Releases have become a part of the cycle of life for NXT, and Dakota Kai is one of several wrestlers who were recently let go by WWE. Many holdovers from the black and gold days have found their way out of the company in recent months as the NXT brand has shifted towards the more sports-entertainment-centric 2.0 version. WWE’s edict is now to pluck young athletes out of the ether and then train them to be sports entertainers.
That has left former indie darlings such as Kai on the outside looking in. Even a year ago, NXT was overflowing with former independent performers who had carved out names for themselves in NJPW, ROH, and even IMPACT. WWE has since decided to create its own stars instead of capitalizing on momentum from outside promotions. This gives the company a lot more control when it comes to developing talent, but it also makes it tough for seasoned workers like Kai to find a home.
At one juncture, she was one of the best heels in NXT, leaving fans wondering why she was future endeavored. Fightful has since reported that while Kai “received several looks on the main roster in dark matches,” there were no solid plans for her on either WWE Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown. Fightful‘s source even noted that it wasn’t even clear if she’d be called up anytime soon. Kai reportedly saw this release coming and didn’t have any intention of sticking with WWE once her contract expired in April of 2023. She, along with the nine other performers who were released, has a 30-day non-compete clause that she must wait out before appearing on television for any other promotion.
This is one of those situations where the talent who has been released will be perfectly fine, especially now that Triple H’s vision for NXT has fallen by the wayside. Kai would be right at home in either IMPACT’s outstanding women’s division or could instantly become one of the top stars in AEW’s growing women’s division. All Elite Wrestling has seen its group of female stars slowly grow over the last several months, with the likes of Tay Conti and Bunny improving every time they’re in the ring or on the mic. With a group that recently added Toni Storm and Paige VanZant to the mix, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to women’s wrestling under the AEW banner.
It’s not too difficult to imagine seeing Kai working heel in All Elite. Her turn in 2019 on Tegan Nox at Takeover: War Games and the subsequent program were top-notch, showing viewers a side of the New Zealander that they hadn’t really seen before. She managed to draw a similar amount of heat during her feud with Raquel González, showing that she has what it takes to be a top baddie for just about any promotion outside of WWE. AEW is in dire need of more performers who can cut a solid promo, and Kai fits the bill there. She’s just 33 and still has plenty left to give. Based on comments Kai has made since her release, fans will be seeing her back in the ring sooner rather than later.