Dakota Kai challenges Raquel González for the NXT women’s championship at tonight’s TakeOver 36. Since its inception, the foundation of NXT has been built around exceptional women’s wrestling, and Kai is now prepared to write her own chapter in the short-yet-illustrious history of the brand’s division.
“This is my time,” said Kai. “I feel more ready than I have ever felt before.”
Since the winter of 2019, Kai had teamed with González. Their pairing was very similar to a decades-old partnership between Shawn Michaels and Diesel, who Michaels previously used as his bodyguard. The narrative saw Diesel achieve great success before Michaels, leading to a feud between the two. A similar timeline occurred here, with the storyline progressing to the point where González reached the pinnacle of success by winning the NXT title, with Kai left behind to stand in her corner.
One of the architects of NXT behind the scenes is Shawn Michaels, and he has played a pivotal role in Kai’s ascent to an even higher level of stardom.
“It’s like I’m the HBK of the modern era, turning on all my friends,” said Kai, who previously turned on Tegan Nox in NXT. “Shawn has been my No. 1 mentor. Having him there to give me feedback, it’s very rare to get to do that with a childhood hero. I’m influenced and inspired by him, and he is the one I go to for advice.”
For Kai, who is Cheree Crowley, performing at NXT’s Capitol Wrestling Center in Orlando, Florida places her far from her hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. Despite the time difficulties—Auckland is 16 hours ahead of Orlando—she will have her parents, siblings, and a number of close friends watching, though she wishes they could all be together for the occasion.
“So many other people get to have their family and friends there for their big moments,” said Kai. “It hurts me that I can’t do that. It’s very hard. All that emotion is going to drive me, and it’s going to make it that much more intense. This is for the people I haven’t seen in a long time and all of their hardships.”
The TakeOver match against González presents an opportunity for Kai to elevate her stature to new heights. Though she is already one of the top performers in the world, a run with the NXT women’s title will further authenticate what she is building. And with a new age of NXT set to begin, Kai wants to be the one to lead the way.
“There is always constant change in NXT, and it’s time for a new era,” said Kai. “I’ve been in similar situations before, especially with Tegan, so I’m no stranger to this. But the day that I turned on Raquel, it was overwhelming because I knew what I was walking into.
“After all we accomplished together, there is so much emotion connected to this one. There is a realness to it, and I can’t wait to create my moment.”
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