The Jan. 10 episode of NXT opened with one of the brand’s most highly anticipated television debuts. Mae Young Classic runner-up Shayna Baszler made her first television foray in the an NXT ring.
“The Queen of Spades” made short work of fellow Mae Young Classic alumna Dakota Kai in the opening bout of the episode.
A little over 60 seconds into the match, Baszler delivered a devastating stomp to Kai’s arm, resulting in the referee stopping the match.
But Baszler was not finished with her fallen foe. As officials went to check on Kai, The Queen of Spades snapped on a Kirifuda Clutch to add insult to injury to her opponent. NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon came out and made the save, but Baszler was unfazed and went to the back.
Baszler’s quick performance against Kai in the ring was only the tip of the iceberg in her time in NXT. Fans were provided samples of her upcoming debut through vignettes, as well as her first NXT appearance where she choked out Kairi Sane on stage – when the Pirate Princess was going to seemingly challenge Moon for the NXT women’s championship. There were also videos of her at the WWE Performance Center, asserting her dominance to the other trainees.
What is intriguing about Baszler’s actions on this episode of NXT, and the last couple of weeks as well, is she isn’t grabbing the microphone and shouting, “I used to be in MMA and I’m a member of the Four Horsewomen.”
Fans know of her mixed martial arts background and her catch wrestling experience but she’s not on a pedestal boosting about those abilities when she comes to the ring. She doesn’t need, partly because the commentary team of Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness are doing it for her, which is what great broadcasters do – put over the talent.
There was also the backstage segment where General Manager William Regal confronted her about her motives and said her blatant attacks won’t get her close to the NXT women’s title, she just answered “Are we done?”
Baszler’s attitude shows she doesn’t care about the proper road to the championship. She will get there on her own terms.
However, her interaction with Regal on her first episode of NXT, as well as the videos, shows the brand is building her to be a big player in the women’s division.
The Submission Magician – as Ranallo likes to call her – has the tools to be a big star in NXT. She has great offense – with her catch wrestling and MMA backgrounds – and can generate a lot of heat.
I also suspect she has a lot of material and feelings she can muster up that will add fuel to her promos – such as her rough beginnings in MMA, her transition to professional wrestling and how MMA fans have blasted her for her association with Ronda Rousey. I’m sure there are folks from the mixed martial arts community who criticized her for competing in WWE.
Yet Baszler has spent the last couple of years building her professional wrestling resume and gaining a popular fan base, which I think will continue to grow during her time in NXT.
She also has the opportunity to be a great foil for wrestlers like Moon and Sane. Both wrestlers are good babyfaces who need a strong heel like Baszler to chase and fend off in order to make them look stronger – assuming she lets them get in their offense.
Baszler is a great addition to the NXT roster and I’m excited to see how the latest chapter of her professional wrestling career unfolds.