Ranking every NXT Women’s Champion (so far)

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With more eyes being put on the NXT women’s division going into WrestleMania season, it’s time to rank every NXT Women’s Champion so far.

It’s hard to argue that there’s never been more eyes on the NXT Women’s Champion in the midst of WrestleMania scene. Shayna Baszler left her mark on the title’s history being the first and only two-time champ with a historic 548-combined-day reign which paved way for Rhea Ripley to rise through the ranks and dethrone her.

With Ripley set to defend her coveted title in a highly-anticipated bout against Bianca Belair at TakeOver: Portland, and a potential dream match against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36, it’s time to break down who has had the greatest NXT Women’s Title reign of all-time (so far).

The criteria for these rankings will factor in length of title reign, televised title defenses, rivalries, entertainment factor, and notable appearances.

#9 – Kairi Sane

No. of days as champion: 71
Successful title defenses: 0
Notable appearances: Won the title at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, lost it at Evolution

It pains me to rank Kairi at the bottom of this list, but let’s be honest – Her reign was almost nonexistent. After months of Shayna Baszler terrorizing the women’s division, Kairi Sane won a triple threat over Nikki Cross and Candice LeRae to earn her championship opportunity at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV in 2018.

In what has been called the best match of their series, Sane defeated Baszler to capture her first WWE championship at one of the biggest NXT events of the year. It was the perfect story to be told after Sane won the inaugural Mae Young Classic the year prior, but it was Baszler who found herself at the top of the mountain as time went on. Unfortunately, the Pirate Princess’ fairy tale turned into a nightmare just 71 days later at WWE’s historic Evolution pay-per-view.

With help from Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, Baszler ended Sane’s reign and everyone’s hopes of her having a lengthy babyface champion run. Sane would come up short in her title pursuits again in a 2/3 Falls match at TakeOver: WarGames, and again at TakeOver: New York in a four-way bout. Baszler ended Sane’s NXT run with one final championship match in April 2019 before Kairi headed to Raw.

Kairi’s run as champion will forever go down as “what could have been” in the midst of Baszler’s dominant reign over the division.

#8 – Paige

No. of days as champion: 273
Successful title defenses: 3
Notable appearances: Successfully defended at NXT ArRIVAL

You may be wondering why Paige, the first-ever and third-longest-reigning NXT Women’s Champion is listed so low on this list. Well, like Kairi Sane, she actually didn’t do a whole lot while serving as titleholder.

Paige defeated Emma in the finals of a tournament on NXT TV in July 2013 to become the historic first champion. This was back when TakeOver specials and even the WWE Network had yet to be conceptualized. NXT aired weekly on Hulu as this “underground” WWE show that only select eyes viewed. Despite that, Paige was featured regularly with wins over Summer Rae, Alicia Fox, and Sasha Banks.

Paige had arguably her biggest title defense to-date when she clashed with Natalya at the end of the year. Sadly, that would be her last defense and televised match until NXT ArRIVAL in February when she returned from an alleged injury to retain against Emma in a critically-acclaimed match.

We all know that Paige would go on to debut on Raw the night after WrestleMania 30 to capture the Divas Championship right off the bat. As a result of the transition, Paige forfeited the NXT Women’s Title. She’s still the only person to have held the Divas and NXT Women’s Championships at the same time.

Regardless of her lackluster reign, Paige’s name will be synonymous with the title for years to come as the anti-Diva who helped usher in what we know the women’s division to be today.

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