COOL POINTS: NXT Rankings for August 10, 2019 to March 12, 2020
Welcome to the Cool Points.
There seems to be mixed opinion on the importance of wins and losses in the pro wrestling world. Some says wins and losses have no real bearing on the success or value of a wrestler’s performance and popularity, while others maintain that a good win-loss record goes a long way in determining how that wrestler is seen amongst his or her peers.
For this edition of the nXt divisional rankings, careful attention will be given towards the wrestlers who get the most airtime inside the squared circle and how that has influenced their progress.
This edition tracks the Men’s, Women’s and Tag Team Divisions from TakeOver: Toronto to pre-TakeOver: Tampa
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||Keith Lee|
|#4||Tommaso Ciampa/Johnny Gargano|
7. Damian Priest (4-4)
Priest was a heater last summer, going undefeated until he ran into the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne on November 6th. That hard work, accompanied by plenty of promo time, launched him into his first TakeOver match, at WarGames, for the #1 Contendership.
He didn’t win, and he’s also struggled in the North American Championship hunt, but he’s established himself as a threat to win on any given night. He’ll get another title opportunity next week, but I’m not sold on him as a champ just yet, especially against the charismatic Keith Lee.
6. Dominik Dijakovic (6-7-1, 1-0 in multi-man tag)
Dijakovic’s name has been closely associated with Keith Lee for the past year. Their on and off feud has produced a series of impressive big-man matches. The things Dijakovic can do, agility and jumping-wise, are quite remarkable. This led to him earning Lee’s respect and getting a spot in the WarGames match at TakeOver in Chicago. From there, he continues to be in the mix for the North American Championship.
Although Dijakovic can beat Lee, he hasn’t done so in recent months. No doubt he’ll give a great effort, but I don’t see him wearing a title around his waist just yet.
5. Cameron Grimes (8-8)
Grimes was the finalist in the nXt Breakout Tournament, which launched his nXt career. To date, he’s had the most success, gaining consistent match and promo time on nXt TV. Most notably, he lost to Matt Riddle, but defeated Tyler Bate, Kushida and Dijakovic. He even got a North American title shot against Keith Lee a few weeks ago.
Grimes is certainly on the rise, but he needs to string together a few more wins to get where he wants to go. A championship is within his grasp.
4. (tie) Tommaso Ciampa (2-3, 3-0 in multi-man tag) & Johnny Gargano (2-2)
Arguably the two biggest stars of nXt over the past three years, and they’re sharing the #4 spot? Well, yeah. Many of their spots on nXt TV are promos or run-ins, which further stories and build feuds. At present, however, they are back to beating each other up, so this stand-alone feud requires no interaction with title contenders or the champion.
Surprisingly, when they do wrestle others, they haven’t amassed winning records. Ciampa’s team won WarGames, but he couldn’t defeat Cole at TakeOver: Portland. Gargano lost the 2/3 falls match at TakeOver: Toronto and then lost to Finn Balor in Portland. Tough go, but viewers know that a reprise in their feud will lead to another compelling match.
3. Roderick Strong (7-4, 0-2 in multi-man tag)
Strong had a run with the North American Championship, defeating Velveteen Dream on September 18th. He successfully held it for 4 months until Keith Lee proved himself worthy to win on January 22nd. In between those dates, Strong accompanied his crew, the Undisputed Era, who suffered a major lost in the WarGames match to Ciampa’s team.
Recently, Dream returned from injury and began toying with Strong, urging him to enter a steel cage with him. This ended up being a means to attack nXt Champion Adam Cole and challenge for the title, so Strong’s victory in the match is tainted. It’s unclear where he goes from here.
2. Finn Balor (7-2)
Balor returned to nXt on October 2nd, to a massive crowd reaction. He made it clear that nXt was his world and that he’d be gunning for a championship before too long. While he did lose his December 18th title opportunity, he won significant matches against Riddle, Seven, Lee, Ciampa and, at TakeOver: Portland, Gargano.
On February 26, Imperium interrupted Balor’s in-ring promo and destroyed him, leaving him hurting. Balor got promo time the following two weeks to reply to them, and even had a match with Alexander Wolfe on the 18th. It looks as though he’ll be taking on WALTER, crossing over to nXt UK, for a little while…at some point…once covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.
1. Keith Lee (8-3-1, 2-1 in multi-man tag, NA Champion)
Bask in his glory! Lee is having an awesome run right now in nXt. After finishing his 1-on-1 feud with Dijakovic, the two teamed up and took on the Undisputed Era, stemming from their North American Championship triple threat against Roderick Strong. Ciampa recruited him to help him in the WarGames match in Chicago, which they won. Lee then got a win over Strong in November, and another in January that earned him his first North American Championship.
Lee has successfully defended the title for two months and will do so again in an upcoming triple threat against Dijakovic and Priest. I think he’s carrying this momentum through the summer towards a showdown with Adam Cole, title vs title.
nXt Champion: Adam Cole (8-0, 0-3 in multi-man tag)
The Undisputed Era’s 2019 was a golden year, just as Cole predicted it would be in January. By November, though, the Era was losing most of its multi-man matches, most notably the WarGames match against Ciampa’s team. Yet, when it came to title defenses, Cole was able to show why he is the best in nXt, defeating Gargano at TakeOver: Toronto, Riddle, Myles & Balor on nXt TV, and Ciampa in an epic, numerous false finishes match at TakeOver: Portland.
A feud with Velveteen Dream appears imminent, following Dream’s choice to confront Cole in the cage instead of stop Strong from winning the cage match on March 4th. I’d like to see him get to a feud with Lee, but Dream may prevent that from happening and end the golden era for Cole and company.
7. Candice LeRae (2-5-1, 1-0 in multi-women matches)
Although she always finds a way into the #1 contender matches and spotlight matches, LeRae has not been successful in 2020. She’s had an on again, off again feud with Dakota Kai, defending friend, Tegan Nox. She played a big role at WarGames, helping captain Rhea Ripley defeat Baszler and friends. Otherwise, coming to the aid of her peers who are preyed upon by the villains of the brand seems to be her main activity.
LeRae had a few shots at the championship last year but nothing materialized for her. She’s certainly a draw and capable of a main event run, but it’s unclear when she’ll get that chance.
6. Tegan Nox (3-3, 1-1 in multi-women matches)
Tegan’s knee injury kept her out of the ring for about 9 months, but, so far, she has managed to stay healthy during her return. Team Kick reunited and got a few tag matches in until Dakota Kai attacked her prior to her entry into the first Women’s WarGames match in November. Since then, the two have had 3 matches, with Nox going 1-2. She’s had to deal with a new partner of Kai’s, Raquel Gonzalez.
Nox has all the fan support in the world and McGuinness’ praise for her Shiniest Wizard finisher. She’s in the #1 Contender’s mix and will participate in a Ladder match to determine Ripley (or Flair’s) next opponent.
5. Xia Li (4-2)
Li has quietly built up a winning record on nXt TV, although most of those matches took place in the fall. She even had a match with Baszler, on December 4th, but lost. Li hasn’t gotten that big push towards a title yet, but she’s only a few matches away from such a thing working. It would be good to see a side feud develop for her to give her some promo time.
4. Dakota Kai (5-6-1, 1-1 in multi-women matches)
Kai had a lot of attention and fan support coming back from a torn ACL, which kept her out of the ring for about a year. She captured all of that and floored nXt fans at WarGames by beating up on Team Kick partner and WarGames teammate, Tegan Nox.
Since then, Kai has won a street fight and a steel cage match over Nox, with the help of her new ally, Raquel Gonzalez. Not sure if that feud has run its course yet.
After a few high profile matches, she won’t be in the #1 contender mix, losing to Mia Yim on March 11th. Perhaps Gonzalez will be fighting more of the battles for her in the coming months?
3. Bianca Belair (6-4, 0-2 in multi-women matches)
The “EST of nXt” had a pretty successful fall, attaining a 3rd TakeOver Women’s Championship title shot in the span of a year. Unfortunately, she’s 0-3, with her latest loss coming to Rhea Ripley. She also had the pleasure of wrestling Charlotte Flair a few weeks ago on nXt TV, but lost that match, too. Still, being in the main event is exactly where she belongs.
Expect 2020 to be a year of continued growth and success for Belair, and possibly a brand change, too.
2. Shayna Baszler (5-2-1, 0-1 in multi-women matches)
Baszler’s year-long reign finally ended at the hands of Rhea Ripley on December 18, 2020, but it started to decline at WarGames when her team of 4 lost to Ripley and LeRae, a team of 2. She was unable to regain a rematch for her title, losing the #1 Contender’s Battle Royal to Bianca Belair in January. Baszler did have a fantastic showing in the Royal Rumble match, which effectively launched her directly into the Women’s Championship title picture on RAW.
With her nXt tenure over, at least for now, Baszler fans can look forward to a spotlight match at Wrestlemania against “The Man”, Becky Lynch. A well-earned spot, I’d say.
1. Io Shirai (7-2-1, 0-2 in multi-women matches)
Look at that record. Shirai has been on a tear these past 6 months. Many of those matches were in the fall, however, and she’s been off nXt TV for over a month. A little break can be a blessing though because it allows her not to be over-exposed and only to wrestle important matches. She’s proven herself capable of handling the spotlight at a TakeOver event.
It won’t be long before she’s back fighting for the Women’s Championship. Just a matter of waiting to see who that champ will be.
Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley (5-0-1, 2-0 in multi-women matches
Ripley showed up in nXt with one purpose: to become the most dominant woman on the nXt brand. Within 3 months, she captained her WarGames team to victory in the first Women’s WarGames match and, on December 18, ended Shayna Baszler’s year long reign as nXt Women’s Champion. That’s impressive. Many wrestlers need a year to rise to the top of a division or brand. Ripley’s already there with presumably many years left to get even better.
She’ll face Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania. Yes, the Queen herself, and then awaits a new #1 contender in nXt. She is one of the most unique wrestlers in the WWE today and is a must-watch for matches and promos.
Tag Team Division
|#2||Grizzled Young Veterans|
5. Forgotten Sons (Blake/Cutler/Ryker)
2-4, 0-1 in 6-man tag
After a high work-rate last summer, this triad has not seen much in the way of matches or promo time. Their match, on February 26th, against Imperium, was their first since losing in the first round of the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. That was January 8th. So, their lack of success, coupled with the introduction of some stellar tag teams from nXt UK, has forced them out of the top tier in the Tag Team Division.
With new champs in the division, they may get a chance to play the foil. More likely, the team continues to get TV time when a new team needs a decent but unthreatening opponent.
4. Imperium (Aichner/Barthel/Wolfe)
2-1, 0-1 in 6-man tag
Mainly an nXt UK faction, Imperium received a few major opportunities to show off their skills and intimidate the North American side. They had a big match against Undisputed Era at Worlds Collide, and then were granted a spot in the 2020 Dusty Classic. They made it to the semi-finals where they lost to the eventual champs. Pretty good for the duo formerly known as Aichner & Barthel. Their hard work from last year paid off.
They seem like more of a special attraction on the main nXt show, so I wouldn’t expect to see them again for some time.
3. Breezango (Breeze/Fandango)
3-1 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 had great success in 6-man tags, defeating Imperium and Forgotten Sons in the space of a month.
Following WarGames, they looked like they were in prime position to get a title shot from O’Reilly & Fish until Fandango suffered an elbow injury. Since then, Breeze has been wrestling singles matches and the tag team has been put on hold. Too bad.
2. Grizzled Young Veterans
4-1, with 2 wins earned during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament.
James Drake & Zack Gibson had quite the tenure in nXt UK. They were the inaugural nXt UK Tag Team Champions and they have wrestled a tag title match at all 3 nXt UK TakeOvers. They secured a spot in the Dusty Classic and defeated Kushida & Alex Shelley, and the Undisputed Era, before losing the finals.
It appears as though they will stick around, which is a big help to a tag team division that has struggled to create consistent top draws for some time.
1. Undisputed Era (O’Reilly/Fish)
6-4, 0-3 in multi-man tag matches
Here are the kings of the tag division, experiencing their most difficult period yet that has made them #1 contenders twice. Their feud with the Street Profits helped to elevate Ford & Dawkins into their current position on RAW. After winning the titles back, they enjoyed being draped in gold for the rest of the year, although they notably lost WarGames.
Recently, the newest tag team in the division, Riddle & Dunne, won the titles from them at TakeOver Portland, so they have been left titleless and directionless. Likely not for long.
Tag Champions: BroserWeights (Riddle/Dunne)
6-0, 1 DQ win in 6-man tag
The Dusty Classic brought together these two successful singles stars and, like Balor/Joe and Black/Ricochet before them, they became this year’s Dusty Classic tournament champs. Defeating Webster/Andrews, Imperium, and the Grizzled Young Vets brought them additional confidence and fan support for their biggest test: facing the Undisputed Era at TakeOver: Portland.
In a thrilling encounter, they won and even won the rematch a month later. They’re on quite the streak with no signs of them slowing down. Bro.
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. Will TakeOver: Boston be the next major nXt PPV, or will that be postponed or cancelled as well?
2. Have you enjoyed the Cruiserweight representation on nXt TV in the last few months?
3. Is Keith Lee on a collision course with Adam Cole? Could we see Champ vs Champ this year?
Please join in the discussion below as we will start seeing matches that would have taken place at TakeOver: Tampa shown over the coming weeks. You can also follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going there.