Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez should have been crowned the WWE Women’s tag team champions on Wednesday but more convoluted, WWE booking occurred.
There was a high level of anticipation heading into Wednesday’s edition of WWE NXT. Even though the MSK versus Lorcan and Burch match was off, there was at least the Women’s Tag Titles match where Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were set to face off against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. It felt like a big moment where two stars would get a level of recognition they had not received yet. Unfortunately, what occurred was more convoluted booking which has become a staple in the WWE.
What occurred has been quickly dubbed the “CWC Screwjob,” a play on the infamous moment back in Montreal. While the NXT referee was laid out, Kai made the tag to Gonzalez who then ran out the ring and put Jax over the announce table. Baszler then grabbed Kai, putting her back into the Kirifuda Clutch as Adam Pearce and a referee from Monday Night Raw ran down to ring the bell. That leg to a brief video moment backstage where William Regal and Pearce are seen having words in an office. All caught up now, good?
Booking of this fashion has become so commonplace in WWE that the response of “let the story play out,” rings loud and true. Yes, there is a strong chance that Kai and Gonzalez will stand tall at some point with the women’s titles around their waists. Maybe it will happen at Fastlane. Maybe at WrestleMania. However, there’s still room to criticize what occurred on NXT for a multitude of reasons.
First, it is hard to have any faith in how WWE has booked the women’s divisions. Outside of NXT, the booking on both SmackDown and Raw has left a lot to be desired. Even before he injury, Asuka was non-existent, even as one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster. Over on SmackDown, the women are still left with minimal booking effort beyond Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Bianca Belair. From random, clean defeats, to the lack of utilizing individuals like Mickie James – it is hard to expect the best from the WWE when it comes to booking the women.
Now, that has crept over into NXT’s booking with this finish. Gonzalez was being protected in a fashion akin to how Bobbly Lashley has been protected. Just like Lashley got the coronation over the Miz on Monday, this was supposed to be the first for Gonzalez, and Kai who has worked tirelessly to remind everyone how great of a performer she is. Now, they take this meaningless defeat. Remember when Gonzalez pinned Io Shirai in War Games, how would that story play out?
Second, WWE continues to go to new lows when it comes to wins and losses. Not only that, but champions being champions and being booked as such is non-existent. In Matt Riddle’s very next match as United States champion, he was pinned by Mustafa Ali. Champions are defeated on nearly a weekly basis. This match was being promoted for two weeks, only to finish in a complete cluster, devaluing any anticipation fans should have when the WWE books title matches on weekly television shows. Should fans just not watch, because these matches will not end in any conclusive way? That is up to the individual. But it is hard to be excited for these moments when so many of them have ended up as an inconclusive finish.
Third, can we see a situation where Kai and Gonzalez get a rematch at WrestleMania or Fastlane? Yes. Can it come as a potential triple threat with Naomi and Lana involved? Yes. But those two nights are special nights where other headlines are coming out of the event. On Wednesday, the headlines and images of Gonzalez and Kai holding the tag team titles would have been the main piece of news coming out of the WWE. If this match is added to WrestleMania, they will not have such a prominent place on the card when you have situations like Banks versus Belair or Roman Reigns versus Edge. They are competing against more of their peers, for even less of the spotlight. Had they picked up the win on Wednesday they would have been the biggest news story in wrestling for the week up until AEW Revolution on Sunday. Unfortunately, they did not get that moment in the spotlight.
There’s a reason why fans are tuning into AEW at a higher rate than NXT. On one channel, everything matters and it’s important to catch it live. On the other, things aren’t as important. They can be missed, or watched on another day. Or, as in this case, the important moment will be pushed out for weeks at a time for another night altogether.
It is difficult to critique something that is as beloved as professional wrestling, but there are times when it needs to happen. The eyes were on Wednesday’s NXT to see Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez finish this part of their journey that started with them being the first women to win the Women’s Dusty Classic. That did not happen. Now, viewers are forced to wait longer to see it happen. That is, if they tune in to catch that moment and do not overlook it yet another “Dusty” finish to come.