NXT 2.0’s annual Halloween Havoc event on October 26’s broadcast saw major change in the women’s division. Once touted by the brand itself as the best women’s division in the world, the NXT 2.0 women’s roster is brimming with talent that was on display starting with a six woman tag team ladder match for the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship. The champions Zoey Stark and Io Shirai faced off against Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta, as well as Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne of Toxic Attraction at NXT 2.0 Halloween Havoc.
Toxic Attraction Takes Over NXT 2.0
The Toxic Trifecta Captures Gold
Former NXT Women’s Champion Shirai took a nasty tumble from the ladder situated in-ring onto another outside the apron, bouncing off the second ladder, appearing to be legitimately unconscious. Hartwell, whose first ladder match it was, looked visibly horrified, but Shirai tweeted hours later on October 27, “I am not dead…” The scramble up the ladder continued in her absence, and it was Dolin who claimed the belts for Toxic Attraction.
Later in the night, her teammate Mandy Rose faced off against NXT women’s champion Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez was the picture of confidence as she rode to the ring, ala Undertaker, on a motorcycle. The woman who’s dubbed herself “La Chingona” was a punishing opponent, with prodigious strength and ruthless tenacity on her side. However, Rose got the win thanks to a sneak attack on Gonzalez from a masked figure who turned out to be her former tag team partner, Dakota Kai. Kai, a free agent after the WWE draft, made her NXT 2.0 debut, and apparently, she and Gonzalez’s feud is reignited. Meanwhile, Toxic Attraction hold all the gold in the NXT 2.0 women’s division.
A Deeper Look Into Toxic Attraction
Things have changed fast for all three members of the team. Mandy Rose’s time on the main roster was one of fits and starts, seeing her mostly as a tag team player and female lead in romantic-comedic angles. A heel turn, in which she and then-tag partner Dana Brooke feuded with then-WWE women’s tag team champions Natalya and Tamina, ended rather quickly with a match between Natalya and Mandy on the kickoff show of June 20’s pay-per-view, Hell in a Cell. A month later, Rose was seen prowling the corridors and sitting in on matches at NXT.
As for Dolin and Jayne, they were newcomers to NXT in the waning days of the black and gold brand, without much of a push as Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon, Hartwell and Candice LeRae, Gonzalez and Kai, Stark and Shirai dominated the women’s tag team championship picture. When “black and gold” NXT, with its focus on athletically credible wrestling, was rebranded in late summer and early autumn 2021, it was reported that the upgraded brand would be “edgier.”
Toxic Attraction benefitted from this shift in gears. The optics of ‘Toxic Attraction’ are that of fallen angels seeking revenge for their exploitation, while paradoxically reveling in their bad behavior. One could easily imagine the early punk rock anthem Cherry Bomb by The Runaways playing as their entrance theme. The rise of Toxic Attraction fits in snugly with WWE’s determination that NXT 2.0. should be accessible but provocative, gunning for a youthful audience. They are, essentially, both sides of the coin. WWE trades highly off their seething beauty in tv ads for NXT 2.0. Toxic Attraction have been front and center in NXT 2.0’s advertising, and now they are at the forefront of NXT’s women’s division as well.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) October 27, 2021
What the Future May Hold for Toxic Attraction on NXT 2.0
It remains to be seen what kind of impact they can make with such a skin-deep gimmick. Whilst her new look is written as Mandy Rose’s rebellion against the collective, objectifying gaze of the WWE universe, that gaze is still upon her and her appearance is still emphasized over her in-ring ability. As a faction, Toxic Attraction have gone through all the heel motions-run ins, spoiling matches, upset victories, etc.-but their group chemistry and motivation is shallow compared to the comradery of Hartwell and LeRae, the blind and brutal ambition of Kai and Gonzalez, or the ‘odd couple’ clashes of Shirai and Stark in the last days of “black and gold” NXT.
After a frustrated journey from NXT to the main roster and back, Mandy Rose certainly deserved a major win and a moment in the sun. However, as a performer whose considerable physical abilities and potential have never truly been explored, she also deserves better than more of the same shallow booking and objectification. Less emphasis on their looks and more character work between team members would benefit Toxic Attraction greatly.
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