Mercedes Martinez returned to NXT to attack Io Shirai, setting up a number of paths the women’s division can take in the future.
The NXT women’s division is an exceptionally deep group of competitors. On the latest edition of NXT, the group welcomed back one of their own as Mercedes Martinez returned to the yellow and black brand. She immediately attacked Io Shirai, reminding everyone that she is a main event threat to anyone standing in her way.
Shirai has had her hands full with Toni Storm since the two groups battled at NXT TakeOver: War Games II. Raquel Gonzalez is also waiting in the wings, as she is the last woman to pin the current champion. Adding Martinez to the mix throws in another name that helps this division as a whole and who can be seen as a dominant player.
The last we “officially” saw Martinez, she was defeated by Rhea Ripley in a cage match that main evented the September 8 edition of NXT. She would spend a few moments on the main roster as Retaliation, a part of the flaming sinking ship that is RETRIBUTION. Thankfully, she was pulled out of that group and shifted back to the NXT brand where she – and honestly, many other people on the main roster – can be better served. Now she is back, and it is clear where he focus is, on that NXT women’s title.
The question is, who is next for Shirai? There should be excitement for her to have options. Unfortunately, Sasha Banks and Asuka are two fan-favorite champions on the main roster, but fans have frequently complained that the rest of the division is not fleshed out enough to present any engaging competition. Shirai does not have that problem and Martinez adds to those possibilities.
What is also important to recognize here is that with all these different challengers, there is more space to see the NXT women’s division without Shirai in it. She can drop the title to either Storm, Gonzalez, or Martinez and each of those women will have plenty of challengers waiting for them while Shirai moves to the main roster. Both Banks and Asuka would do well standing across from her in big-time matches, NXT does not need her to carry the load of the division any longer.
Mercedes Martinez is the type of veteran that every wrestling roster needs. Not only does she have the experience to excel with anyone, but she can also teach them all both inside and out of the ring. Bringing her back to NXT is the right move and helps build intrigue on where the division will go in the coming weeks and months.