And just like that, NXT is back on top of the world.
After hitting a relatively “lull” period, the NXT roster and been restocked and reloaded to be one of the best it’s ever been.
Now, NXT was never bad. I don’t want to come off that way. But for a brand that lost all its star power within a year to roster call ups, it’s sure as hell had an amazing rebound.
After the departure of Shinskue Nakumara in April, things seemed to be a little uncertain at the top of the NXT card, minus Bobby Roode. There was no clear-cut top contender waiting in the wings for the “Glorious” one. Guys like Kassius Ohno, Roderick Strong, and Hideo Itami were lurking, but nobody had really taken a step towards being a top guy on the show.
This has all changed, however, in the recent months. With the debuts of Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, the main event scene has some juice in it that we haven’t seen since the Finn Balor-Samoa Joe feud. Also, the progression of Roderick Strong’s character has added another player to the main event scene. And, of course, the new NXT champion Drew McIntyre is as strong as he’s ever been. With so many fresh and engaging talents at the top of NXT, there’s an infinite amount of directions WWE can go with this.
Not only is the main title feud strong, but NXT is finally developing strong mid-card feuds. The Ohno-Itami rivalry has been great to follow on NXT. Alesiter Black has proven to be a strong commodity against anyone he faces. Andrade Almas has found new life in NXT, as his new heel character is solidifying himself as a contender on the show. And, you still have guys like Johnny Gargano, Oney Lorcan and Lars Sullivan that are solid performers both inside and outside the ring.
…oh, and Tomaso Ciampa is still due to come back and feud with Johnny Gargano. You can just start printing the money now.
The women also were having a hard time finding legitimate contenders for the women’s title. With the undefeated Asuka dominating the competition, it was hard to believe in anyone dethroning the “Empress of Tomorrow.” They even had Mickie James come back for a one-off match against Asuka at NXT Takeover: Toronto. That, coupled with a lot of three-way and four-way matches, provided no clear challengers in the post-four horsewoman era of NXT.
Now, a new wave of women is ready to emerge following the injury of Asuka. This wave is led by Ember Moon, who has proven she is ready to become the new face of the NXT women’s division. Other women like Niki Cross, Ruby Riot, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay have also developed strong characters, making them all seem legit threats to the NXT women’s title.
Finally, the tag team division had no clear direction as well following the explosion of #DIY at NXT Takeover: Chicago. The Authors of Pain were still the champs, with no clear-cut challengers for the most dominant tag team in NXT history.
SAnitY winning the titles brought some new life into the division, though. While the Authors of Pain are still due a rematch, the attack from Fish and O’Reilly on SAnitY gave us a new, fresh feud to the NXT tag team division. With other teams like Heavy Machinery and the Street Profits getting a big push, there are at least five tag teams in NXT that are all legit.
While 2015 may have been the best year for NXT, 2017 is starting to become one of its most important. The roster has gone through a massive overhaul, one that has left fans excited to see what the future holds for the product.
As a fan of NXT, I am stoked to see what happens. I haven’t even mentioned the U.K. division, which had the best match of the year with Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate at NXT Takeover: Chicago in May. A growing presence from the U.K. talents on NXT could take the show to an even different level, one NXT has never seen.
It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan, especially NXT. The future of NXT is bright, and I, for one, am pumped to see what levels the show reaches by the end of the year.