Shayna Baszler Retains, Bianca Belair UN-DE-FEA-TED No More

Kyle Fowle

Before Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair even stepped into the ring at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, it was clear that this was going to be a special championship match. It was right there in the numbers: Baszler as the first and only two-time NXT Women’s Champion and Bianca Belair as her undefeated rival. The two have been trading verbal jabs for weeks now, punctuated by Belair slapping Baszler just two weeks ago before avoiding a beating from Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.

To say these two don’t like each other would be an understatement. More than the bad blood though, Baszler and Belair came into the match at the top of their respective games. So, would Baszler retain and continue her dominance over the women’s division, or would Belair turn her undefeated streak into her first championship win?

Belair may be undefeated, but clearly Baszler isn’t intimidated. And why should she be? She’s run over every competitor to come her way. Belair, a former powerlifter and track star, shows a lot of strength early on though, backing Baszler into the corner, but the MMA fighter hits back with a leg sweep and a headlock. The two spend some time feeling each other out until Baszler takes advantage of Belair’s long braided hair, using it to pull her opponent into the ring post.

It’s all ground and pound for Baszler from there on out, focusing on the shoulder she slammed into the ring post. For awhile it looks like the match might have to be called off because Belair is simply too injured. She can’t get anything going, and Baszler knows it. She walks around the ring like she owns it, which, to be fair, she has for some time. She uses the hair a lot, keeping Belair close and pummelling her with strike after strike.

Belair’s a fighter though, and she wants that championship. She fights back with a big spear and a lot of athleticism, dodging Baszler’s attacks. The two trade forearms and punches in the middle of the ring, and Belair looks desperate like she’s struggling to keep up. So, she uses the hair. She whips it like Willow Smith, and that gives her some space to work. But Baszler pushes Belair into the ref during a reversal, and that means she doesn’t get the three-count after delivering the K.O.D.

With the ref down, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke come out to lend a hand, but Belair fights them off too. She beats the numbers game, but Baszler locks in her deadly clutch. Then, something remarkable happens. No one has ever escaped that submission, but the “E-S-T of NXT” does, showing incredible strength to reverse it into a snap suplex. She heads to the top rope for a 450, fighting off Duke in the process, but Baszler dodges it and locks in the clutch again. Belair tries to rise up, but falls to her knees. She tries again and falls back down again.

Nobody has ever managed to fight off the clutch for so long, but it’s not enough. It’s a gutsy showing from Belair in her first championship match, but Baszler proves once again that she’s the woman who runs this division, choking out Belair and forcing the ref to ring the bell.

The reign of the Queen of Spades continues. It may never end.

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