Dakota Kai initially burst onto the WWE scene via the Mae Young Classic, but now she’s making major headway in the NXT women’s division.
Here are five facts you should know about the captain of Team Kick.
5. She’s Half Samoan
It’s well known that Dakota Kai is a Kiwi, but you might not know that she’s also half-Samoan. But, believe it or not, she’s not related to The Rock – and despite the long history of Samoan Superstars, Kai told WWE.com that she’s never felt any pressure to live up to her heritage:
I never felt any pressure about that. I’ve simply always embraced being ‘afakasi.’ Mum would make sure us kids would grow up with a strong sense of who we are and where we came from. I’ve visited Samoa twice and visited my mum’s home village of Lepea. She would always make traditional Samoan dishes for us, and we would have family get togethers somewhat regularly. Family is priority within the Samoan community, which means the support system I get from them is amazing.
4. She Starred In A Music Video
Kai made her pro debut in December 2007. Not long after, she starred in a music video for New Zealand rock band These Four Walls – and not just as a pretty face. Kai actually wrestles in the video.
Someone in the band must be a wrestling fan.
Kai was also featured on an April 2013 episode of 20/20 that followed the lead up to her first tour of the United States.
3. Current WWE Names Influenced Her In-Ring Style
It used to be that WWE’s wrestlers were influenced by legends of the past – Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin – but that’s not exclusively the case anymore. Kai told WWE.com that the people who most influenced her in-ring style are actually her contemporaries:
The main influencers of my in-ring style would have to be Hideo Itami, Finn Bálor and Daniel Bryan. I was watching them since before they were here in WWE and was blown away with the level of skill they consistently showed.
How crazy is it that wrestlers like Kai are getting to work alongside the people who inspired them? Pro wrestling sure has changed.
2. She’s A Former Six-Woman Tag Team Champion
Kai can say something that (almost) no other woman in WWE can: she’s a former six-woman tag team champion.
While wrestling for Japan’s World Wonder Ring Stardom in 2015, Kai won the vacant Artist of Stardom Championship alongside Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kellie Skater; the trio was collectively known as Team Hyper Destroyers. They held the title for 84 days before dropping it to Threedom (Io Shirai, Kairi Hojo, and Mayu Iwatani) in February 2016.
Kai is also a one-time Shimmer Tag Team Champion alongside Heidi Lovelace, a.k.a. Ruby Riott.
1. She Was WWE’s First Female New Zealander Wrestler
As stated above, Kai is a Kiwi – and she was WWE’s first female wrestler to hail from New Zealand.
Kai made her WWE debut (under the ring name Evie) on the October 14, 2015 episode of NXT, where she lost a squash match to a debuting Nia Jax. She signed a contract with WWE just over a year later in December 2016, and subsequently competed in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, making it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by the tournament’s ultimate winner, Kairi Sane.
Following the tournament, Kai remained off NXT TV until October 2017, competing in a battle royal. After another absence of a few months, she was placed in a feud with NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, and is quickly making her way up the ranks of NXT’s women’s division.
While Kai was the first, WWE has since signed a second female Kiwi: UK-based wrestler Toni Storm was raised in Australia, but she’s actually a native New Zealander.
Are you a fan of Dakota Kai?