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What's N.E.X.T for the E.S.T of N.X.T?

She may have lost the match, but Bianca Belair was a winner at TakeOver
She may have lost the match, but Bianca Belair was a winner at TakeOver
Rick Ucchino
OFFICIAL
Modified 18 Feb 2020, 01:22 IST
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Disclaimer: The views of the author don't necessarily reflect those at Sportskeeda

The Black and Gold Brand put on another spectacular TakeOver event Sunday night in Portland. All six matches on the card absolutely delivered, and the NXT Women's Championship contest was among the best of the night. Rhea Ripley defeated Bianca Belair to retain her title before Charlotte Flair made her presence known. The Queen took down Ripley after the match and made her official challenge for WrestleMania 36.

On April 5th, 2020 in Tampa, Florida it will be Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women's Championship. The win last night continued Ripley's run of dominance over the last few months. With Belair seemingly behind her, The Nightmare can now focus on the biggest match of both her career, and the history of the NXT Women's Title. The question is - what's next for the E.S.T of N.X.T?

If I had one complaint about the Women's Title match Sunday it would be the way it ended. There is no shame in losing to Rhea Ripley, but in my opinion this just wan't the right time for Belair to lose clean.

Much like Ripley, Belair had been riding a wave of momentum into TakeOver: Portland. I was hoping maybe Flair would interfere before the match ended, to help set up a match between all three women for the NXT Women's Championship down the line. Clearly WWE management decided to go in a different direction. That still didn't stop the E.S.T from stealing the spotlight.

Belair may have lost on Sunday night, but she oozed star power. From the moment she walked out with her custom made cape, she owned the arena. It was a perfect follow up to her dominating performance at the Royal Rumble. No spot is too big for Bianca Belair. I'm not the only one who thought so either.

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Once again in defeat, Belair proved the wins and loses aren't everything in professional wrestling. The company needs to find a way keep her momentum going, and using her loss on Sunday night as catalyst to continue the ascension of one of it's rising stars could be the key.

The way I see it, they have two options: Find a way to include her in the Women's Title match at WrestleMania, or have her move on from NXT and over to RAW or SmackDown.

There's part of me that really hopes the company has left the door open for the former to happen. There's no doubt in my mind that Bianca Belair has earned her spot in such a marquee match. She may not have earned a spot at WrestleMania from a storyline perspective quite yet. Her overall body of work, however, as a consistently talented, well-rounded performer who the fans see as top-level has earned her that opportunity. She belongs at WrestleMania. I'm willing to go as far as to say not only should she be there, but she should finally win the big one and walk away NXT Women's Champion.

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There's only so many times a star can lose big matches before their credibility takes a hit. I wouldn't say that has happened to Belair, but the company needs to be careful.

I believe WWE knows what they have with Bianca Belair and my hope is, much like Becky Lynch last year, they will realize that now is the time to strike to help build the next level of Superstars.

The Four Horsewomen can only reign supreme for so long. It's time for the likes of Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley and Biana Belair to stake their claim near the top of the food chain. There's no better way to do that than by having them compete with the best in the division on the biggest show of the year. Ripley has her opportunity. Baszler is poised to take hers. Belair deserves her shot too.

Charlotte Flair may have left the door open for that to happen, as she also attacked Belair after the match on Sunday night, even though Rhea took the brunt of Charlotte's aggression. Only time will tell if that toss into the steel ring steps was more than just retaliation for the double team by Ripley and Belair a couple weeks back on NXT.

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Maybe a move to Monday Night RAW would be best

Photo credit: Thomas World YouTube Channel
Photo credit: Thomas World YouTube Channel

If bigger plans aren't in the works for her as an NXT Superstar, maybe it's time for the E.S.T to head to R.A.W. Belair has reached a crossroads in NXT. She's elevated herself to the top of the card a number of times, but has failed to win the big one. Her latest loss, for the moment, appears to have left her directionless with no clear path to WrestleMania weekend. She can ill afford to wait around for several weeks while her brand's Champion feuds with a "main roster" Superstar.

Meanwhile, if there is a brand that could use a bit of star power in it's Women's division, it's Monday Night RAW. That is especially the case if the rumors of Becky Lynch taking some time off after WrestleMania are true. If The Man isn't going to be around as much come April and May, WWE should start establishing the next faces of the brand now.

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have been anchoring the roster for a while now. Asuka, Kairi Sane, Natalya, and Liv Morgan are all nice pieces as well. I'm a huge fan of all of them, but take away Lynch and potentially Charlotte if she wins the NXT Championship, and RAW has a problem.

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Shayna Baszler would presumably be the new RAW Women's Champion if Lynch takes a well deserved vacation. In that case, she'd need an opponent that could help get the audience invested out of the gate. Why not someone like Belair? Someone who she has history with and great chemistry with. Seems like a no brainer, especially if WWE used the weeks leading up to the Show of Shows building Belair up to the mainstream audience.

Regardless if that feud happens right after WrestleMania or a little further down the line, RAW provides more room for Belair to grow and a bigger spotlight for her star to shine bright. She has earned a spot at WrestleMania, but if it's not in the cards, to me the best bet is to let her strut her stuff on Monday nights.

What do you think? Should it be a triple threat at WrestleMania? Or should Belair move on? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

Published 18 Feb 2020, 01:22 IST
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