In the main event of NXT TakeOver 30, then-NXT Champion Keith Lee put his title on the line against Karrion Kross. The two wrestled a solid match, that Kross ended up coming out on top in. But all the talk after the show wasn’t about the potential of Kross’ title reign, it was on an injury that was sustained by Kross during the match.Triple H confirmed the injury on his post-show interview, saying WWE officials believed Kross had torn his shoulder somewhere in the middle of the match. This past Wednesday, Kross came to the ring with Scarlett and relinquished the title, as he heals his shoulder.
Later in the night, NXT General Manager William Regal informed the fans that next Tuesday (NXT was moved due to the NHL Playoffs) there will be a fatal four way, 60 minute iron man match to crown the new NXT Champion. The four competitors are all former NXT Champions themselves, with Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, and Finn Balor all being in the match. All four men are definitely deserving of another NXT Championship run, so I am going to make a case for each of them to become the next NXT Champion.
Let’s start with the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time. Adam Cole is (in my opinion) the greatest NXT Champion to ever hold the belt. A 403 day title reign is the longest reign in NXT history after he beat Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: New York in June of 2019. Following great defenses against Gargano, Matt Riddle, Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole finally lost the title at The Great American Bash to Keith Lee.
Putting the title back on Cole would automatically solidify Cole not only as the greatest NXT Champion of all time, but would arguably put him in the conversation as the greatest NXT wrestler of all time. Following his incredible match at TakeOver 30 against Pat McAfee, it seems we have seen the start of a baby face turn for the leader of the Undisputed Era. We all know what he can do as a heel champion, but if would definitely be very interesting to see what he could be as a baby face champion. Not to mention, when Karrion Kross is 100% and ready to return, I do believe they should give him back the title. A baby face Adam Cole versus Karrion Kross is something I would definitely love to see. Making Adam Cole a two-time NXT Champion would open up so many doors for NXT, and if he is indeed a baby face, the fans will be completely behind him making a match against Kross at a later date all that more interesting with the groundswell of support Cole would have.
Johnny Gargano has had an NXT career of ups and downs. I know that may sound strange considering he has been booked as one of the companies top superstars, but his first heel run was a complete disaster. Gargano was probably the biggest baby face NXT has had following the DIY implosion at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. He and Ciampa had one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history which involved an unsanctioned match at TakeOver: New Orleans, a Chicago street fight at TakeOver: Chicago II, and a last man standing match at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV. But then, a heel turn completely derailed Gargano’s momentum in my opinion. He competed in fantastic matches against Aleister Black and Ricochet, but the turn seemed to confuse fans and was just awkward at times.
This current heel turn, however, is incredible. It broke up DIY for a second time, but the empty arena no holds barred match where Candice LeRae also turned heel was great story telling, and the subsequent vignettes of him and LeRae showing their darker side has been money in my opinion. Putting the NXT Championship on Gargano does two things. First, it gives Gargano and LeRae more credibility as heels, and yes LeRae will benefit from the title win. LeRae and Gargano have been side by side ever since the match against Ciampa, both helping each other win matches. It also gives Gargano a chance to redeem himself from his first failure of a title run back in 2019, where he won the vacated title after Tommaso Ciampa prepares for neck surgery. That heel turn is, in my opinion, one of the worst NXT has seen, so putting the title back on Gargano, this time with a great character could show us so many different sides of Johnny Wrestling.
Prince Devitt was a huge star back in NJPW, even being credited as one of the people that created the incredible Bullet Club stable. From Japan he landed a deal with WWE, showed up in NXT, and immediately became a superstar. Balor won a tournament to determine who would face then NXT Champion Kevin Owens for the title. Balor defeated Curtis Axel, Hideo Itami, and Adrian Neville. Even though he lost to Owens, Balor got another title shot, and this time defeated Kevin Owens at The Beast in the East in Tokyo to become the new NXT Champion. Balor held the title for 292 days, before losing to Samoa Joe at a live event and shortly after moved to Raw. Then, following his loss to The Fiend at SummerSlam 2019, Balor returned to NXT. One of the men that made NXT what it is today was back in the black and gold brand and fans were excited.
Balor has yet to hold gold again in NXT, but has a chance to become a 2-time NXT Champion. After his Raw debut, Balor (as we all know) won the Universal Championship, but was forced to relinquish it after he suffered a torn labrum in his title match against Seth Rollins. What a story it would be if Balor reclaims the NXT Championship. A man that was forced to relinquish the world title due to a shoulder injury, wins another world title that was relinquished due to the champion sustaining a shoulder injury. Not to mention, they’ve already planted the seeds for Balor and Walter to feud over the NXT United Kingdom Championship. So they could easily give the NXT Championship to Balor, let him run NXT until Kross gets back, then have Walter cost him the title against Kross to further their feud. You really can’t go wrong with any of the four competitors, but I do believe giving Balor the title would not only be great for Balor, but also for NXT. Balor is a huge star, and making him your top champion would only help in the ratings “war” with AEW.
Daddy’s home and he wants Goldie. When Tommaso Ciampa turned on Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: Chicago, he turned into one of the most despicable heels in not only NXT, but WWE. People booed the hell out of Ciampa for a long time. At one point, he had no music playing during his entrance, the only sound you heard was the loud boos of Full Sail University, and it was absolutely fantastic. Ciampa missed some time due to a torn ACL, but returned at TakeOver: Philadelphia and entered into a feud with Gargano. Ciampa then captured the NXT Championship after defeating Aleister Black on an episode of NXT. He had an incredible run with the title lasting 237 days until he was also forced to relinquish before neck surgery. A week after his empty arena match with Gargano, Ciampa was attacked by Karrion Kross, and beaten by him at TakeOver: In Your House.
I believe Ciampa is the best choice for a number of factors. One, he (along with Kross and Balor) had to relinquish the title and never got a chance to gain it back. Add in the fact that Kross totally demolished Ciampa at In Your House, it adds to the story of Ciampa reclaiming the title he never lost, and then setting up for Kross to reclaim the same title he never lost either. Ciampa is a heel, we can see that by his attack on Jake Atlas. A heel Ciampa, back together with Goldie would be something many NXT fans would love to see. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed baby face Ciampa, but the way he garnered heat from the fans was unlike anything I’ve seen in NXT. It would be difficult considering Kross is a heel as well, unless they change him when he returns (which would be a mistake) but it could work if they booked it right.
I’m aware that in every scenario I made a reference to a potential Kross match when he returns. Like I said earlier, I think that is the only way to go. Kross winning the title was a huge upset of sorts, especially since Keith Lee’s title reign was so short. I would hope NXT would welcome him back with open arms, and the NXT Championship reign he deserves when he does eventually come back.
Who do you want to win the NXT Championship?! Be sure to let us know and check back to GCSN so all the latest in WWE, NXT, AEW, IMPACT and more!
Featured Image: Mike Rosa | GCSN
Would you like to advertise with Game Changer Sports Network? We have the perfect opportunity for any and all businesses please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com to discuss potential advertising space with us!