Article posted March 10th 2022

This past November it started with an article about how Dakota Kai's unhinged character was slow burning a face turn and could even lead to an eventual reign as NXT Women's Champion. The face turn has been taking shape in recent weeks. That Women's Championship reign may not be a reality anytime soon, however maybe the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship could be in the cards. That one off article morphed into The Captain of Team Kick: The Tales of Dakota Kai & Evie Project.

So what exactly is The Captain of Team Kick: The Tales of Dakota Kai & Evie Project? It's a virtual memory book for Dakota Kai fans by a Dakota Kai fan. It's something that I hope pays respect to Cap's work from years past and still to come with a Dakota Kai fan take on things. It's anything related to the work of Cap as Dakota Kai and Evie. The ongoing Dakota Kai Backstory Gallery. Articles. Captions that may or may not be funny. Soon The Era of Evie will be explored. In the future perhaps some more features could be added.

I welcome other Dakota Kai fans to contribute content and ideas. Unfortunately, not many are aware of this project since I've had a lack of success in bringing awareness of it to the Dakota Kai fandom on social media and the like. I just have to keep keeping hope more Dakota fans discover it.

In recent weeks we've started to see the broken soul of Dakota Kai get mended. It turns out the person destined to travel alongside Dakota on this journey is narcolpetic with childlike tendencies Wendy Choo. The budding relationship between Dakota and Wendy has given Dakota a chance to finally bury her past and begin again. Reflection is leading to reincarnation. It may even put Dakota back in the crosshairs of Toxic Attraction. Most of all it's given us an endearing story for Dakota that ties into everything she's been through since her WWE debut in 2017.

I won't ever buy that hint of retcon that implied Dakota's initial face run was her putting on a facade pretending to be good, using the fans and her friends including Tegan Nox. She was simply the girl with a good heart who had a fall from grace. To imply otherwise takes away the emotional impact of her heel turn that drove her story with Nox and others. One cannot retcon the love and affection Dakota showed her best friend Tegan Nox for over two years.

Dakota's heel turn came after she felt rejected by her friends. It made her look at her year of recovery from a darker light, targeting Nox and others with newfound cruelty. But I never felt she was an evil character. She did awful, even sadistic things, most notably verbally and physically to Nox. However, her actions came from a place of genuine sadness and hurt. It drove her to become cruel, but it's not unrealistic that deep down she still had good in her that became dormant along with her conscience.

Entering WarGames 2020 first for her team knowing she would be at a disadvantage for eight minutes was not the act of a cowardly heel. Fighting her heart out for nearly forty and never getting much respect for it from her teammates or management gave her character, even if unintended, an empathetic edge going into 2021. It started a long cycle of her fighting her heart out only for all the attention to be on her muscle Raquel Gonzalez.

Many Dakota fans saw a gray area in her story from WarGames 2020 to TakeOver 36. Said gray area doesn't mean that Dakota didn't do some amoral things. However, it did make certain decisions and her heel character at this point more empathetic. It led many to rally behind her when she violently ended her business partnership with Raquel Gonzalez. Dakota never turned away the support shown to her by her fans; she actually acknowledged it when she did the Team Kick hand signal prior to her TakeOver 36 match with Raquel.

The split screen segment between the two a few days prior to TakeOver 36 painted Raquel in a less sympathetic light. She admitted she knew Dakota would eventually turn on her and sounded more angry she didn't see it coming when it happened than actually being hurt by it. She came across as a hypocrite by accusing Dakota of using her when she herself stuck with Dakota and used her to advance her own career even as she awaited betrayal. Dakota isn't without wrongdoings of her own, yet that segment shined light on Raquel's. For many fans Raquel came across as less sympathetic, angry and bitter, boasting about being a superstar above superstars. Meanwhile, Dakota came across as the sympathetic world-traveled veteran of the ring whose fourteen year journey had brought her to a deserved shot at becoming the champion of the greatest women's division while also fighting to prove she wasn't a sidekick.

If you're a Dakota Kai fan you may not have viewed her actions as bitter and jealous. You saw her as fed up and finally taking her destiny into her own hands and doing what she had to do. She never chided you for taking her side as a heel might. To you she was no longer a heel; she was the hero of the story. As fate would have it, that support for Dakota may have been why the creative forces decided to officially take her story where they have since Halloween Havoc.

Dakota's unhinged erratic state of mind was the result of a breakdown she had sometime after TakeOver 36. The demons of the mind -- the voices in her head -- lure out her worst behavior and urges. To counter that, she has moments where her reemerging conscience tries to encourage her better angels. These often easy to miss moments all led to the February 8th 2022 episode of NXT where she finally has a moment of realization, admitting something is wrong with her. From here on out we've seen Dakota making more of an effort to fight the voices in her head and follow her conscience.

On the February 22nd episode of NXT we saw Dakota the most at peace she's been in a long time, forging her partnership with Wendy Choo knowing Wendy chose her, not her demons and her. Dakota is not allowing her voices to intervene in her matches as much as before. She finally buried her past with Raquel Gonzalez by pinning her rival to advance to the finals of the 2022 Women's Dusty Cup Tournament. Dakota knows Wendy is a good person and wants their partnership to succeed, however it's impossible for Dakota given her state of mind to not fear that success will lead to another relationship breaking apart. The closer Dakota and Wendy come to possibly winning the 2022 Women's Dusty Cup, the more the fear she will regress haunts Dakota. She still has a hill to climb to finally overcome her demons, however Dakota is at that point where she's closer to again being a fully-fledged babyface and that is exciting.

I've said all along that Cap has done a great job in bringing all the incarnations of Dakota Kai including unhinged to life. She always makes the best of things. That does not mean I wasn't a bit concerned with how the creative forces would tackle a storyline touching upon mental illness. I dreaded for a bit it could simply be a plot device to punish the character. Thankfully it has instead given the character something to overcome as I kept hope it would.

Those who have had real life struggles with mental illness may see unhinged Dakota through sympathetic eyes. We see someone flawed, now alone and fearful of friendship. We don't want her to suffer. Instead we want to see her overcome her demons and find happiness again. It gives us hope in our own, even if very different battles with our health. I'm one of those persons who has had a lifelong battle with his health, both diabetes and mental. Some days I feel really good about life. Some days I just want to be alone. There are days I don't want to be here. My chocolate labrador looks after me. Writing about my favorite wrestler and her fictional storyline has helped me a bit in real life these last few months when I've felt at my worst. If Dakota Kai can find peace, perhaps someday I can too.

Back to The Tale of Dakota Kai: The First Age