SAnitY -- Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain and Nikki Cross -- are collectively the most unique group to have ever entered an NXT ring, at least since the Wyatt Family ruled the land. They ooze anarchy and create unease in the most fascinating of ways.
While last week was all about locking down the three title matches for NXT TakeOver: Orlando, the crux of Wednesday's edition of NXT was drilling down on SAnitY's longtime obsession -- and for once, the numbers weren't in their favor.
Tye Dillinger has been their target for the past couple of months, and they've used that numbers game to their advantage time and time again. Even as Dillinger recruited some backup in Roderick Strong and No Way Jose, SAnitY was able to orchestrate isolated attacks and take advantage of having Nikki Cross in the mix to keep the balance tipped in their favor. The eerie stable has consistently dominated this rivalry from a physical and mental standpoint, but that finally changed in the closing moments of Wednesday's main event.
- WWE NXT (@WWENXT) March 23, 2017
An official six-man tag team match that had been brewing between the two teams for weeks finally came to fruition and featured some early fireworks, like a nice corkscrew cross-body over the top rope to the outside by Strong onto Young and Wolfe. As it typically does any,time SAnitY is in the building, chaos ensued, and the referee called for the bell, ruling the bout a "no contest" when they failed to yield to his commands.
With the six male superstars involved in this fracas, Cross' fit into the equation followed a familiar pattern as she jumped on Dillinger's back post-match as he stood over Young. That imbalance was answered this week as Ruby Riot, formerly known as Heidi Lovelace in promotions such as Shimmer, Chikara and many others in the world of independent wrestling, made her NXT television debut by aligning herself with the Dillinger, Strong and Jose trio and attacking Riot from out of nowhere.
While no official announcement was made at the moment, it appears as if we are headed toward an eight-person mixed tag team match at TakeOver as Dillinger and company look to put an exclamation point on their strong efforts Wednesday night. It remains to be seen if this will be the closure to the overarching Young-Dillinger conflict, but the building of an alliance to combat his well-fortified foes has kept things fresh and fun.
Asuka makes a statement
Coming off of the announcement that Asuka will defend her NXT women's championship against Ember Moon at TakeOver, the champ had an emphatic message to deliver just 10 days before putting her title on the line.
Asuka made her way to the ring following a video package illustrating the effectiveness of Moon's impressive "Eclipse" finishing move. But as the bell rang at the start of her match with Priscilla Zuniga, Asuka called for the microphone. "Ember Moon. This is your fate," she said, delivering a perfect spinning heel kick to Zuniga's face while dragging out a match that could have been over far more quickly than it ended up being by picking Zuniga's shoulders off the mat.
- WWE NXT (@WWENXT) March 23, 2017
Her intensity was through the roof as she nailed a flurry of stiff kicks, a nasty German suplex and finally an Asuka lock for the submission victory. Asuka had two more words for Moon following the match: "No eclipse." Statement made.
Moon figures to be the biggest threat to Asuka's title in the nearly yearlong span that she's been champion, and while Asuka has shown some flashes of ego, one can only wonder if she has set herself up for a "pride goeth before the fall" moment. The expectations for this championship match could not be higher.
Cien's road to TakeOver becomes clear
Andrade "Cien" Almas worked his second match in three weeks on Wednesday night when he went head-to-head with Oney Lorcan. This pairing has strung together a couple of quality television matches, dating back to late last year, and the third time out was the best of the bunch. Lorcan's bruising style meshes well with the finesse of Cien. The combination of both of those styles gives us the best of both worlds, and it was a fun one to watch.
Somersault planchas, powerslams to the outside of the ring and vicious clotheslines -- these two brought their A games. But it was Cien's hammerlock DDT that sealed the deal leading to his pinfall over Lorcan. Before this week's show, Cien was lacking direction heading into TakeOver; before the last few weeks, he'd been sparingly used, but his role at TakeOver was finally revealed late in the night on Wednesday.
Cien will take on Aleister Black -- Tommy End for all of the indy fans -- in his official NXT debut match. Cryptic vignettes featuring Black have been airing for a few weeks now, and it's finally clear that it's all been leading to Orlando.
What's on tap for next week?
We've got a triple-threat elimination match between half of the three teams involved in the NXT tag team championship match at NXT TakeOver: Orlando. After #DIY and The Revival each spoke their minds in promos this week, it'll be Dash Wilder of The Revival, Johnny Gargano of #DIY and Akam of the Authors of Pain in a triple-threat match, airing just days before their showdown on April 1.
There's also a "Loser Leaves NXT" match between Kassius Ohno and "The Drifter" Elias Samson, which was set up last week when Samson ridiculed Ohno after his NXT championship match loss to Bobby Roode. It's nice to see that there will be some actual stakes rather than just a traditional clip-show preview.