This past September, the once black-and-gold brand of WWE saw a drastic overhaul. Now known as NXT 2.0, this multicolored wrestling show has been met with mixed reception. While many fans enjoy the new direction that said show took, other fans have been pining for the previous iteration of the brand they once loved. This piece isn’t designed to take one side or the other; rather, it’s to shed light on one of the characters that, through ups and downs, managed to shine. This NXT 2.0 character is none other than the laidback, onesie-wearing free spirit known as Wendy Choo.
“Sleep, kick butt, repeat,” is the mantra that Wendy Choo lives by. Since making her debut on NXT 2.0 late last year – in a backstage segment where she wasn’t the primary focus, no less – she’s gone on to become one of the fan-favorite personalities on the show. Her lackadaisical demeanor should fool no opponent, however, as she’s just as adept at in-ring competition as she is at napping virtually anywhere backstage. It would be a lie to say that the path to this point has been a straight line, though. For the utmost context, one must turn the proverbial clock back to 2018.
Wendy Choo Shines on NXT 2.0
The 2018 Mae Young Classic
From September to October 2018, WWE aired the second Mae Young Classic, a women’s wrestling tournament that pit wrestlers from around the world against one another. One such participant was independent wrestler Karen Q. She had wrestled for a few years beforehand, competing for such organizations as Victory Pro Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling, and Game Changer Wrestling. She also made sporadic appearances for Ring of Honor. However, the Mae Young Classic was Q’s first big mainstream exposure. While she fell in the first round to Xia Li, Q put forth a solid showing.
The following February, it was confirmed that Karen Q signed with WWE. In the months after, she wrestled primarily on untelevised NXT house shows. Lacey Lane, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke, Kairi Sane, and Io Shirai were just a few names she worked with on said shows. In July of 2019, Q teamed with Bianca Belair in a match against Rhea Ripley and the current Raquel González. During the match, Q suffered a broken leg, which took her out of action for the remainder of the year. By the end of the year, however, she resurfaced under an entirely new persona, one that seemed to promise doom and destruction to all that approached her.
The Arrival of Mei Ying and Tian Sha
In December of 2020, NXT began airing vignettes featuring Xia Li and Boa, both of whom were being punished by a mysterious woman. Her face concealed, this individual was Karen Q, who undertook the mysterious persona of Mei Ying. Following these vignettes, the faction Tian Sha debuted on January 6, 2021 during the NXT New Year’s Evil special. Sitting upon her throne, Ying watched as Boa accompanied Li to the ring. Li dispatched her opponent, Katrina Cortez, in short order. As she remained sitting at the top of the ramp, Ying’s presence was nonetheless foreboding, as she brought to dread without even lifting a finger.
In the months that followed, NXT fans learned more about Tian Sha’s leader. In a segment that aired on the February 3, 2021 episode, it was revealed that Mei Ying was the daughter of a king. One day, her brother became corrupted by greed and killed their father. Ying fled, asking a dragon to teach her to exact vengeance. The dragon agreed, though only if she gave her soul in return. Throughout the dragon’s teachings, Ying slowly but surely became corrupted herself, now instilling fear in others. To say that this was an elaborate pro wrestling backstory would be an understatement. However, it provided further context to Ying and the way she ruled Tian Sha with an iron fist.
Mei Ying made her in-ring debut later that August. With Boa at ringside, Ying dispatched of Virginia Ferry in under a minute. By this point, she became disappointed with Boa’s lack of in-ring success, intending to create destruction on her own. Ying applied a chokehold that put her opponent down for the three-count. Despite a dominant showing, Ying, as well as the remainder of Tian Sha, would disband; even Li was drafted to Friday Night SmackDown to the following October. When NXT 2.0 developed, Ying slowly faded in the background, her lone 2.0 match being a quick loss to Indi Hartwell. In the place of Ying, a character overhaul took place on the colorful rebrand.
“I’m Not a Freak, I’m Just Comfortable.”
The way that the newly christened Wendy Choo was brought into NXT 2.0 was unique, to say the least. Throughout various backstage segments, as well as in the crowd, a snoozing woman could be seen. As characters interacted and announcers spoke, the woman in question soundly rested, everyone acting as if this was nothing out of the ordinary. It didn’t take long for social media to catch on, however, and fan support grew from there. The premise might have been silly to the average viewer, to be sure. However, the fact that the character was backed by a committed performance made it that much easier to get behind.
This past January, Choo made her in-ring debut alongside the unlikely tandem of Hartwell and Persia Pirotta. During his six-woman tag team match, Choo exhibited her unique wrestling style. Techniques such as a big yawn to avoid a running clothesline and a napping-style pin showed that Choo was not only comfortable in her skin – not to mention her cozy onesie – but able to get the job done when the bell sounded. This match was evidence that she was more than just a zany personality; if needed, she could be a formidable opponent against any and all comers.
Her biggest challenge took place earlier this month when the 2022 Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic took place. Without an obvious partner, Choo eventually found herself teaming with one-half of the original Dusty Cup winners, Dakota Kai. The makeshift duo of Choo and Kai went the distance, defeating Hartwell and Pirotta and the team of Cora Jade and Raquel González in the first round and semifinal matches, respectively. Despite eventually falling to Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray in the finals, Choo and Kai ensured that the eventual winners earned their victory.
Wendy Choo in NXT 2.0 – In Closing
Throughout its rich tapestry, professional wrestling has had no shortage of drastic character changes. From the nefarious dentist Dr. Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. eventually becoming the fear-inducing “Devil’s Favorite Demon,” Kane to the sinister Papa Shango becoming the fun-loving Godfather, some of the changes in question have been incredibly beneficial for the people behind the characters. In the modern landscape of wrestling, at least in WWE, none have been nearly as radical as the seemingly ageless harbinger of annihilation Mei Ying becoming the sugary drink-loving sloth that can still go from bell to bell in Wendy Choo.
What the future has in store for Wendy Choo remains to be seen. Following her aforementioned Women’s Dusty Cup performance, one can only assume that the sky is the limit. Choo doesn’t seem terribly preoccupied with capturing gold, though it may be something she’ll consider between catching some z’s. Perhaps she’ll find her next big rival sooner than later. Whatever awaits Wendy Choo on NXT 2.0, or beyond, viewers will be watching with unyielding interest.
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