Originally, I was going to go in a different direction with my column this week. Sometimes, things change, and that’s what happened for me this weekend, when two different people contacted me with a similar topic request.
My last few columns have have been under the same, albeit broad, umbrella. I started by looking up and down the AEW, NXT, and WWE rosters to talk about who is being pushed too much, not enough, or just right. It was fantasy booking, of sorts, with the implications of what I would do if I were in charge of these companies. From there, I went into a different aspect of fantasy booking, now looking at what AEW should be doing over the next year of their existence.
In these columns, a common thread was “Wrestler A isn’t a champion, but they should be” all throughout. Those column requests I mentioned earlier? They were basically asking me to continue that theme. One guy asked me to predict who I think would be the next set of champions for the aforementioned promotions. The other guy asked me about who I think should be the next champions. One of those requests is easier than the other, so I think I’ll take the more difficult option. It’s hard to make these kinds of predictions, especially in an industry where a lot of things happen that don’t really make sense. I’ll still make mention of who I think SHOULD be the next champion(s) crowned, but this column is going to focus on who I think WILL be the next champion(s) crowned.
Again, I’m going to be looking at AEW, NXT, and WWE for this. To split things up a bit, I won’t be doing this company-by-company. Instead, I’ll be splitting this up into four sections: Tag Team Titles, Midcard Titles, Women’s Titles, and World Titles. There’s no reason for it other than that I just wanted to split it up differently than my previous columns. Let’s get things started by looking at the first section, the Tag Team Titles.
NXT Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: MSK) – (Writer’s Note: This was typed out before MSK’s match at Takeover: In Your House was announced.) This has been a weird journey for the young upstart champions. They came into NXT with a lot of buzz, then rode a wave of undefeated momentum to win the titles. Then, almost out of nowhere, their face reactions started featuring smatterings of heel heat. It came across like the tried-and-true stereotype of internet wrestling fans, where an act will get cheered for and viewed as underrated, until they win a title, when they immediately get tossed aside as overrated and fans move on to the next thing. It happens a lot. I mean… A LOT. It isn’t something I understand, but I certainly can’t deny that I’ve seen it happen time and time again through the years. Whether you like MSK or not, you can see that their title reign hasn’t been very long. As of the day this column is posted, they have been the NXT Tag Team Champions for 63 days. Outside of a 56-day reign by comedy act Breezango in 2020, the holders of these titles are generally in line for a lengthy reign over the last few years. I can’t say that I’m completely confident that MSK keeps that streak alive. Not that I have turned my back on them like it seems a lot of NXT fans have. I still think they’re one of the most exciting teams in the world right now. It’s just that NXT’s viewership numbers have been on a relatively steady decline over the last couple months, and you know what that tends to mean in the world of pro wrestling… it’s time to shake things up! That’s when you usually start to see title changes, heel/face turns, and things like that meant to spark interest in the product. The current NXT tag scene is strong, but not necessarily on an epic level as it has been at times in the past. That makes things a little more difficult to predict. If we’re going to “shake things up” in NXT, I think you have to go with a bigger “name” to try and help. There’s a team in NXT that is somewhat creeping around in the background, winning some and losing some, but they haven’t had a shot at the titles yet. One-half of this team is a former NXT Champion, as well as a former NXT Tag Team Champion with a different partner. He’s one of the top talents in NXT, and it’s weird that he and his partner have been kept away from the titles. I don’t think that lasts too much longer.
New Champions – Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher
Who Should Be The New Champions – Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory. Yes, I’ve said Gargano doesn’t have anything left to do in NXT, but hey, The Way has been used to help get Indi Hartwell over in the women’s tag division. Why not try to do the same for Austin Theory in the men’s tag division?
AEW Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: The Young Bucks) – Based on the predictions I saw, a ton of people expected the Bucks to drop the titles to Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston at Double Or Nothing. It didn’t happen, of course, and now we move ahead. The Bucks are in a somewhat unique spot with this reign. They won the titles as faces, held the belts for a bit, and then turned heel as champions. Now, they’re on day 214 (when I post this) of their reign, which is pretty long, but that heel turn has allowed them to do some great work. That usually means keeping the titles for even longer. They’re 15 days away from having the longest Tag Title reign in company history. With eight successful title defenses, each against a different set of challengers, you would think they’re running out of opponents. I do think we’re going to have the Jackson brothers as the champs for a little bit. As I said, they’re doing some really good work as heels, and taking the titles off of them right now seems like a bad idea. I think they’re going to drop the titles to a team that some might see as a surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t be. It’s a team that has a victory over the Bucks in AEW, albeit nine-and-a-half months ago, before Matt and Nick ever won the titles. Folks, you can’t get much closer than brothers, but you know what comes close? Best Friends. That’s a title change that will garner quite the face pop when it happens.
New Champions – Chuck Taylor and Trent
Who Should Be The New Champions – Santana and Ortiz. I don’t think AEW has come anywhere near close to letting these two do what they do so well. There isn’t a more underutilized tag team on the roster right now.
Raw Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: AJ Styles & Omos) – The Viking Raiders appear to have the next title shot. Raise your hands if you think they’re going to win. Yeah, I didn’t think so. Right now, it sure seems like the signs are pointing at the latest “odd couple” pairing of Randy Orton and Riddle. They’re getting more television time, longer matches, and character development than any other team on Raw, the champions included. There were even rumors that they were in line for a “big push” soon. Sounds like a pretty easy decision, me thinks.
New Champions – Randy Orton and Riddle
Who Should Be The New Champions – Randy Orton and Riddle. Honestly, there’s a lot of mileage that can be had with this pairing, especially once the kayfabe Riddle realizes he can be his own man and not just another Randy Orton.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: Rey & Dominik Mysterio) – WWE’s title changes are harder to predict than usual right now with the rumor of another Draft taking place a week after SummerSlam this year. With SummerSlam only two-ish months away, that’s not a lot of time. Before the Draft rolls around, though, you can look at the tag scene on Smackdown and it’s… not great. The Mysterios have moved past Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. That’s great. Then, you have The Usos, The Street Profits, and the team of Chad Gable and Otis. That’s really it right now. There are only 22 male workers on the Smackdown roster, and you can’t even count Slapjack, Rick Boogs, and Commander Azeez as active right now. 19 active wrestlers? Yuck. The easy answer is probably The Usos, right? Yeah, they just failed to take the titles from the Mysterios (twice) on Smackdown last week, but who is going to get more television time than they are? The Street Profits would be a good choice, but having them lose to The Usos two weeks ago showed where everyone stands right now. I’ve seen people predicting that The Usos win the belts at SummerSlam. At face value, that makes sense, but I don’t see how you stretch this current story out for two more months.
New Champions – The Usos
Who Should Be The New Champions – The Usos. I would also accept “some other team that comes to Smackdown in the Draft” as an answer here, honestly.
NXT North American Title (Current Champion: Bronson Reed) – I’ve seen a lot of differing opinions on this one. People feel that it’s too soon for Reed to lose the title. As of my column posting date, Reed will have been the North American Champion for 22 days. Other people, though, are seeing that Santos Escobar looks to be the next one in line for the title, and that his elevation should happen now. I’ve said it a million times by now, but Escobar is main event ready. If he needs to be in the North American Title scene, so be it, but he’s one of the top wrestlers on the planet today. Even with that said, NXT put a lot of work into pushing Bronson Reed to this point, and it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to then have him lose the title in only his second defense, would it? So, what does that mean? Escobar loses the inevitable match, then moves on to something else, or Escobar loses and eventually wins in a rematch down the road? Personally, I think we’re getting the latter, although I would much rather see the former happen. I do think Escobar becomes the new North American Champion, but not quite yet. Mere moments ago, a “Winners-Take-All” match was announced for Takeover: In Your House, with Reed teaming up with MSK to take on Legado Del Fantasma. If the challengers win the match, Escobar becomes the new North American Champion, while Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza win the Tag Team Titles. That puts a very interesting wrinkle in the mix, but I think I’m going to stick with the prediction that Reed retains his title, only to drop it at some point relatively soon.
New Champion – Santos Escobar
Who Should Be The New Champion – Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. Speaking of differing opinions, there have been a lot of them when it comes to what Hit Row should be doing in the near future. I’ve seen some people say that Swerve should be competing in the main event, while others say he should be going after the North American Title. Some even say he should be teaming with either Top Dolla or Ashante Thee Adonis to go after the Tag Team Titles, leaving the other member of that trio to go after the North American Title. Swerve is such a talented performer, but even with this character change, there was some damage done to him for a while there. He lost a ton of matches in the second half of 2020 and the first few months of 2021. Because of that, I think it’s too early to have him going after the NXT World Title, so this would be the perfect spot for him if you do want to move him up the card, which it appears is what NXT wants to do.
NXT Cruiserweight Title (Current Champion: Kushida) – I really thought Kushida was being built up for a main event run against Finn Balor. It would’ve been the battle of two of the best Junior Heavyweights in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling, but it just never happened. I am glad Kushida received a push at all, though. He’s far too talented to be wasting away doing nothing in NXT. With former champion Santos Escobar seemingly moving out of the division and onto bigger (literally and figuratively) things, it opens the door for others to step up. Jake Atlas is someone that looks to have a bright future in NXT. Before he “quit” and walked away, Roderick Strong is always a dangerous threat, especially after The Undisputed Era’s split, where he is back to being on his own. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott is an option, albeit one that would almost seem like a step down for what he’s doing at the moment. If Ashante Thee Adonis isn’t involved in the Tag Team or North American scenes, he can easily use his Hit Row affiliation to become a threat to the Cruiserweight Title. Wrestlers from the NXT: UK brand could come in with no problems. It’s wide open right now. If either Swerve or Ashante set their sights on Kushida, they’re my pick. Hit Row is being given a ton to work with right now, and they really stand out on the NXT product. If NXT wants to go in a different direction with Hit Row, my pick is a “returning” Roderick Strong. He needs something to sink his teeth into as a singles competitor. If NXT goes in a different direction with Hit Row, and if Strong leaving NXT means a main roster call up, then my pick is going to be Jake Atlas. His work is improving on a weekly basis, and he has had some very good matches against top competition, even in losses. He’s being built up for something, and that could very well be a Cruiserweight Title reign down the road.
New Champion – Isaiah “Swerve” Scott or Ashante Thee Adonis… or Roderick Strong if NXT wants to push Hit Row differently… or Jake Atlas if NXT wants to push Hit Row differently and if Roderick Strong is heading to the main roster
Who Should Be The New Champion – Carmelo Hayes. Hear me out. I don’t think it should happen for a while, but I do think it should happen. The former Christian Casanova had himself one helluva debut match for NXT, and it’s pretty clear that he’s being built for something. This would allow for Kushida to build the prestige of the title, defending it successfully against all comers. After a lengthy reign… boom… a new star is born. Easy peasy.
AEW TNT Title (Current Champion: Miro) – Signing Miro and bringing him in to do the dumb shit he was doing with Kip Sabian was one of the worst decisions AEW has made in their short time as a promotion. Finally getting Miro away from Kip Sabian and turning him into the monster that he should be was one of the best decisions AEW has made in their short time as a promotion. The TNT Championship saw four reigns before Miro won it last month, but three of those four reigns weren’t all that super long. In fact, Darby Allin’s reign of 186 days was longer than the other three reigns combined. If there was ever going to be a lengthy reign here, it should be Miro. He should top Darby’s number, leaving bodies in his wake the entire way. That makes things like this difficult to predict, of course. For Miro to beat Darby’s total, he would need to hold the title for 158 more days as of this very moment, which would take us into mid-November. We don’t know who will even be on the roster come mid-November. Maybe someone new comes in and takes the title from him. It’s hard to say, but I can’t help but think the person to take the title from Miro is already on the AEW roster. It’s someone who has built quite the following for himself. Someone who has been referred to as one of the future megastars for AEW. Folks, I’m going with Jungle Boy here. I’ve already said that I feel his upcoming World Title shot against Kenny Omega is a bit of a test run for him. You know… give him a main event match and see if he can handle the added pressure attached to it. He won’t win, but with a great showing, AEW knows what they have in the future with him. That type of rise up the card will be rewarded with being the man who finally knocks Miro off.
New Champion – Jungle Boy
Who Should Be The New Champion – Jungle Boy. It just makes sense.
WWE United States Title (Current Champion: Sheamus) – We’re back to the WWE main roster here, where that gosh darn Draft continues to make predicting future title changes more difficult than it needs to be. Sheamus was having a bit of a career renaissance, hitting the age of 43 and putting in some of the best in-ring work he’s ever done. His reward for that looked like it could’ve been a WWE Title reign/shot at WrestleMania, or at least smack dab in the middle of WrestleMania season. Outside of being in an Elimination Chamber match for the title, that never really materialized. His actual reward was winning the United States Title for the third time, and the first time since 2014. We’re two months into his reign, and he currently has a whopping total of zero defenses. Not zero successful defenses. Zero defenses, period. He currently sits in a feud with both Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo, who combined to literally have zero televised victories in 2021 before this feud began. I’ve already seen people think this is going to be used to help Ricochet get back on track, and while I think that’s certainly a possibility, I don’t have a ton of faith in the company to do right by him like that. Instead, I’ll make Humberto Carrillo my prediction, in a serious-but-not-serious manner. Raw is so bad these days, and almost everything on the show makes no sense at all. If you have Sheamus feuding with Ricochet and Carrillo, of course Raw is going to make the wrong choice and give the push to Carrillo.
New Champion – Humberto Carrillo
Who Should Be The New Champion – Ricochet. It’s incredible to see what the hell the “creative” team has done with this guy since he left NXT. Giving him a big title victory over Sheamus can go a long way to try and repair some of the damage that has been done. Another great option would be Xavier Woods if WWE would just take Woods and Kofi Kingston, and move them to being singles wrestlers.
WWE Intercontinental Title (Current Champion: Apollo Crews) – A new entrance theme. New ring gear, to go with a new attitude and a new right-hand man. It all led to a big Intercontinental Title victory for the always underused Crews. He has been given the played out role of “heel who can never win a match without some sort of shenaniganery” it seems, which is a shame. Heels are talented performers, and far too often, they don’t get the chance to show that off enough. As far as the next Intercontinental Champion, that’s a tough prediction to make. As I said before, Smackdown is amazing at the very top of the card, but overall, their roster is as shallow as a Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper song. After winning the title from Big E, Apollo has been able to defeat almost all of the top midcard talent on the Smackdown roster. He defeated Kevin Owens twice in singles matches, and he also defeated Owens, E, and Sami Zayn in a Fatal Four-Way. Could any of them still take the title from Crews? Of course they could. They’re still big stars, and they don’t become complete jobbers by losing a match or two, especially by cheating and interference. I just think that Smackdown will be going in a different direction. If you look at the current Smackdown roster, Shinsuke Nakamura’s name really jumps out at you here. He can definitely be the one who defeats Apollo and takes the Intercontinental Title. If it isn’t Nakamura, I think it will end up being someone that switches brands during the Draft. For now, I’ll just stick with Nakamura as my pick, though.
New Champion – Shinsuke Nakamura
Who Should Be The New Champion – Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s been dicked around for long enough.
NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell) – My God, there really aren’t a lot of options here. I will go to my grave saying that WWE completely botched things by not having Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez win the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They would then go on to botch things again by introducing the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles. Incredibly, they would botch things again by just giving the new titles to Kai and Gonzalez. Against all odds, they botched things yet again by having Kai and Gonzalez drop the titles to Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart less than two hours later. Here we are, three months later, and things aren’t great in the NXT division. Shotzi Blackheart is injured, leaving Ember Moon as a singles wrestler again, at least temporarily. Raquel Gonzalez is still working with Dakota Kai, but she’s also the NXT Women’s Champion, meaning she won’t exactly be working in tag matches a lot. Kazy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter were a regular tag team, but they haven’t been seen in two-and-a-half months. Every other woman in NXT is either a singles wrestler, is nothing more than enhancement talent, or hasn’t been seen in a long time. Kinda makes you think they’re going back to Ember and Shotzi again once Shotzi gets through whatever injury she’s dealing with, doesn’t it? Man, the state of these women’s tag divisions in WWE right now is… not ideal.
New Champions – Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart
Who Should Be The New Champions – Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Give them a fun moment before their inevitable split.
NXT Women’s Title (Current Champion: Raquel Gonzalez) – With the way NXT has been building her up, Raquel Gonzalez probably shouldn’t lose the title for a long time. Almost without fail, the NXT Women’s Title sees lengthy reigns. Today is the 63rd day of Raquel’s reign, which is tied with Charlotte Flair’s second reign as the shortest in the title’s history. Only three of the 13 total reigns, counting the current one, have seen less than triple digits in length. All signs definitely point to this title not changing hands for a long time. Personally, I wouldn’t have her drop it until around Survivor Series at the very earliest. But who should she drop it to? There are a few options, but one really stands out above the rest. One option would be Zoey Stark, as she is being protected like crazy. She’s going to be getting a major push at some point, but will it be soon enough to dethrone Raquel Gonzalez? I don’t think so. Another option is Xia Li, who is also being built up nicely. They’ve spent a lot of time and effort in repackaging her character and giving her a push, so it could lead to something big down the road. Yet another option is Toni Storm. Toni is one of the best women in the business right now, but hasn’t been able to see that translate to her time in NXT. Knocking Raquel Gonzalez off would change that quickly. Io Shirai, if she’s going to stay in NXT and not go to Raw or Smackdown, is always a threat. There are other options that make sense, but again, one option really stands out above all else… Dakota Kai. We know we’re getting a split between Kai and Gonzalez, but we just don’t know when. The writing is pretty easy here… Dakota is going to get jealous of Raquel’s success. Dakota was supposed to be the star, while Raquel was supposed to merely be the bodyguard. Having to sit and watch “the bodyguard” go on to become the top star in the division can’t be easy. I’ve seen people say Dakota can’t match up to Raquel because of her size, but that isn’t fair. Nobody matches up to Raquel Gonzalez when it comes to size, especially in NXT. That’s not how wrestling works, anyway, folks. Is Dakota Kai considerably smaller than Raquel Gonzalez? Yes. Does Dakota Kai have a physical in-ring style that helps her to deal with larger opponents better? Yes. The comparisons to Shawn Michaels and Diesel continue for these two. Remember, that was the beauty of a Shawn Michaels match, especially when he was a heel. He was smaller than, say, The Undertaker, but he was also more than willing to stand toe-to-toe with Taker and bring the fight to him.
New Champion – Dakota Kai
Who Should Be The New Champion – Dakota Kai. In almost any other situation, Toni Storm would be my choice here, but the Dakota option just makes too much sense.
AEW Women’s Title (Current Champion: Britt Baker) – It feels weird to talk about the woman losing a title that she’s only held for ten days now, but it is what it is. It’s not like I’m saying I want her to lose the title soon, or even that I think she will. Right off the bat, let me just shut something down that I know some people are already thinking in their heads as they read these words… no, I don’t think Jade Cargill will be the next champion. Can we give the woman more than seven professional matches before handing her titles? Shit, some of you were calling for her to be the AEW Women’s Champion before she had even had her debut match. She looks like a superstar, no doubt. Just pump the brakes. That’s all I’m asking. Anna Jay is in that same category, albeit not quite as bad since she’s been wrestling for almost two years now. Right now, I think the only REAL options for a title change here are Hikaru Shida, Tay Conti, and Serena Deeb. Shida, of course, is who Britt Baker just defeated to become the champion. With as much as the company values her, it wouldn’t shock anybody to see her get another title reign. Tay Conti was someone that was built up and built up, but couldn’t quite get over the Shida hurdle. It seems her offense would be better suited to topple someone like Britt Baker. Deeb was on a major roll with AEW, and after recently dropping the NWA Women’s Title, maybe she’ll look to set her sights on a new belt. We have to wait and see a bit, really. Ten days as champion isn’t enough time to show anything, good or bad. I think it ends up being Serena Deeb that takes the title down the road, though.
New Champion – Serena Deeb
Who Should Be The New Champion – Tay Conti. Let’s use a new and rising star to create another new and rising star.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles (Current Champions: Tamina and Natalya) – On one hand, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad title reign of Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler is over. However, on the other hand, this is a team that isn’t exactly instilling confidence in the WWE Universe that a record-setting, legendary reign is about to take place. I think the wheels are already in motion for a title change. As is always the case for any title involving women on the main roster, Asuka is involved. It looks like we might be getting some sort of kooky, wacky pairing of Asuka and Nikki Cross coming soon. I mean… I dig the pairing. It’s just that I don’t understand what the hell this company is doing when it comes to their women. Asuka has to be involved in a title picture at all times, and sometimes, multiple title pictures at once. Charlotte Flair has to be competing for a title at all times, in an attempt to make her a 236-time champion before she decides to retire. WWE could hire 100 more women and move them all to the main roster on day one, and we’d still see Asuka and Charlotte involved in all of the title scenes. WWE’s Asuka fetish continues, but hey, at least it gives Nikki Cross a bit of a push. I’m not sure that anybody believes she’ll be a legitimate contender for the Raw Women’s Title, so this is probably her best bet.
New Champions – Asuka and Nikki Cross
Who Should Be The New Champions – The Iiconics, but nooooo. Thanks, WWE. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, but nooooo. Thanks, WWE. The Riott Squad, but nooooo. Thanks, WWE. Whatever. It really doesn’t matter.
WWE Raw Women’s Title (Current Champion: Rhea Ripley) – Come on. I know it’s going to be Charlotte Flair. You know it’s going to be Charlotte Flair. Rhea Ripley knows it’s going to be Charlotte Flair. The sooner you come to accept that, the easier it will be for you when it goes down.
New Champion – Charlotte Flair
Who Should Be The New Champion – Becky Lynch. Well, before I just blurt that, I think it depends on one thing… WWE’s piss poor writing and their inability to decide on whether or not Rhea Ripley is a face or a heel. If she’s going to be a face, then Charlotte Flair should be the pick here, and THEN Becky Lynch can take the title. If Rhea is going to be a heel, and right now, both she and Charlotte are pretty difficult to like (kayfabe, of course), then yes, Becky Lynch gets the nod here. Whenever Becky makes her return, she’s going to be a huge deal, and rightfully so. She’ll definitely be pushed right back to the top of the class, so to speak.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title (Current Champion: Bianca Belair) – I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way, but I’ve been very disappointed in Bianca’s title reign thus far. That disappointment has approximately zero to do with her, and just a shade under one million percent to do with WWE. She was a rising star when she won the Royal Rumble, and then became “made” when she won the title at WrestleMania. What has happened in the two months since? Not much. She’s not the STAR that she became at WrestleMania. Instead, she’s kind of just… there. This current feud with Bayley is making more and more people shrug their shoulders, largely because WWE seems more focused on making Bayley as annoying and as over-the-top as possible, instead of just letting two of the best women in the world feud over a title. In my Apollo Crews entry, I said that heels are talented performers, too. They don’t always need to be booked as chickenshits who can’t accomplish anything on their own or without cheating. Well, heels also don’t need to be turned into comic book villains, either. Bayley was doing just fine as a heel. Perfectly fine. I guess it doesn’t matter all that much, because I don’t think Bayley beats Bianca. I’m going to go for an easy cop-out answer here. The woman who eventually beats Bianca Belair to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion isn’t currently on the Smackdown roster, and will be someone who comes over in the Draft.
New Champion – Someone not currently on the Smackdown roster
Who Should Be The New Champion – Someone not currently on the Smackdown roster
NXT World Title (Current Champion: Karrion Kross) – I have made it very clear that I’m a Karrion Kross fan, going back through his days as Killer Kross and The White Rabbit. He arrived in NXT with a shit ton of buzz, especially after being given an elaborate entrance the likes of which most WWE/NXT wrestlers will never get to have. With that said… I think I’m reaching the point where I can say his push simply isn’t working out. His matches, while not anywhere near as bad as a lot of you have been making them out to be, haven’t reached their full potential. Far too often, they seem to be stuck in one gear and never really build like NXT main event matches should. I think the end of his reign is coming soon, and might even be happening this weekend at Takeover: In Your House. Blame him, blame the NXT writers, blame anybody you want… it just feels like it’s time for a change. You could say the Fatal Five-Way format for the main event of Takeover is the perfect opportunity for him to lose the title without actually losing anything, but it’s also the perfect opportunity for him to take advantage of the chaos and retain. I think he retains this weekend, but I also think he drops the title at the next Takeover event, probably around SummerSlam. If I had to choose, I would say Adam Cole appears to be the guy who will defeat Kross. He has been placed in a prime position for that role. To really show where Kross is in the eyes and hearts of many, Adam Cole became one of the most hated heels in NXT history by breaking up The Undisputed Era, only to show up for this feud and get face reactions simply because Karrion Kross was on the other side of things.
New Champion – Adam Cole
Who Should Be The New Champion – Pete Dunne. He has put in the work for the last few years, going toe-to-toe with some of the biggest and the baddest that NXT has to offer. Nothing against anyone else in the main event scene right now, but The Bruiserweight is ready for this spot. Dunne’s offense is catered to battling much larger opponents, and he won’t back down at all against Karrion Kross.
AEW World Title (Current Champion: Kenny Omega) – This one is going to be short and sweet, as I’ve already gone public with my pick. Not only do I think “Hangman” Adam Page is going to be the one to finally topple Kenny Omega in AEW, but I also think he’s the right choice to do so. He’s going to be a s-t-a-r for the company, and this is precisely the vehicle to make that happen.
New Champion – “Hangman” Adam Page
Who Should Be The New Champion – “Hangman” Adam Page
WWE Title (Current Champion: Bobby Lashley) – Lashley vs McIntyre. Hell In A Cell. It’s going to be an absolute banger. This much we know for sure. The added stipulation that McIntyre can no longer challenge for Lashley’s WWE Title if he loses the match adds some needed intrigue, but I just don’t see the title change happening next weekend. Not while a certain someone is rumored to be coming in soon. That certain someone is going to cause all sorts of hot takes from the WWE Universe. Of course, I’m talking about none other than Brock Lesnar. There are reports that WWE is bringing him back for a SummerSlam showdown with Lashley, but there are also reports that some within WWE want to bring Lesnar back for a feud with Roman Reigns. I know Vince McMahon would become aroused over the thought of either match taking place, but I have to think the “first time ever” tag is going to end up being too much for him to ignore, as it should be. The thing about a Lashley vs Lesnar match is that I don’t think the match is going to go the way many of us would want it to. Realistically, Lesnar isn’t returning for a Lashley match unless it’s to help put Lashley over even further. It has been said constantly that Brock only cares about his money, and not his wins and losses. That’s probably true, but it has also been said repeatedly that Brock is perfectly happy at home with his family and the millions of dollars he already has. WWE could offer him a hefty check to come in and face Lashley, but if he’s so happy at home, the pot may need to be sweetened a bit to coax him back. That’s what I’m worried about. If Lashley does drop the title at SummerSlam, it would end a 173-day reign as the WWE Champion. Is that long enough? Many would say that it isn’t. It’s just that it would almost have to be at SummerSlam if it’s going to be Lesnar that beats him. Brock hasn’t wrestled at a pay-per-view that wasn’t one of WWE’s “Big Four” or at a major Saudi Arabia pay day in two years now, and that event saw him wrestle for 13 seconds as he cashed his Money In The Bank shot in and defeated Seth Rollins to win the Universal Title. That point is why I’ve even seen people saying Lesnar will be the one to beat Lashley, but that it won’t happen until Survivor Series in November at the earliest. Either way, I just don’t see Brock coming back to lose.
New Champion – Brock Lesnar
Who Should Be The New Champion – Kofi Kingston. At one point, my answer here was Keith Lee, but there’s just too much mystery surrounding why Lee hasn’t wrestled for WWE in over four months now. I don’t feel comfortable at all calling for Lee to become the WWE Champion when he can’t even make an appearance on television. Kofi should be back in the main event scene as a singles wrestler again. Xavier Woods should be in the midcard as a singles wrestler. I’ve said that before. The funny/sad thing is that Kofi could win the WWE Title only to see Brock Lesnar return, which would probably give him PTSD.
WWE Universal Title (Current Champion: Roman Reigns) – I don’t think Reigns holds the title for this long, but think about all of the “Roman should hold the Universal Title until WrestleMania 38” takes you’ve probably seen by now. That would be a 581-day (or 580 if Mania 38 is a two-night event and he drops it on the first night) Universal Title reign. WWE hasn’t delivered that type of World Title reign since Hulk Hogan won the WWF Title on January 23rd, 1984 and didn’t lose it until February 5th, 1988, which was a whopping 1,474 days later. Reigns is in the middle of something special, and more than any other champion on the WWE roster right now, someone has the perfect opportunity to get the rocket strapped to their back by defeating him. Reigns has defeated any and everybody in his way, successfully defending the Universal Title 11 times. I have to keep going back to this point… Smackdown is in a rough place right now. That means there aren’t many options for Reigns at the moment. Someone like Shinsuke Nakamura is a pipe dream, but would at least provide for a fresh matchup, as we’ve only seen Reigns vs Nakamura once, and that was in October 2019. Big E is an even fresher matchup, because there has never been a one-on-one match between them, even when they were in FCW and NXT before being called up to the main roster. Seth Rollins obviously has a ton of history with Reigns, but they haven’t had a singles match against each other since October 2019, a week before the aforementioned Reigns vs Nakamura match. Rey Mysterio is rumored to be getting a Universal Title shot at Hell In A Cell, and while we’ve never seen those two have a singles match, Rey is currently one-half of the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, so nobody is expecting him to win here. Everyone else on Smackdown is either nowhere near the level needed for that role, or has been defeated by Reigns at least once over the last year or so. Unless, of course, you think Jimmy Uso will be able to do what his brother couldn’t and become the new Universal Champion. No? I didn’t think so. Reigns desperately needs the Draft to take place so that Smackdown can get some fresh blood on it. There’s no way Reigns can make it to WrestleMania 38 as the champion otherwise. I’m going to go with another easy cop-out here. If you don’t like it, you can go debate your mother. The person who defeats Reigns for the title is someone currently not on the Smackdown roster, but I don’t know who just yet. I’d like Big E to get a chance, but I don’t know if the company views him the way many of us do. Whether it’s someone currently on Raw, or even someone like a John Cena or The Rock down the road, Reigns isn’t going to lose to anyone we’re currently seeing on Friday nights.
New Champion – Someone not currently on the Smackdown roster
Who Should Be The New Champion – Big E. This isn’t a shocker. We’ve all said it. He has everything it takes to not only be a World Champion, but the guy who brings the “Roman Reigns Era” to an end. It remains to be seen if he’ll ever get the chance to do it, but he deserves it.
What say you, ReaderLand? You don’t have to go over every single one of the titles, but who are some of your choices for the next people to become champions? As always, hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Shingo Takagi: Nobody in wrestling has had a better in-ring stretch over the last two-and-a-half years than Shingo Takagi, and he was finally rewarded for that. He defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Title, and is finally getting more of the recognition he deserves.
- When Raw Ended: Fucking hell. There are no words.
- The Mysterios vs The Usos: Both matches were good, but their first match was even better. The Roman Reigns attack added another layer to things, and appears to be setting up Reigns vs Mysterio at Hell In A Cell, which fucking works for me.
- Apollo Crews vs Kevin Owens: Apollo is putting in, perhaps, the best in-ring work of his career. Kevin Owens is, of course, Kevin Owens. This one was a lot of fun.
- Matt Cardona Showing Up In GCW: The entire thing was nicely done, with a hooded Cardona doing many of Jon Moxley’s mannerisms and even performing Moxley’s Paradigm Shift on Nick Gage. The GCW crowd was going nuts for who they thought was Moxley, only to even further lose their minds when the former Zack Ryder revealed that it was him all along. The attack went viral and was getting tremendous praise from all corners of the internet. However, Matt Cardona is very corny by nature and simply couldn’t leave well enough alone. He basically ruined all the goodwill by talking about Nick Gage’s time in prison, comparing it to him being “locked up” in WWE for a decade. Nobody wants to hear someone bitch and moan about a job they signed multiple contracts for, comparing it to being in prison. It’s fucking lame, and everyone that leaves WWE trips all over themselves to say shit like that in whatever podcast interview they sign up to do. Well… almost everyone…
- Aleister Black Keeping It Real: The man gets released from his WWE contract, shocking everyone, and then decides to say positive things about his time with the company, the people he worked with, and the way he was treated. It was refreshing. A new pay day might be in his future, too, because it is already being reported that there is a groundswell within some of the powers-that-be in WWE to bring him back. Sure, that makes the release even dumber in the first place, but you take what you can get as a fan sometimes. Whether he returns to WWE or goes on to ply his craft somewhere else, the man will be just fine. He’s way too talented not to be.
- Austin Theory vs Oney Lorcan: A nice, hard-hitting, technical battle between two heels. Not surprisingly, Theory became a bit of the de facto face before the match was done. People are entertained by The Way. Not saying they should, or will, turn face. Just that it made sense for Theory to get cheered for when people have to pick sides between two heels.
- Kofi Kingston vs Riddle: Another fun match. No idea if it will end up meaning anything in the long run, but at least it was a good match.
- Andrade El Idolo: He’s on the list simply because he’s getting another chance at national stardom. What he isn’t on the list for is the debut itself. Why in the fuck would you debut him on a Friday episode of Dynamite airing late at night? Based on the day, time, and television competition, Dynamite is pulling in the worst viewership numbers it has ever had. AEW just had Mark Henry debut at Double Or Nothing, and he may not even be an in-ring competitor for them. The debuts should have been switched around. At the very least, Andrade’s debut could’ve waited until Dynamite is back in their normal day and time, when they can literally have twice as many people tuning in.
- Ember Moon vs Dakota Kai: It wasn’t for high stakes, but it was a good match nonetheless.
This Week’s Playlist: A&E’s Biography of Bret “The Hitman” Hart playing in the background.