All wrestlers have to start somewhere on the path to making their dreams a reality, whether it be a wrestling school, church basement, bingo hall, etc. From there, those wrestlers work their way up to the pinnacle of their dreams. For many, that’s a career in WWE. But sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. In LWOPW’s newest feature, “Before They Were Famous,” we take a look at the pre-WWE careers of some of the company’s top current stars, following along on their road to superstardom. In this edition, we dive into the early days of NXT’s “Girl with the Shiniest Wizard,” Tegan Nox.
Tegan Nox is one of NXT’s future superstars. At just twenty-five years of age, Nox has already established herself as a cornerstone of the black and yellow brand. Her ongoing feud with former best friend, Dakota Kai, has been a highlight of NXT throughout 2020. She has become the “Girl with the Shiniest Wizard”, whilst also sometimes being “Lady Kane”. Her rise to superstardom has been quite sudden. With all this being said, where did Nox come from? What has she been through to get to this point? What obstacles has she had to overcome to reach the heights she so far has? Let’s find out.
From the Valleys to the Indies
If you have ever heard a Tegan Nox interview, you might have noticed she has an unusual accent. Tegan Nox (real name Steffanie Rhiannon Newell) is from the small Welsh town of Bargoed. If you grew up in or have ever visited Wales, you will know that small Welsh towns are extra small. They are often tiny, close-knit, working-class communities spread out through valleys, rivers and the occasional larger cities (Cardiff and Swansea, for example). It was here where Tegan grew up to love sports. She played football (soccer), netball and Wales’ national sport, rugby. Tegan particularly excelled at football, with trials for the Welsh national team a common part of her success. Unfortunately, a promising football career was brought to an end by a severe knee injury. Knee injuries would go on to be the Achilles heel of Tegan’s professional career.
Though a knee injury would prematurely end her football career, it would be the catalyst for her professional wrestling career. A childhood fan of WWE (particularly of Molly Holly and Kane), Tegan would turn her attention to pro-wrestling. With the love and support of her late grandfather, the future “Girl with the Shiniest Wizard” would pursue a wrestling career. She did just that, discovering a wrestling school in Port Talbot ran by Dave Stewart and NXT UK‘s “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman. It was here in the early part of the 2010s where she would hone her craft and quickly develop the raw talent which has made her now, at just 25 years of age, one of the hottest prospects in pro-wrestling today.
Nixon Newell and the Shiniest of Debuts
Tegan Nox made her in-ring debut for Welsh Wrestling in 2013. Teaming with Big Dog, Tegan (then known as Miss Ruby) defeated the team of Gordon Bennett and Pollyanna. Even then, you have to think those in attendance recognized her significant potential. Her first appearance outside of her training facility came for Britannia Wrestling Promotions. Her debut match was a three way in Prestatyn, North Wales, where she and Porsche were defeated by Lana Austin. We approached BWP owner, Steve Saxon, for comment on Tegan’s early days of her career with the promotion.
“I believe that Nixon’s first in-ring debut outside of her training facility was with Britannia Wrestling Promotions. She was part of a triple threat match with Lana Austin and Porsche in Prestatyn. Steph [Tegan] was an absolute delight to work with to have around the locker room. A literal ray of sunshine and happiness! She was a hard working and forward thinking talent from the moment we met in 2013, hence why she became a main stay with Britannia for several years.” – Steve Saxon, Owner of BWP
Saxon’s comments come as no surprise. All accounts of Tegan’s work-rate, passion and love for the business point to the extremely positive. Shortly after honing her craft in BWP, Tegan debuted for Birmingham based promotion, ATTACK! Pro Wrestling in July of 2014. Now going by the name Nixon Newell – the name which she would become noticed with, she would quickly establish herself as a favorite in the promotion. She would become close friends with the likes of Pete Dunne, Chris Brookes and fellow Welshman, NXT UK’s Mark Andrews. She would capture the ATTACK! 24:7 Championship three times (with Lana Austin on one occasion) and the ATTACK! Tag Team Trophy Championships with Mark Andrews – when they were collectively known as Bayside High.
Signing with the WWE
From her ATTACK debut in 2014 to her signing for WWE in 2017, Nox appeared for numerous promotions. She made appearances in Fight Club: Pro and What Culture Pro Wrestling, where she was the inaugural WCPW Women’s Champion. She even went east, having an excellent match with Kairi Hojo (WWE’s Kairi Sane) for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Though she lost the match, she would be signed by WWE just three months later. In a time when British wrestling was enduring something of a “boom” period, Nox was one of the standout women performers. In April 2017, the future Tegan Nox clearly impressed, put pen-to-paper and officially signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Mae Young Classic, Heartbreak and the Comeback
Upon signing for the WWE, it was immediately announced that Tegan would be featuring in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. The tournament would be won by one-time foe, Kairi Sane. If you can think back to this time in 2017, you may remember that Tegan never featured in the tournament. Suffering the most cruel of WWE starts, Tegan’s debut in the tournament was halted by a torn ACL in her right leg.
To have your dream so cruelly taken away is crushing. An injury like this can leave you worried: Will they still like me when I come back? Can I still work the same? Will I be released? Whereas a knee injury brought a premature end to her promising football career, she would not let it end her wrestling career. She would return to the ring in 2018, where she would finally make her NXT debut. Teaming with future rival, Dakota Kai, she would win in her debut match at an NXT live event.
She would then enter the 2018 Mae Young Classic. It was here, of course, where heartbreak would strike once more. Against rival Rhea Ripley in the quarter-finals, Nox suffered another load of knee injuries – this time in her left leg. A torn MCL, ACL, lateral collateral ligament, meniscus and patella dislocation were all had. Suffering successive injuries in such a short space of time must play havoc on the mind of an athlete. In enduring these injuries and making it through stronger than ever, however, Tegan has demonstrated that she is not only a great talent loaded with in-ring ability, but that she has seriously strong mentality; with the determination to not let injuries get in the way of her goal.
Well…that happened 🖤 I may be out for a while but I cannot thank my friends and family for everything they’ve done the past few weeks and for all the kind words I’ve received, it genuinely warms my heart and gives me that extra 🔥 to come back even better 🏴🤙🏼 pic.twitter.com/1CzYBOGGrq
— Tegan Nox 🏴 (@TeganNoxWWE_) October 18, 2018
Tegan Nox: Comeback and Feud with Dakota Kai
In a truly heart-warming display, Tegan Nox would return almost a year later. This time, she would be featuring for NXT UK. A failed attempt at the NXT UK Women’s Champion, Kay Lee Ray, would see her return to her rightful home – NXT. She would quickly reunite with tag team partner, Dakota Kai, and would have an attempt at the Kabuki Warriors‘ (Asuka and Kairi Sane’s) WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. Long-time foe and NXT Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley, would pick Tegan to join her WarGames team at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. This was to be Tegan’s biggest match to date. Unfortunately, long-time partner, Dakota Kai, would turn on Tegan – beating her down and taking her out of the match. A kayfabe injury was endured, keeping Nox off of TV for a couple of months.
She would return in January 2020, where she was again attacked by Kai. The feud would grow nastier as the former best friends attempted to hurt each other week-after-week. Though Nox would defeat Kai on an episode of NXT, Kai would get the upper-hand at NXT TakeOver: Portland, with the help from a returning Raquel Gonzalez. Since then, Nox has looked to the aid of Shotzi Blackheart in the war against Kai and Gonzalez. As the year goes on, this feud continues to excite. Where it leads is anyone’s guess, but one must assume it surely leads to Tegan Nox finally gaining revenge over her former best friend. Then, hopefully, she will one day secure the NXT Women’s Championship.
Tegan Nox and the Future
“The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard” has a highly exciting and promising career in-store with the WWE. With her injuries now (hopefully) solely behind her, Tegan Nox can continue to gain momentum and cement her place as one of the best performers in wrestling today. She has had a long road to get to where she is today. Having already endured a number of career-threatening injuries, the 25 year old Wesh woman already has the wrestling mind of a grizzled veteran. As she continues to evolve and adapt in the future, it is a certainty she picks up some sweet WWE golds and goes on to have a Hall of Fame worthy career. The girl from the valleys has had to climb a mountain to get to where she is. Like a Welsh dragon, now all she need do is fly.
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.