NXT's Io Shirai Retains and Defeats Shotzi Blackheart In Epic Match

NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai put her title on the line tonight against Shotzi Blackheart, and right off the bat, both attempted to set the tone. Shotzi wasn't scared of Shirai and went right at the Champion, but Shirai didn't sweat the hot start and showed off her impressive athleticism with some stylish flips. Both would then exchange submission maneuvers, and Blackheart took control of the match at this point.

Shirai did manage to get her foot on the rope, and after a few evasions by both stars, Shirai would hit a moonsault off the ropes, landing on Blackheart outside of the ring.

She would roll Blackheart back into the ring and go to work on wearing her down in the corner, and despite a counter by Blackheart Shirai would send her hard down onto the mat. After an unsuccessful pin, Shirai would wear her down more by using the ropes and then would follow that with a submission targeting her back and neck.

Blackheart was feeling the pain at this point, and Shirai looked to keep the momentum with another submission, this time aimed at her lower back. Blackheart would counter but would then be sent into the corner once more. and Shirai would slam her head into the turnbuckle.

Blackheart would show signs of life with. acounter but Shirai sent her back in the corner, but Blackheart would finally get some spare with a dropkick and then hit Shirai with a flurry of punches and a DDT, followed by a knee to the face.

They would trade blows in the center of the ring followed by hard chops, and Blackheart would hit Shirai with an impressive move that left Shirai open for a German Suplex. Blackheart would then get Shirai locked into a submission right in th middle of the ring, but Shirai rolled through.

Shirai planted Blackheart hard on th mat face first and then went up to the top turnbuckle for a missle dropkick. She would go for the pin but no go. Blackheart went for a super huricanrana and naied it but Shirai kicked out of the pin.

Blackheart went up to the top rope but shirai intervened and got ahold of Blackheart, and th two would hit each other with punches but Shirai would flip over the turnbuckle, followed by Blackheart trying to set up a move but Shirai countered, hitting Blackheart with a suplex that sent her back on the side of the ring hard.

Back in the ring Shirai was in control, but couldn't close the deal. She went to the top rope and hit the over the moon moonsault, and that was enough for the win. Shirai would help her up and the two would share a moment of respect.

You can find the official description for tonight's NXT below.

"Two massive title clashes headline a huge edition of NXT as Damian Priest defends the North American Championship against Timothy Thatcher, while Breezango look to hold on to the NXT Tag Team Titles against Imperium. Elsewhere, NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai faces Shotzi Blackheart in non-title action and the unlikely duo of Drake Maverick & Killian Dain team up to battle The Undisputed ERA's Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish. Catch it all tonight at 8/C on USA Network!"

Here's what is on deck for tonight:

NXT North American Championship Match: Champion Damian Priest vs Timothy Thatcher

NXT Tag Team Championship: Champions Breezango vs Imperium

NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai vs Shotzi Blackheart

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Drake Maverick and Killian Dawn vs Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish

What matches do you want to see at TakeOver? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!