Ah, NXT ArRival. Who would have thought that two years and countless international signings later that NXT would have developed into the incredible powerhouse we know it was today? It’s time to fire up the time machine as we take a look back at the inaugural WWE Network special for NXT, and the first glimpse of Emma and Paige for most viewers of the WWE product.
I’d like to take this moment and remind everyone that I love Emma as a performer and absolutely, positively, hate this iteration of her character. It’s equatable to a steaming pile of crap, really. That being said, Paige, who at this point was referring to herself as the “Anti Diva”, starts things off with aggressiveness that we’ve never really seen out of her on the main roster, getting right into the face of the bubbly Australian Emma. The two exchange lefts and rights, with Emma even attempting to slap on the Emma Lock early, until Paige seizes the advantage. Emma fights off Paige, trying to connect with the Emma Sandwich (don’t get me started on that move name, please….I truly hate this gimmick), but Paige again fights off Emma. The majority of this match, thus far, has been advantage Paige, with her showing a hell of a mean streak accompanied by a pitbull like nature. Emma turns the tides, locking in the tarantula, and following it up with the Emma Sandwich. For whatever reason, William Regal decides to tell us he’s been married 17 times and he’s not sure why he can’t find a lovely girl like Emma. What this adds to the match as far as commentary, I have no idea, don’t ask me. Sideshow commentary antics aside, Emma utilizes some brutal submission holds, planting her boots square in the kidney of Paige and pulling back with an extreme amount of torque on the upper body and shoulders. The odd part of this character is that they chose to portray Emma as vicious in the ring but an absolute dimwit outside the ring. Again, something I absolutely despise about this iteration of Emma.
Emma tries to fire up and connect with a big move in the corner, but Paige knocks the bubbly dancer off her mark with an elbow square to the forehead. Things escalate, as both women fight perched atop the top turnbuckle, with Emma attempting to turn it into a sunset flip powerbomb. Paige holds on, but pays for her perseverance by eating a full blown powerbomb, eliciting a “Better than Batista” chant from the Full Sail Faithful. Emma is becoming clearly frustrated at this stage of the match up, slapping the Anti Diva square across the face and screaming “Give Up” at her adversary. This only serves to anger the raven-haired champion, as she fires right back and connects with a Paige Turner. Emma kicks out of what is usually the coup de grace for Paige, clearly rattling the confidence of the champion. Paige resorts to Plan B, locking in a Scorpion Cross-lock to force the submission and retain her status as the first ever, and only, Women’s Champion in NXT history.
In hindsight, it’s incredible to see the striking differences between where these two performers were in 2014 versus where they are now in 2016. Both have elevated themselves to the main roster, and have significantly changed their looks and character. Emma has since shaken that god-awful character of hers and turned to a more serious, down to earth, and badass side of herself. Paige, meanwhile, has floundered around on the main roster, having a few good stints as Divas Champion but otherwise not doing much noteworthy. She’s also been almost a little lazy, I dare say, in her in-ring performances versus what she was able to do during her stint in NXT.