Raquel Gonzalez is at the top of the mountain in the NXT Women's Division, having won the NXT Women's Championship at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.
Gonzalez defeated Io Shirai, who had been the champion for 304 days. In contrast, Gonzalez made her television debut 357 days before winning the title.
Speaking to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Gonzalez discussed when the moment sunk in for her that she was champion and being told she wasn't ready when NXT debuted on USA in September 2019.
"It hit me when [referee] Darryl [Sharma] placed the title in my hands. I was banging against the mat, and I was so excited that everything went the way we wanted. I was just grateful for Io, Darryl and myself making it work in our time limit. When he handed me the title, and it was finally in my hands, I saw my dad’s hands go up. My parents were there to see me, and that’s when it set in," she said. "Later that night, we had a meeting. Triple H said he remembered when NXT was airing live on USA, and it was the night I was supposed to have my debut. But they pulled me a couple hours before and said I wasn’t ready. That was very humbling. And it means so much I’m now someone he can trust with the NXT Women’s Championship."
While Gonzalez had a distinct size and strength advantage over Shirai, the former champion was the quicker and more experienced competitor. Those are two things both women wanted to make sure stood out in the match.
"We wanted to create something different and special. As a big powerhouse, it’s hard to not be in control. But it’s different with Io. The way that she fights, she can be in control. That’s something she can do. And I was the underdog. I’ve read the comments. I know people think I’m still green. I definitely am still learning, and that was something we wanted to put in our story. It’s an honor for me to work with Io, someone who has so much experience. So the match showed that even a dominant force can get knocked down, but it’s all about how you recover. That’s something we were able to tell in our match," said Gonzalez.
If her first promo as champion, Gonzalez was confronted by Franky Monet.
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