Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Top 5 challengers for Io Shirai and NXT Women’s Championship

At NXT TakeOver: In Your House Io Shirai was finally crowned the NXT Women’s Champion. Shirai defeated two of NXT’s most dominent competitors, Charlotte and Rhea Ripley in a Triple Threat for the title.

The title win refreshes the NXT women’s division massively. There are a number of wrestlers within the division that, for way or another, haven’t yet reached the championship level. Now with Io Shirai at the helm and the likes of Charlotte and possibly Rhea Ripley moving on, the playing field is now wide open to a number of new challengers.

The new challengers can vary as they don’t have to fall into the heel/face category. Io Shirai is in a very unique position as it is unclear as to which side of the face/heel fence she stands on.

Credit: WWE

Shirai is one of, if not the most popular wrestlers in the division while also still viewed as a heel. This allows NXT to provide Shirai (and us) with an array of exciting and different challengers regardless of their personality traits.

The reception to Shirai’s title win was met positivity and joy as the championship is back on someone who truly deserves it. Hopefully, we are in for an exciting and competitive title run and there is little doubt that Io Shirai will provide this. But to do this Shirai also needs exciting and competitive challengers. Therefore I have compiled a list, in order of preference, of wrestlers that I would like to see as Shirai’s first feud and challenger for her title.

Check out the list and let me your thoughts in the comments below.


Candice LaRae

Credit: WWE

The fact that Candice LaRae has been in NXT for three years and only had one chance at the NXT Women’s Championship is crazy. LaRae has spent most her of her NXT career playing Mrs Gargano and fell into the dreaded “good hand” catagory.

Not to say that LaRae hasn’t been featured in big spots throughout her time in NXT. LaRae was a participant in both the 2018 and 2019 women’s Royal Rumble matches. She was of the first-ever women’s WarGames match. She was in the victorious Team NXT at Survivor Series. She had a great championship match against Shayna Baszler and more recently was involved in the Number One Contender Ladder Match.

As impressive as that list is the one thing that stands out the most from her NXT career so far is the feud she had with Io Shari last year.

LaRae and Shirai had a fantastic feud in 2019 when Io turned heel on her due to frustrations from her inability to defeat Shayna Bazsler for the title. This lead to their excellent match at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.

LaRae has recently gone through a similar character shift for similar reasons. The Poisoned Pixie took matters into her own hands when she helped Johnny defeat Ciampa, but she also turned her attentions to the women’s division declaring that she would no longer put others before herself.

Since then we have seen her feud Mia Yim. When that is over, NXT would be wise to enter LaRae, as the division’s top heel, into a feud with Shirai.

LaRae and Shirai have proven that they are more than capable of carrying a feud. Now with the heel/face dynamic reversed and with the NXT Women’s Championship involved, we would be in for an absolute treat.

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