The night before WrestleMania will see Finn Balor defend his NXT Championship against Samoa Joe at TakeOver: Dallas.
The feud will come to an end on April 2 where one man will be hoping to walk away with the championship title and the other hoping to appear on Monday Night Raw two days later.
If that’s the case, new challengers will need to emerge in time for the champion to kick start his title reign in great fashion. It doesn’t matter who retains the championship right now. However, there are a handful of stars on NXT who not only have the talent to step up and put up a title challenge, but there are some that deserve the opportunity too.
Once the event is over, and the tapings begin, it will become clear which star Triple H is putting faith in. For now, let’s take a look at the options for the stars who could be the next top challenger for the NXT Championship.
Austin Aries is the safest option to go with because of the wealth of experience he has on offer. He’s won championships in various promotions; he has a good look about him, and he’s not somebody who needs to change his style to get to the top of NXT.
We don’t know when or if he’ll move to the main roster if plans aren’t in place for him to move up then he’s someone who can prove to be a solid challenge for anyone. It will be more interesting if Samoa Joe walks away with the championship as nobody would have thought two of TNA’s brightest stars could be battling it out for a WWE Championship title.
He’s fantastic in the ring; one of the best around and he’s good on the microphone as well. There are some bright stars on NXT who need a bit of tweaking before they reach that level, not Aries – he’s ready for that opportunity now.
Apollo Crews is a fan favourite on NXT, and it’s no secret why the fans and Triple H are very high on him. When you look at him and his size, you don’t expect him to move like he does. He has the power, the agility and he can fly from corner to corner which makes him one of the most entertaining performers on NXT.
It’s clear that a bit of improvement is needed with Crews, despite having a fantastic, marketable look as well as the in-ring ability, his microphone work does let him down a little, and his character does to need to develop.
However, he’s in the perfect place to do that. He’s already had a couple of championship matches, and he’s performed well in them. He can only get better and Crews it another perfect face champion the NXT Universe can get behind.
While Crews is the top face challenger, at the other end of the spectrum, we have the ultimate heel challenger in Baron Corbin. Corbin has been on NXT for quite some time now, and the NXT Championship has somehow managed to elude him. If Joe exits the championship picture, then Balor will need a heel opponent, and Corbin deserves another chance.
No matter what anybody says, Corbin has improved so much since his days of squashing opponents came to an end. At one stage it looked as if he wouldn’t be able to come back from it when the fans turned on him, but Corbin embraced that hate and worked on his in-ring game, and he now looks like a natural heel.
He has a unique in-ring style, he’s good on the microphone as a heel, and he has a solid, marketable look to be a dominating champion. He’ll be important in the championship picture, and he’ll prove that he can be a valuable asset on the main roster as well.
Hideo Itami has had a frustrating run on NXT; he was destined for big things when he debuted, but a shoulder injury plus multiple setbacks have resulted in him missing more time than he’d have hoped for. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the talent of Itami, and he’s simply too good to not enter the championship picture when he returns.
They’ll probably run with the angle over who attacked him, but he should be involved in targeting the new champion because he’s one of the finest talents on NXT and he can add a lot of experience to that situation.
Tye Dillinger is my ‘out of the box’ pick for a challenger as he hasn’t made a huge impact in his NXT career thus far to justify a position at the top. The good thing about Dillinger is that he has an immense, loyal fan base who can help propel him to the top, he’s not the youngest of stars, but he still has enough time to make a real impact on NXT.
He’s finally found a unique gimmick that works for him, and he's running with it where most others would have failed. He’s fantastic inside of the ring; he has the charisma, a good look and he’s comfortable on the microphone.
He does need to be booked a little better, though, constant losses and putting over new stars won’t help him, and he’s a risk which could pay off. He’s somebody who the fans can get behind, and although he may not be a successful challenger or champion, he’s someone who can hold it together at the top before young stars like Chad Gable or Jason Jordan and ready to go at it on their own – should that time ever come.
NXT FANS – WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD ENTER THE NXT CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.