3.) Shotzi Blackheart
Shotzi Blackheart deserves all the praise in the world for riding her tank over Robert Stone’s ankle as well as taking care of business in the ring with Aliyah. She’s a future star in NXT, and there’s no doubt about that. However, she may have her hands full with Mercedes Martinez, who recently joined the Robert Stone brand.
2.) Io Shirai
Io Shirai is the current NXT Women’s Champion. After defeating Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair in a triple threat match to become the new NXT Women’s Champion at NXT Takeover: In Your House, she successfully retained her championship against Tegan Nox. This was a solid first title defense for Shirai as she moves on to her next contender: Dakota Kai.
1.) Dakota Kai
Dakota Kai deserves better. At NXT Takeover: War Games, Kai executed one of the biggest heel turns in NXT history when she got her revenge against Team Ripley for leaving her off the team. After that heel turn, she defeated the members of that team one by one. She defeated Mia Yim and Candice LeRae on episodes of NXT and defeated Tegan Nox at NXT Takeover: Portland.
The latter victory was a pivotal moment for Kai’s career because it should have elevated her to an NXT Women’s Championship match against Rhea Ripley, the captain who underestimated her and made the final decision to leave her off of the War Games Team. Unfortunately, her heel turn was never converted into a long-term push.
Unfortunately, Kai’s lackluster momentum as of late makes it very difficult for her to be considered a credible contender for Io Shirai. However, Rhea Ripley is still lurking in the shadows, so it would be interesting yet unlikely if Kai could miraculously dethrone Shirai and still have that title match with Ripley down the line.