NXT got off to a flyer on its new home on the USA Network. Setting the tone for the show was a fatal four way number one contenders match for the NXT Women’s Championship, won by Candice LeRae.
For regular followers of the brand, it was a moment met with relief. Fans have watched on for nearly two years with frustration as LeRae has been directionless.
Having forged a successful CV on the Indies, The Canadian Goddess has been portrayed as nothing more than Johnny Gargano’s wife.
So if you are reading this article with no knowledge of LeRae, you may be questioning the headline. Why should she be the one to end the second longest women’s title reign in NXT?
New era of NXT
To me, there are three strong reasons. Firstly, NXT is entering a new era. They are about to enter into a ratings war with AEW. They need something to show that they are willing to go bold and make a statement. Crowding a new champion on their first head-to-head show would do that.
The second boils down to the incumbent champion. A big challenge for NXT on USA, like AEW on TNT, is hooking in the casual viewers. Shayna has developed into a great heel since first winning the belt. However, her style of wrestling is very hard to take when you aren’t used to it. This has often resulted in her Takeover matches – whilst not being bad – being regarded as the worst on the card.
By that account, I think Baszler is more suited to the style seen on RAW or Smackdown, whilst LeRae has that high octane style that NXT is now known for.
My final reason has thoughts of the future in it. If Baszler does move brands, then NXT is going to need a new top female heel, and in recent weeks, they have started to develop one. That being Io Shirai.
I see Shirai being the next big champ in the division. So in order for that to happen, she ideally needs a goodie as champ to dethrone. The fact that she is currently embroiled in a feud with LeRae right now makes Candice the perfect traditional champion to help get Shirai over.
In summary, the title change is the perfect long and short term option. Baszler has done it all in NXT so dropping to Candice will help set the next stage of the brand in option. And even if I don’t see it lasting long, it will give Mrs Wrestling that big moment her career to-date has deserved.