TAELER: Looking At Raquel Gonzalez vs. Io Shirai

WWE NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai is set to headline NXT's Stand and Deliver show on April 7th. NXTis preparing to host its, I believe, 34th annual NXT Takeover event. NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver event will embark on a series of firsts with this event. While last year's Wrestlemania also featured the NXT brand, nothing has been firmly set in stone for Wrestlemania 37 as it pertains to NXT. With that said, for the first time ever, NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver will be a two night event. Not only that, but Night 2 of Stand and Deliver will air in PPV form, while Night 1 will air during its usual Wednesday night time slot and will effectively be the first NXT Takeover event to air on Peacock TV's streaming platform.

Recently, WWE put pen to paper in signing its Main Event for Night 1 of NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver. The reigning supreme NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai will go one on one against the tough as nails second generation wrestler and NXT Superstar - Raquel Gonzalez. Shirai and Gonzalez will collide in the Main Event on the Night 1 card as all other matches in the NXT brand lead up to them on the road to Wrestlemania. Both women are no strangers to each other as they prepare to crush it in the main event…

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From the Mae Young Classic Tournaments to signing with WWE and reporting to the performance center. Then on to their individual rises within and up the NXT Women's Division. Rising up the NXT Women's Division ranks, both have amassed immense respect to their names. Walking into NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver on April 7th, Io Shirai will have just surpassed 300 days as a fighting NXT Women's Champion overcoming Rhia Ripley, Toni Storm, Candace LeRae, Dakota Kai, Charlotte Flair and numerous others. At this point in time, as she prepares for Stand and Deliver, Io Shirai has officially made it passed the halfway mark on her way to usurp the title of longest reigning NXT Women's Champion, a boastful position still held by Asuka at a record of 510 days or rather 522 days as recognized through tape delay. Could Io's journey come to an end before she reaches one year on her way to 523 days?

Heading into Stand and Deliver there will be no love lost between Raquel Gonzalez and Io Shirai. The Dusty Classic Winner and Inaugural NXT Women's Tag Team Champion will be focused on one goal with two parts - dethroning Io Shirai thus taking for herself the coveted gold and doing lasting damage to her long time nemesis in the process. Raquel has never been more of a threat in NXT than what she is right now in my opinion. She has transformed herself into a deadly combination of fierceness - intense calm - and a singular focus of pure malicious intent.

I once read that one should not fear the loudest person in a room, but instead fear the person whose calm outward demeanor by all appearances barely conceals the pointed rage behind their eyes. As I'm reminded of that passage, I watched Raquel sign her name to officially set up her Main Event match for Night 1 of NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver. Bragging rights aren't the only thing up for grabs as Gonzalez pointedly remarked: "Io, you better hold that title real close, because in 18 days — it’s mine…" While Raquel's message to the current NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai may have been succinct and yet open-ended, I highly doubt the end of this bout will leave any doubt as to the competitive caliber of these women as they represent NXT in the Main Event. Two role models representing the promising future of the WWE brand as both covet championship gold and the pinnacle seat at the top of the NXT Women's Division. Io Shirai VS. Raquel Gonzalez - Stand and Deliver - April 7th - Don't miss it!

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Children's Book: "It's Not Easy Being A Sloth" By: Taeler Hendrix
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