COOL POINTS: NXT Rankings for August 7 to November 20, 2019
Welcome to the Cool Points.
This week we get the divisional rankings, which pop up before each nXt TakeOver. Wins and losses, TV time, positioning and match/feud quality are all used to evaluate the top wrestlers in the three main divisions. With the move to a 2 hour show, and more cross-over between all WWE brands, it was particularly challenging to decide who should be counted amongst the top stars. Except for the tag team division because it has truly suffered from a lack of attention these last few months. Anyhow, it’s GO TIME!
This edition tracks the Men’s, Women’s and Tag Team Divisions from TakeOver: Toronto II to pre-TakeOver: WarGames Chicago
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!
Tag Team Division
|NA CHAMP||Roderick Strong|
|#3||Damian Priest/Pete Dunne|
7. Dominik Dijakovic (2-4)
“Fight forever” was a chant that was heard often during the Dijakovic/Lee matches. Dijakovic won the August 28th match. Those two super heavyweights concluded their feud, at least for the time being, losing
to Roderick Strong in a North American Championship match on October 23rd.
Most recently, last night, he lost to Adam Cole in the WarGames advantage ladder match, but the fact that he got that match, that Ciampa chose him is a sign of his growing popularity and power. His first TakeOver match will be in WarGames. That’s huge.
6. Killian Dain (2-1-1)
Dain made his return to nXt in mid-July, attacking Matt Riddle. Their feud was carried into an unscheduled brawl at TakeOver Toronto and into a #1 contender’s street fight on September 25th. Dain lost and then began taking it out on a number of nXt superstars, including Pete Dunne and Damian Priest on November 6th.
A triple threat with those men takes place on Saturday, and the winner will fight for the nXt Championship. Dain is ready, even though his record isn’t great at present. He’s a believable threat to take on Cole, but not a champion just yet.
5. Cameron Grimes (5-2)
The nXt Breakout Tournament finalist has been one of the most consistently booked wrestlers on the nXt roster. Wrestling 7 times since losing to Jordan Myles, aka ACH, Grimes has received promo time and a number of matches, including a victory over Tyler Bate on October 30.
Plenty of upside for Grimes and no need to rush him into any title pictures just yet. He’ll continue to get matches until a spot opens up for him to get a TakeOver feud, perhaps in Tampa?
4. Keith Lee (2-2-1, 0-1 in tag)
See Dijakovic’s profile for words on the epic rivalry between he and Keith Lee. Lee won the September 25th match and from the North American Championship triple threat match, a mutual respect was born. This has led to both men joining Tommaso Ciampa’s WarGames team against the Undisputed Era.
Lee has also made a big splash, showing off his high-flying, risk-taking skills, splashing on members of nXt, RAW and Smackdown to close the show Wednesday. His first TakeOver appearance will be in the WarGames match. Pulling for a star-catching performance on Saturday.
3. (tie) Damian Priest (3-1) and Pete Dunne (4-2)
Priest and Dunne are tied at 3rd place, partly because their records are similar and partly because they’ve been linked together since the October 16th card. Priest won that match. Dunne got back his win on November 6th, and then the two got beat up by Killian Dain.
All of this fighting has gotten GM Regal’s attention, to the point where he’s awarding the #1 contendership to the winner of their match, which includes Dain, on Saturday. Priest is still too fresh for a PPV title shot, but Dunne has a good track record. A win for Dunne would work.
2. Roderick Strong, NA Champion (3-2)
When Roderick Strong defeated Velveteen Dream for the North American Championship, on the nXt debut on USA, he fulfilled Cole’s prophecy of the Undisputed Era, dripping in gold, in 2019. He also wrestled in a fantastic TV triple threat against Lee and Dijakovic. Strong does not shy away from anyone, including WWE stars, Nakamura and Styles, who he’ll face on Sunday at Survivor Series.
Strong’s on double duty with no title on the line this weekend. In WarGames, likely Undisputed Era loses to wrap up that feud, and perhaps Strong squeaks out a victory in the triple threat.
1. Matt Riddle (4-2-1)
Riddle has made huge progress this month, going from brawling with Killian Dain at TakeOver Toronto to a title match against Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) himself. When Johnny Gargano went on the injured list, he stepped up upon hearing Finn Balor’s words that nXt was for losers. Now fans are salivating over an extremely well-booked match that will likely be a highlight of the PPV weekend.
Balor’s return to nXt is significant, so Riddle may eat the loss here. He hasn’t won a title yet in nXt, but he’s so over with the fans that it’s not a requirement for future success in the brand.
nXt Champion: Adam Cole (4-0)
Still dripping in gold. Cole is the prime target in nXt, especially of Tommaso Ciampa who returned to Full Sail in October. Those two are going to have a proper title match at TakeOver Houston, but, in the meantime, they lead their respective teams into WarGames. The Undisputed Era have always participated in WarGames, going 1-1. If Ciampa’s going to win in January, then perhaps Cole and co. win Saturday night.
Cole pulls double duty this weekend, since he’ll face the winner of Dunne/Dain/Priest on Sunday’s Survivor Series card. He should come out of that match on top, too. His title is not in danger.
|#3||Dakota Kai/Tegan Nox|
6. Bianca Belair (2-2)
Belair’s been somewhat overshadowed by her teammates who have been given more opportunities to show up in recent weeks. Mid-October was Belair’s peak where she called out new arrival Rhea Ripley for trying to jump the line for a title shot. Ripley beat her on October 23rd and Belair accepted Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler’s invitation to team with her at WarGames.
I suppose there’s a mutual respect after so many title matches. Belair IS the EST of nXt. We’ll see if that shows on Saturday.
5. Mia Yim (1-4)
Yim has wrestled in two high-profile matches recently: a title match against Baszler at TakeOver Toronto and a ladder match against Io Shirai for the WarGames advantage. Being picked by Ripley for WarGames and putting in a courageous effort in a violent match against Shirai are what land her on the rankings this time around. Without those two things, her losing record just wouldn’t hold up, even with the TakeOver appearance.
She will be looking to silence the doubters on Saturday and put in a strong showing for Team Ripley.
4. Dakota Kai (1-3) & Tegan Nox (1-0), (1-1 in tag)
Team Kick celebrated two firsts during this quarter of the year. Nox debuted on nXt with a singles win. As a duo, they became the first team from nXt to challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Championships, losing to the Kabuki Warriors. Kai returned from injury, only to lose once again to names like Belair and Baszler.
Losses aside, Kai has been getting consistent TV time, thanks to not getting selected to Team Ripley and all the interactions and interviews that stemmed from that. Some speculate she turns on Ripley on Saturday. I don’t see the point. There’s an underdog story building here, but I’m not convinced she should be the one to dethrone Baszler.
3. Candice LeRae (1-2)
LeRae moves up to the #3 spot for finally winning the #1 Contendership on September 18th. Although she was unsuccessful in her match against Baszler, she continues to be amongst the top stars of the division, thanks to an on-again/off-again feud with Io Shirai. It was a match with her, on October 30th, that prompted Rhea Ripley to help LeRae when Shirai attacked her post-match. An alliance was struck and LeRae joined Team Ripley.
Honestly, I was hoping for the Baszler feud to be bigger than it was, and we may yet see that in 2020. For now, LeRae is a dark horse to win WarGames for her team. “Candice Wrestling” would be an awesome chant to hear on Saturday.
2. Io Shirai (6-1)
Shirai has been red hot since her turn to the dark side this spring. Poppy, the singer of her theme song, performed live on nXt, opening the show on October 30th with a second win over her rival, Candice LeRae. She’s also defeated Yim twice, including last week when she secured the WarGames advantage for Team Baszler.
Shirai’s been relentless against her rivals, attacking them after their matches and causing disruption wherever she goes. She’ll be tough to neutralize in the WarGames match and could be the star of the night.
1. Rhea Ripley (3-1-1)
Ripley’s debut in nXt was met with a grand ovation from the Full Sail crowd, who know her from her work in nXt UK. She’s been presented as a big act since the September 25th debut match and quickly went about challenging for a title match.
She’s won the respect of roster members by running to their defense in times of disadvantage, like October 30th for LeRae, Kai & Nox. WarGames will be an important moment in proving whether Ripley should get a proper title shot, or if she’ll have to settle for bragging rights in the steel-sided double ring. My money’s on Ripley/Baszler at TakeOver Houston.
Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler (4-0)
388 days and counting, Baszler’s been holding the nXt Women’s Championship. Rarely has she looked vulnerable or overwhelmed, even in the face of new and energetic opponents like Belair and Yim. WarGames presents her with a new challenge and, since it is the first Women’s version, there is extra incentive for Baszler to make history and lead her team to victory.
Successful title defenses against LeRae and Yim offer hard evidence to fans that she’ll be able to defeat them again with a team by her side. There is no reason to doubt Baszler’s success at this point. Even if her team loses WarGames, will it be her fault? Likely not.
Tag Team Division
|#5||Burch & Lorcan|
5. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
1-1 since August.
These guys get booked when nXt remembers they do tag team wrestling well and need a couple of hard-hitters to get the crowd fired up. Always appreciate the energy these guys bring to the ring, and the love Full Sail has for them. Can’t expect them to climb the rankings too far until we get new champs. That may be a while.
4. Imperium (Aichner/Barthel/Wolfe)
1-0 in tag, 0-1 in multi-man tag. These guys are the new faction on the scene, debuting in April on nXt UK. On September 18th, nXt’s debut on USA, they arrived at Full Sail. They lost a 6-man tag on September 26th and a few weeks later defeated Lorcan & Burch. I suspect more was on the horizon for these guys until the brand wars heated up for Survivor Series.
The potential is there for them to return in the new year and stir up some more trouble. After all, the tag division’s ripe for the picking.
3. Breezango (Breeze/Fandango)
2-1 in tag matches, 2-0 in 6-man tag matches. Breezango made their nXt debut in Toronto, defeating Forgotten Sons in a match shown on the Post-TakeOver Toronto show. They’ve had great success in 6-man tags, defeating Imperium and Forgotten Sons in the space of a month.
Following WarGames, they’re in prime position to get a title shot from O’Reilly & Fish.
2. Forgotten Sons (Blake/Cutler/Ryker)
1-2 in tag matches, 0-1 in 6-man tag. Despite the losing record, Forgotten Sons are still claiming the most TV time of any tag team besides the champs. They’ve consistently received video promos, reminding viewers of their motto and track record. They even got a inter-brand match tonight against the Viking Raiders, recalling their feud in the spring, which culminated at TakeOver XXV.
Remember, you’re not supposed to like this team. They want you to dislike them and they actually succeed at that, while wrestling pretty good matches like they did tonight.
1. Street Profits
1-2, all against the Undisputed Era. Since they were called up and drafted to Raw, the Street Profits are no longer an active part of the nXt roster. With the inter-brand war going on, though, they’re still in the same world, so they get to stay in the rankings one more time.
The growth and success this team has demonstrated since January has been incredible. Their nXt run culminates with an engaging trio of matches, in which they held their own against one of the best teams in nXt, dare I say, WWE history. Tons of potential moving forward on Raw.
Tag Champions: Undisputed Era (O’Reilly/Fish)
4-1 since TakeOver Toronto. Sure, the Street Profits were champs for a few months, but 2019 has been the year of the Undisputed Era. Whether they’re fighting tag matches or supporting Strong and Cole in their singles championship matches, O’Reilly & Fish always matter. Their faction is large and in charge in nXt, which is why they’ll be featured in yet another WarGames match this Saturday.
Bonus, we get to see them face The Revival and Viking Raiders this Sunday.
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.
1. Is there anyone missing from the divisional rankings? Who would you replace to add your selection?
2. Can we expect tag team wrestling to get a proper push following WarGames?
3. Should Baszler/Ripley be the Women’s Division championship match in Houston?
My Takeover predictions are as follows:
Team Ciampa def. Undisputed Era
Team Baszler def. Team Ripley
Balor def. Riddle
Dunne def. Dain, Priest to face Adam Cole at Survivor Series
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.