NXT, Yeah You Know Me (Pre-TakeOver: Toronto Rankings)


COOL POINTS: NXT Rankings for June 1, 2019-Aug 7, 2019



Welcome to the Cool Points.
After following nXt closely for four years, I’ve determined that a monthly ranking is not as effective as a periodical ranking. Reason being, often storylines and matches all build towards the next major event. For nXt, that’s TAKEOVER, which happens 5 times a year.
This edition tracks the Men’s, Women’s and Tag Team Divisions from TakeOver: XXV to pre-TakeOver: Toronto II

Use the table of contents below to jump to whichever division you want to read first, or keep scrolling and read it all in one sitting!


Men’s Division
Women’s Division
Tag Team Division

Men’s Division

Rank Wrestler
CHAMP Adam Cole
#1 Johnny Gargano
#2 Kushida
#3 Matt Riddle
#4 Roderick Strong
#5 Tyler Breeze
#6 Damian Priest
#7 Keith Lee
NA CHAMP Velveteen Dream


HM: North American Champion, Velveteen Dream (1-1)

Dream had a fun match against the returning Tyler Breeze at TakeOver: XXV. Their characters have stylistic similarities and Dream absolutely deserved to retain. Aside from the odd promo and a engaging but ultimately meaningless 6-man tag, Dream’s done nothing else on TV to warrant much hype going into TakeOver: Toronto. This title has gotten the least amount of attention of the 4 being defended, and there’s no reason to think much will change on Saturday. Dream is over and he will retain again.

7. Keith Lee (2-1)
After a year in nXt, Lee has finally started to make waves for wanting more of the spotlight. For a guy with such a unique look and moveset, he’s had to settle for matches against the young guys or the incoming prospects. In fact, Priest, fitting into the latter category, defeated Lee a few weeks ago, and may ascend more quickly than him. That would be a shame because he should get an opportunity to show his craft.

6. Damian Priest (3-0)

Priest made his debut with the new character on June 19. During the past 2 months, he has been getting consistent in-ring or promo time so that fans can get acquainted with who he is. While he won’t be making any immediate gains, look for him to edge closer to a proper feud in November to January. It’s too early to say whether he’ll be the first of the newest recruits to land a TakeOver match though.

5. Tyler Breeze (1-3)

It’s fantastic to see Breeze back in nXt. It’s a good fit for him, and he’s able to actually show off his in-ring work on a program that values a wrestler’s all-around talents. Despite losing important matches against Dream and Strong, he’ll continue to get weekly attention, feuding with the Forgotten Sons. I’m intrigued with the return of Fandango because a move to the tag division would be excellent. It needs refreshing and it needs competition.

4. Roderick Strong (2-2)

Strong joins the rankings here on the merits of a TakeOver match, and 2 strong main event TV matches. He loses to Matt Riddle, at TakeOver XXV no less, and to the returning Pete Dunne last week, but wins in a 6-man tag and over Tyler Breeze. Consistently good matches throughout the past 2 months gave him an opportunity at North American Championship gold. He’s the most unlikely of the Undisputed Era to be successful on Saturday, but if the Era are going to accomplish their goal of holding all the titles, he’ll need to find another gear with those backbreakers of his.

3. Matt Riddle (2-1)

Riddle’s momentum cooled after losing to Dream at TakeOver: New York, but he’s still an attraction for whom the fans pop and show love. No TakeOver match this time around. Killian Dain’s been giving him a hard time, too, attacking him and making his life miserable. That’s a good feud to toughen him up and prepare him to fight a little differently, to give him some edginess next time he fights for a title.

2. Kushida (3-0)

Dude is undefeated on nXt TV, and he had one of the best matches of the nXt year, beating the returning Apollo Crews. Lots of praise from wrestlers and fans alike, he should be in the conversation for a TakeOver match very soon. He’s versatile, too, winning a Submissions match against 205 Live’s Drew Gulak. Book him against any of the top guys in nXt and he’ll fit in,

1. Johnny Gargano (0-1)

Gargano actually lost to Cole at TakeOver XXV in another epic battle. He hasn’t wrestled since, but he did attack Cole during the July 17th edition of nXt TV. The promos he’s been a part of, especially tonight’s with current WWE stars, have been fantastic. 2 of 3 Falls should be the definitive match of their series, the one that people look back on fondly, calling them to watch as the years pass. Only thing is, I don’t know if he comes out on top. Depends on whose nXt this will be in the coming years.

nXt Champion: Adam Cole (1-0)

Adam Cole’s nXt Championship Celebration tour has taken him around the country, shaking hands and defending the title at house shows. He, too, hasn’t wrestled on nXt TV since TakeOver XXV, but his ongoing promos and ad-libs have been entertaining as usual. He’s had a little more consistent TV presence than his rival, thanks to the work of his stable, the Undisputed Era. Hoping for a big win on Saturday, and for his fellow brothers to win, so he can make good on the Era’s promise to be “dripping in gold” this year.


Women’s Division

Rank Wrestler
CHAMP Shayna Baszler
#1 Io Shirai
#2 Mia Yim
#3 Bianca Belair
#4 Candice LeRae
#5 Aliyah/Vanessa Borne
#6 Xia Li


6. Xia Li (1-1)

Li, a 2018 Mae Young Classic participant, has strung together a handful of matches on nXt TV this year. Two of those happened over the past two months, the most notable being a loss to Bianca Belair. That’s not a bad spot to be in, realizing that it’s challenging for nXt to focus on too many women simultaneously. Li can go in the ring, and that should be enough to get her squaring off against the top women in the division, in the coming months.

5. Aliyah/Vanessa Borne (0-1)

This tandem cooled off over the past month after a feud with Candice LeRae carried them through TakeOver: New York into May. They were a stepping stone for Mia Yim to make a scene and call out the champ, Shayna Baszler. Aliyah, especially, has made improvements both in her presentation, in-ring ability and mic work this year. I hope these two get another feud post-Toronto; they have the potential to be as notorious as the IIconics, even if they aren’t as charming on the mic.

4. Candice LeRae (0-0-1)

LeRae acted as Io Shirai’s ally, defending her against the Horsewomen during her title matches against Shayna Baszler, and how did she benefit from it? Shirai turned on her and now the two have a match at TakeOver: Toronto. LeRae’s been fortunate for her role in supporting husband Johnny Gargano for so long, that now she has taken on a similar role in the Women’s Division. It won’t be long before we’re seeing her challenge for the championship and it starts this weekend.

3. Bianca Belair (2-1)

Belair intends to keep everyone notified that she’s still the EST of nXt. She beat the girls lower on the rankings than her, but lost a key match, post TakeOver XXV, to Mia Yim. In my eyes, that established Yim as the next #1 contender, since Belair was Baszler’s main threat for the first half of 2019. Understandably, we won’t see her near the title picture until Baszler loses. Until then, Belair has to bide her time.

2. Mia Yim (2-0)

The promo machine cranked out some fine content from Yim’s work in the indies, amidst mic work that drew fans into understanding who she is and what her intentions are in nXt. She’s done something unique in ridding herself of the nuisances, Duke & Shafir, although it’s possible they could show up on Saturday to interfere. I expect Yim to be a good opponent for Baszler, but I don’t think the push is there for her to win the championship.

1. Io Shirai (0-2-1)

Is it fair to suggest that Shirai’s decision to cross her friend, Candice LeRae, after losing twice to the champion, Shayna Baszler, is one of the most interesting heel turns in nXt history? Always a good sign when people are talking about why she would do that, and it opened the Women’s Division right up. It keeps Shirai relevant in a division that badly needed another top heel, and it provides more potential feuds should, let’s say, Candice LeRae get her hands on the championship. Built-in feud right there. Book it for 2020!

Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler (2-0)

And still nXt Women’s Champion…Baszler gave off an aura of complacency and self-assuredness during her interviews addressing Mia Yim, in advance of TakeOver: Toronto. Even with Duke & Shafir attacked, Baszler does not seem threatened by this latest challenger.
It’s clear, though, that she depended on the work of the Horsewomen to distract her opponent, in order to gain victory. She may not have that option on Saturday, yet Baszler remains a dangerous wrestler who can tap out a wrestler in seconds. She will leave Toronto with the gold; LeRae’s on the horizon.


Tag Team Division

Rank Tag Team/Faction
CHAMPS Street Profits
#1 Undisputed Era
#2 Burch & Lorcan
#3 Forgotten Sons
#4
#5

3. Forgotten Sons (Blake/Cutler/Ryker)

Not a lot of fans of these guys out there, but they are making it work. They’re a much needed part of an nXt Tag Team Division that, frankly, isn’t very busy these days. Consider that their stable featured in a 4-way ladder match at TakeOver: XXV, and that those 4 teams are really the only ones that have been featured on nXt TV since the Viking Raiders got called up. They got a match against Street Profits, but aren’t quite ready for a proper feud with them. Instead, they’ve got a date with Breezango 2.0. Looking forward to it.

2. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch

By virtue of getting the title shot against Street Profits on July 10th, Lorcan & Burch hold strong as a very dependable, fan-favourite tag team. They can always be counted on to face a challenge head-on and to waste no time in getting down to business, whether it’s a post-match scuffle or a proper match. They beat up on the Undisputed Era, June 12, a mild comeuppance to make up for previous losses. Surely they’d feel good challenging them if O’Reilly & Fish win the tag titles. It’d make for a great TV main event.

1. Undisputed Era (O’Reilly/Fish)

The time is ripe for another title run. They’ve had an awful 2019, record-wise, losing again at TakeOver XXV and a few weeks later on TV to Lorcan & Burch. Adam Cole promised that the Era would be dripping in gold this year, and the Street Profits are absolutely a beatable team. O’Reilly & Fish are too strong a team to lose at 3 TakeOvers in a row….unless the stable’s getting blown up. But that would be a downright tragedy for nXt.

Tag Champions: Street Profits

Happy to report the Street Profits did, indeed, sneak away with a victory at TakeOver XXV. They were certainly the most over team of the four and they wrestled a fantastic Fatal Four-Way Ladder match. Ford & Dawkins have benefitted from some extra TV time on RAW, interacting with a variety of roster members up there, while holding the nXt Tag Titles. Good exposure, and it begs the question: Are they moving up?

If they are, Saturday could be the end of their title reign. If they’re not, the odds still aren’t great to see them coming out of Toronto with the gold. Fan support could be boosted further with an excellent match performance though, and a dynamic feud with the Undisputed Era could lead them to WarGames. Either way, these guys are going places.

COOL IT!

That’s a wrap on the rankings from my perspective. I look forward to reading where you agree and disagree. Here are three questions to help guide your comments.

Regardless of who wins between Cole and Gargano, who will be the next male #1 contender?

Does the nXt Tag Team Division need more attention or is it fine as it is? What teams could be formed to grow it again?

Is Shayna Baszler going to hold the Women’s Championship until Tampa Bay, next April?

My Takeover predictions are in this week’s nXt Results column, and you can hear all about my thoughts on TakeOver: Toronto with The Implications’ nXt TakeOver Preview. It was a fun conversation that you can check out here. Imp’s LOP Radio Adventure w. JCool, NXT TakeOver: Toronto Preview

I’ll be attending TakeOver: Toronto and am stoked to be seeing that as my first nXt live event. There will certainly be some added insight in the coming weeks on the TakeOver and the next few weeks of nXt results. Please join in the discussion below as we get hyped for TakeOver: Toronto. You can also follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going there.

Peace!

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