Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair
taped 05/01/2019, aired 05/29/2019
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States
(reviewed 08/12/2019) Real good, at least for a little while. Yim comes into this one hot due to how Belair cheated to beat her a few weeks back, so she goes right after the EST and really beats the snot out of her. Opening minutes of this match are awesome with Yim seeking her revenge as Belair swings wildly to find the slightest bit of breathing room. It’s easily some of the hardest-hitting action NXT’s seen all year, as long as it lasts. After a few minutes of that, though, these two resign themselves to a fairly standard match that exposes a lot of their worst faults. In particular it shows just how unappealing Yim’s offensive arsenal is, as the sloppy tarantula, Gannosuke clutches, and Yoshi Tonics she uses here are way less exciting than any of the straightforward kicks and elbows she was pulling out before. It also highlights how NXT struggles to retain intensity over time, as these two go from slapping the shit out of each other to trading backslide attempts without much in the way of a tonal transition. Hate to regress from “I just want to hurt this motherfucker” to “oh no, they keep kicking out of my pinfall attempts”. Thankfully Belair helps to keep me interested, as I appreciate her mounting frustration with being unable to put the NXT newcomer away more than just about anything else she’s done as a character thus far. She tries fleeing to the back at one point and is able to take control on the floor, smashing Yim’s face into the apron with her chickenwing facebuster. Back in the ring, though, she aimlessly tries to punish Yim with some low impact offense, allowing her to reverse a powerbomb attempt and pull Belair by her hair into a codebreaker. Regrettably they apparently call that Protect Ya Neck but it’s a decent enough finish, getting back to the sort of energy that made me like the opening stretch so much. Hope the third match between these two manages to stay hot and heavy the whole way through.