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Rising NXT Star Tegan Nox Ready to Shine in Title Match vs. Io Shirai

Tegan Nox is becoming an undeniable force in NXT’s women’s division and she faces NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai in a title match this week.

Tegan Nox is one of NXT’s emerging stars, and it is not difficult to ascertain why the company has such high hopes for her.

Nox works an entertaining style in the ring, and she is flourishing as a fan favorite in an era where where that has becoming increasingly difficult to do. Her charisma is undeniable, and all signs point to a future in wrestling full of championship gold.

And she already knows her plan once she wins her first title.

“When I win the NXT Women’s Championship, I’m never taking it off,” said Nox, who wrestles current champ Io Shirai Wednesday night on USA Network in a title match. “Everything I do, it’s coming everywhere with me.”

Entering a high-profile match against Shirai, the 25-year-old Nox is only a few weeks removed from a tag team match against Sasha Banks and Bayley. As WWE celebrates its “Women’s Evolution Week,” Nox shared that she was grateful to learn from some of the performers that have brought women’s wrestling to the forefront of the industry.

“I had the chance to be in the ring with Shotzi Blackheart against Bayley and Sasha, and that was such a learning experience,” said Nox. “It’s super exciting to see what they’ve done over the past five years, and it’s exciting to think what’s going to happen in the next 10 years.

“Seeing how they work and the way they present themselves as larger-than-life, I learned a lot. That’s what made the biggest difference to me, the way they presented themselves. They’re superstars, and they present themselves that way.”

Like Shirai, who is from Japan, she also traveled from another continent to arrive in WWE. She grew up in Wales, playing soccer as a child until she discovered pro wrestling at the age of 16. Ever since, her dream has been to become an international presence in the business, which she is taking strides toward accomplishing. But her source of inspiration remains back home in the United Kingdom, over 4,000 miles from her residence in Florida.

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“I’ve got three nephews, but there is one, Charlie, who is five, he’s my driving force,” said Nox. “He’s a religious watcher, and he rings me every week to tell me he’s watched me wrestle. He’s so proud of me when he goes to school and says, ‘That’s my aunty on the TV.’ I do this for him, as well as my own love for the business. I love when he rings me every week, either telling me I suck for losing or he’s so proud of me for winning.”

Nox plans to present herself in a similar manner against Shirai. Though the title is unlikely to change hands this early into Shirai’s run with the belt, the match still represents a chance for Nox to show she belongs in the title picture. A compelling performance will also provide another reason why, eventually, she should be the one called on to represent NXT as champion. And she is grateful for the opportunity to hone her craft against Shirai, who she first met three years ago wrestling for Japan’s famed all-female promotion Stardom.

“Io is one the best wrestlers in the entire world,” said Nox. “I was lucky enough to train with her for a month when I was in Japan, and seeing her work ethic then was crazy. Now, seeing where she is in NXT, it’s mind-blowing to watch. Being able to step in the ring with her for the NXT Women’s Championship is such a big deal for me, and to do it on this stage, it’s crazy.”

NXT aired a vignette during last week’s Great American Bash special highlighting the upcoming Nox-Shirai match, which included footage of Nox training. There was a quick-but-meaningful shot of Nox running alongside Blue, who is her loyal dog.

“That’s my best friend, my sweet baby Blue,” said Nox. “I wasn’t doing too well with my mental state during my injury [Nox tore her ACL and MCL in 2018], and then I saw the loudest, most obnoxious dog at a shelter. She was so sweet, and I started petting her and playing with her. When I walked away, she started barking at me as if she were saying, ‘Excuse me, where you going?’ So I started playing with her again, and I thought, ‘Uh oh, I’m going home with a dog today.’

“She’s just like me, but in dog form. She’s lazy sometimes, she loves to be outside, and she loves everyone. But she is protective of her mother.”

Wednesday nights are the most competitive time in wrestling, but Nox believes her match will stand out because of the hunger of the two performers involved. Nox and Shirai have both been elevated on the NXT card, and neither one plans to disappoint in the new role.

“We both want to prove something,” said Nox. “It’s hard to explain how much this match means, but I can guarantee it’s going to be hard-hitting and soul-destroying. We’re going to go balls to the wall.”