style concepts, along with later down the road, obviously, a four horsewomen vs four horsewomen match.

She may be green (that much was woefully clear during the MYC finals) but the stuff she is good at looks legit. I would love to see her wreck some male referees when they try to come in and get her off of someone.

I would not at all be surprised to see her take the belt off Ember Moon sooner than later so that she may put over America's sweetheart, Kairi Sane
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