NXT: Baszler v. Kai: Dawn of WarGames

LaToya Ferguson
Dakota Kai (source: WWE.com)
Dakota Kai (source: WWE.com)

While NXT is dealing with both Monday Night RAW and Friday Night SmackDown when it comes to the battle for brand supremacy at Survivor Series, the black and gold brand also still has to focus on its own rivalries. So this week, the NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler faced off against Dakota Kai once more.

But it wasn’t a title match; instead, it was Dakota’s attempt at proving that she has what it takes to be on Team Rhea Ripley at the upcoming NXT TakeOver: WarGames III (in the titular WarGames). Considering how things have gone every other time she’s found herself in a ring with “The Queen of Spades,” Dakota certainly had an uphill battle to prove her worth.

Shayna Baszler def. Dakota Kai

Before the match gets underway, commentary reiterates that Dakota Kai really wants to prove that she wouldn’t be “a wasted pick” for Rhea Ripley’s WarGames Team. As it stands, the teams are currently as follows: Tegan Nox and Candice LeRae (Dakota Kai’s best friends) are Team Rhea, while Bianca Belair and Io Shirai are Team Shayna. Both teams have one more spot to fill.

Dakota heads to the ring, followed by Shayna. Interestingly enough, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir actually join Shayna on her way to the ring, instead of going to the back. You can’t have enough back-up en route to Survivor Series, after all.

The Full Sail crowd already knows how this match is going to go, if the “SHAYNA’S GONNA KILL YOU” chants are any indication… but Dakota shows off quite early that she isn’t scared. At least, not anymore. She pie-faces Shayna and even toys with her to start the match. Dakota has the early advantage in this match, keeping it moving and showing her Shayna why she’s the “Captain of Team Kick.”

She then follows a wounded Shayna to the apron, going for the penalty kick, only for Shayna to catch her leg mid-kick and throws her face-first into the ringspot. Shayna then sends Dakota back into the ring to zero-in on her surgically-repaired right knee, just going to work on it.

During the commercial break, though, Dakota was able to make a comeback, still bringing the fight to Shayna. She gets to the top rope, but Shayna cuts her off, gutwrench suplexing her from the second rope.

Shayna goes for the cover, but only gets a two count. Then there are some back and forth strikes between both women, and you know what? Dakota actually doesn’t look too out of place against Shayna at all? And in this strike exchange, it’s her fighting spirit that makes her such a threat, as she punctuates the exchange with a headbutt to Shayna. Shayna gives it all right back though with a roundhouse kick. Dakota gets her back with a discus forearm, then goes for the facewash in the corner, but Shayna deflects and heads to another corner… where Dakota connects with the facewash.

Both women are down now. But when Dakota gets out, she goes with Kawada kicks to the side of Shayna’s face, and then tries to lift Shayna up, but her knee buckles. That allows Shayna to hit the step-up knee on Dakota, then put her in the Kirifuda Clutch. Dakota escapes the Clutch, only to run into it again almost immediately. Dakota gets so close to the ropes but not close enough and has no other option than to tap out to Shayna. Dakota really brought the fight to Shayna, but it still wasn’t enough to win. But what about to convince Rhea Ripley?

Post-match, Jessamyn, Marina, and Shayna jump Dakota, until Team Ripley comes out to make the save. But Team Shayna also comes out, meaning that the NXT Women’s Champion has the numbers advantage (with both the Four Horsewomen and her WarGames teammates by her side). However, the damn numbers game ends up no longer mattering once Mia Yim comes out (to aid Team Ripley and Dakota) with a kendo stick.

She cleans house before going to check on Dakota, Team Rhea stands tall in the ring. But is Dakota part of that team now?

Well, later in the night, Rhea says that what she saw out there made her want Mia on the team. So Team Rhea is set for WarGames: Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae, and Mia Yim. Rhea’s final words to Dakota Kai before the unpicked Superstar walks away, crushed?

“Dakota, I’m sorry. You just didn’t make the cut.”

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