Sunday 13 December 2015

The Women's Division's Hulk Hogan

Since the last Takeover show a pattern has emerged with the booking of NXT women's champion Bayley. She's presented in a way not dissimilar to Hulk Hogan. No, she doesn't scream and shout her way through manic promos or mention prayers, vitamins and milk but she does get confronted a fair bit. That's very much in the 80's Hogan mould.

A woman under constant threat... from other women.
The episode following Takeover: Respect, a show Bayley headlined with Sasha Banks in an iron woman match, successfully defeating the former champ three falls to two, Bayley was confronted by Alexa Bliss. The BAMF leader put over Bayley as the rightful centrepiece of the women's division before cruelly snatching her championship belt away and switching tones, saying that she, not Bayley, would lead the division into the future. It was a clear setup for a match, just not one that was held off for two months for the next Takeover event.

Bliss was a natural adversary for 'The Hugster'. Her mean girl act is a perfect foil for the socially awkward underdog Bayley portrays. Their feud could easily have been stretched out to Takeover: London in December but instead it was resolved with a singles match on the November 18 episode. Bayley won clean.

She was then confronted by Eva Marie. 'The Red Queen', to astonishingly loud heat (seriously, what has the woman done to offend the Full Sail regulars this much?), informed Bayley they'd wrestle the following week. Eva was presented by the commentary team as a tougher foe than Bliss had been. Which was fair. Eva Marie has wrestled more matches than Bliss recently and has won them all. If you want to go on wins and losses Marie is a more credible challenger.

Nia Jax and the new Bobby Heenan.
Bayley again won, this time overcoming the odds in a match that had a distinctly Vince Russo vibe to it thanks to a crooked official, ref bumps, and outside interference from Nia Jax. Following the match Jax attacked Bayley, making her intention to be the next big challenger clear. There was a repeat performance in a backstage segment, in which the champ was thrown through a prop door, just to emphasise that Jax really does mean business.

That match hasn't been rushed into. Instead Jax will be Bayley's challenger at Takeover: London. In a nice touch her partnership with Eva Marie seems to have been retained. I we want to stick with the Hogan analogy I started that possibly makes Eva the NXT women's division's answer to Bobby Heenan.

I like this approach. It worked for Hogan because he needed a constant stream of dudes to beat to show that he was the best. It's just as good for Bayley, although the reason why is different Instead of needing challengers to crush every other week Bayley needs to be shown to be a target, helping to maintain her underdog act. This approach is another example of what makes NXT work: things are kept simple there.

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