TAELER: NXT Frenemies: An Emboldened Dakota Kai Turns On Raquel Gonzalez

In recent weeks we've seen some good old-school story-telling coming out of NXT. In my opinion, the creative team has been utilizing multiple WWE NXT Superstars together and spanning months at a time to allow for subtle intrigue. A tried-and-true WWE recipe for success and monetary gain. Part of the allure that makes it so efficient is the realism that lies therein with clear intention that evolves over time adding depth to the show, the brand, and the WWE Superstars themselves as they represent the company.

One such storyline and NXT Superstar is Dakota Kai. Since signing with WWE, the New Zealand native has put in some serious work. Both in her craft and her onscreen character. From teaming with Tegan Nox dating back to Shimmer to her attempts at defeating Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Title. And on to becoming and losing the inaugural NXT Women's Tag Team Titles alongside friend and now NXT Women's Champion Raquel Gonzalez. Thus proving her value to WWE becoming an NXT mainstay and solid pillar of the onscreen NXT Women's Division. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

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When considering the subject of this article I am reminded of several prior pieces I've written for Fightful.com. A piece in which I discuss in length the ever-evolving and quite entertaining dynamic of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. A storyline I've personally enjoyed watching as it unfolds in NXT. I specifically remember the power behind a key paradigm shift that holds irrevocable consequences - frenemies. I once read a piece in psychology that equated the parallels between playing chess and gaining power over others. And as a woman in wrestling, in my opinion, it's a philosophy that seems very indicative of the actions of Dakota Kai this past week on NXT when she turned on her long-time BFF Raquel…

Cat and mouse. A long-drawn-out game of chess. Luring someone into a false sense of security. Getting someone to be an unwitting participant in a game of you own making putting them exactly where you want them both mentally, physically, and emotionally. A game. Move for move. Predicting. Reacting. Acting. Anticipating and countering. The actions that when put into motion culminate into the pivotal point where friends become or the reverse in which enemies become friends. Sound familiar? The laws of power and the roles they play and the means with which we are willing to use to gain our ultimate ends.

This very idea that I pointed out in recent months on Fightful.com and why it's so relatable and makes for good Pro Wrestling T.V. I'd mentioned reading somewhere that one should treat their friends with similar fashions as they do their enemies. The err of appearing artless and entirely without artifice while you are in all actuality just as calculatingly as cunning as a fox. Treat your friends as if they could one day become your enemies. And your enemies as if they could one day become your friends. A lesson Raquell Gonzalez definitely could have used some notes on the moment she did what all others failed to do in over 300+ days - defeat Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Title.

It was in that aforementioned moment where it should have become apparent that things would never be the same for the dynamic duo. Change in the air. By all appearances BFF's but deep down secretly the sly chess master comes out to play… when one friend achieves what the other hasn't and desperately wants, how far will they go? Will jealously run amok? Or, will it slowly simmer into a boil biding its time. Lurking. Waiting for the optimal opportunity to reveal itself. Laying in wait for that moment to capitalize on emotions running rampant in a cascading cacophony of equal parts shock, outrage, hurt, determination, revenge, and disdain. This past week on NXT, Dakota Kai was done waiting.

Dakota Kai was done being second to Raquel Gonzalez. Friendship be damned. Friendship doesn't pay the bills nor does it catapult you into WWE Superstardom. Now, it's every woman for herself! And perhaps, after suffering a huge loss to Io Shirai, to ultimately see her friend win her belt, maybe Kai set this into motion. After all, who's in a better to beat Raquel Gonzalez than the woman who used to be her BFF. Her insurance policy. The woman who knows every move Raquel will make before she makes it? Who else could make the NXT Women's Champion more emotionally vulnerable in the ring than Dakota Kai? This is the relatable simplicity that's so old school in its approach and I love it. It works. Almost everyone has felt that sense of betrayal. And now Raquel Gonzalez is in one heck of a game of chess. If she's not careful, Dakota Kai will find herself the new NXT Women's Champion. Treat your friends as if they could one day become enemies and your enemies if they could one day become your friends. maybe there's something to that philosophy after all… Well done WWE. CHECK-MATE!

In the words of Dakota Kai, "…as long as I have your back, you'll always be champion."

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Children's Book: "Nosey Rosie and the Secret Surprise" By: Taeler Hendrix

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