Updated: Apr 1
The NXT Women's division is stocked with shooting stars who will shine as the next generation of excellence in ladies' professional wrestling
MAULING IT OVER with MARK MAHLER - 03.11.2023
Every once in a while new talent starts to emerge in a big way on the wrestling scene. In most cases, blue-chippers start off on the lower level and eventually ascend. And the biggest blue-chipper in wrestling history has to be Kurt Angle.
He had an Olympic background. Made an appearance, albeit a regretful one with ECW, then was thrust into the spotlight of the WWF. Kurt took to wrestling like a fish to water. He had arguably the best first year of any new wrestler in any promotion.
Since then, the WWE has developed NXT. They’ve had some pretty big catches, especially if you look at the paths in recent years of Rhea Ripley and Gunther. Others are still getting their footing, but have big upsides like Raquel Rodriguez, Karrion Kross, and several others. NXT is serving its purpose trying to find the next big catches. This is where I’ve actually started to zone in on a couple of talents that caught my eye and I’ve been watching them closely.
No offense to Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, and the champ Bron Breakker, the women have been stealing the spotlight here. Established stars like Alba Fyre, Isla Dawn, Zoey Stark, Cora Jade, Indi Hartwell, Fallon Henley, Katana, Kayden, Gigi Dolan, Jacy Jayne, Kiana James, Lyra Valkeria, Blair Davenport, and hosts of others are still making massive impacts here.
The women’s division is as strong as ever. The Women’s title and tag teams are so loaded they often main event on Tuesday nights. Anyone of these women mentioned could main event or also challenge for a major championship in NXT at any time in my humblest opinion.
Newcomers like Thea Hall, who is a massive ball of energy need a little more seasoning. I believe is coming if she is feuding with Ava also known as the Rock’s Daughter. Speaking of Ava, she can’t be rated as of yet because we haven’t seen much if anything at all of her in-ring skills. These two if the chemistry is there might pull off a stunning showing. This feud needs more time to brew and build, but the storyline is heading the right direction for these to showcase their stuff.
But four women, in particular, stand out as ones to watch: Roxanne Perez, Nikkita Lyons, Tiffany Stratton, and Sol Ruca. They don’t stand out for the obvious reason, each is unique.
But what really shines on these women is their different athletic backgrounds and skills. The current NXT Women’s Champ, Roxanne Perez is already a former ROH champ and student of one Booker T.
Her in-ring abilities are second to none. She even had a match with Rhea Ripley where most might expect a big squash, but Roxanne held her own. The NXT brass allowing her to be herself and showing her talents is essential for Roxanne to get over, and trust me, from that pop at the Royal Rumble, this lady is on the way to be a big babyface in the WWE for years to come.
People might question her size and claim that will hold her back. I say in this case size doesn’t matter. Again, just watch her match with Rhea and you’ll see Roxanne is something special. Her upcoming match with the legend Meiko Satomura will be a big test for the champ. But keep in mind, big things come in small packages!
Nikkita Lyons was really making strides before her recent injury. Let’s skip over that injury here for a moment. She has an incredible look, she is incredibly agile and athletic, and she can cut a promo. Her in-ring work (for someone learning on the job) has been amazing. When push comes to shove, Nikkita could be one of the women on the roster to push Bianca Belair to the next level when that time comes around. Her martial art skills and work ethics out of the ring are off the charts. I think the WWE will not only see that, but they will see she is marketable. A badass, gorgeous, powerhouse - that can move like a lightweight at times - screams money to me. It’s my opinion when Nikkita comes back from injury, the WWE/NXT fans need to keep a keen eye on her. One lady that has surprised me over the last several weeks is Tiffany Stratton. She lost some of her early NXT matches, disappeared for a little, and has come back seemingly a different, more confident, and complete wrestler. She is crisper with her moves between the ropes. She is learning to control the pace of the matches and is hitting all her signature moves without making them look weak. You are seeing Stratton has a ton of athletic ability with the double-springboard moonsault. But if everything gels for Tiffany Stratton, she will be a champ in no time and possibly for a long time. Her initial run as a heel that was arrogant and relied on daddy should go by the wayside. She will show she is a force in the ring and one to be reckoned with for years to come. Last, but not least, is Sol Ruca. She lit the internet up with one move, the Soul Snatcher finisher. The best way to describe this move is a springboard in the corner right into a cutter. I know I was one of those on the internet that saw it and lost my mind. I looked up her background and her athletic skills from gymnastics to surfing and everything else in between just screamed to me, watch this young lady. She is taking her lumps in NXT, but she is getting chances with the likes of Zoey Stark who is incredible in the ring I might add. Sol needs a little more seasoning on the mic and pacing of her matches, but that will come with more time. Right now, she is definitely, one of those once-in-a-lifetime characters that the fans will want to keep tabs on. I know people might say why not talk about the more established women in NXT? There's no need because they have their storylines, they are making their marks and a lot of them will be moving to the main roster shortly. I wanted to shine some light on a couple of women that literally turned my head and made me take notice of them. Roxanne had me in her first match on NXT and then Smackdown. Nikkita had me excited when they said she would be on Smackdown tagging with Zoey Stark, but that fell through the cracks. Tiffany turned me around on her return promo and then her first match back. Sol Ruca and her out-of-ring work and then finisher just floored me. I’m not going to tell everyone I’m picking the best of the best in NXT because that women’s division is so massively deep. But I’m singling out four women here that I believe will make a massive impact in wrestling over the next several years, and you should keep a close watch on them. Just maul it over. FOLLOW MARK MAHLER ON FACEBOOK & TWITTER