Dakota Kai’s WWE journey started in NXT, then to Raw, and will now head to SmackDown. Kai has become a fan favorite since she teamed up with Iyo Sky and Bayley to form Damage CTRL. The villainous group shredded the opposition in Raw and will seek to continue its dominant run in SmackDown. 

Dakota Kai hails from a Samoan family with European ancestry

Dakota Kai was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. She hails from a Samoan family with Irish ancestry. 

Kai told WWE.com that her mother ensured the kids embraced their Samoan culture. “Mum would make sure us kids would grow up with a strong sense of who we are and where we came from,” Kai stated. 

Kai debuted in NXT as Evie, the name of her favorite Pokemon. After signing a contract with WWE, she changed her name to Dakota Kai to reflect her Samoan culture. 

“In NXT, I wanted something that sounded tomboyish but also fit my Polynesian heritage, which is where Kai comes from. Despite people thinking I’m related to [former pro wrestler] Leilani Kai, that’s not it,” Kai told Sports Illustrated

Kai means sea in Polynesian, demonstrating her pride in her journey from the South Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. 

Before Kai’s match at WrestleMania 39, fellow wrestler Tamina Snuka of Samoan and Fijian descent, presented Kai with a lei made of flowers. Leis feature prominently in Polynesian cultures. “Samoan tradition right here. That’s power,” Tamina said as she placed the lei on Kai’s shoulders.