Since Seth Rollins pinned Jinder Mahal in 2012, only the best of the best have held NXT gold. Each of the five championships competed for on the gold brand is among the most prestigious in the world.
Winning an NXT title is a huge feat, and throws the wrestler’s name into the conversation of the best in the industry.
With the dawn of a new decade, opportunities arise for championship scenes to be refreshed, and new faces of brands to emerge. Here are 10 performers who could lead NXT into the future by winning gold next year.
10. Dominik Dijakovic
Out of everyone from the winning side of the men’s WarGames match, Dijakovic currently has the least momentum. This is absurd, considering the former ROH star is one of the most talented competitors on the NXT roster.
He has been slowly but consistently making a name for himself on weekly NXT TV. After proving himself on the TakeOver stage, it seems like the future is whatever he makes it.
A North American Championship reign could be in his future, as we watch Dijakovic move up the totem pole towards becoming a main eventer.
9. Pete Dunne
While fans recognise the accomplishments of the longest-reigning UK Champion, Dunne has yet to win gold since arriving on the US show.
Since moving to USA Network, many new stars have been making a name for themselves. Consequently, the ‘Bruiserweight’ has gotten lost among the giant NXT roster.
His NXT Championship challenge at Survivor Series gave a fleeting taste of what he could do in a title picture. Not only would NXT gold legitimise Dunne, but he’d elevate the whole brand’s prestige, as he did with NXT UK.
8. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Scott is one of the athletes benefiting from NXT’s move to USA. With the longer weekly show, the former CZW Champion has had the opportunity to impress fans.
‘Swerve’ became a star in 2019 after his competitive showing in the NXT Breakout Tournament. Since then, the former Evolve Champion has pinned former NXT Tag Champion Wesley Blake, and former title contenders like Jack Gallagher.
He has gradually been climbing the totem pole of the gold brand. A Cruiserweight Title reign could be on the horizon, as fan favourite Scott could help to establish NXT’s newest division.
The former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion has had a rocky start to his NXT career. The hype surrounding the signing of Kushida cooled off after the Japanese veteran’s absence from TV following a wrist injury.
Now that he has returned, the ‘Time Splitter’ plans to wow Western audiences with a style developed in the land of the rising sun. With over a decade of international wrestling experience, Kushida is a proven commodity in the wrestling world, so it’s only a matter of time before he has gold around his waist.
The Japanese star is very comfortable holding a mid-card title. What would be interesting would be him in the main event scene in 2020, defending the NXT Championship.
6. Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa’s NXT career is already super decorated. He first won tag team gold, before becoming one of the most despicable NXT Champions ever.
After having to forfeit NXT’s top prize due to a serious injury, his popularity began to soar. The ‘Blackheart’ returned to our screens only a few months ago, and fans were asking just one question. When will Ciampa get ‘Goldie’ back?
It’s looking like 2020 will be the answer. Since his return, Ciampa has been at the top of his game. Posing a big threat to the NXT Champion, he frequently flirts with the idea of claiming NXT’s top title.
With Ciampa pinning Cole at WarGames, his momentum is at an all-time high. The ‘Sicilian Psychopath’ may be taking ‘Goldie’ back sooner than we all think.
5. Finn Bálor
Finn Bálor’s return to NXT, and subsequent heel turn were among the biggest shocks of 2019. After struggling to find his place on the main roster, he’s now thriving on the gold brand.
The former Intercontinental and inaugural Universal Champion was instantly inserted high up in the NXT hierarchy. His main roster accolades right away made him one of the most credible athletes on the roster.
Winning the North American Championship would consequently increase the value of the relatively recent title. It would also boost Bálor’s NXT relevancy, given he hasn’t held any championships there since 2016.
2020 could be the year that the ‘Prince’ holds NXT gold again, which would make the Wednesday show must-see.
4. Forgotten Sons
Among the most underrated talent on the brand, Blake, Cutler and Ryker have been wreaking havoc in NXT for the last two years. The trio became noteworthy earlier this year after reaching the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
With high profile wins over Moustache Mountain and Breezango, the three bruisers have perfected their tag team wrestling. Despite challenging for the tag titles throughout 2019, the Forgotten Sons haven’t been in title contention for more than a few matches at a time. Consequently, their momentum as a tag team has been inconsistent.
With the new year, the trio have the opportunity to connect with NXT audiences. They are a talented team, so sooner or later, they’ll have a firm grasp upon the NXT Tag Team Championships.
3. Bianca Belair
Even as far back as 2017, Belair stood out as one of the strongest competitors NXT had ever seen. Since then, she has transformed from a gifted rookie to an accomplished athlete.
Her confident persona is emotive, whether she’s face or heel. There’s only been one feat that’s eluded the former track star: The NXT Women’s Championship! Despite at one time being undefeated, she still hasn’t had her time on top of the women’s division.
2019 was a great year for Belair, who had an impressive showing in the first ever women’s WarGames. She also picked up victories against the likes of Mia Yim, and current NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley.
It’s an inevitability that Bianca will one day have gold around her waist. NXT better be ready to watch her shine.
2. Matt Riddle
Bro… As legitimate as they come, the former UFC athlete is one of the most talked about stars in NXT today. Contrasting his calm personality with superhuman strength, Riddle possesses all the makings of an iconic champion, aside from the championship!
With victories over Ricochet, Adam Cole and Roderick Strong, he has had an amazing year on the gold brand. Now he’s had some major rivalries in NXT, it seems like the right time for Riddle hold a title.
When the ‘King of Bros’ finally wins gold, he will be the talk of the wrestling world.
1. Keith Lee
After an amazing showing over Survivor Series weekend, nobody is as white hot as Lee right now. Being the charismatic muscle of WarGames, and NXT’s sole survivor, many were introduced to his championship calibre strength.
In the last few months, Lee has pinned both the current North American, and NXT Champions. These decisive victories, as well as the support of every crowd, place Lee firmly into every NXT title picture.
In the last two months of 2019, he quickly transformed from a mid-card talent to a main-event contender. Before 2020 is over, we could be basking in the glory of Keith Lee, the new NXT Champion.