With Asuka having cleared out the division in NXT, General Manager William Regal had to think outside the box. His selection of Mickie James was met with widespread approval, and the reaction of fans to her first appearance in WWE ring in six years at TakeOver: Toronto was the latest example of how beloved the six time main roster champion still is.
Once the match started, it quickly looked like the James of old - either that, or the NXT Women’s champ was a little too confident. Whichever, Asuka was forced to regroup on the outside, the first time we’ve seen her shaken in quite some time. Mickie continued to play head games, holding the ropes as she beckoned her opponent back into the ring.
With a flurry of her signature hip attacks, the Empress of Tomorrow sent Mickie to the outside, and returned the favor of holding the ropes for her. When the challenger went to go between the bottom ropes instead, Asuka launched an attack that included a big suplex on the floor. It looked like the veteran might be just another victim.
But the tides turned back in the ring after Asuka went to the hip check once too often. Mickie came shockingly close to ending it on several occassions, including with a Muta Lock...
... and a big kick...
But the joshi Superstar escaped both finishes, and locked in her own submission to retain.
The question is, was this one and done for James? Afterwards, Asuka refused an offered handshake and taunted her with the belt. Is this a sign of a turn for the champ, or a rematch in our future?
One things for sure, Mickie James has still got it. But it wasn’t enough to defeat the most dominant woman in the history of NXT.
For a complete rundown of the show with all of the match results, head over to the live blog here.