With NXT making its debut on the USA Network on Wednesday, a lot of new eyes will be taking in WWE’s third brand, joining Raw and SmackDown. While it’s new on national cable, NXT has been a work in progress since its beginnings as WWE’s developmental in 2010. In nine years, NXT has soared beyond the developmental tag into becoming its most athletically exciting product in years and well deserved of gaining it’s own distinctive brand status as it becomes NXT on USA. It’s lead by a stunning cast of franchise players as well.
We’re doing three primers looking at the depth of each NXT division in the brand – the Men’s, the Women’s, and the Tag Team – featuring the ones on TV now and a couple thoughts on impending debuts. In our first NXT on USA Primer, we take a look at all the players in the NXT Women’s Division, from NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler to the fresh faces ready to debut when NXT switches to two hours on the USA Network.
A former indie star on the Canadian independent circuit, Aliyah has been with NXT since 2015, where she’s spent the bulk of her career working enhancement or on live event circuits. She’s finally become a regular on NXT television, in a villainous tandem alongside Vanessa Borne.
One of NXT’s extraordinary homegrown talents, Bianca BelAir was an exceptional track and field standout in college who took to pro wrestling like a season veteran. She joined NXT in 2016 and became a breakout performer with the brand in 2017, taking part in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, an annual tournament for rising women’s stars, both indie and WWE-signed. She’s a combination of power and raw athleticism, who has already found herself in the main event scene at times. She was featured in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale at WrestleMania 34 in 2018.
One of the veterans of the women’s indie scene for over a decade and one of the pioneers of the women’s revolution in the US indies, Candice LeRae finally joined NXT in January of 2018. Initially working alongside her real-life husband Johnny Gargano in his quest for NXT gold, LeRae has finally broken off and is off and running with her own NXT career, as she displays top-notch charisma with an arsenal of moves. She competed in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale at WrestleMania 35 this past spring.
Another longtime indie star and pupil of former WWE Superstar Lance Storm, Chelsea Green also saw success with IMPACT Wrestling (as Laurel Van Ness) where she is a former IMPACT Knockouts Champion. She joined NXT in the summer of 2018 and was set to debut on TV earlier this year, until an hand injury sidelined her journey. She’s back on the road with NXT and its only a matter of time before she debuts on TV.
An international indie star from New Zealand, before joining NXT in 2016 she was a regular with promotions around the world, known as Evie. She took part in the inaugural Mae Young Classic in 2017 and has been a fan favorite with her upbeat personality and arsenal of kicks, but injuries have slowed her the past year. She also competed in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale at WrestleMania 34 in 2018. With vignettes hyping her return to the ring, it looks like the Captain of Team Kick is gearing for a huge return to the yellow brand.
One of the most scouted and courted indie stars of the past few years, before signing with NXT in the spring of 2018, she had been working with Ring of Honor, IMPACT Wrestling, and in Japan. A skilled technician with charisma to boot, she’s recently debuted a new stable, VXT, with Chelsea Green and Rachel Evers, that could feature prominently on NXT TV in the coming months.
The Horsewomen (Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir)
The ruling faction of the women’s division in NXT is three quarters of the MMA Four Horsewomen. While leader Ronda Rousey has been a star on Raw and WrestleMania, the other three are dominating in NXT. Shayna Baszler is the reigning and 2x NXT Women’s Champion and is proving to be one of the most dominant strikers and submission specialists in NXT history. She’s backed up by two other former MMA fighters in Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, who are always lurking nearby to make sure the NXT Women’s gold stays around Shayna’s waist.
When NXT signed Io Shirai in 2018, she was already heralded as one of the top women’s wrestlers on the planet after an extensive resume of championships in Japan. She debuted the second Mae Young Classic that year, losing to NXT UK star Toni Storm in the finals, but became an instant fan favorite with her high precision athleticism and aerial combat. After months of abuse and losing ways, Io recently turned heel and has now set her sights on destroying the women’s division.
Another former Ring of Honor and US indie star, Karen Q made the move to NXT last year for the second Mae Young Classic and has been working the NXT live events circuit since. A recent pairing with Xia Li in the tag team Hot N’ Spicy proved to be a success, but a recent injury has sidelined Karen Q and pushed back their debut on TV.
WWE’s first India-born women’s superstar, Kavita Devi joined NXT in 2017 after a showing in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. A student of former WWE World Champion The Great Khali, Devi has had more main roster moments than NXT so far – she appeared in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale at WrestleMania 34 in 2018. She’s current rehabbing an injury, but this powerhouse is waiting to be unleashed on the NXT women’s division.
“The Blasian Baddie” was another seasoned indie veteran with multiple promotions, including a run with IMPACT where she is a former Knockouts Champion. She was a standout in the first Mae Young Classic, but an injury halted her career soon after. She came back more determined than ever and had another impressive showing in the second Mae Young Classic, and has now become one of the NXT’s women’s division’s fiercest combatants.
The daughter of WWE Hall of Famer “Precious” Paul Ellering (manager of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom), Rachel Evers has developed a stunning career on the indies after training with Lance Storm. She’s been used in enhancement in NXT off and on, but last fall she finally signed with NXT fulltime and has been working towards her TV debut, joining VXT with Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green. Currently injured, it’s only a matter of time before we see her on NXT on USA.
The former Australian indie star competed in both Mae Young Classics, but it was last year’s edition where we saw the ferocious warrior we now have before us. Following last year’s Mae Young Classic, she headed to NXT UK, where she became the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion. After countless battles across the seas, she’s now headed to NXT and will be a major force once NXT on USA debuts.
The most recent signee to NXT just arrived at the WWE Performance Center in the past month, but she’s already one of the top stars on the indies and multiple time champion in various promotions. A combination of glitz and athleticism, she has all the tools to be an impact player in the NXT women’s division.
WWE’s first Brazilian women Superstar, Taynara Conti was a world class judo competitor before signing with NXT in 2016. A Performance Center homegrown, she competed in both Mae Young Classic tournaments, as well as competed in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale at WrestleMania 34.
The Welsh Superstar was a burgeoning star in the UK indie scene for years, as well as Japan, before signing with NXT in 2017. Prior to her debut at the inaugural Mae Young Classic, she tore her ACL and was sidelined almost a year. She returned for the second Mae Young Classic in 2018, but tragedy struck again, tearing her ACL, MCL and other injuries. Another lengthy layoff ensued, but she’s recently made her return to the ring and ready to show why he was so heavily touted upon her signing.
A star of the UK, Japanese and Australian indie scenes for years, Toni Storm joined NXT last year and won the second Mae Young Classic at WWE Evolution. She became a dominant force in NXT UK following the victory, where she held the NXT UK Women’s Championship over 200 days. Now slated to be a big part of NXT on USA, Storm is one to watch heading into 2020.
A student of former WWE Superstars Rikishi and Gangrel, Vanessa Borne joined NXT in 2016. She competed in the first Mae Young Classic in 2017, but spent the majority of the next year working enhancement or on the NXT Live Events circuit. She finally got her break in recent months, arriving on TV as the muscle to the cocky upstart Aliyah.
CHECK OUT ALL THREE PRIMERS!
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. And make sure to watch NXT every week on the WWE Network and now the USA Network.