nXt Cool Points Rankings: Pre-TakeOver: XXV

nXt Cool Points Rankings: Pre-TakeOver: XXV

for Jan 2019-May 29, 2019

Welcome to the Cool Points.
After following nXt closely for over three 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: Phoenix to pre-TakeOver XXV

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

CHAMP Johnny Gargano
#1 Velveteen Dream (NA Champ)
#2 Adam Cole
#3 Matt Riddle
#4 Dominik Dijakovic
#5 Kushida
#6 Drew Gulak
#7 Kassius Ohno

7. Kassius Ohno (0-2)
Ohno’s only fought twice, but one of those was another gig at TakeOver, losing against the fast rising star, Matt Riddle. Ohno then performed welcoming duties for nXt’s newest signee, Kushida, losing a few weeks ago. His role is simple yet effective in giving the spotlight to the new guys.

6. Drew Gulak (1-2)
Gulak is legit. Takes his job seriously. Has amazing in-ring prowess, especially all the submissions and reversals he flawlessly executes. Rolling him out for big matches against rising stars is fine, but the guy can handle a bigger feud. I’d love to see him wrestle Dream.

5. Kushida (3-0)
Undefeated and not being taken lightly, Kushida has defeated Ohno, Reeves and Gulak in only a few weeks. With the amount of TV time he’s getting, it’s clear the push is on, and a TakeOver match should be anticipated for August in Toronto.

4. Dominik Dijakovic (3-0-1)
While Dijakovic hasn’t been seen on TV this past month, during the winter months, he was slowly racking up wins. His most notable match, though, was the double countout against Keith Lee, which received weeks of replay value and promotion for a follow-up that has yet to materialize. Dijakovic is a big man, but he can also move and fly off the top ropes. It’d be good to see more from him.

3. Matt Riddle (4-2)
Riddle is at a point in his very young nXt career where he can be relied on to be a fixture on all TakeOver cards. Track record reads: Ohno, Dream and now Strong. Pretty cool, eh?

He’s such a unique presence, physically, but also character-wise and offense-wise. The MMA style is popular, and it makes Riddle a serious threat to win at anytime in the match. It’s not unlikely to see Riddle challenging for the nXt Championship late this year.

2. Adam Cole (1-3)
After all the bragging about the Undisputed Era sweeping the nXt championship picture, Cole’s surprisingly maintained his optimism through his 3 losses, and being snubbed from the TakeOver: Phoenix card. He had a big #1 Contender’s win in late March over 5 of his peers, but couldn’t bring home the gold at TakeOver: New York. Gargano poked fun at his math skills when he insisted he beat Gargano (1 fall, not 2).
Cole’s a pinfall away from owning nXt and we’ll never hear the end of it if he, indeed, wins against Gargano on Saturday.

1. Velveteen Dream, NA Champion (3-1)
Velveteen Dream may not have succeeded in the #1 Contender’s match pre-TakeOver: New York, but he’s still wrestling and working the mic at that level. As North American champion, Dream wrestles sparingly, only once between TakeOver experiences. His promo work is the best in nXt at present, and his present feud against Tyler Breeze will be a memorable one. Always interesting to see what he’ll come up with next to entertain the audience.

nXt Champion: Johnny Gargano (3-2)
Gargano finally won the gold at TakeOver: New York, closing a significant 2 year chapter of his career. Although he defeated Adam Cole and not his former partner/rival, Tommaso Ciampa, the main event match still held the emotional gravity and attention fitting for all the trials and challenges Gargano had faced to get there.
Johnny TakeOver is back to being his regular, positive self, albeit with a little more attitude now that he’s wearing the championship. A victory over Cole on Saturday prompts questions as to who he’ll face over the summer, since there is no clear cut heel. Opponents that come to mind include: Roderick Strong, Matt Riddle and a champion vs. champion match with Velveteen Dream.

Women’s Division

CHAMP Shayna Baszler
#1 Bianca Belair
#2 Io Shirai
#3 Mia Yim
#4 Aliyah/Vanessa Borne
#5 Candice LeRae
#6 Kairi Sane

6. Kairi Sane (2-2)
Weird to think that Sane has only been gone from the nXt Women’s roster for a little over a month, but it feels much longer than that. Her successes came in tag matches, but she was unable to get another championship win over her biggest rival at TakeOver: New York. After she lost her rematch by DQ in mid-April, Sane stuck on the main roster to team with Asuka. That’s a good gig for her.

5. Candice LeRae (3-0)
Candice LeRae is a heroine in waiting, folks. Fans already love her for being the missus to Johnny TakeOver, and she has quietly had some decent performances in singles and tag action on nXt TV. With her recent alliance with Io Shirai, LeRae has entered into the periphery of the nXt Women’s Championship picture. She’s still got a ways to go though.

4. Aliyah/Vanessa Borne (3-2)
This new tag team in the Women’s Division has roused up some support over the last few months. Aliyah has made great progress in the ring over the last few years, and seems to have found a new attitude and increased aptitude working alongside Borne. The two get a decent amount of promo time, and recently finished a feud with Candice LeRae. Is there room for them to shine amidst the top 3?

3. Mia Yim (2-2)
Mia Yim, the 2018 Mae Young Classic Quarterfinalist, made her nXt debut in October of 2018. She’s recently stepped up to the upper echelon of the nXt Women’s Division, scoring a major win over Bianca Belair, the former #1 contender. In a match where she was outmuscled, Yim hit all of her signature moves to defeat the EST of nXt. She’s the lady in waiting to challenge Baszler, if Shirai can’t get the job done.

2. Io Shirai (3-1)
Speaking of the MYC, Io Shirai was runner up in that tournament and here she is, finally getting a singles match for the nXt Women’s Championship at TakeOver: XXV. Interestingly, all of her wins are from tag matches. Most of her TV time has been interfering in matches, defending her peers from the Horsewomen. She looked fantastic swinging a kendo stick a few weeks ago, but will need to return to regular wrestling offense to beat Baszler. Will the fans get behind her like they did Sane?

1. Bianca Belair (2-3-2)
If the rankings were based solely on that W-L-DQ record, Belair would be struggling, but she has been the workhorse of the Women’s Division in 2019. She’s been featured in all the prominent Women’s Division matches and fought for the championship at both TakeOvers. With more opportunities to grow and improve her craft, Belair is creating a space for herself all her own. Highly recommend the Belair/Yim matches of May. Not sure what’s next for her since it’s time for other women to get a title shot.

Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler (4-1)
The Queen of Spades and her henchwomen er…Horsewomen have been busy terrorizing the Women’s Division, as is their wont. Plenty of interference in matches over the past month has led to Shirai and LeRae standing up for the locker room. To Baszler, though, they’re just the latest in a revolving door of ladies who simply can’t outwit or outwrestle her. Sane, Belair, Yim, Shirai, none of them have won in singles competition. Honestly, hard to foresee any of them winning due to the Horsewomen advantage. Her championship reign shall continue.

Tag Team Division

RankTag Team/Faction
#1 Viking Raiders
#2 Undisputed Era
#3 Street Profits
#4 Forgotten Sons
#5 Burch & Lorcan

5. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
It’s been a rough go for these two tough guys. No wins under their belts since January. They’re steady hands in the ring and are not pushovers, in the least, but it’s difficult to see them as champions. A feud with the Forgotten Sons, with tag and singles matches, sustained them for the most part these past two months. Nothing doing there. Long live the European uppercut!

4. Forgotten Sons (Blake/Cutler/Ryker)
Talk about a push. These guys got it when they succeeded in getting to the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals. Facing the all-star team of Ricochet & Aleister Black for a chance to go to TakeOver: New York, it was unlikely they’d get the nod, but they remain a fairly intimidating presence on the weekly TV shows. Good to see them getting an opportunity to shine on Saturday in the Fatal Four-Way. They’ll make their mark, for sure.

3. Street Profits (Ford/Dawkins)
Street Profits have wanted to be taken seriously this year, and it’s worked. Less emphasis on the solo cup and the dancing, although it’s still happening, and more on getting wins and beating up guys in the ring. They were the last team to wrestle the Viking Raiders before their call up, and they do good work in the promo department. It would not be surprising to see them sneak a victory on Saturday. Either way, kudos to them for the TakeOver: XXV championship opportunity. Won’t be taken for granted.

2. Undisputed Era (O’Reilly/Fish)
The long time champions finally lost at TakeOver: Phoenix to the Viking Raiders, then proceeded to lose to #DIY in the first round of the Dusty Classic. Remarkable twist of fate for the beloved former champs. Certainly seems like TakeOver: XXV is their redemption ground. As long as they’re in nXt, they’re the true movers and shakers of the Tag Team Division. Everything revolves around them. Expect another amazing performance on Saturday.

1. Viking Raiders (Hanson/Rowe)
The conflict of a callup to the main roster is that anything is fair game, including your name! War Machine aka War Raiders aka Viking Raiders wrestled in a match of the year candidate at TakeOver: New York against Ricochet & Aleister Black. Shortly thereafter, they were feuding with Street Profits, trying to build up the Tag Division when the main roster called for them. That doesn’t take away from the fact that their two TakeOver wins make them the most successful team in nXt so far this year. Big fan of what they did in their short run.

Tag Champions: VACANT
To be decided on Saturday


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.

Will the Undisputed Era dominate the title scene?

Which woman will get enough fan support to overcome Shayna Baszler as Women’s Champion?

Who will be Kushida’s first TakeOver opponent?

My Takeover predictions are in this week’s nXt Results column, but no LOP Radio gig for TakeOver: XXV. You can follow me on Twitter this weekend for remarks on what’s to come, or get in on the discussion in the comments section. Great time to be a wrestling fan.


Check out related nXt content:
nXt Results- May 29, 2019 (3 Days To Takeover: XXV)
nXt Cool Points Rankings: Pre-Takeover: Phoenix

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