Posted in: The Schoolhouse
NXT, Yeah You Know Me! (Post Takeover: Houston Schoolhouse RANKINGS)
By JCool
Dec 14, 2017 - 2:43:11 PM

THE SCHOOLHOUSE: NXT Rankings (December 2017)

Greetings, folks, and welcome to JCool's NXT Rankings Update
Our periodical evaluation of nXt continues, focusing on the status of its three main divisions: Men’s, Women’s and Tag Team. Let these rankings act as a format by which we’ll discuss which wrestlers are progressing in a positive direction, acquiring TV time and showing their abilities in matches or brawls. Each wrestler ranking update will also provide a prediction or next steps in the hopes of inspiring conversation from YOU, the readers, on where you see the wrestler or team heading in the coming weeks.

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

CHAMPAndrade “Cien” Almas
#1 Aleister Black
#2 Lars Sullivan
#3 Johnny Gargano
#4 Drew McIntyre
#5 Roderick Strong
#6 Pete Dunne (UK Champ)

6. Pete Dunne (UK Champ)
I know that Dunne isn’t exactly in the running for an nXt Championship run…but his match against Gargano suggests that crossover between the divisions is possible. Furthermore, how can I ignore the fact that Dunne main evented nXt TV two weeks in a row?
He wins the match he needed to against Gargano, and both guys looked great in that match. He loses the tag match but, ultimately, what does he care? He doesn’t want to owe Mandrews a title shot if they win and he lets him know with a Bitter End to follow the match, retaining his dignity and his attitude. The UK Championship doesn’t always get much attention, but Dunne’s going to defend against Tyler Bate next week. It’s a good time of the year to give the UK guys some attention and Dunne is proving he’s worth that attention.

5. Roderick Strong
Strong lands on the list because he paired up with the Authors of Pain and got to represent in that inaugural WarGames match. Due to that alliance, he also had a decent TV main event against Adam Cole, until all hell broke loose and the Undisputed Era interfered. Strong had a few noticeable moments in that brilliant mess of a match at Takeover, but where will it lead him next?
The AOP alliance is likely finished and Strong needs to get back on track to becoming the nXt champion. The problem is that there are a number of guys who can stake a stronger claim to that #1 contendership than him. He’ll get a chance to qualify, but I’ll be very surprised if he wins. The story just isn’t there.

4. Drew McIntyre
It’s been a tough go for McIntyre, enduring that arm injury and a championship loss simultaneously. Being nXt champion gave him main event status throughout November. His encounters with Almas attempted to gain sympathy from fans as he was unfairly attacked multiple times. Fans were looking forward to seeing him overcome Almas at Takeover, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Should he return to nXt TV, McIntyre has to avenge that title loss and get even with Almas. Perhaps the arm injury provides him with a clean way to transition to the main roster though?

3. Johnny Gargano
You guys, you guys, you guys, the Gargano championship run has begun. If you are a fan of “Johnny Wrestling”, then your life must be a little sweeter these days. Sure, Gargano didn’t get a spot on the Takeover: Houston card, but look at the last few weeks of nXt TV. He’s main-evented twice, becoming the first non-UK wrestler to challenge for the UK Championship on TV and he qualified for the #1 Contender’s Fatal Four-Way by defeating Kassius Ohno in a highly praised, hard-striking match last week.

Fans are getting behind him and it’s now gone beyond the sympathy they feel for Ciampa splitting up their tag team in the spring. The way he’s delivering in ring, Gargano should be considered a strong possibility to face Almas at Takeover: Philadelphia. If not, then expect a high profile grudge match instead.

2. Lars Sullivan
From November 15th to December 6th, there is only one man who was featured consistently on nXt TV. Lars Sullivan had either a match, a promo or a backstage interview for 5 consecutive shows and that includes Takeover: Houston where he defeated Kassius Ohno in the opening bout.
Do you need any more proof that the push is on for big Lars? Now that we are hearing more about what he thinks and not just what he’s physically capable of in the ring, we are starting to see a full character forming (#sorryembermoon). It will be a surprise if he does not qualify for the Fatal Four-Way and it will be a second surprise if he doesn’t come out of that match with a feud for Takeover. He’s poised for big things. Maybe a big match with Killian Dain would be appropriate.

1. Aleister Black
Is it too bold of me to say that Aleister Black is a match of the night candidate before he even steps into the ring? Black didn’t get hardly any TV time leading up to Takeover: Houston but, in his case, less is better. The way he is presented, as this other-worldly, mysterious figure, it wouldn’t be to his benefit to appear each week.
His win over Velveteen Dream should be a sign to all nXt fans that he is ready for a title shot. Still undefeated, still has fans and critics singing his praises in the ring, still knocking guys out with Black Mass and still not saying their name until HE wants too, this dude is the real deal. Whether he wins the Fatal Four-Way or has to wait until Takeover: New Orleans, he should fight for the nXt Championship and he should win.

nXt Champion: Andrade “Cien” Almas w. Zelina Vega
For all of the hard work Almas has put into his craft over the past few years, I applaud his title victory over McIntyre. It had the added benefit of surprising the audience in Houston, and around the world, and proves that timing is so important to a wrestler’s success. There was simply no room for Almas in the title picture over the past year and a half. Too many guys were simply bigger and better than him. With McIntyre as champ, Almas squeaked into a title opportunity, thanks to Zelina Vega, that some of the other guys on this list could have had. So often, in life, it’s the people who speak up that get their way and Almas is now reaping the rewards.
Don’t expect this reign to be a long one though. Almas will be a fantastic foil to push a rising star into the main event picture. Almas should enjoy this while it lasts.

Women’s Division

CHAMP Ember Moon
#1Kairi Sane
#2 Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
#3Sonya Deville
#4Ruby Riott
#5 Nikki Cross

5. Nikki Cross
Despite her participation in the Fatal Four-Way at Takeover: Houston, Cross’ singles career is somewhat stalled. She may be the most deserving of a title shot though. I feel she would give Ember Moon the best challenge out of all the women on the current roster. The lack of TV time, promo and match-wise, doesn’t seem to be in her favour at the moment. The next two weeks are vital to her participation at Takeover: Philadelphia.

4. Ruby Riott
With Riott’s promotion to Smackdown Live, this will be her last time in the nXt Women’s rankings. She just completed a compelling feud with Sonya Deville and where she might have gone beyond that will never be known. Clearly, WWE officials have been impressed with her work- as have I. She’s a great choice to lead the Riott Squad stable, providing a much needed gritty, aggressive presence to the SD Live division.

3. Sonya Deville
Deville’s hard work over the past few months has landed her a promotion to RAW, where she is now teaming with Mandy Rose and Paige in Absolution. She won her final match in nXt, submitting Ruby Riott in their No Holds Barred match, a match that I would have gladly placed in the main event, had it not been for an even better match that followed them. Her MMA, shoot-fight style helps her stand out on a busy RAW women’s roster. Being associated with Paige should help her get established and benefit from increased TV time.

2. Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
The Iconic Duo continues to be the top foil of the nXt Women’s Division. They can be consistently relied upon to stir up trouble and controversy, and antagonize ladies into fighting them in the ring. Although Kay has had some struggles lately, losing a match to Sane before Takeover, Royce has done well for herself. She had a great showing in the Fatal Four-Way and although she lost to Sane post-Takeover, she’s already challenged Moon for a singles match. Anyone watching nXt right now has to be enjoying the antics of these two; they do Diva better than Total Divas.

1. Kairi Sane (Mae Young Women’s Tourney Winner)
Anything less than a Championship win would be a comedown for Sane after winning the inaugural Mae Young Women’s Invitational. She is brand new to Full Sail and to the WWE though, so fans haven’t quite connected with her yet. Despite that, nXt officials clearly hold her in high regard because she has benefitted from victories over Kay and Royce. It doesn’t look like she’ll be fighting Moon in a face vs. face match anytime soon though. Someone else will need to come along and engage her in a feud. Perhaps Nikki Cross would be perfect in that role.

Women’s Champion: Ember Moon
Moon finally gets the big victory that has eluded her all year. All the while, she has been noticeably groomed to take on the lead role in the Women’s Division. The major complaint from fans is that we really don’t know much about who she is, except that she wants to work hard, win matches, and be the champ. In today’s wrestling landscape, is that enough? It’s unclear who she will face at Takeover: Philadelphia, but, in the meantime, the Iconic Duo have already gotten in her face and will challenge her shortly.

Tag Team Division

RankTag Team/Faction
#1 Undisputed Era
#2 Authors Of Pain
#3Street Profits
#4Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
#5 Heavy Machinery

5. Heavy Machinery
These guys are so entertaining and fun, but they must be doing it on the live show circuit. Knight and Dozovic only get one TV match, November 8th, walking away with an easy victory. It is my feeling that their role as fun-loving bruisers has been given to a team higher up on the rankings. I hope that they get booked in the coming weeks because the fan support is there, and the in-ring and promo quality is too.

4. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
Although this team may never contend for a Tag Team Championship, they have been successful in helping to establish the Street Profits in the Tag Division. In November, Sabbatelli & Moss lost two TV matches and even crashed a Street Profits tailgate party outside Full Sail. All this TV time is good for them, but they won’t last unless they can steal a victory or interfere in a match to gain some heat.

3. Street Profits (Dawkins/Ford)
It was a big month for these party people, defeating Sabbatelli & Moss twice. Every week they show up, fans are getting more and more behind them. They’ve got a good team dynamic and some pretty fresh double team moves that will be interesting to watch against bigger teams like SAnitY and the Authors Of Pain…if they get a chance to challenge them. Maybe it’s best they stay away from them until they’re more established.

2. Authors Of Pain
It’s been a tough month for the formerly undefeated Authors of Pain. This isn’t a case where they should consider a new direction or fire their manager for someone new, both of which seem to be commonplace in sports talk across the world. It’s as though temporary losses are seen as all-encompassing and representative of a team’s future success. I don’t buy that. The Authors of Pain remain an intimidating force in nXt, despite their loss in the inaugural WarGames match at Takeover.
What’s hurting them is a lack of presence on weekly TV, and I should think a few matches or promos would be in order over the coming weeks. Will it get them a Takeover match?

1. Undisputed Era (Cole/Fish/O’Reilly)
These three stars from the indies have been a welcome presence in nXt, as far as the fans are concerned. For the existing roster, they’ve taken great offense to these barnstormers rolling in and thinking they’re kingpins.
But a big win at WarGames has to be noticed and has to be taken seriously. These guys are on a collision course with SAnitY for the tag titles and I don’t think it will end with next week’s challenge. This could extend into January and beyond.

Champions: SAnitY (Young/Wolfe/Dain)
Sure, the champs didn’t come out on top at WarGames, but look at how Young, Wolfe and Dain have been embraced by the fans. They’re not the clear cut bad guys they used to be; in fact, all three factions in WarGames have really straddled that line of face/heel. Young may have stolen the show with the effort he gave at Takeover and looked the part by taking that nasty bump to the head. Dain’s high-flying coast to coast move was a phenomenal sight to behold. This will be a difficult team to dethrone and their mystique continues to grow.
Some fans say they should move up to the main roster, and that time may yet come, but there’s plenty left to do for them in nXt. The WarGames didn’t settle their feud with the Undisputed Era and we can only hope it will lead to a Takeover: Philadelphia championship challenge.


That’s a wrap on the rankings from my perspective. Naturally, the best part of this type of presentation will be the discussion that results from it. I look forward to reading where you agree and disagree. Here are two questions to help guide your comments.

There are a few notable stars that aren’t on the Men’s Division list. Who are they and with whom would you replace them?

Which division needs a little more weekly TV time to build stars?

With the Christmas and New Year’s break coming up, it is my expectation that there will be a few recap shows coming up for nXt TV, which makes the next two weeks all the more important in establishing the path to Takeover: Philadelphia. Also, seeing nXt get some notice on the USA Network could be the first step to the brand securing a cable TV presence. It’s an exciting time for nXt fans. The Revolution continues.

Looking forward to your thoughts, comments and cool points. Please share them in the comments section or join the conversation on Twitter by clicking the button below.