Karrion Kross revealed on last week's NXT that, due to a shoulder injury, he needed to relinquish the NXT Championship. William Regal appeared later in the episode and announced how a new champion would be a crowned — a Four-Way, 60-Minute Iron Man Match between former NXT Champions Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. The massive match will take place this Tuesday night, as NXT has been bumped up a night due to scheduling conflicts on the USA Network.
To prepare for the match, we've assembled ComicBook's wrestling writers and asked them a simple question — who will be the next NXT Champion? Check out their predictions below, and let us know what you think down in the comments!
Connor Casey: I'll pick Balor, for a number of reasons. I love Gargano's new persona with Candice, but it still doesn't feel big enough to be the top program on the show right now. Cole just held the title for a while and it feels a little pointless to give it right back to him. There's a strong case for Ciampa now that he's a heel again, but he was the only one of the four to not cut a promo hyping the match last week — so it's possible they want him to terrorize some more babyfaces before reuniting with "Goldie."
Finally there's Finn, who one could argue is the biggest star on the NXT roster right now. Unfortunately for as fun as his run as "The Prince" has been, he hasn't really done anything of consequence despite being back on the brand for roughly 10 months. Yeah, he was probably going to beat Walter for the UK Championship before the pandemic hit and carry that around for a while. But it's still unclear when that match can actually happen, so now is a good as a time as ever to finally pull the trigger and let him be the unstoppable, malicious world champion.
Matt Aguilar: I was pretty much sold on Finn Balor up until a tweet from Johnny Gargano recently, and because of how short his previous reign was he makes a convincing argument to get that spot. That said, I still think Balor is the way to go here, both from a booking and momentum standpoint. Despite not having a money feud over the past two months due to the NXT UK plans being scrapped, Balor is still over as the Prince and has kept most of his heat, and this could be the chance to capitalize on that.
Now, that does pose problems if you want to get Ciampa back into the title picture or Gargano for that matter, since they are all heels, and with Lee gone you're going to have to pull up some faces like Bronson Reed and Swerve if you don't want an all-heel program, though there are worse things.
Gargano is making a great argument though, as his reign is the shortest of the four, and his heel act with Candice LeRae has been stellar so far, fo if you wanted to give him another crack at a long term championship reign this would be the time to do it. Guess we'll have to wait and see, but my money is on Balor.
Ryan Droste: I have to go with Balor here. He has the star power and it almost feels like he needs to capture the title to justify this NXT run. As Connor mentioned, he has been back with NXT for 10 months and doesn't have a whole lot to show for it. His feud with Walter was shaping up to be something that everyone was looking forward to, but the pandemic put a stop to that.
Balor has just been kind of floating from program to program and this is a good point to remind everyone of why he was one of the best NXT Champions in history, this time with a different character-style. Cole just had it, Ciampa doesn't need it right now, and Gargano is a hard pass for me. I'm going to disagree with Matt in that I think Gargano and Candice as heels has been one of the worst booking decisions of the last year in NXT. Gargano as a heel didn't work before and I am dumbfounded that they went back to try it again. It ain't working.
However, despite Gargano and Ciampa being heels, I think a title program with them is something that Balor could work as he continues to feel kind of like a "tweener" when it comes to the heel/face dynamic.
Evan Valentine: I hate to be unoriginal, but I'll also throw my money behind Finn Balor on this one. Clearly the most popular of the quartet that will be fighting for the gold, giving Balor the belt and presenting him as the "mountain to climb" for challengers within NXT would make for some good television. I can see the other three in Cole, Ciampa, and Gargano as champions once again, but I think that establishing Balor as the king of NXT would create some interesting rivalries.0comments
Nick Valdez: In terms of someone who would be a solid transitional champion, you can't go wrong with Balor. It's unfortunately not a pick that I want to see, but rather the one I want to see the most...if that makes any sense. I'm good on a Gargano title reign for quite a while, and Ciampa just came back with a leaner, meaner type of vibe that seemed to go in a completely non-title direction before all of this. And Cole? We just got through with a 400-day-plus run, so I'm definitely okay with him not getting the title for some time. Plus it would look weird to have him win it back this way.
So then that leaves Balor. Balor's current role in NXT has been floundering due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so I'm not especially excited about him potentially winning here. But a short, transitional stint as champion once more could be that jump start that Balor has been sorely missing.