Kayla Inlay Klingensmith is a 26-year-old professional wrestler from Sioux City, Indiana. She is currently signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and performs on the company’s NXT brand under the ring name, Kiana James.
Klingensmith graduated from Morningside University in 2019 with a degree in science. She made her in-ring debut for AEW Dark on September 21, 2021, losing to The Bunny. Her ring name was Xtina Kay.
Early WWE Career
Kayla made her WWE debut on February 1st 2022 under the ring name Kayla Inlay. At her debut she lost to Sarray. She was then repackaged as Kiana James and took on a businesswoman gimmick. Kiana James debuted in the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament on May 17. She lost to Roxanne Perez in the first round. James’ first televised win took place on the June 24th episode of NXT Level Up when she defeated Brooklyn Barlow. The following month, on the July 19th episode of NXT, she competed in a 20-woman battle royal to determine the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. She eliminated Fallon Henley but was eliminated herself by Nikkita Lyons.
James then began feuding with Lyons. She lost to Lyons on the August 9th episode of NXT. James lost against in a tag match alongside Arianna Grace against Lyons and Zoey Stark on the September 13th episode of NXT. She then feuded with Dana Brooke on WWE Main Event, defeating her on November 3rd. James started a feud against Henley with whom she would bet her parents’ bar against the offer that James offered her. On the November 29th episode of NXT, James defeated Henley.
At NXT Deadline, James competed in the Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge. The match was to determine the number one contender to Mandy Rose’s NXT Women’s Championship. The match was won by Perez. On December 27th, James ended her feud with Henley after losing to her in a Battle for the Bar. James competed in a 20-woman battle royal at New Year’s Evil to determine the number one contender to Roxanne Perez’s NXT Women’s Championship. She was eliminated by Lyra Valkyria.
Kiana James & Fallon Henley Win Tag Team Gold
On February 5th, at NXT Vengeance Day, James and Fallon Henley defeated Katana Chance and Kayden Carter to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship. At NXT Stand & Deliver on April 1st, James and Henley lost the tag titles to Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn.
On the April 25th 2023 episode of NXT, after James and Jensen were defeated by Josh Briggs and Fallon Henley, James walked out on Jensen causing Jensen to go back to Briggs and Henley. In the first round of the tournament for the vacated NXT Women’s Championship, Kiana James was defeated by Valkyria thus eliminated in the first round.
Kiana James Photos
Career Championships & Accomplishments
- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
- NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship (1 time)