NXT has continued to grow bigger, and 2015 will go down as a huge success for the so-called developmental territory for the WWE.
NXT finally moved away from Full Sail University to sell out the Barclays Center for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn while they’ve also concluded a successful tour of the UK. Cities such as Sheffield and Blackpool had played host to some live events before NXT took over the SSE Arena in London which saw Finn Balor defeat Samoa Joe to retain his NXT Championship.
Plans will already be in place for 2016 with potential new arrivals and even bigger TakeOver events, but who impressed the most in 2015? Let’s take a look.
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NXT SUPERSTAR OF THE YEAR
It’s difficult to look past Finn Balor as the superstar of the year because he’s achieved a lot in 2015 and has managed to entertain crowds on a weekly basis no matter where he is.
There was a lot of excitement when he arrived last year and this year it finally paid off, and he showed us just what we were missing out on. He’s one of the best in the ring in all of WWE, and he’s very consistent.
He not only captured the NXT Champion this year – defeating Kevin Owens before going on to retain the gold on numerous occasions – but he also won the inaugural Dusty Rhodes tag team classic alongside Samoa Joe.
It just goes to show how much faith they have in him, and that will continue, Balor has had an outstanding year, and it’s well-deserved.
NXT DIVA OF THE YEAR
There are a handful of female wrestlers who could be in with a shout of being the NXT Diva of the year. Sasha Banks enjoyed a great start to the year with the NXT Women’s Championship victory while the likes of Becky Lynch and Charlotte also put on some fantastic matches before they moved on to the main roster.
However – much like Balor – it's hard to look past Bayley as she’s been the real star of the women’s division on NXT. It’s clear how much faith Triple H has in her as she’s impressed in every single match she’s been involved in, and her input has also been essential as we’ve seen multiple times on WWE Breaking Ground.
It’s clear that she’s passionate, and she’s a huge role model to kids on NXT, she’s had a terrific year that will only get bigger in 2016. She finally captured the NXT Women’s Championship this year amongst a pool of great female talent and even main evented a TakeOver alongside Banks in their 30-minute Iron Woman match.
NXT has taken huge leaps forward this past year, and Bayley has been involved in most of them.
TAKEOVER OF THE YEAR
This year we saw five TakeOver special events taking place compared to the usual four we saw last year, which alone shows how far NXT has become because the best TakeOver to take place this year has to be Brooklyn.
It was the first time TakeOver was not taking place at Full Sail University, so it was a bold step to take which paid off. Fans sold out the Barclays Center with almost 16,000 fans packing out the arena to show the high demand. We had Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger competing against Tyler Breeze, which excited the fans while The Vaudevillians finally captured the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Uhaa Nation finally debuted as Apollo Crews, and Samoa Joe was also in action against Baron Corbin. Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens while Bayley captured the NXT Women’s Championship in an incredible match against Sasha Banks.
We saw a fantastic night of wrestling and every match told a story, and there was never a boring moment, fans were tuned in, and we should expect NXT to take over Brooklyn again next year.
BREAKOUT STARS OF THE YEAR
There are a few stars who probably deserve a mention as the breakout star of NXT this year, but for the superstars, I have to go with Apollo Crews. Crews’ arrival was met with anticipation as some fans knew exactly what he was capable of. He had a big following on the independent scene and was a huge name in Preston, Lancashire with PCW.
It didn’t come as a huge surprise to see fans quickly warm to him because of his immense in-ring ability, and his look deceives the eye. He doesn’t look like an athletic star, but he still manages to perform some incredible manoeuvres. He’s been involved in a feud with Corbin where he impressed as he pushes towards an NXT Championship match.
For the women, I believe the breakout star is none other than Asuka. Much like Crews, her arrival was met with anticipation and excitement especially by fans who were familiar with her work and exciting style.
She’s fit in very well despite not talking much on camera, her work inside of the ring makes her extremely popular with the NXT fans, and if she continued to perform in the same manner, then she’ll be into bigger feuds. A feud with Nia Jax has been touted, and that would be a great test for both women, Asuka has had a great start to life in NXT.
STARS TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 2016
There will be a lot of NXT stars looking to make a huge impact in 2016 as the brand continued to grow and more stars continue to move up to the main roster. Right now, however, you can’t look past the team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, who have made a serious impact in the last few months.
They’ve managed to get over incredibly well with the NXT fans and are probably the second most popular team on NXT today, just behind Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. The good thing with them is that they’re simply wrestlers with no outlandish gimmick or crazy characters, and they are incredible inside of the ring.
They have unique chemistry and the fans love them, expect them to have a big 2016 with an NXT Tag Team Championship victory.
NXT FANS – WHAT HAS IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST THIS YEAR? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.