WWE NXT's Dakota Kai Beats Rhea Ripley to Become No. 1 Contender

Tonight's NXT kicked off with a big-time match to become the No. 1 Contender to Io Shirai's NXT Women's Championship, and it was Rhea Ripley facing off against Dakota Kai for the opportunity. Ripley and Kai sized each other up a bit before Ripley displayed that her raw power, but Kai quickly showed how crafty and lethal she can be and reveled in it. After all was said and done, it was Kai (with a little help) standing tall as the victor.

After the two traded opening blows, Ripley took over for a bit, delivering massive chops to Kai's chest. She then went for Kai's legs, followed by even more punishment in the corner and a suplex and a pin, though Kai kicked out.

Kai got a few hits in, but Ripley quickly retook command, locking in a scissor lock and punishing Kai with hits to the back of the head. Ripley continued to squeeze, and it was almost enough for a pin but Kai kicked out once more.

Kai would try and pull Ripley out of the ring, but Ripley kicked Kai in the face and then lifted her up and delivered an electric chair to Kai, planting her face on the edge of the ring. Still, Kai kicked out.

Kai was able to turn the tide though thanks to a dodge that sent Ripley into the turnbuckle, and Kai capitalized. She would lock in a hold on Ripley and do some damage, but Ripley was able to almost pin her, but she kicked out.

Ripley gained some momentum at this point, dishing out a series of knees and a devastating dropkick, followed by an Electric Chair that sent Kai face-first into the mat, but again Kai kicked out of the pin.

They would trade more blows and both get near pins, though Ripley capitalized when Kai went for a move and missed, locking in a hold on Kai but Kai escaped before she could lock it in all the way. Kai would land a hard knee to Ripley's face and put her up on the top rope. Ripley was able to fight out of this, but while Kai and the Ref were facing the other way, Mercedes Martinez landed a huge kick on Ripley, setting her up for a final move by Kai, who secured the win.

You can find the official description for tonight's NXT below.

A massive night is in store on the black-and-gold brand! Pat McAfee will be on hand following his heated exchange with Adam Cole last month. Elsewhere, Imperium will defend the NXT Tag Team Titles against The Undisputed ERA, NXT Champion Keith Lee takes on Cameron Grimes, Rhea Ripley battles Dakota Kai for the chance to challenge Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Title and another spot in the North American Title Ladder Match is up for grabs between Damian Priest, Oney Lorcan and the debuting Ridge Holland. Catch it all on USA Network tonight at 8/7 C!

Here's what's on deck tonight:

Keith Lee vs Cameron Grimes

Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai

Imperium vs Undisputed ERA

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Damian Priest vs Oney Lorcan vs Ridge Holland

What have you thought of tonight's NXT? Let us know in the comments or as always by talking all things wrestling with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!