Asuka and Nikki Cross take the women's division to a whole new level with Last Woman Standing match

Asuka defeated Nikki Cross to win the Last Woman Standing match on NXT. Courtesy @WWENXT

It's no secret that women's wrestling has taken the WWE by storm during the past few years.

The Divas Revolution of 2015 has shifted to the Women's Evolution of today and the division has never been hotter. Case in point: For the third straight night, a women's wrestling match has headlined WWE programming. Monday night, RAW concluded with a solid six-woman gauntlet match to determine the number one contender for the RAW Women's Championship, Tuesday night saw Carmella secure her position as the first ever Ms. Money in the Bank on SmackDown Live, and on Wednesday NXT Women's Champion Asuka and Nikki Cross shined in the first Last Women Standing match in NXT history.

Wednesday night's matchup came two weeks after Asuka and Cross battled all around the Full Sail Arena to a no contest as part of a triple-threat elimination match for the NXT Women's Championship. While the intensity put forth in that encounter was thrilling, this week's version built on it in a major way.

Ferocious from the start, it didn't take long for Cross to introduce a slew of steel chair. Before the chairs saw any action, both ladies traded Irish whips on each other into the steel steps and Asuka utilized a garbage can enticing the "ECW" chants from the crowd.

Asuka then started her own collection of steel chairs, piling them in the ring and leading to her tossing Cross off of the top rope onto them. Cross quickly rebounded and returned the favor by way of a belly to back suplex onto the hill of chairs.

Shortly after that, Cross hit four straight snap fisherman neck breakers on Asuka, but the champ made it to her feet before the referee could count to 10 and end the match.

The two brought the action to the outside of the ring and Cross finally got the opportunity to utilize the mountain of chairs she accumulated at the beginning of the match. Despite powerbombing Asuka onto the steel, Asuka again rose before the 10 count.

As we neared the finish, both superstars made their way up the ramp and near the commentary area where Cross set up a ladder. They both proceeded to climb the ladder leading to the highlight, and the conclusion of the match, where Asuka suplexed Cross off the ladder through the commentary table. Asuka rose to her feet at the count of nine victorious and still undefeated as Cross lay motionless.

The NXT women's division has become the premier attraction within the brand, and epic performances like this solidify that notion. Not only does Asuka hold the longest current championship reign in all of the WWE, but stars including Cross, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon are firing on all cylinders and consistently producing high energy, compelling stories.

The focus on women's wrestling comes at an opportune time with the Mae Young Classic on the horizon.

Hideo Itami's fury magnifies

Since his loss to NXT Champion Bobby Roode at TakeOver: Chicago, Itami has developed an increased frustration level, which in turn has shifted his character to the dark side. The new heel nature of Itami's persona was thoroughly illustrated a few weeks ago in a match with Oney Lorcan. In the match, Itami was relentless, nailing his Go To Sleep finisher three times, refusing to pin Lorcan. Instead, his intent was only to punish, leading to the referee throwing the match out as Lorcan was unable to continue and Kassius Ohno rushing the ring and pleading with Itami to stop.

Lorcan was out for revenge this week in another matchup with Itami. As soon as the match started, Lorcan smashed Itami with an incredibly stiff running European uppercut, busting up his nose and the blood began to pour. The referee called for the bell, throwing this match out as well.

However, both men returned to the ring shortly after to settle the score once and for all.

This time, it was Itami nailing Lorcan with a stiff shot, a running boot to the face as soon as the bell rang and he didn't let up. Neither did Lorcan. The two pounded each other until Itami kicked out the right knee of Lorcan, hobbling him enough to set him up for to Go To Sleep knee strike and the win.

After the match, Itami called Ohno out to the ring, but before any dialogue could take place, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain and Nikki Cross unexpectedly ambushed them.

Based on the happenings during the past month, it appeared that we were headed toward an Itami/Ohno collision, and we'll still probably get there, but the two will take a SAnitY detour first.

The Velveteen Dream continues to impress

The charismatic Velveteen Dream was in action this week against Ho Ho Lun. As has been the case since his debut, Dream continued to captivate through his flashy mannerisms and in-ring work.

The final sequences saw Dream hit Lun with a jackhammer followed by his always impressive soaring elbow drop from the top rope.

Dream's stock continues to rise with each performance and based on the crowed reactions, Full Sail has taken to him and rightfully so.

What's on tap?

  • Next week's main event will see Bobby Roode defend his NXT Championship against Roderick Strong.

  • Following SAnitY's attack on Itami and Ohno, the two will look for retribution against Wolfe and Dain next week.

  • In two weeks, NXT Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain will put their titles on the line against Heavy Machinery.

This week's bests

Match of the night: Asuka vs. Cross

Move of the night: Asuka suplexes Cross off a ladder through the commentary table

Moment of the night: The main event was full of them, but it was great seeing Mauro Ranallo back at the commentary