Tonight's NXT will continue the first-ever Women's Dusty Cup tournament, and after a big win in the first round, Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter are ready to take on their next opponents on their way to the Dusty Cup trophy. They'll be taking on an established team in Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, and they are more than ready to show the world what they can do against any opponent. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Catanzaro all about the big match on tonight's show, which will also include an appearance from Royal Rumble winner Edge, as well as her bond with Carter, the Tag Team Titles, and what goes into creating something as memorable as that Royal Rumble spot.
First though it was time to look back to their first victory in the Dusty Cup, which was over Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez, and that win meant quite a bit.
"Oh, man. I mean, it's monumental. Being in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, in general, is huge, especially because it's been going on for the men for so long, and now finally, we have one for the women," Catanzaro said. "And especially with me and Kayden building up ourselves as a tag team, to be able to have this moment. Even going in, we were like, 'This is huge. We are a part of this, but we want to win the whole thing.' You know what I mean?"
"And then when we got word that our first opponents were Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez, obviously they are two of the toughest women in NXT. We were like, 'Okay, we know that everyone is going to expect that this is going to be a massacre.' We're used to that. We're used to people underestimating us, kind of keeping us as the underdog, but not really ever thinking there's going to be a difference in that," Catanzaro said.
"We're like, 'You know what? Let them think we're the underdog'. And maybe we are, but we're going to show them why that's not going to be the case anymore, and we finally get the chance. People have gotten glimpses of me and Kayden together, but we haven't actually gotten the chance to show everything that we have and actually go out there and do it. So against Mercedes and Toni, it was cool that we finally got the chance to kind of wow people and do what we say we're always going to, which is do things people have never seen before. And to be able to get that win and move on one step closer in the Tag Team Classic is just like, this is our moment, this was made for us. We're not going to stop. We're going to get to the top. We're going to keep showing everyone why we are meant for this."
Now Gonzalez and Kai are up to bat, and they bring with them their own share of challenges, but Catanzaro and Carter know what they're capable of.
"I feel like with Mercedes and Toni, going in, me and Kayden said, 'okay, these are two badass women, but we are a tag team.' Me and Kayden are a tag team and that's where we shine. We have each other's backs. We're not going to have a misunderstanding on the apron. We are going to ride or die for each other no matter what. That's where we shine, and I feel like that's the small difference here," Catanzaro said.
"With Raquel and Dakota, they have been a team for a while. I'm not saying that I would trust them having each other's backs forever like me and Kayden, but they're established enough that we know they're going to get through it together, which is where we kind of have to switch up," Catanzaro said. "We know me and Kayden are ride or die, we have each other's backs, but Dakota and Raquel have been crushing it for a while. And we know that Raquel, we both have a lot of experience with her, a lot of matches, and we know how big of a beast she is in the ring, and she is not someone to underestimate."
While Kai and Gonzalez have managed to beat them before, this is not the same team that faced them previously, and they've learned quite a bit since then, and are eager to show it in the ring.
"But the thing is, me and Kayden have had so many opportunities with her, and me and Kayden have learned so much from that and are so different in how we can go about it together, that I think even though they've wrestled us before, we're completely new people in the ring now. Me and Kayden wrestled Raquel and Dakota months ago, and since then, me and Kayden have really grown in and out of the ring together with our aggression, with our move set, with our working together, with what we can show people. And I think that that's where we're really going to come in and shine, and people expect to see the same us, and it's not."
Catanzaro nor Carter expected to be in a tag team when they first got to NXT, but things just organically brought them together, and they haven't looked back since.
"It's so funny because Kayden always jokes, she's like, 'We were not meant to be together in this.' It just happened. This was not how it was supposed to be. Because when I was at an NXT, Kayden came a little bit after me, and her first live show was a tag team with me. We were at a live event in Florida, and someone was like, 'Okay, we want a bunch of women out there, let's get a tag team,' and it happened to put me and Kayden together," Catanzaro said. "And when we were out there, we were like, 'Wait a second, we are really good together.' And we have this weird balance where people say we have a similar move set and people call Kayden a high flyer and she laughs. She's like, 'I am not a high flyer,' but she has that Lucha background. She has that good mind for everything too where she does things people don't do and I do things people don't do, so we put them together and that's a really good balance in the ring."
"Outside of the ring, she always says that when we first met, I was too nice for her. She just got to the performance center. I'm like, 'Whatever you need. If you need anything, let me know.' And she's just like, 'You were so nice, I didn't know what to do with you. And then you kind of grew on me.' We kind of balance each other out. Where I used to kind of reign her in, she's helped me really branch out of that box I felt I was in, come more into myself, more of my aggressive side, and now she kind of reels me in."
While the Dusty Cup is the current prize, Catanzaro isn't limiting their goals just to the tournament, and they are more than ready for a Women's Tag Team Titles match if the opportunity arises.
"Oh, I mean, everything. We want it all. We want everything," Catanzaro said. "I mean, this is a great way to start the year because me and Kayden have been really waiting for that moment that we could break out as the tag team that we have been trying to build. And I think now we're getting to slowly show that. We want to come away and we want to win the Dusty Cup, and then after that, we want the Tag Team titles. We want everything."
Catanzaro has already established herself as one of the most athletic stars in NXT and WWE thanks to several memorable moments where she saved herself from elimination, including that now-classic Royal Rumble moment, so we had to ask what goes into planning out one of those sequences and if one of those, in particular, presented a greater challenge than the others.
"Oh man. I mean, I think there's so much of an evolution of your mindset when you're thinking of what you can do in the ring. I know that for me coming in, I always try and be different, because I didn't come from a wrestling background," Catanzaro said. "I didn't come from the indies. So I'm like, 'What can I bring here that's different?' and that's the experience that I had when I wasn't...when other people were wrestling on the indies, I was in gymnastics. I was in collegiate gymnastics doing that. I was on American Ninja Warrior on the obstacle course. So how can I bring that to be different and bring something new?'
"And so I think that that's where it comes in, kind of with my spider monkey stuff and with the handstands and with the flexibility and things like that, where it's really cool, for example, in the Rumble, where I was able to do the handstand spot and the sit-up and everything," Catanzaro said. "That was cool for me because Naomi and Kofi have always been inspirations. I'd watch them and I'm like, 'Wow, that's so different. I want to do something so different as well.'"
"To be able to look up to them and now have people when Rumble time of the year comes along and people are putting Kofi and Naomi and me in the same sentence, that's crazy to me," Catanzaro said. "You know what I mean? I've looked up to both of them and for people to now put all three of us, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, people are thinking of me in the same moment that they're thinking of them.' That is just a dream come true for me. I admire both of them so much, And now both of them, Naomi and Kofi, come to me and say they liked my spot and that's so cool and they want to do something. I'm like, wow, that's a really cool feeling to feel like I've been able to make that impact on the wrestling world in a way that, when that time of year comes along, people think of that, And I think that that's really cool."0comments
We think it's pretty cool too, and while we didn't get to see Catanzaro in this year's Royal Rumble, we are sure to see a shocking moment or two during their match tonight, and you can watch all the action unfold when NXT airs on USA Network at 8 PM EST.
You can catch live coverage of tonight's NXT right here on ComicBook.com, and as always you can talk all things NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!