Before they were officially on the NXT roster, Shayna Baszler and Candice LeRae faced off against each other in the Quarterfinals of the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament. With that match—which lasted just a little over 3 minutes, with Shayna winning by submission—Shayna went on to make her presence known in WWE, making it all the way to the Finals against Kairi Sane.
But despite that short confrontation, In RondaRousey.com’s exclusive interview with “The Queen of Spades,” she let it be known that she’d always wanted an actual title program against “Candice Wrestling.”
Well, she got just that when Candice became #1 Contender to her NXT Women’s Championship on NXT’s premiere episode on the USA Network. Since then, Candice has said she knows Shayna’s tactic of intimidation toward her opponents, calling her “the big bully on campus.” She also knows that she’s come up short against Shayna in the past, citing that she wasn’t quite herself.
“But now, I’m ready to be me, and I’m ready to go. … It’s time for Candice LeRae to be Candice LeRae.”
Shayna Baszler (c) def. Candice LeRae, for the NXT Women’s Championship
On commentary, Mauro Ranallo notes that this month marks the one-year anniversary of Shayna becoming a two-time NXT Women’s Champion at last year’s Evolution pay-per-view.
The match begins with Shayna essentially taunting Candice throughout the early grappling, showing just how easy it is for her to control Candice’s body. But catching Candice’s leg leads to eating a step-up enzuigiri. Then a dropkick to the back sends Shayna to the outside, where she ends up on the wrong side of a diving crossbody from Candice. During the commercial break—picture in picture—Candice throws Shayna back into the ring and capitalizes, hitting her with a blockbuster followed by a jackknife cover.
Shayna is able to kick out, and with that, she is able to bring Candice down to create separation. But only momentarily. Candice regains control, brings Shayna down, and hits her with a step-up senton. Two count. Again, Shayna tries to create separation… before doing what she does best and going right after Candice’s left arm. But Candice fights back and puts Shayna in an octopus hold, which Shayna breaks by getting into the corner.
Returning from commercial, Shayna is able to push Candice off the top turnbuckle to the apron and then to the outside. Shayna goes outside, tosses Candice left arm-first into the steel steps. Now the momentum has shifted, and Shayna knows it.
She starts taunting Candice, then put Candice’s left hand in one of the rungs of the steps, before kicking it. “Not even an iota of remorse,” exclaims Mauro on commentary. And you know it’s true. (Before that, he also said: “Shayna Baszler is the reason that chiropractors are so busy.” Also true.)
The two women get back in the ring, and Shayna hits Candice with a driving knee into the midsection in the corner. Only a two count, but you know Candice is hurt. Then Shayna continues to work on Candice’s left arm, as the NXT Universe rallies behind Candice. She’s confident now, manipulating the joints of that left arm, with Candice only saving herself by getting to the bottom rope. Shayna follows Candice to the apron, where Candice tries to German suplex her to outside. Instead, Shayna avoids it but ends up getting planted face-first on the apron. Shayna heads outside, and Candice goes for the tope suicida on her.
One tope. Two tope. Three tope.
“Screw the injury, screw the pain! This is about becoming champion,” Mauro exclaims.
Candice throws Shayna back into the ring and gets to the top turnbuckle, but Shayna kicks her in the face. When Shayna tries to climbs the turnbuckles herself, Candice knocks her off. But Shayna gets back up and tries again—all as crowd chants “NEW CHAMP”/”OLD CHAMP”—with Shayna getting the advantage this time and hitting Candice with a gutwrench suplex off the second rope.
The match goes to commercial again, but (again) there’s picture-in-picture. Shayna is the first one to get up, and she picks Candice up for a suplex… but Candice fights it to go for the inside cradle. After kicking out, Shayna then goes for driving knee again, but Candice deflects. Candice then goes for a swinging DDT, but Shayna deflects and then knees her in the face. Shayna hits another gutwrench suplex for only another two count, and she wonders what she should do.
Go back to the left arm, of course. She does that, but Candice gets a flash roll-up. Another two count. Candice then hits a low dropkick and is on a roll, but Shayna eventually kicks her leg out of her leg and then stomps on her. But they both end up back down. Again, Shayna is up first, and after some reversals from both women, but Shayna ends up hitting a strike combo and running knee. She thinks that’s it, but it’s still only a two count.i
Candice is able to hit the Unprettier, then goes for the springboard moonsault… and lands right into the Kirifuda Clutch!
Candice fights hard and gets to feet… but then she falls back down, still in the Clutch. She goes for the ropes… so close… but NOPE. Shayna retains!