Raquel Gonzalez Beats Io Shirai, Wins NXT Women's Title at Stand & Deliver

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2021

Photo credit: WWE.com.

Raquel Gonzalez beat Io Shirai at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver on Wednesday to win the NXT Women's Championship for the first time.

The clash between the two has been a long time coming, as their rivalry dated back to NXT TakeOver: WarGames in December, when the team of Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon faced Gonzalez, Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae and Toni Storm.

Gonzalez won the match for her team by pinning Shirai, and it was clear then that she would eventually be the biggest threat to The Joshi Judas' reign.

Both Gonzalez and Shirai moved on to other things after that, but they remained dominant and always looked to be on a collision course.

The Genius of the Sky successfully defended the NXT Women's Championship against Storm and Mercedes Martinez, while Gonzalez sent Ripley to the main roster by beating her in a Last Woman Standing match at New Year's Evil in January and enjoyed tag team success with Kai.

Gonzalez and Kai won the first-ever Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in February and were eventually crowned the first NXT women's tag team champions on March 11 only to drop the titles to Blackheart and Moon that same night.

It quickly became apparent what was next for Gonzalez, though, as Shirai confronted her and told her she wanted a match.

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The following week, after Kai beat Zoey Stark in a singles bout, Shirai effectively threw a contract at Gonzalez. She later signed it, and their highly anticipated match was made official.

Gonzalez looked like the favorite on paper due to her size and strength advantage, but Shirai had the edge in experience and entered TakeOver with a title reign exceeding 300 days.

Shirai has mixed it up with some of the best women's wrestlers NXT has to offer over the past year, but it never felt as though anyone was as big of a threat to take the title from her as Gonzalez.

That manifested itself in the form of Gonzalez winning the belt, and she could now be in line for one of the most dominant NXT Women's Championship reigns ever.

       

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