In a Number One contender's match for the NXT women's title, it wasn't the former champion Charlotte that won. It wasn't the beloved Bayley either. Instead, it was Becky Lynch who earned the win – and took the next step in one of the most fascinating careers in wrestling.
Before we look further at Lynch, it's worth pointing out that the NXT Divas once again put on a great show. It's often said that a triple-threat match can be one the toughest to execute in wrestling. Often, it just slides into a series of singles matches, with the wrestlers taking turns resting on the outside. However, like the four-way match at TakeOver: Rival that included Sasha Banks, these three women were able to work together to keep the match constantly flowing.
While there was a bit of the disappearing early on, that quickly shifted into a stretch where all three were in the ring simultaneously, and they built on that. Each woman was able to look strong throughout the match: Charlotte dominated physically, Bayley showed off her best Taz impression with the suplexes she threw towards the end and then Becky Lynch pulled off a sneaky win, pinning Bayley while Charlotte had her locked in the bridged Figure-Four (which they called the Figure-Eight). This continued a strong couple months for Lynch, a run that, just a few years ago, wouldn't have seemed possible.
Becky Lynch defies many of the common characteristics of the WWE Diva. She was 26 when she signed with the company, which is older than most when they sign their first WWE contract (Charlotte is another notable exception to this). She's 28 now, the same age as AJ Lee – who just retired. Unlike many of the Divas, she had a wealth of experience on the independent scene. But even those with outside experience usually only have a few years before coming to WWE. She started her training in 2002, working with fellow NXT standout Finn Bálor. With all of this though, it's what happened in 2006 that makes her journey so fascinating.
That year, Lynch – then known as Rebecca Knox – was wrestling in several organizations throughout North America, Europe and Japan. In a match in Germany, she suffered a head injury, which caused damage to a cranial nerve. She attempted to return to the ring in 2008, but decided that it wasn't the right time, and even declared herself retired from wrestling. Many thought she would never wrestle again. In 2011, she returned to wrestling as a manager (and even managed Paige at one point before she signed with WWE) and then finally did return to competition in 2012. It was only a few months later that the WWE signed her to a developmental deal.
Now, after all that, she's the Number One contender for the NXT Women's Championship, interestingly enough in a heel vs. heel match against Sasha Banks. Considering her story, it's somewhat a wonder that she's not a face. I suppose we'll just have to wait for that inevitable turn; after all, the best part of Lynch's story is surely yet to come.
- One interesting element of the women's match is Charlotte's current role in NXT. She's basically done everything that she can at this point. She won the women's title, held it for nine months and has lost every match since dropping the belt. It sure seems like they're getting her ready to move on to the main roster. I think the question with Charlotte is simply when to bring her up, as they won't want to elevate her without a storyline to go straight into. However, her days in NXT are certainly numbered.
- Kevin Owens once again destroyed Alex Riley. While I approved of bringing Riley back to the ring, it's hard to say that the beginning of his renewed run has been a big success. It's one thing to lose to Kevin Owens, but he's looked completely inept for the most part in their matches. The question now is what's next for Riley, as they need to do something pretty quick to erase the stench of these beatdowns.
- But I will say, the brawl between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at the end of the night was great. We've seen a more intense Zayn over the past six months, but we haven't seen the savage Sami before. Unlike his feud with Neville, where he was just desperate to get the title, Zayn doesn't just want the title – he wants to hurt Owens. It was a nice touch to have all the security, instead of just a couple referees, come out to try to break up the brawl.
- Finn Bálor beat Tye Dillinger fairly easily, which has to be disappointing for anyone who thought Dillinger would be pushed to something more after his breakup with Jason Jordan. While the match was a fairly standard squash (which seemed to be a theme of the show this week), what happened after certainly was interesting: Tyler Breeze showed up on screen, and called Bálor just another flavor of the month. While his feud with Hideo Itami was good, Bálor should make a great foil for "Prince Pretty". I can only imagine the look on Breeze's face if the Demon ever comes out.
- Two squashes didn't do much for me, and I can only imagine they were on the show because the Arnold Classic addition forced the tapings to be showed somewhat out of order. Hideo Itami beat CJ Parker, and Rhyno squashed a random jobber. Having Rhyno win in a squash the week after losing to Zayn was odd, and can only be a result of the out of order tapings. With NXT officially going out on the road for five dates in May and June (with shows in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio), hopefully they've learned that they need to plan the tapings in advance if they are going to insert other footage into the schedule.
- Blake and Murphy are actually getting to show some personality in their courting of Carmella. While their segment wasn't the best, giving them some sort of character is a must, and they're doing a fine job at it. The simple question at this point is will Carmella end up with them, which seems to be the likely choice.