It is the first full week of 2021, and with that comes the promise of potential for the new year ahead of us. NXT got through the craziness of 2020, and while WWE's black and gold brand won't be returning to a packed Full Sail set anytime soon, there is still a lot that can happen in the next 12 months. The future looks bright for NXT and while I cannot guarantee that all of my predictions (or any of them) will come true, I do have a logical reason for their inclusion here. Regardless of what happens in 2021, I think it is fair to say that we hope to continue to see some fantastic in-ring action from one of the best wrestling shows out there right now.
1. NXT Will Be Represented at All Big Four PPVs
In 2019 NXT was represented at The Royal Rumble and Survivor Series, while in 2020 NXT stars appeared at the rumble and WrestleMania 36. I think 2021 will finally promote NXT to having a presence at all of the big four pay per views. NXT has shown this year that TakeOvers and special events don't always have to happen the same weekend as the big four in order to feel important, so why not put the NXT title on the line at SummerSlam? I'm not saying that NXT has to become the major focus of any of these shows or that TakeOvers shouldn't be considered a big deal, but if NXT truly is the third brand they need to be represented on WWE's biggest stages.
This move could not only elevate NXT talent to the mainstream WWE audience but it could also help to elevate the cards at the events they participate in. I feel like this is both a no-brainer and one of the least likely to happen, due to WWE's preference of separating NXT from Raw and SmackDown.
2. An NXT Team Will Win The Women's Tag Team Championship
WWE teased us with this idea in 2020 by having Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart challenge Sasha Banks and Bayley for the tag team titles, and honestly, I've been in love with this concept ever since. While NXT doesn't have many established women's tag teams, I think this could be an awesome opportunity to elevate Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae and take Candice away from the NXT Women's Championship scene for just a bit. Of course, there are other teams on NXT that could challenge for the belts as well including Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai, Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter, as well as the aforementioned Nox and Blackheart.
The great thing about the Women's Tag-Team Championships is that they can be on any brand. Putting the gold on an NXT team could also help justify NXT teams appearing at any of the pay per views as well as bringing big names from Raw and SmackDown to TakeOvers and NXT special events.
Of all of my predictions, this is the one that I hope comes true the most.
3. More Major Raw and SmackDown Superstars Will Move to NXT Full Time
Finn Balor, Breezango, and Ember Moon have all returned to NXT in recent years and found tons of success for themselves, and every few weeks rumors hit the internet that major Raw and SmackDown stars have been asking to go to NXT. Of course, this will come true if NXT gets to draft stars to their brand during the 2021 draft (or Superstar Shake-Up or whatever they want to call it this time around), but until that happens I think we will see another major star make a surprise appearance and announce that they are on NXT.
I've made lists about main roster superstars that need to head to NXT before, but I would love to see Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, and Sami Zayn all return to NXT and get the opportunity to get back to what made them some of the best wrestlers to watch of this generation.
4. NXT Will Have A Major Ratings Victory Over AEW
While AEW has already beaten NXT to 1 million live viewers on at least one occasion I expect NXT to have the last laugh in 2021. If WWE really brings NXT into the fold and also more crossover between the "main roster" and NXT I think we could see some huge numbers especially if NXT continues to put together fantastic cards like the one for New Year's Evil. This isn't to say that I think AEW won't have a good year, but 2021 for them will not be about trying to win on Wednesday nights. NXT is currently "losing" the Wednesday Night War but this year should be about playing catch up and eventually overtaking their weekly competition.
5. NXT Will Be Fully Embraced as WWE's Third Brand
This might as well be the point that sums up all of the other predictions here, but this also might be the most important. NXT is still viewed by audiences and even some people in WWE as the developmental brand. NXT has reached its peak as the developmental brand it is time for them to fully take their place on equal footing with SmackDown and Raw.
This might also be the prediction that all of my other predictions hinge on. If WWE does not fully embrace NXT, then they might as well abandon hope of overtaking AEW in the ratings war or ever having NXT be taken as seriously as Raw or SmackDown.
There are some good signs pointing to this prediction proving true, however. WWE's recent purchase of the entirety of Evolve could allow them to use that brand as their main developmental brand and let NXT move on. There has also been talk of an additional online exclusive NXT show that could work to bring the main NXT show to the level of Raw and SmackDown as well. WWE seems eager to let NXT become the third brand they claim it to be. They just need to focus on making it so.
So, those are my 5 predictions for NXT in 2021. Do you agree with them? What are you looking forward to from NXT in 2021? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
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