Tonight's NXT is a very special one indeed, as it will feature the long-awaited return of Halloween Havoc to WWE. The card is loaded with big matchups, and one of the more anticipated matches is the throwdown between Raquel Gonzalez and Rhea Ripley. The two powerhouses are finally going to get their chance at each other in the ring after several chaotic altercations throughout the past few weeks, and it's a chance for Gonzalez to put her stamp on the black and gold brand in a big way. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Gonzalez about the battle against Ripley, as well as what being a part of Halloween Havoc means, teaming with Dakota Kai, and who she wants to face at Survivor's Series someday. First up though was being a part of the return of Halloween Havoc, and it means quite a bit.
"I'm so grateful and I'm so honored to even be a part of everything that's been going on this year," Gonzalez said. "With COVID and with switching up venues and trying to give something to the audience and something for them to kind of escape the reality, this is a big deal for me to have an opportunity, not only on this Wednesday's show but on Halloween Havoc's return. As well as it being against Rhea Ripley when we're gonna have a big hoss female match and I've set the bar pretty high for myself so I'm just excited to come out on Wednesday and show everyone what I can really do. Honestly, it's surreal, and talking to my parents, talking to my sister about it, I'm nervous, I'm excited, there's a lot going on in all of this."
As for the match itself, this has been one that's been building for some time, and Gonzalez gave fans a taste of what they can expect from both stars in tonight's throwdown.
"I think one thing that the fans can expect at this point, from everything that's been building up is just a gritty and hard-hitting type of match," Gonzalez said. "Honestly when it comes down to it, I know that that's what my strongest point is, being one of the strongest girls in NXT. And Rhea, as well as being strong, we're both big girls and I feel like both of us are just ready to go at it. I know I personally am just ready to charge and just freaking start wailing on her if I can."
"Getting a win over Rhea on Wednesday would be phenomenal, not only for me but for me and my tag partner Dakota Kai," Gonzalez said. "Just kind of setting the bar that, hey we are in this division, we are a force to be reckoned with in this division and we're not playing any games. We're both here, we're here to make a point, and we're here to make names for ourselves and we'll do whatever we have to do, whatever it takes."
Once Raquel can take down Ripley, her target moves to Championship gold, whether that be the NXT Championship or the Women's Tag Team Championships.
"Oh, it's all on the list. I know first, after beating Rhea on Wednesday, Dakota's gonna take care of some business with Ember, and then from there, we're gonna move back to what our original goal was, which was getting the NXT Women's Title in one of our hands, whether it's in Dakota's or in mine," Gonzalez said. "And then hopefully, eventually getting to the Women's Tag Titles and bringing them back to NXT because the Women's Tag Titles have been on Raw and SmackDown for so long. We would love to bring them down to NXT and even make some of that talent, if they really want it, come and get it, you know what I'm saying?"
Speaking of Kai, the duo has caused some havoc in NXT since joining forces, and they've both made each other better in the process.
"Yeah, I would say it's definitely boosted both of our confidence because we both kind of give each other what the other one lacks," Gonzalez said. "Dakota has skill and speed and she's a veteran in the ring, so she brings that to me, and I give her something that she's missing a little bit, which is the strength and the size and the power, and together that makes us an unstoppable force. So I think even when we are working alone, we both still have that confidence that we feed off of each other when we are working together, because we work together so often."
Gonzalez has quickly made an impact in NXT, and along the way, she's received some valuable advice about the bumps in the road and how to get past them from a legend in Triple H.
"Yeah, I would definitely say the advice, and something that I've learned throughout my whole career, even in basketball, has always been to not let the negative or the setbacks hold you back," Gonzalez said. "One thing that Triple H did say is that a bump in the road is not just a bump in the road, that is the road. That is part of the road that we are taking to get to our destination, and that bump is a part of it, so almost kind of take the setbacks and take the negativity and embrace them, learn from them and keep moving forward because that's gonna happen in life, no matter where you are."
"Whether you're playing a sport, wrestling, at work, even in relationships, I feel like that's something that people need to remember, is that we can't just give up on what our ultimate goal is until it's done. Anything is possible and everyone always says that, but it's always the setbacks that hold people back and that pushes them down and gives them that negativity and they need to be reassured of themselves that, 'Hey this is just a quick setback. I need to grow, I need to learn and I need to move forward from this and I need to keep pushing forward if I really really want something.'"
NXT doesn't seem to be involved in Survivor Series this year, but down the line who knows what could happen, and if she could face someone from one of the other brands, there are two people that spring to mind.
"I would love to go face to face with Nia Jax, of course, 100%. That would be, that's something that I know one day will happen," Gonzalez said. If it's not Nia Jax, even if it's not for the Tag Titles, possibly even Sasha Banks because she's so talented and again, she's a veteran in the ring. She has this skill and I feel like that's, that kind of a setup and that kind of a match is something that can push me to the next level and help me grow and evolve as a competitor as well."
It is Halloween Havoc, so we'd be remiss to not ask if Gonzalez is implementing any horror elements into her gear. She wouldn't spill the details, but the good news is that everyone in NXT is a fan of the frightening holiday, and will not disappoint tonight.
"I don't want to spoil any surprises, so I'm gonna let you keep guessing on that one, but I will say that everybody involved in NXT is super, super into Halloween," Gonzalez said. "I don't think I've met one person who's been like, 'I don't like Halloween, I hate dressing up.' Nobody says that here. That is non-existent. So it'll be an assortment of Halloween decoration going on, and even with just the people that would probably be in the stands, I think they're coming in with some surprises too. So I'm excited to see what's gonna happen tonight."
We couldn't leave without asking what her favorite horror film of choice for the holiday happened to be, and she's got two sides of the spectrum covered.0comments
"Oh, oh my gosh, I've been watching so many lately and if I had to pick one that was non-scary, of course, it would be Hocus Pocus, just because it's a classic. I watch it every year and I even watch it throughout the year, it's not just in October," Gonzalez said. "But if I am picking a thriller, oh man, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is really scary because I'm from Texas and I've driven through those back roads, so I feel like I just relate a little bit more, but I'm gonna go ahead and say Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
You can watch Raquel take on Rhea tonight on NXT Halloween Havoc, which airs on USA Network at 8 PM EST. You can also follow live coverage right here on ComicBook.com and as always can talk all things NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!