Raquel González is closing out 2020 as her career enjoys a meteoric rise. The NXT superstar who at one point was eliminated in the Mae Young Classic first round is now a top contender for the women’s championship. The 29-year-old can felt the tide really turning in her direction after the battle with Rhea Ripley at Halloween Havoc.
“It opened a lot of people’s eyes. It opened their eyes to something I already knew, which is that I belong in the ring with the best,” she said. “Rhea Ripley is one of the best. Io Shirai is one of the best. Both of them have competed on big stages on Raw and WrestleMania. That Halloween Havoc match put me on the map and showed that I can handle my own and Raquel González is not just ‘Big Mommy Cool’ González is here to make a statement. And that statement is that I can be your next NXT women’s champ. I could be your next Raw or SmackDown women’s champ.”
The next day after the match González heard praise from across the board including from Hall of Famers like Bully Ray. Viewers appreciated the hard-hitting women’s match
“They talked about my lariat, my strength and big moves,” she said. “That really hit home for me because being here at the Performance Center for four years. Putting in the man hours day in and day out. The lariat was my finish beforehand, so to know people were recognizing that is something I do and something I do very well made me feel good about Halloween Havoc.
The sky is definitely the limit for the impressive 6-foot former collegiate basketball standout. Momentum continued for González at the last NXT TakeOver where she won the WarGames match for Team Candice LeRae. She recalled feeling the pressure to put on an outstanding performance. The eight involved ended up delivering and then some.
“All had so much history and experience and are incredible women’s wrestlers. The best in the business,” González said. “Most of them were in WarGames the year before, which is something I wanted to be a part of but didn’t get the opportunity to. Going into this WarGames I was excited, anxious, all the feelings. Being out there and having a little crowd we did and the people behind the scenes supporting us. It was not like anything I’ve done before.
“Basketball games can go on for a good hour, two hours. This match was maybe an hour long. It did not feel like it. It went by so quickly. Everything was high impact, high intensity. I remember getting hit one minute and seeing Dakota Kai jump off the top turnbuckle on to a trash can and on to Io Shirai. Then see ?.It was a lot. There were so many things going through my mind. Even thinking about it now. All of the moments and the crazy insane things we as women do. It’s amazing. To know I came out on top in WarGames was one of the best memories I had of the year so far.”
González solidified her standing further with a win over Ember Moon. She is within striking distance of facing Io Shirai for the gold. The emerging superstar is obviously aware of the comparisons Kai and herself get with Shawn Michaels and Diesel.
“I would say from the beginning of the year from when Dakota and I joined together in a union. She really took me under her wing. Dakota has an immense amount of experience. She has so much knowledge,” González said. “That girl is 150 percent the most resilient person in NXT. Working with her and learning from her and being a part of her team has really helped push me to the level of my career that I’m at right now.
“I appreciate every single moment of that. Even though her and I are doing our solo thing, we really haven’t looked at it as a solo type of thing. We’re looking at it as you’re handling your business, I’m handling mine. At the end of the day her and I are still a team. We work as a team and still want to compete as a team. We would both be happy for each other no matter who gets it first because either one of us deserves it and we’re bringing it back to our side anyway.”
There is a lot of opportunities coming at González in a short period of time. She makes sure to take a deep breath and remember her WWE journey. One that started four years ago with a dream. This helps her remain grounded and focused.
“You are an athlete who has a goal in mind and a goal you want to attain. I like to think I’m patient, but I’m probably not the most patient I think I am. Definitely been a mental, physical struggle being away from home,” she said. “Only being able to talk to my family on the phone or Zoom has been hard. So these four years have definitely taught me a lot and something I keep in the back of my mind when things like being a part of WarGames and when I am main eventing NXT and beating Ember Moon who is a former NXT women’s champion.
“It’s still so surreal to me. I think about my journey and how it’s still continuing. I remember and have faith in what is going to happen for me. I know the struggle is not over. There is always going to be struggles. But when there are struggles, I just have to get through it and look forward to what is going to happen next and the good. And with the good, I want to embrace it and feel good about it and have the experience. But I also want to know the struggle to get there, and there will still be more struggles to go. That’s for everything in life. Not just for wrestling. It’s every day and moment of my life and continuing on. I just really try to live in the moment and not forget where I came from and look forward to what the future has to hold.”
WWE NXT airs at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesdays on USA Network. Raquel’s full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.