The NXT Women’s Championship has revolved around champion Shayna Baszler for over a year now. Since first getting a title shot at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia in January of 2018, Baszler has been involved in every feud for the belt to date. Following her victory over Io Shirai at Saturday’s NXT Takeover XXV, Baszler will continue to rule the division. But for how long? Who will be the one to take the title off of Baszler and usher in a new era for NXT’s women’s division?
Aftermath from NXT Takeover XXV
In the aftermath of her loss to Baszler on Saturday, Io Shirai snapped and unloaded a vicious assault on the champion with the help of Candice LeRae. It is clear that these two are destined for another match. But with no real distinct build to this feud other than the fact that Shirai is Kairi Sane’s best friend, the same Kairi Sane that took the belt off of Baszler at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV, and has had a weird introduction the division following an acclaimed career in Japan.
It is for that reason that I do not believe that Shirai will take the title from Baszler. The build and development of her character has not taken off to the point where she should be taking the title off of the second most dominant champion in the division’s history. Shirai needs more time away from the title scene before she can become the leader of the division. With that said, if Shirai does not take the belt SummerSlam weekend, who will dethrone the dominant Baszler?
The first contender that comes to mind is the accomplice in Shirai’s brutal beatdown of Baszler over the weekend, Candice LeRae. LeRae has an extensive history with Baszler, dating back to their terrific match in the inaugural Mae Young Classic back in 2017. At almost every turn since, Baszler has been a thorn in LeRae’s side, always having the upper hand on the lovable babyface. When LeRae stepped away from the division for a bit and focused on her husband Johnny Gargano’s storyline, Baszler was able to go up against the likes of Kairi Sane, Nikki Cross, Dakota Kai, and Bianca Belair. With LeRae back in a prominent position in the division and stringing together a handful of wins on NXT TV, her time to rule the division may be coming sooner rather than later.
The second contender is the feisty and ridiculously talented Bianca Belair. Belair had her shot at the title at NXT Takeover: Phoenix, but failed in her attempt. She then had another crack at it over Wrestlemania weekend at NXT Takeover: New York in a Fatal 4-Way match that included the champion, Baszler, Io Shirai, and Kairi Sane. Since then, Belair has been feuding with Shirai and Mia Yim, to whom she has now lost a pair of matches. The future is very bright for Belair but will she be the Queen B of NXT? Only time will tell but it is not looking like her time is coming anytime soon.
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The third contender is relative newcomer Mia Yim. Yim has only had minor interactions with Baszler, but seeds have been planted for a potential feud in the future. Currently engrossed in a feud with Bianca Belair, Yim has established herself as a player in the division and has grown popular with the crowd. She could very well be the one who takes the title off of Baszler, but I get the feeling that the HBIC of NXT will see her reign come from a different champion.
I believe that one of the two final contenders will be the ones to take the title away from Baszler. Dakota Kai, who is currently out with a serious knee injury, has a lengthy history with the champion. In a feud that saw Kai be afraid of Baszler and be brutally beaten down on multiple occasions, there was never really a payoff. Dakota Kai is one of the most popular superstars in the NXT women’s division and if Baszler is still holding the belt when Kai is able to return, I believe that she’ll be ready to finally drop the title and usher in a new era in NXT.
The final contender is the one that I believe will end the reign of Shayna Baszler. Tegan Nox has not had much exposure in the WWE due to two devastating knee injuries that have sidelined her for the better part of two years now. She wasn’t able to compete in the inaugural Mae Young Classic due to a knee injury and in her return last year in the second May Young Classic, her knee basically exploded in a match against Rhea Ripley, putting her on the shelf yet again. One of the best female performers in the world, she has the technical ability to hang with Baszler and tell a compelling story. Coming off of the two injuries and having a ready-made feud with best friend Dakota Kai following the title victory, Nox is the perfect superstar to move the division into its next phase.
Javier Melo is a writer of Pro Wrestling for Full Press Coverage and an Assistant Sports Editor for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Follow Javier at @JMeloSports on Twitter.