The last time we saw Shayna Baszler was on WWE NXT when Rhea Ripley hit a devastating Avalanche Riptide to dethrone “The Queen of Spades” and capture the NXT Women’s Championship. You might think that means Baszler’s stock is down, but now she’s poised for a career-defining Royal Rumble victory in 2020. When Baszler appears vulnerable, she’s really at her most dangerous.
The world was forced to take notice of Shayna Baszler all the way back at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans on April 7, 2018, but it wasn’t Baszler’s first attempt to capture the NXT Women’s Championship. Ember Moon became NXT Women’s Champion back at the first NXT TakeOver: WarGames in late 2017.
Moon had tried and failed to defeat Asuka for the title. She ultimately secured the belt after Asuka moved up to the main roster and subsequently relinquished the title. Moon went on to have successful title defenses against Sonya Deville on an episode of NXT before the year came to a close, as well as house show defenses against Bianca Belair, Lacey Evans, and Vanessa Borne.
Before Ember Moon started her reign as NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler was barreling through the competition during the inaugural WWE Mae Young Classic. Baszler defeated Zeda Zhang, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, and Mercedes Martinez en route to the finals. Every single win was via submission.
However, Baszler got her first taste of defeat in the finals of the Mae Young Classic. It became a taste she simply refused to sample throughout much of her NXT career, but these early struggles laid the foundation of Baszler’s legendary championship reign.
In the finals of the Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane defeated Baszler. The very next time we saw Shayna Baszler was on an episode of WWE NXT, and Baszler’s ambush and assault of Kairi Sane sidelined the superstar for weeks.
In Baszler’s first match on NXT, she defeated Dakota Kai via referee stoppage after only 93 seconds. The loss had made her even more dangerous. It was clear that, despite failing to win the Mae Young Classic, Baszler wasn’t going to wait for it to be her turn to challenge NXT Women’s Champion, Ember Moon. In January of 2018, her wish came true. Baszler challenged Moon for the title at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia but ultimately failed to defeat her.
Refusing to accept the loss, Baszler demanded a rematch. She got her request only a few weeks after losing to Moon in Philadelphia. Baszler’s second effort was well on the way to having a different outcome, but Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane finally came looking for revenge.
Sane interfered in the match, landing an InSane Elbow on Shayna Baszler, which gave the championship a disqualification victory. Baszler won the match, but she was not NXT Women’s Champion. We saw a rematch of their Mae Young Classic finals clash only a few weeks later on WWE NXT. This time, Shayna Baszler was victorious.
Two months later, Shayna Baszler got her third opportunity to dethrone NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. After nearly 13 minutes of action, Ember Moon found herself trapped in Shayna Baszler’s Kirifuda Clutch. Despite Moon’s best efforts to escape, she passed out.
As the winner via technical submission, Shayna Baszler was the new NXT Women’s Champion. Her reign had begun, and Baszler left a trail of defeated challengers in her wake. Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae, Nikki Cross, Steffanie Newell, Toni Storm, and Xia Li all tried and failed to end Baszler’s first reign.
However, another taste of defeat was coming at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4. In what was becoming a rarity in NXT, we saw Baszler actually lose. Sane defeated her in Brooklyn, becoming the new NXT Women’s Champion. She could only keep hold of the title for two months.
At WWE Evolution, Baszler got her rematch. She put Sane to sleep with the Kirifuda Clutch to regain the NXT Women’s Championship. Her second reign began on October 28, 2018, and The Queen of Spades nearly exited the decade with the title still around her waist.
In Shayna Baszler’s 416-day reign as NXT Women’s Champion, she had successful title defense against Kairi Sane, Candice LeRae, Bianca Belair, Mia Yim, Io Shirai, Jessie Elaban, Kacy Catanzaro, Isla Dawn, Deonna Purrazzo, Rachael Evers, Dakota Kai, and Reina Gonzalez. When Rhea Ripley got her first shot at Baszler with the championship on the line, she left as the new NXT Women’s Champion.
Now, as 2019 winds to a close, “The Queen of Spades” looks vulnerable. It looks like there’s a chink in her armor. It’s the same thing that happened when she lost the Mae Young Classic, when she failed to defeat Ember Moon, and when she lost to Kairi Sane in Brooklyn.
Every single one of those failures created a more dangerous and powerful Shayna Baszler, and this time she’ll chart her path through the 2020 Royal Rumble. If Shayna Baszler has to choke out 29 other women and then chuck their lifeless carcasses out of the ring one at a time, that’s exactly what she’s going to do.
When Shayna Baszler does win the Royal Rumble, it’s a no-brainer where she’ll be headed. Baszler already proved she can choke out Bayley back at Survivor Series, so instead she’ll aim at what she perceives to be the biggest fish in the pond: Raw Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch.
It’ll be a great main event for WrestleMania 36, and could see Baszler standing tall much like the way she did at Survivor Series. All of that begins when we hear her music hit at the Royal Rumble. Of course, her Royal Rumble victory has already begun. It started the second Rhea Ripley was crowned NXT Women’s Champion.