9. Shayna Baszler
While Shayna Baszler wasn’t a popular wrestler in WWE NXT, that was by design. I always think of the perfect execution of a heel as being unselfish, in the sense that the best heels don’t get any points for being “cool” or “interesting”. So the criticisms of Shayna being “boring” were, in all honesty, praise, because people sure weren’t bored during her matches.
Baszler’s storytelling in the ring was top-notch in NXT. She had acclaimed matches with Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, and Rhea Ripley during her time with the Black and Gold brand, and that rivalr with Sane has to be recognized as one of the greatest in the brand’s history. They put on an absolutely brilliant trilogy at various Pay Per Views, with callbacks and drama galore.
The first two-time NXT Women’s Champion in the brand’s history, Shayna’s second reign is also the second-longest in history at 416 days. And it began with her victory over Sane at the wildly successful Evolution Pay Per View.
Baszler’s second reign should have been shorter, since Bianca Belair should have been the one to take the title off her. But eventually, Baszler did put someone over huge, as Ripley scored the victory in December and looked superhuman in the process of defeating Baszler. By that point, Baszler had defeated Becky Lynch and Bayley in the main event of Survivor Series, so Ripley’s win was one of the biggest moments in the history of NXT TV.
And a lot of that credit goes to Baszler. Her wrestling style, subtle selling, and heel work could help any babyface immensely. She had a major imprint on the NXT Women’s Division, and while Triple H could have afforded to ease up on her dominance (especally at Belair’s expense), Baszler cannot be faulted for that. The Queen of Spades did what she was told to do, and when the lights went on, she made you care about the babyface she was in the ring with in ways that no other heel in NXT could.