NXT's Mercedes Martinez Talks Dusty Rhodes Classic and Setting Her Sights on Io Shirai

Mercedes Martinez made it clear that she was in the hunt for the NXT Championship last week, giving NXT Champion Io Shirai a beatdown and making an immediate impact on the title picture. Soon afterward she also entered the Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, where she will be teaming up with Toni Storm for a chance to win the tournament and further cementing 2021 as the year of Mercedes. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Martinez ahead of tonight's NXT, and in addition to talking about the Tag Team Classic we also discussed her time with the Robert Stone brand, what it takes to create a lethal tag team, and even some action figure talk.

First though we wanted to touch on her match alongside Storm, who she actually faced in the ring before either of their time in WWE, and they've changed a bit since that encounter.

"I think, first of all, for us changing, I think we're a little bit more ruthless now, compared to what we were back then," Martinez said. "When we faced each other, it was for a title, if I remember correctly, and it was only one time. So it was one of those things where, when a title's on the line, you just go walk the walk. But right now, it's a different place, a different time, and we're teaming up. So our focus, or I would hope her focus, is making sure that we can coincide with each other and pull off the win for this first-ever Women's Dusty Classic."

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(Photo: NXT)

Martinez and Storm are more used to singles competition, but there's a killer instinct that is universal, and they'll just need to be on the same page.

"It definitely is one of those things where, especially if you're not a tag team specialist, I guess you can say, you just have to figure it out on your own and you just got to make sure that the same mind frame goes into play. Even though we're not friends in the ring, we have the same goal. To be a competitor and be on top of the women's division. I think when they pair people off, you just kind of have to have the same mentality and make sure that the game plan is the same. You want to win regardless of the differences. So differences have to be put aside for the ultimate goal, and that is to get your hand raised at the end of the match."

Martinez is thrilled to be a part of the first-ever Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and winning the whole thing would be another evolution and addition to her growing NXT legacy.

"My career has taken its twists and its turns, and the last year itself has been an up and down, I guess, for me when it comes to my career in NXT so far, Martinez said. "But I think just being a part of this classic is momentous in itself. It's history in the making for the Women's Division and the depth that we go to. But for me personally, it just adds another accolade and shows that I can still go, and shows that my career and my legacy is still going no matter what. I don't want to say it's just another milestone, but I think it's just an honor for me to still be doing what I do and still being a part of NXT. And the Classic, it's history on its own. So me, personally, I take it in stride and I take it with a lot of honor and a lot of prestige just to even be a part of it."

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(Photo: NXT)

Martinez made a splash when she attacked the current NXT Champion in brutal fashion, and it was most certainly a statement to the whole black and gold brand but also to the fans that she isn't going anywhere.

"I think, making a big return, I had to make sure that people understood that I wasn't gone. I wanted to make sure that the whole division and NXT understood that, yeah, you may not see my face and I may not be around, but I was still watching the product, and I'm still keeping an eye on the prize," Martinez said. "And that was whoever held the title, and everyone is gunning for Io. It's just the way it is. When you have a title, you have a bullseye on your back, and she's on my radar and I'll go through anybody to get to where I need to be, and that should be the Women's Champion."

As for a possible match at Valentine's Day TakeOver, Martinez said "Who knows. I don't know what the plan is. My plan is to make sure that everyone on that roster understands that I'm the big dog and I'm the woman that you need to beat."

"And I know everyone has their plan and has their outlook to get to where they've got to get to, and if I've got to cut in front of the line, then I will. And if I have to take out Io, then I'll do it," Martinez said. "There are a lot of women on this roster that deserve a title shot. The question is, can they jump to the head of the line and make their mark? I'm not here to play around. I'm here to make my mark as quickly as I can, and to make sure that I put everybody on notice, and that's what I did with Io."

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(Photo: NXT)

We previously saw Martinez as part of the Robert Stone Brand, and her presence lent the stable some firepower, though it was short-lived. We asked what she took away from that experience and if she had fun with it all, and it was a little bit of a mixed bag.

"Yeah, I think it was an awkward pairing, but I think we fed off of each other, and I think the way I looked at it was I had to focus on my in-ring stuff," Martinez said. "Anything outside of the ring, that was the whole point of the Robert Stone Brand and his job, was to make sure he made a match for me, focus on the business side of it while I focus on my training, the working out, and focus on what I need to do in the ring. And somehow, someway, it just didn't work out. His dynamic was different. The dynamic was pairing me up with Aliyah. And it was like a little sister, big sister type of thing, but sometimes, egos clash. I'm a no-nonsense type of a wrestler and a person, and Aliyah's like this little, annoying, little person and Robert Stone just wasn't the right fit for me at that time. It worked for what it had to work for, and it got me to where I had to get to, but it wasn't the right fit for that time."

With the possibilities endless for 2021, we also think it's about time that Martinez gets her own action figure from Mattel, and if she does we wanted to know what gear she would want featured, and the answer was delightful.

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(Photo: NXT)

"I don't know. I wouldn't even know. I've had so many favorite gears. One of my all-time favorites was probably in the Mae Young Classic part two when I had an Assassin's Creed style type of gear," Martinez said. "That has been my favorite gear thus far. The gear now that I've got, it's pretty much getting to be my favorite. I just haven't worn it enough to comfortable with it."

Alright Mattel, it's your move now, but please make that happen!

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You can watch Martinez team-up with Toni Storm on tonight's NXT as they take on Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter, which airs on the USA Network at 8 PM EST.

You can get live coverage of NXT right here on ComicBook.com, and as always you can talk all things NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!