Nikkita Lyons’ spot in WWE’s Tag Team Tournament is big for NXT
After being absent from television for the entire summer, the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship is officially back, and business is picking up for the brand-less belts. Initially secured at WrestleMania 38 by the dynamic duo of Sasha Banks and Naomi, the belts were officially vacated back in May, when, after the duo walked out of an episode of RAW due to “creative differences,” Michael Cole announced their indefinite suspension and the decision to hold a tournament to decide on the next set of champions.
For months, that promise proved empty, as Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and SummerSlam all came and went without four women in a ring competing for championship gold but soon, those days will come to an end.
Why? Well, because said tournament is officially underway, with the Bayley-led duo of Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai, who looked great in her WWE main event television debut, securing first-round wins on RAW over Dana Brooke and Tamina. The match was fun, the Bayley Bunch looked legit and, thankfully, didn’t feature any 24/7 championship hijinx.
But this match alone wasn’t the only interesting development related to the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. No, before Kai and Sky even took the ring, the official brackets were announced for the tournament, with a very interesting team indeed included as one of the eight participants.
Was it Sasha Banks and Naomi? Now that would have broken the internet, but no, unfortunately, the will-they, won’t-they roller coaster between “The Boss,” the ex-Funkadactyl, and The Fed will continue on for the foreseeable future. No, the team in question is actually not comprised of WWE wrestlers at all but instead of Nikkita Lyons and Zoey Stark, who you may know as fixtures of the NXT Women’s division. But why? Are the duo, who aren’t exactly a regular tag team, simply being included in the tournament due to a lack of viable teams? Or could this mean something special is coming to the NXT tag team title picture?
Maybe, just maybe, this means what fans have been hoping for all along: NXT is actually being booked like a true developmental territory, with Paul “Triple H” Levesque using a spot in the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship to showcase a pair of fantastic talents who may soon be on a RAW or Smackdown screen near you full time.
— WWE (@WWE) August 9, 2022
NXT fans should be very excited to see Lyons and Stark on WWE TV.
When NXT was launched, it was meant to straddle the very fine line between being a developmental brand meant to teach the next generation of WWE performers the ways of The Fed and to serve as a third brand that could stand on its own against other shows and… oh yeah, against AEW, the show it went to the USA Network to directly compete with.
For a time, NXT did a pretty good job at keeping both of those requirements satisfied; while NXT didn’t produce WWE main eventers at the same rate as when Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens called the promotion home, more than a few WWE staples, from Rhea Ripley to Walter/Gunther and even the current hottest performer in the WWE Universe,
Tommaso Ciampa, honed their craft on the Black and Gold Brand before their RAW/SmackDown time came due.
And yet, after months of hot-shotting bookings to try to get more eyes on the product, Vince McMahon waved the white flag and surrendered to Tony Khan and company, with his show moving to Tuesdays, and Triple H moved out of creative control.
With Mr. McMahon running all three brands, the wrestling got worse, the performers got progressively greener, and any remnants of the old era of NXT were either released or elevated to the main roster with new names like Butch or Max Dupri. Outside of a few staples like Roderick Strong, who has been begging for his release for months now, the show looked nothing like its former glory, and the booking, which once won Levesque Booker of the Year, became worthy of “negative star” affairs.
While NXT could have continued on and hoped to produce a few more legit stars like Bron Breakker among a sea of broken dreams, the elevation of Triple H to the role of EVP of Global Talent Strategy and Development has changed all of that. Many of his former NXT stars have either been re-hired or elevated to more prestigious roles and the cream of the current classes’ crop, which Zoey Stark and Nikkita Lyons very much are. Even if the duo don’t bring the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship belts back to NXT, this is only the beginning of the good things ahead of Stark, Lyons, and NXT as a whole.