Before getting bashed from how the title may sound, here is the explanation. Women in professional wrestling, more specifically the WWE, at one time were looked at in a completely different light than they are today. They were used as “eye candy”, rather than being looked at as damn good professional wrestlers. And in the past decade, that trend has changed for the better. Especially in the WWE, where the “women’s revolution” took center stage and things began to change for the better. Respect was an important word to be used here. They have done a lot to improve how general wrestling fans see women and it is beginning to feel like we are on equal ground, finally. But Becky Lynch raised something a few weeks ago on “WWE Backstage”. That something was that there is another bigger step to take. Making fans see it as equal ground a la NXT.
This is coming from the woman who by all accounts, along with Roman Reigns, is the face of the franchise that is WWE. The same woman who main evented WrestleMania and won in that same main event. Lynch’s idea is to remove the thoughts of “women’s segment” or “women’s match” from people’s minds and just make it segments and matches. No one should view something as something else. And what is even more interesting about all of this is that she says this about her own company, yet there is somewhere in that same company where they understand that idea and are making their “women’s division” THE division. That place is NXT. The women in that division are being booked to be more than that. They are not just seen as incredible pro wrestlers, but superstars. Now time to explain what I mean.
More Than A Division
The current NXT Women’s Division is the best-booked women’s division in history. That may be seen as an insane thought to come out with, but there is plenty behind it to confirm why it is more fact than fiction. What makes it possible is the competitors they have and the amount they contain on this one roster. It is pure talent, with the only “weak” spots not firmly being on television yet. But that’s the thing. No one is weak on this roster. NXT, even if they are on television, technically is where they still learn. More so the Performance Center, but you get the point. If the talent wasn’t there like years past, it wouldn’t be the true major force of the “Wednesday Night Wars.”
The Professional Wrestlers Who Stack This Division
You must begin with the champ. While the talent has been there, it didn’t feel like the division hit it’s stride until “The Nightmare” arrived. It became a different feel almost immediately as she brought a serious threat to Shayna Baszler, who had dominated the division for essentially two years at that point. But having the force that is Rhea Ripley become the face of that new look, serious division was just the start. From the moment she showed up, you know she was a star from the reaction itself. That was before NXT even got to the USA Network. But again, it was the start. It began to feel like everyone was either getting healthy who had missed time (Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai), found their true footing (Io Shirai), or was simply included in this vision (NXT UK).
And all these pieces are great, but the new NXT Champion was the one to lead this division to new heights. Her rivalry with Baszler saw the first-ever women’s WarGames go down as Ripley defied the odds alongside Candice LeRae and solidifying herself as a superstar in the process. Then, on the final NXT of the year, she supplanted herself at the top of this new division that was the complete focus on NXT TV weekly. She pinned the dominant champion in Baszler to become the NXT Champion and so the future and present was set.
— 𝔹𝕒𝕥𝕤𝕟𝕚𝕔𝕜𝟟𝟝 (@Batsnick75) August 30, 2019
Without the former champion, none of this may have been possible. While yes, NXT had talent when she first became champion, it was not even close to what they have now. What Baszler managed to do was establish a dominance that was only matched by Asuka before her. And her continuous wins over some of the talent that make up this incredible division now were seen at the time to be detrimental. But in hindsight, it was exactly what needed to happen. Everyone was finding who they were still and having the bully at the top made instant favorites in so many. Not having Baszler could have hurt any chance of this division becoming the class that it sits at now.
Since the moment she became “The Joshi Judas”, everything has changed. The Io Shirai that we had before that was great, but this dark turn she went down solidified perfection for her. Her reckless, yet precise style and attitude stood as the perfect addition to what Triple H and company were trying to create in this division. If there was a complaint to have with the booking of this division, the only person who may have a case is that of Shirai. Becoming an NXT Champion is something that seems all but certain. If we are being honest, however, she should already be there. No NXT fan wants to lose the “Genius of the Sky”, but if rumors are to be believed, her days may be numbered. Hopefully, things do change and one of the worlds best remains in NXT and captures the gold.
Queen of the Sky
Super Saturday Moonsault pic.twitter.com/TNkYyWDimh
— 紫雷イオ😈 Fanpage #NXTWOMENSCHAMPION (@QueenIoShirai) February 2, 2020
Future champion? Yes. Future WrestleMania main event? Quite possibly. When it comes to potential for the superstars that make up this division, Bianca Belair sits at the tippy top of the food chain. Somehow she was kind of forgotten before USA Network welcomed NXT to their channel and she has risen to fame all over again. No one has to be told what the future holds for Belair. We know it will be lots of gold. She is set to face Rhea Ripley at NXT TakeOver: Portland for the NXT Championship. That’s impressive. But what is even more impressive is what she did from number two in the Royal Rumble this year. She was the “iron-woman” for this one and set the record for eliminations with eight. It’s unfair how much potential she has, but that isn’t her problem.
Straight Facts🚫🧢 pic.twitter.com/SZTIRbDpo4
— Bianca Belair (@BiancaBelairWWE) January 10, 2020
It’s impossible to not love Candice LeRae. And for good reason, as she has quietly set herself as the veteran of NXT. That role is perfect for someone like LeRae, who has most recently planted herself inside of the Nox-Kai feud. For comparison, she feels like she is the Samoa Joe of this division. What I mean is, he came in as a veteran who was never supposed to go somewhere and filled the gaps wherever was needed. So well that he did go somewhere, the main roster. LeRae can be that. She has odds to overcome but something says she has no problem doing so. A title run will come to her someday, it is only right for someone at the caliber and respect level of LeRae.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) March 3, 2019
“The HBIC” has contended for titles, put up good fights, and earned respect every time she enters the ring. Mia Yim is one of the best stories in wrestling and she wears that on her sleeve. There is something to say about that “underdog” mentality. Yim being this far down the list is no reason other than how stacked this division currently is. She has become more than respectable inside the ring, thriving in matches that get extra physical. There is a reason she is here. After being a two-time Mae Young Classic competitor, the fans wanted to see more. Since then, she has carved out this role right in the middle of things.
…one more gif of that match that I have in the Mia Yim archives. pic.twitter.com/cQRE7mSqA6
— CHANNEL 88 (@hellmatic85) September 26, 2019
Journalism brings an unquestioned unwritten rule of being an unbiased reporter. But this is professional wrestling and everyone has favorites. Tegan Nox is one of those favorites. The Welsh superstar has been mega since coming into the WWE via Mae Young Classic. Injuries are the only reason she gets to bud as a star now. But no fear, “The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard” is doing everything in her power to show the world she is worthy of that spot and her current rivalry with her former best friend, Dakota Kai, will help get her there. Everything about Nox is loveable, from her “geek out” for being in the Royal Rumble and getting crushed by Beth Phoenix to her overall grit to get back up after all the injuries. She became an instant main eventer when she came back, a championship is next.
Why Nixon Newell is one of my favorite WCPW wrestlers, in one GIF: pic.twitter.com/4sqlvWx7t4
— Derryck/RS (@16N1K4) November 27, 2016
With Nox comes Dakota Kai. Kai was originally the “sweetheart” of the NXT women’s division before turning a page and becoming the complete opposite. She decimated her friend’s knee during the WarGames match and turned to a dark, edgier version of herself that was not imaginable this time last year. Everything that Kai stood for was an underdog mentality that fans could get behind. But now, she has become the enemy of her one time best friend. The ability of Dakota Kai is something no one overlooks, but the devious methods she currently has in her new style sets up her for success. If she can beat Nox at TakeOver, Ripley or Belair may be expecting a determined opponent soon enough.
— Women’s Wrestling GIFs (@WomensWresGIFs) June 7, 2019
The newest addition to the main scene of the NXT Women’s Division is the former NXT UK Champion, Toni Storm. For a long time, people have been waiting for Storm to make the jump over full time and become another key cog in the machine that is this stacked division. Storm got herself a championship opportunity already, but what is good is that even after the loss, she attempted to show she was here to stay. Her time inside of NXT is small, but what is not is the potential she has. The future is bright.
— The GIF Guy (@IHaveFourBalls) January 26, 2020
Attitude Era Like Feel In Terms Of Main Event Scene
You can feel the anger inside of you when you see the “Attitude Era”. But what made that era so incredible is the amount of main event talent they contained. The Rock, Stone Cold, Mankind, Undertaker, Kane, Triple H. There is a reason that the WWE Championship changed hands at a rate that no one had ever seen before and you do not really see now. To a different extent, this is the talent the NXT women’s division of today contains. Name after name after name that can hold the championship at any time if given the chance. Gone are the days of Asuka or Shayna Baszler, in the sense of year-long title reigns. It simply does not fit this division that is packed with talent, and the title will be changing hands more than ever before.
So in the sense of if having an “Attitude Era” feel, it is in the sense of talent that can’t be denied in the main scene.
The ever-changing world of NXT gives hope if anyone is to ever move to Raw or SmackDown, as they remain infiltrated with talent that have no taken on a full role yet. To start off, Mercedes Martinez is seen by many as one of the best in-ring talents of all-time. She is going to have a full role soon enough, and when she does she is sure to catapult into the main scene. Shotzi Blackheart has found a role recently, gaining some wins and even eliminated Shayna Baszler from the battle royal a few weeks ago. There are also rumors of 2019 weekly pro wrestling magazine Joshi of the year Sareee joining NXT soon to add to the plethora of in-ring talent. Other names to look out for in the next few months are Santana Garrett, Chelsea Green, Deonna Purrazzo, Taynara, and Kayden Carter. Considering all the names that are under this, it only confirms more how perfectly booked this division is right now.
— Goreville Shriek (@amcnal) January 30, 2020
More Than “Just” The Title
If you need proof as to why this division is the best-booked women’s division ever, it’s because of their ability to craft feuds that don’t involve the title. Looking at the current Tegan Nox-Dakota Kai feud is something that only forwards that thought process. Going back to Toronto in 2019, Io Shirai and Candice LeRae wowed the world with their incredible match that was up there for the NXT match of the year. Nox and Kai in a Street Fight is only the next step in showing that this division can dominate the current NXT and be what makes it so special in 2020. This is something that both Raw and SmackDown has not managed to nail down for years, even with the “Women’s Revolution” being so important.
They added Women’s Tag Team Championships and could not even figure out how to do it with those. But what NXT does is master the idea that all of their women’s talent matters. The same level even. Something that hasn’t been seen since the heyday of the TNA Knockout’s Division a decade ago. But this is even better. Better in the sense that everyone is a contender. Everyone is going to leave the mark and make each other better. All of their talent is premier talent. The powers that be in NXT notice that, which is why they are becoming the main force of the black and yellow brand once again.
Comparisons can happen all they want, but what everyone has to agree on is that there is something special happening in NXT right now. That something special that doesn’t always happen in pro wrestling, but when it does you can feel it. This is that feeling and we have to appreciate every moment. Wrestling fans have a tough time enjoying, but hey, this is that chance. Every button being pressed is the right one. The NXT women’s division. The best-booked women’s division. As superstars are being made week in and week out.
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.