There is a wrestling war upon us once again and three letters are at the head of that. The three letter aren’t AEW either. Instead, they are the three letters who have been lighting the pro wrestling world on fire for years now. Those three letters? NXT.
As NXT prepares to debut on the USA Network at the 8 pm EST time slot for their new 2 hour, live format, it is the superstars more than any that gave the black and yellow brand an opportunity to go live week in and week out. While many know it is WWE’s move to take on All Elite Wrestling’s show on TNT every single week, NXT has been their hottest asset for years now which is due to what their stars are doing every single week. With that said, here is a look at those who are leading the brand into their biggest and brightest era ever live on USA Network.
The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong)
When it comes to the success of NXT, you look to the man leading the way as its champion. That champion is NXT Champion, the leader of The Undisputed Era, Adam Cole (BAY BAY). And what comes with being the leader of The Undisputed Era is the rest of that group, which may be the biggest and best in the history of NXT. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly carry gold of their own which is the NXT Tag Team Championships, and Roderick Strong is determined to get the NXT North American Championship as well. Anyone who has experienced NXT, whether it is at Full Sail or a TakeOver event, understands that The Undisputed Era runs the land and the fans embrace them more than anyone else.
What Adam Cole has done in NXT in his two years are among the most impressive in the brand’s history. Having him lead the way following his trilogy of matches with Johnny Gargano and the reigning NXT Champion will only highlight the brand’s greatness further. For fans who have yet to truly know The Undisputed Era, they’re in for a treat as NXT looks to prove they are the best brand of the WWE. That will be… Undisputed.
When it comes to NXT Women’s Champions, there are really two that come to mind. The first is Asuka, the most dominant competitor in the history of NXT and the brands longest reigning champion. And the second is Shayna Baszler. Baszler is the only two-time NXT Women’s Champion and has shown the same dominance of Asuka at times on her way to being the second longest reigning champion as her current reign will be sitting at 325 days when NXT debuts on the USA Network and has no end in sight. With what would be 458 days behind her as champion, she will go out and defend until someone is worth enough to change that.
Baszler is the current champion in possibly the richest time for the NXT Women’s Division and is positioned to help lead the way as they head to USA. “The Queen of Spades” has become hated by many fans because of her continuous dominance and ability to back it up day in and day out. On the first addition of NXT TV on its new network, three women will fight for a shot at Baszler, with the hope that they can dethrone her once and for all. Good luck.
D-R-E-A-M is… the future of this business. The reigning, defending NXT North American Champion is certainly one of a kind when it comes to today’s business. Velveteen Dream has become possibly the most beloved superstar in NXT today as he makes it clear that anytime he performs inside the squared circle, its an “experience”. Charismatic and outspoken are the two words that perfectly define what Velveteen Dream is and how much of a game-changing performer he is for the future of the WWE and the success of NXT.
If fans don’t believe in this notion, look at day number one for NXT on USA Network. It will be Roderick Strong challenging Dream for his NXT North American Championship. With certain NXT stars going down different paths now, it is time for the Velveteen Dream to help lead the charge along with the other champions of the brand. But what separates him from everyone else? He is the “experience”. Dream over.
There isn’t a star in the history of NXT who has done more and was more important to the brand than Johnny Gargano. The fear of him moving on from the black and yellow brand was real following his match with Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Toronto last month as “Thank You Johnny” chants reigned down from the rafters as it seemed to be his curtain call. Instead, “Johnny Wrestling” made it clear on NXT that he is going nowhere. NXT is his home and he is prepared to be there for its greatest step ever. Gargano is one of the main reasons for NXT becoming such a monumental brand in wrestling, which is why it is only fitting for “The Gargano Era” to continue on the USA Network.
Io Shirai is “The Genius of the Sky” and one of the best wrestlers in the entire world. Perfect timing for her as well as with her new attitude, she is hitting a stride that may not be matched by anyone in NXT. Shirai’s new attitude has completely transformed her into this badass who can straight up go. Her destiny is to be NXT Women’s Champion, and everyone will get to see the talented Shirai on the first USA show when she competes in a Fatal 4-Way match for an opportunity at the title. Shirai’s new demeanor shows she has nothing to lose, which is the most dangerous thing for the rest of the women’s division.
“The EST of NXT”. Bianca Belair is a star in the making and has the NXT fans in the palm of her hand. Belair has come close to winning the NXT Women’s Championship on multiple occasions but still has yet to accomplish that goal. What fans will learn is that she is much more than just the girl with the long hair. She is the best athlete the entire Performance Center and NXT has to offer. She dominated the PC combine for females and has some of the greatest feats of athleticism NXT has seen. On Wednesday, she brings that to the biggest stage of her career in the Fatal 4-Way bout to further her career.
Fans will be behind Candice LeRae from the word go. LeRae leaves it all in the ring night in and night out, doing it all for the fans and the people she loves. “Candice Wrestling”, as she has earned being married to Johnny Gargano and being a badass all on her own most importantly, is going to be the most approachable and loving wrestler that the world may not totally know about just yet. No matter who you ask, it will all be the same said about Candice – she is one of the toughest competitors in all of wrestling. This Wednesday, she joins in on the Fatal 4-Way with not only a shot at the title, but another at Io Shirai as well. Get on the bandwagon before she becomes the star she is.
Matt Riddle has made people learn his name even if they didn’t want to. With his verbal feud with Goldberg being the culprit, people may over look when the man possesses. “The Original Bro” possesses that “it” factor that everyone loves to talk about day in and day out when it comes to professional wrestling. The former UFC fighter is one of the baddest and realest in the business. In those terms meaning he can make your tap or hit you hard enough that you’ll be taking a nap. Along with the ability to do all that to you, he is one of the most laid back and cool guys to talk to. On Wedneday, he takes on Killian Dain in a bout that will exemplify everything Riddle stands for.
Pete Dunne is a name that has appeared everywhere for the WWE already, with most of his time coming in NXT. A brand that he is now calling his official home following his loss of the WWE United Kingdom Championship. Pete Dunne has been seen in front of the Raw audience before as he competed in one match in November of 2017 when he defeated then Cruiserweight Champion, Enzo Amore. “The Brusierweight” held the title for 685 days but with that behind him now has a new goal in his mind. The goal is to rise to the top of the NXT brand while appearing on USA Network in the process. He perfectly exemplifies the fighting style of “British Strong Style” with the way he manipulates his opponent. Dunne isn’t just another guy. He is part of the future for not just NXT, but WWE as well.
2018’s megastar. If there was an award for WWE to give out which was the MVP of their entire company, Tommaso Ciampa may have been the one to take the cake. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Sports Entertainer of All-Time” was the ultimate antagonist of NXT. But if you loved Ciampa or you hated his guts, what was so special about him was that the “Blackheart” of NXT would do anything to better the black and yellow brand. And while he is out of business to recover from the neck injury that resulted in him giving away his NXT Championship, he has made it clear he will be back.
“I don’t know if people think I’m going to Raw or SmackDown, but here’s a spoiler– I’m not. I’m going to NXT. If somebody tries to tell me anything else, I’m answering them with a no,” said Ciampa. The man is due back to reign terror on the brand once again, with two goals in mind. 1. Show everyone why NXT is and always has been the “A” show. And most important 2. Get… Goldy… BACK. Goldy being the NXT Championship that he never lost. Unfortunately for Adam Cole, he has what belongs to Ciampa. His return should be another spark in the NXT machine.
There are plenty of stars who are still making their claim on the NXT roster and will only become greater with time. The likes of Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic and Dakota Kai are sure to jump onto this list soon enough. Until then, these are going to be the people who help lead NXT into the new age of the brand. Make sure to tune into NXT on Wednesday at 8 pm EST as they go live from Full Sail for the first time on the USA Network.
So ends this week’s NXT recap stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. And make sure to watch NXT every week on the WWE Network and now the USA Network.