If Mercedes Martinez has made one thing abundantly clear in recent weeks, it's that she has her sights set on Raquel Gonzalez and the NXT Women's Championship. First things first: she's promised to take Raquel's friend and tag partner, Dakota Kai, out of the equation.
Tonight on NXT, Mercedes Martinez will go one-on-one with Dakota Kai in a match-up that is years in the making. These two have known each other for quite some time, dating back to their days in Shine Wrestling.
While there is animosity between the two on screen, there is nothing but respect when the cameras are off. Mercedes told Sportskeeda Wrestling this week that it's been a joy to watch Dakota transform into the performer that she is today.
"She has improved tremendously," Martinez said. "We go way back, we won't say how far back, but from watching her in those days up to now, she has transformed herself to... an amazing athlete, character development, just everything. Like, she's definitely not the same person that I met years and years ago. So just to see that transformation and the hard work and dedication that she put into the business, it has not gone unnoticed. And I don't think I've ever really wrestled Dakota to be honest with you. In the years that I've known her and even on the independent scene. So this is something new for me, to get in the ring with her, at her very best, after seeing what she has accomplished thus far."
According to The Internet Wrestling Database, Mercedes Martinez and Dakota Kai have wrestled each other once before. It happened eight years ago when Martinez defeated Kai in her debut match with Shine Wrestling, back when she known as Evie.
This time around the stage and stakes are much higher. A win for Martinez tonight could put her in line for a shot at the NXT Women's Championship. Raquel Gonzalez is another superstar that Mercedes Martinez has watched blossom in recent years.
"It is amazing," Mercedes Martinez admitted. "The transformation that she has done from the first time I've saw her at the Mae Young Classic, has been nothing but pure amazement. She is dedicated. Just everything physically, she has transformed herself from the first time that I saw her... It's amazing to me to see just how hard she actually, really works. And not just in the ring, but outside of the ring and in her physicality and even her physical stature is amazing. Like I'm not taking her lightly, you know, going after her. I definitely know what I'm putting myself into. But man, she is just one person who just proves to everyone out there, that if you really put the work in there, everyone's going to notice and she put everyone on notice."
Martinez says that Raquel has it all and is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, no matter what brand she's on. That's not going to stop her from pursuing her own goals, though. Mercedes Martinez has her eyes on the top prize in NXT, and if that means going through Raquel Gonzalez to get it, then so be it.
Mercedes Martinez is looking to validate her 20 year career
Mercedes Martinez says a potential match against Raquel Gonzalez would be a showcase of physicality. She told Sportskeeda Wrestling that it would be a chance for two Hispanic women to can go out there and put on a show that the fans don't get to see very often.
It is a rarity that two powerhouses like Martinez and Gonzalez go against one another, and Mercedes says she's looking forward to the day it happens. She hasn't been able to have a match like that since she faced Rhea Ripley at NXT Super Tuesday last September.
More importantly for Mercedes Martinez, a shot a Raquel Gonzalez means an opportunity at capturing the NXT Women's Championship and finally reaching the top of the mountain after 20 plus years of climbing.
"Winning that NXT Woman's Title just validates everything that I've worked hard for," Mercedes Martinez said. "You know, I've won championships all around the world, you know, on the independent scene, but that does has nothing compared to doing it on one of the biggest stages that I could ever dream of. Getting a NXT contract, a WWE contract was the highlight of my career. It was something that I didn't think I was ever going to get. And here I am proving everybody wrong and proving my worth. And just winning that title is going to mean everything in my career and put 20 years of my life on the line, just for that validation to say, 'yes, I am one of the best that, and now I am the best in women's wrestling.'"
Martinez says she's nowhere near ready to hang up those wrestling boots yet. She still has a lot left in the tank and more to prove. The long goal is getting that moment to shine on the Grandest Stage of Them All. It would be a dream come true for Mercedes to compete at WrestleMania.
Martinez is hoping the opportunities and stars align one day to make that dream become a reality. For right now, though, she is trying to manifest this shot at capturing the NXT Women's Championship. It starts tonight when she squares off with Dakota Kai. Watch NXT tonight at 8pm EST on the USA Network.