If you're a fan of WWE's black and gold brand you are likely looking forward to TakeOver Thirty. Even though as of writing we only have four confirmed matches on the card, this installment of NXT's flagship event series is promising some banger matches.
The match that I am most intrigued by is the ladder match to claim the currently vacant NXT North American Championship that Keith Lee left behind following his pickup of the NXT Championship at Night Two of The Great American Bash. Five wrestlers will face off on Saturday all with the goal of climbing the ladder and beginning their own run with NXT's mid-card title.
This ranking is not a prediction of who will take home the belt at TakeOver but rather ranking the potential outcomes on their likely reception, and how likely a successful title run is.
Number 5: Damian Priest
Not only is Damian Priest, in my opinion, the least likely to walk away with the belt at TakeOver Thirty, but he is also the worst equipped for a successful title run.
In the run-up to TakeOver, Priest had a short feud with fellow competitor, Bronson Reed, in a match that did more to build-up Reed than it did to make Priest look ready for the North American Championship. Throw in a feud with Cameron Grimes earlier this summer that showed how much of a star Grimes can be, and you have the recipe for a lackluster title run that NXT would regret pulling the trigger on.
All in all, Damian Priest's spot in this match could've gone to either of his opponents in his triple threat match, Oney Lorcan and Ridge Holland, who both would have likely ended up higher on this list. Priest will likely get a moment or two in the match but him going home with the title would be a big mistake.
Number 4: Velveteen Dream
Dream is on the opposite end of Damian Priest. I think that he has the best chance of walking away from TakeOver as the new North American Champion. The artist formerly known as Patrick Clark made his return to NXT television last week following a car crash that left him out of commission for a little over a month, and lost but was not pinned in his triple threat match to qualify for TakeOver. Dream followed this up by beating Finn Balor in the main event of this week's NXT in order to qualify.
There are a lot of good reasons why NXT would want to put the belt on The Velveteen Dream. Dream is a fantastic wrestler who could guarantee some banger title defenses and would be a great heel champion to bring up new babyface stars and help to get them over with NXT's fans. Triple H and the creative team behind NXT also seem to really like Dream and continue to put him in high profile stories, and have given him a pretty high ceiling on NXT.
The biggest roadblock for The Velveteen Dream is the recent allegations against him that have come to light since April of this year. While Triple H has stated that WWE found nothing wrong during their internal investigation into the matter, wrestling fans are fairly divided on their feelings about Dream continuing to have success in professional wrestling. If NXT decides to put the belt on The Velveteen Dream there will definitely be a good amount of online backlash that no number of stellar matches could overcome.
Number 3: Johnny Gargano
Gargano is an interesting member of this lineup. As of late, the former NXT champion and former North American champion has turned heel and has yet to really get into a long-lasting program to solidify him in his new role. Despite this, I still don't think that it is likely for us to see Johnny Gargano walk out of TakeOver as a two-time North American champion.
The biggest factor to me when thinking about the future of Johnny Gargano is that I don't think he needs a title in order to remain relevant or even to get over his new heel persona. Unlike some of the others on this list, Gargano has already held the title and has a ton of goodwill with the fans. I think that Johnny would have a fairly average run with the title before dropping most likely to either of our top two possibilities.
Number 2: Bronson Reed
NXT's resident "Thicc Boi" has had quite the run this summer. Following a loss to Karrion Kross, Bronson Reed has had himself an impressive little winning streak. The Australian born wrestler is clearly being primed for a title run, and the question isn't really if but when.
There is a very good chance that Reed comes home with the North American Title around his waist, and begin a title run that skyrockets him to the top of the card on NXT. I personally would love to see this happen, and think NXT would be making a stellar call to put the belt on Reed.
Number 1: Cameron Grimes
Do I think that Cameron Grimes is the most likely to leave TakeOver Thirty with the North American title in his clutches? No. Do I think that it would be a mistake to give the title to anyone else? Yes.
Cameron Grimes is exactly what NXT needs in a champion right now. With two babyface champions in the top spot for both the men's and women's division and a suave heel in Santos Escobar running the cruiserweight division, it is time for an obnoxious heel to run rough shot over the mid-card on NXT. Grimes has proven this year that he is more than competent in-ring and has skills on the mic miles ahead of some of his NXT counterparts. It is time to put the North American title in the spotlight, it is truly grime time!
What do you think? Who are you rooting for this Saturday at TakeOver? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer