The second annual NXT Great American Bash event came and went featuring multiple title matches and a huge non-title rivalry bout in the main event. Along with some key storyline advancing segments was the NXT Women's Tag Team Title Match. This championship bout would classically highlight the champions versus the upstart challengers as the number one contenders. The Way's Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell would go into this bout not only as the reigning and defending NXT Women's Tag Team Champions, but also the heavy favorites to win - thus retaining the titles…
To say the WWE Universe was split on the ending of this tag team championship bout would be putting it mildly. I don't think the IWC would be the IWC if they didn't have strong opinions about something they love; i.e Pro Wrestling and Sports Entertainment. And much to the habit of the IWC, those opinions were indeed shared all across social media during and after NXT's Great American Bash. However, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't add my own two cents into the mix as a woman in wrestling and even more so an avid life-long fan of tag team wrestling. In my opinion, these four ladies performed their hearts out and earned their spots on this card and furthermore representing the entire NXT Women's Division. At the Great American Bash they collectively poured into their craft; filling it with heart, soul, and some serious badassery.
As the WWE Universe tuned in and the match unfolded we'd see The Way's Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae putting their coveted titles on the line against the fairly new tag team duo of former NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai and relatively newer WWE NXT signee, Zoey Stark. After teaming less than ahandfull of times these two ladies managed to beat out the other more established competing NXT Women's Tag Teams for their own shot at the NXT Women's Tag Team Titles. Both teams would go toe to toe under the black and gold banner of NXT all for the sake of some highly sought after gold around their waists and sporting some epic bragging rights over the rest of the division. As it would happen, a key distraction from the long awaited return of Tegan Nox was the pivotal moment needed for a monumental paradigm shift in the favor of Shirai and Stark.
The highly anticipated return of NXT star Tegan Nox was bittersweet. Sweet sweet sweet vengeful victory provided for Shirai and Stark through Nox. And a shockingly bitter blood boiling pill to swallow for LeRae and Hartwell as it ultimately led to their downfall against Zoey Stark and Io Shirai. Almost ten months worth of storyline came to a head with the return of Nox after a lengthy absencee rehabbing an injury that opened up an opportunity for advancement for the opportunistic Candice LeRae and by proxy her tag team partner Indi Hartwell. With LeRae being linked to Nox and her exit from T.V. due to injury, this was indeed personal. Payback at its most basic foundation. The perfect start for Tegan Nox to fully feel vindicated as she faced down her on screen foe from the stage and the let the utter shock and dismay course through Candice LeRae's veins and sink in deep.
It was in that moment of hard-earned vindication that Stark and Shirai were able to work together and capitalize on isolating Indi Hartwell while simultaneously sending Candice LeRae out to the floor to face her fate. Zoey Stark would take the tag in from Shirai and finished off Hartwell for the one - two - three -victory. And new NXT Women's Tag Team Champions, Io Shirai and Zoey Stark. While some were ecstatic to see Io Shirai with gold once again and those same WWE Universe fans being excited to see what Zoey Stark is capable of doing with the high levels of competition residing in NXT, others weren't so inclined…
As the WWE Universe flocked to social media with regard to NXT's Great American Bash some were less than enthused with The Way's LeRae and Hartwell losing the NXT Women's Tag Team Titles. They felt that although all the ladies involved were insanely talented, the far more established team should have retained and extended their reign. This point of view I think stems from the feelings that since the initiation of the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship Titles, there have been too many title changes in too short a time. From the Inaugural tag champs of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez to the team of Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart to the most recent former NXT Women's Tag Team Champions Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell and on to the new champions Zoey Stark and Io Shirai.
Many die-hard wrestling fans have felt the weight of a proverbial curse that has been over the head of Johnny Gargano and after the tag team bout they expressed their feelings that perhaps that same curse of seeming to be overlooked or under-appreciated has extended itself and blanketed Candice LeRae as well. While that sentiment gained steam, others chimed in with their thoughts of the camera angle and how they thought Hartwell's shoulder was off the mat by at least four inches and yet the titles changed hands any way in favor of Io and Zoey with a killer finisher. The opinions came together in collective skepticism on just how well Io Shirai and Zoey Stark will gel cohesively together as the new NXT Women's Tag Team Champions. To be honest, when you look at the facts, in my opinion, it would seem extremely advantageous for both women since this new duo has now beaten all their preexisting counterparts on their ascent straight to the top of the NXT Women's Tag Team Division.
So regardless of which side of the fence you lay your hat, I think two facts remain. One, all four ladies performed at optimal level representing not only themselves but also the promising future of NXT. And two, Zoey Stark and Io Shirai are your new NXT Women's Tag Team Champions. Put aside the hate and appreciate the hard painstaking work that goes into this business and the pressures of performing for millions on live T.V. Zoey Stark is clearly in the best shape mentally and physically that she's ever been in. And while I can certainly understand Io Shirai's initial hesitation in teaming with Stark as a newer WWE NXT talent, the results speak for themselves. While we're busy putting aside the hate we can also put aside the hate of randomly assembled teams, many love the duos of Kai and Gonzalez as well as Blackheart and Moon; yet it wasn't so long ago that those teams also felt thrown together.
However, with all of these moving pieces being linked to each other in one way or another, I couldn't make this feature complete without dosing this with my own positive vibes and expert eye for the craft thus giving credit where its due and credit is definitely due! Stark and Shirai who while the newest team in the bunch, ultimately beat them all. In a few short weeks of competing together they built a trust equity that will continue to grow as they grow together as a team. And that to me is exciting and full of possibility! As we head into the fall out from Great American Bash, this is definitely not the last we'll hear from each team. Unfinished business between Kai and Gonzalez and Blackheart and Moon will continue to boil over as both want what is now claimed by Stark and Shirai. And speaking on behalf of the former NXT Women's Tag Team Champions, I'm sure Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell will be looking for retribution against Stark and Shirai while also looking over their shoulder for Tegan Nox. Until then, cheers to the new NXT Women's Tag Team Champions, Zoey Stark and Io Shirai! Let the haters be motivators and long may you reign with entertaining must see T.V. in NXT!
For more Taeler Hendrix content check out the links below
Children's Book: "It's Not Easy Being A Sloth" By: Taeler Hendrix
Children's Book: "A Fish With A Wish Is Trish" By: Taeler Hendrix
Children's Book: "Nosey Rosie and the Secret Surprise" By: Taeler Hendrix
Podcast Talks with Taeler Hendrix: bit.ly/2YvNKwP