Dakota Kai The Mayor of Kicksville
For Dakota Kai, 2020 was a successful year. She challenged for the NXT Women’s Title three times and thrives in her heel role. Kai has been on the WWE roster for a while, but she’s finally making a name for herself, winning the WWE NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship twice with Raquel Rodriguez and the WWE Women Tag Team Championship twice with Iyo Sky. Before joining WWE, Dakota Kai excelled as Evie in independent films worldwide.
She entered the WWE as a sweet, good-hearted babyface. While she was fantastic in that capacity, she has kind of taken off since evolving into a crafty antagonist. When the bell rings, Dakota Kai still puts on fantastic matches. Despite never winning the NXT Women’s Championship, Dakota Kai was a WWE NXT fixture until her departure and return.
Dakota Kai vs Candice LeRae NXT 11/27/19
At TakeOver: War Games 2019, Dakota Kai changed the course of her career and would usher in a new persona. She brutally attacked her best friend Tegan Nox and put her on the shelf. The following Wednesday, Candice LeRae, a close friend to both, stepped up to get revenge for Tegan. Dakota got the opportunity to showcase how vicious she would be in her new role. Meanwhile, Candice was always tremendous as a fiery babyface, so the two personalities worked well together. Candice won by DQ when Dakota clocked her with Tegan’s knee brace.
Dakota Kai vs. Kairi Sane – Mae Young Classic
People sometimes forget that Dakota Kai had a strong run in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. She bested Kavita Devi and Rhea Ripley in the first two rounds before coming up against future NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane who would go on to win the tournament beating Shayna Baszler. These two had some history in Stardom and their chemistry was clear. They came off as being evenly matched and the crowd was invested in both ladies. However, Kai injured her knee during the match and missed the double stomp.
Dakota Kai vs Tegan Nox – NXT 3/4/20
WWE doesn’t have the strongest track record with steel cage matches. They get it right on occasion but often put out bouts that don’t utilize the stipulation all that well. Thankfully, Dakota and Tegan had one of the best women’s steel cages matches ever. Almost a month after their Street Fight at TakeOver: Portland, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai would run it back once more, with the added stipulation of it being a Steel Cage match. The stipulation was put in effect to try and dissuade any interference from Kai’s new partner, Raquel Gonzalez. Their hatred spilled over in what was ultimately their final singles match of the rivalry. Tegan got a measure of revenge, and had it won but the involvement of Raquel Gonzalez was the difference-maker. A creative finish led to Dakota’s first win on this list.
Dakota Kai (Evie) vs Hikaru Shida – Shimmer Volume 62
Evie (Dakota Kai’s pre-WWE name) faced Hikaru Shida, the future AEW Women’s World Champion, in this 2014 match. Years before Kai became a breakout star and NXT women’s tag team champion and Shida became a star in North America, the two met for the first and only time. After almost 17 minutes, Shida won and proved that women could compete with men.
Dakota Kai (Evie) vs Mayu Iwatani – Stardom vs The World II
Despite appearing on NXT television before this match, Evie/Dakota Kai was not signed to the company right away, meaning that she continued her career elsewhere and honor her craft. In turn, this match saw Evie fighting against the future Icon of Stardom, Mayu Iwatani in a very memorable affair. Evie’s bubbly personality and aggressive in-ring style made her popular with Japanese fans, and her strong striking and kick games made for great entertainment.
Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox vs The Kabuki Warriors – NXT 10.30.19
Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox lived out a dream a month before Dakota Kai turned her back on Tegan and changed her career. On live television, the best friends challenged The Kabuki Warriors for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. This was given way more time than it probably would’ve gotten on a pay-per-view. The four incredible ladies put on a stellar performance that lasted just over 24 minutes. There was a lot of drama, twists and turns, and close calls. Alas, Kairi Sane and Asuka were victorious, but this was special for Tegan and Dakota.
Dakota Kai vs Kay Lee Ray – NXT 2.0 11.30.21 LADDER MATCH
NXT 2.0’s women’s division has flourished, even as the brand has moved away from its black-and-gold roots. Creating stars like Tiffany Stratton out of thin air has been a net positive for the brand. Before Kai’s return at Summerslam and Alba Fyre’s rebranding, Kai and Kay Lee Ray fought in a singles match on WWE NXT 2.0’s November 30, 2021, episode. Kay Lee Ray winning a marquee ladder match before WarGames would be great for fans of both women.
Dakota Kai vs Iyo Sky – NXT Takeover XXX
Takeover XXX proved to be the biggest match of Dakota Kai’s WWE career. The NXT women’s division is the most talented in all wrestling history today. Being chosen to have a singles match for the title on a major show is an accomplishment. It proves that the company believes in you.
Dakota Kai facing Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Title was huge for Kai. She displayed her new trademark viciousness as she picked apart the champion. There was some interference from Raquel Gonzalez, but it was kept to a minimum. This was all about Dakota’s skills and the way that Io rallied to win.
Dakota Kai vs Rhea Ripley – NXT 8/5/20
Three years after Dakota Kai defeated Rhea Ripley in the Mae Young Classic, their WWE careers were very different. Ripley was a former NXT Women’s Champion and Kai was a rising villain. When Kai made her intentions for the NXT Women’s Title clear, Ripley challenged her in a number one contender’s match. The two put on a hard-hitting contest that showed how much they each wanted it. Interference from Mercedes Martinez helped Kai hit the Go to Kick to earn a title shot.
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart – NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day 2021
This bout opened the show and was the first-ever finals match for a Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart would face Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez in a highly engaging and fast-paced tag-team match to open the show. Kai and Gonzalez would emerge victorious, thereby earning a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in the future. The duo would fail to win the titles but would be presented with the opportunity to become the first-ever NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. However, they would lose to Shotzi and Ember Moon on the same night.
Dakota Kai vs Tegan Nox – NXT Takeover Portland
After shocking the world by turning on a long-time partner and real-life friend, Tegan Nox, at NXT TakeOver: WarGames III, Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox would finally come to blows in singles match the following February, at NXT TakeOver: Portland. They went out and stole the show on a loaded card. It felt like a true fight between two people who hated each other. Tegan seemed to have a victory in hand until Raquel Gonzalez who would make her WWE NXT debut showed up and brutally launched her off the top onto a table, opening the door for Dakota to win.
Women’s Wargames Match – NXT Wargames III
The inaugural NXT Women’s WarGames match took place in the closing days of 2019, with two teams of eight of NXT’s fiercest women competing in one of the year’s most memorable matches. On one team would be Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai, Rhea Ripley, and Candice LeRae, while the opposing team would consist of Shayna Baszler, Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, and Bianca Belair.
Dakota Kai’s in-ring performance would be irrelevant, as she would never enter the match. Prior to the start of TakeOver, Mia Yim was scheduled to replace Kai and an injury angle was to be featured. When it was time for Dakota to enter, she would turn heel by laying out Tegan Nox with brutality, establishing herself as one of the top heels in NXT in an unforgettable TakeOver moment.