Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir will make their in-ring debut for NXT TV in a tag match with Io Shirai and Dakota Kai next week. NXT General Manager William Regal made the match official after Kai and Shirai demanded a chance at the former MMA stars.
Duke and Shafir signed with WWE earlier this year, following in the footsteps of fellow Horsewomen of MMA Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey. Shafir debuted at an NXT Live event in July, followed a month later by Duke. Though neither has competed on NXT TV, they’ve played an active role in the feud between Baszler and Kairi Sane. They first became involved during Kairi’s title defense at WWE’s first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view, Evolution. Duke and Shafir were initially seated in front row to support their friend, but inserted themselves into the match after Sane threw Baszler over the barricade into their laps. Duke landed a devastating roundhouse kick to Sane’s head while referee Jessica Karr was distracted that secured the victory for Baszler.
They attempted further interference on Baszler’s behalf at NXT TakeOver: WarGames II, but were interrupted by Dakota Kai and Io Shirai. Kai feuded with Baszler earlier this year in a widely-praised bullying storyline. Shirai and Sane are both Stardom alumni and previously shared the Artist of Stardom Championship as members of Threedom. Despite Kai and Shirai’s intervention, Baszler managed to retain her title with a surprise roll-up. Duke and Shafir went on to assist Baszler in an unprovoked post-match beat down following a singles victory over Kai.
Jessamyn Duke first came to prominence on the eighteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, on which Ronda Rousey was a coach. Rousey picked Duke for her team, and Duke’s match with Raquel Pennington was awarded Fight of the Season. She lives with Baszler, as well as fellow NXT star Mia Yim. Marina Shafir, known as the Supernova from Moldova, is Rousey’s former training partner. She recently married fellow NXT star Roderick Strong, with whom she has a child.
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