WWE MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE EPISODE 1 RESULTS: Boss Club vs NakaMeowa (January, 16th 2018)

Welcome all to the first ever Mixed Match Challenge report. Whether you are new to the introduced concept or not, allow me to explain what exactly is going on. The WWE, last year, announced its first ever Mixed Tag Team Tournament, consisting of 12 weeks of actions, with the teams being announced over the past few weeks. 6 of those teams represent the Smackdown Live roster, and the other six for Monday Night RAW. Announced duos are Elias and Bayley, Sasha Banks and Finn Balor, Carmella and Big E, Nia Jax and Apollo Crews, Charlotte and Bobby Roode, Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman, Goldust and Alicia Fox, Miz and Asuka, Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn, Rusev and Lana, Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura and Naomi and Jimmy Uso. Competing this week in hopes of successful advancement are Sasha Banks and Finn Balor, competing against familiar faces of their own past, Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura.

The show, that streams exclusively in the United States via FaceBook *Sigh* opens immediately with the separate entrances of Finn Balor and Sasha Banks then Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura, who is honorably wearing the Jacket once representing the Hart Foundation. On Commentary is a woman who is not only a familiar face from Natalya’s Past, but was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the only Divas Champion currently a part of the WWE Hall of Fame, Beth Phoenix. She will be bringing her expertise alongside Corey Graves and a clearly recovered Michael Cole (who was an accessory for Braun Strowman this past Monday and was attacked by the Monster Among Men).

The Women start off the one match of the show, Natalya going against Sasha Banks. The Two lock up and Natalya attempts a reversal but Sasha spins herself free, and a standoff ends in some cockiness from Natalya, that provokes Banks, chasing her to the opposite corner. Natalya sticks herself between the ropes to forcefully avoid altercation, clearly escaping from the match intentionally to avoid Sasha’s rage, tagging in Nakamura, which forces Balor to step in in the place of Banks.

The Two rivals of NXT days battle for a fair few minutes until Natalya tags back in, thus in goes Banks as well. Natalya is back to utilizing her cockiness by mocking the poses of Sasha Banks, provoking her again and in turn, they engage in a more aggressive lock up. Sasha shoves Natalya away and shows her how her poses are truly done and gets face palmed by the veteran. Sasha shoves Natalya again and gets slapped in the face. Sasha snaps and Lou Thesz Press’s Natalya to the mat, pounding her with a number of fast forearms. Sasha blocks a kick from Natalya and slaps her in the face in retaliation for earlier, irish whipping her to a corner but missing the follow up attack when Natalya moves fast from the selected corner. Natalya slingshots Sasha onto her rear and connects with a basement dropkick to the upper body. She attempts the first pin of the match on Sasha and gets a one count.

Natalya channels her power next by lifting Sasha and running her back first into a far corner. Kicks follow by Natalya, who taunts in the near center of the ring while briefly verbally engaging with Nakamura. Time wise it proves costly as Banks recovers in the far corner and blocks Natalya’s oncoming corner assault. Sasha uses her legs to send Natalya jaw first into the middle turnbuckle, hanging her up between the ropes, hitting a forearm along the way to set up Natalya in a dangling position. Sasha goes for a pin attempt next but scores only a near fall on Natalya. Natalya springs from the ring and engages in another verbal talk with Nakamura. Sasha isn’t waiting for Natalya to pace her way back into the ring, going for a suicide dive but being caught by Nakamura, who isn’t sure what else to do other than perch Sasha atop the apron and calm her. Nakamura hilariously taunts her but she doesn’t take it as such, going for double knees but missing the NJPW alumni and getting Natalya instead. Sasha rolls Natalya back to the ring, taunting Nakamura before stepping back in there herself….into Natalya’s discus clothesline. Natalya proceeds with a pin and gets a near fall on Sasha.

Natalya tries to wear out Sasha by applying a side headlock, while Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn are shown watching from the backstage areas, operating on social media throughout the show. Back to the ring and Natalya keeps a grip on Banks, but Banks eventually breaks loose, though unable to reach Balor as Natalya catches her mid leap. A Michinoku Driver counter gets Natalya a one count on Banks. Natalya applies an abdominal stretch though her grip weakens via elbows from Sasha, who arm drags out of the hold. Sasha tries to crawl under Natalya to get to Balor but Natalya gets to work and tries again to isolate the former women’s champion from the former Universal Champion. Sasha connects with an enziguiri to floor Natalya and makes her much wanted tag to the fellow NXT Alumni.

Balor and Nakamura battle again for a fair while with Sasha and Natalya getting involved during a pin attempt late on. Sasha chucks Natalya from the ring then returns alongside the Queen of Harts later, calling Balor in also. Balor and Banks connect with running dropkicks in unison to Nakamura and Natalya, with Nakamura heading fully to the floor while Natalya remains in the ring. With Nakamura cleared off, Banks connects with the Backstabber, moving quick into the Bank Statement, which soon submits Natalya. Finn Balor and Sasha Banks win the match.

Next week will see whether Carmella’s training with the New Day has proven effective as Miss Money in the Bank and Big E take on a sure fire winning team in WWEs former Intercontinental Champion the Miz and the still undefeated Asuka.

(Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya vs Finn Balor and Sasha Banks)

Thoughts On This Match:
Combination wise, this was a nice way to kick off the tournament. You’ve got two women who haven’t competed against each other since the brand split, who are heavily developed and have expansive in ring skill and you have two guys with a famed past and own backstory in NXT, who upon engaging in the ring, thoroughly excites the WWE Universe as its dream match material (Balor and Nakamura). When Nakamura and Natalya were first announced to be a team, i wasn’t sure how it was going to work due to the different character alignments, Natalya as a heel still and Nakamura as a face but the way this match meant, it really didn’t matter. Good Luck to Balor and Banks though, as they are sure to get Asuka and Miz in the next round and unless Miz takes the fall courtesy of Balor (we need to see that feud again) then Team Asuka are going VERY far just based on that clear undefeated streak.

– Catherine

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