Dakota Kai – WWE’s Furious KICK Above The Rest

If the name Charlie Georgina Crowley doesn’t resonate with you, her alter ego likely will. This New Zealand-born talent is of both Irish and Samoan descent, as the story of Dakota Kai begins.

As a longstanding veteran of SHIMMER & SHINE, Dakota Kai has been making a name for herself both in and out of North America under the name Evie.

Her career began in 2007 in her home country of New Zealand for Impact Pro Wrestling. A few years after first competing for Impact Pro, Kai began to compete for another notable Australian-based promotion in PWA (Pro Wrestling Alliance) Australia on their debut show.

She has also been a longtime favorite in MCW (Melbourne Championship Wrestling). While with Impact Pro Wrestling and PWA Australia, Kai held the PWWA Championship and the Impact Pro Wrestling NZ Women’s Championship.

Dakota Kai

Unfortunately, Impact Pro Wrestling had to close its doors temporarily, and in the process, Kai’s title was taken from her.

She then won the IPW Women’s title and joined the faction ‘The Investment’ alongside them. Her professional journey saw her travel to Japan.

While there, Kai competed for Pro Wrestling ZERO1 and Diana. She teamed with such notable female wrestling dignitaries as Madison Eagles.

In 2013, she first competed for SHIMMER as part of the Volume 53 show, during a five-way battle against the likes of Kalamity, Rhia O’Reilly, and Christina Von Eerie, to name a few.

But alas, Evie (Dakota Kai) was unsuccessful in her first showing. It was the next match at the Volume 54 show, where Dakota picked up her first SHIMMER win.

Here, Kai faced and defeated former TNA/IMPACT! Wrestling and former WWE NXT talent Kimber Lee. While in SHIMMER, Kai faced several notable names in women’s wrestling today.

They include Mia Yim, Nicole Matthews, and AEW’s Hikaru Shida. That same month, Kai faced current NXT star and longtime independent sensation Mercedes Martinez as part of the SHINE promotion.

Kai was quickly making a name for herself on the US independent women’s wrestling scene.

Kai’s movement in wrestling once again provided her with the time and experience to compete in Japan.

Her success in Stardom was immediate. With Kellie Skater and Hiroyo Matsumoto, the trio captured the Artist of Stardom Championship.

However, something was missing for her professionally. Despite the success she was achieving, she was aspiring for more.

“You can’t fake passion for something like that, and when you have the passion, it isn’t hard to pursue a goal like that”. I did my tryout for the WWE in 2014, but I wasn’t successful initially.

“They said: ‘We don’t don’t have anything for you now, but keep doing what you’re doing and stay in touch because we might have something for you in the future’.

There was a window there for a time, where it wasn’t that I was unsuccessful and needed to stop, but I had been doing this for nine years, I should probably venture into something else and take a little bit more of the focus, off wrestling.”

Dakota Kai on her initial WWE tryout

Her time on the independent scene would draw to a close and a new journey would stand before her.

She first appeared as part of WWE’s NXT television initially under the Evie ring name. By the Winter of 2016, Evie officially signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.

It was as part of the inaugural Mae Young Classic that Dakota Kai was born.

WWE rising star Dakota Kai blazing a trail for Kiwi women ...
Photo / Stuff.co.nz

“Being here has been my dream for at least the last 13 years. I spent a lot of that time working the independent scene so to be here is still really crazy to me.

From there, the opportunity to have a tryout happened, and I got offered a contract. So, it’s been a crazy ride, but I’ve never been more passionate about anything in my life.

All that traveling was something I loved to do, and I always, always hoped that one day I’d be given the opportunity, and here we are.”

Dakota Kai on coming to the WWE

However, Kai’s success wasn’t without its share of professional setbacks. A torn anterior cruciate ligament put Kai out of action for nearly a year.

It was her friendship with fellow NXT star Tegan Nox that helped her along the way. She grew as a professional as well.

We got signed at the same time. We really didn’t know each other & we landed at the Orlando airport at the same time and shared a rental car, so we became fast friends.

Being able to tell a story with one of your best friends is one of the best things in the world because you can’t fake chemistry. You can’t fake anything in a ring.

If you have chemistry with someone, you have chemistry with someone. I’m putting all of that down to trust because we are so close in real life.

In the ring, we’re able to trust each other completely to be able to tell the best story possible and really put our lives in the other person’s hands.

It’s been great. In saying that, I would have loved a longer tag run with her, but maybe in the future.

Dakota Kai on Tegan Nox – (h/t Sporting News)

As it stands today, Kai has evolved from the face that we first saw as part of NXT. She is now a scathing and arrogant heel.

Her growth over the past nine years is evident. Whether it has been championships won or championship opportunities now as part of NXT its growth, in her own words that all came from commitment.

This is the journey in part of Dakota Kai before she joined the WWE.

WWE NXT: Dakota Kai on her post-injury heel turn - Sports Illustrated
Photo / SI.com

“But I never really stopped, I kept wrestling which was a good thing. Lucky I didn’t stop.”

Kai has toured the globe and, in doing so, was able to find herself in the process. The ability to compete against the best in the world and be validated in the process is so telling. She has managed to portray the diminutive face and the dastardly heel.

Her ability to craft personas that resonate with fans has proven to be among the keys to her success.