Last week at NXT's Halloween Havoc, Johnny Gargano defeated Damian Priest to become the first-ever two-time NXT North American Champion. This win came after Gargano's weeks losing out on multiple opportunities to win the title first in a triple threat before NXT's The Great American Bash, then at TakeOver: XXX, and most recently at TakeOver: 31. For a while, it seemed like Johnny's recent heel turn had doomed him to a life of losing title shots against up and coming faces, but luckily for him, it seems like his luck has changed.
Gargano can't rest yet, however, because the past few months have shown us that the North American title scene is one of the most crowded and competitive title scenes in WWE as a whole. So who should step up to the new champion and try to keep Gargano's second run with the title a short run with the title?
Kushida has had an interesting run lately in NXT. The former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion has taken on a new brutal persona and has held his own against opponents like Tommasso Ciampa and The Velveteen Dream. I am not sure that NXT knows what they want to do with Kushida soon, but that doesn't change the fact that Kushida is one of the most fun guys to watch wrestling on WWE programming.
I predict that Kushida will be stepping up to Johnny Gargano very soon, perhaps to have a stellar match at the last TakeOver of the year.
4. Timothy Thatcher
It is no secret that Timothy Thatcher is one of my favorite guys in NXT right now. His brutal, technical, intense style makes him one of the most fun guys to watch in the ring, and his promo work recently with his "Thatch-as-thatch-can" wrestling school is a segment I look forward to seeing every time it is teased.
Thatcher is the kind of worker that should be rewarded with the NXT mid-card title, and I would love to see him hold this belt sooner rather than later. His style would match really well with Gargano, who has really upped his technical game since this summer. This matchup could give us a match of the year candidate, and NXT would be dumb to pass this opportunity up.
3. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne surprised NXT fans by returning to the black and gold brand last week during Halloween Havoc after missing several months due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The former NXT UK Champion and Tag-Team Champion has aligned himself with Pat McAfee and Lorcan and Burch, and it is evident that this new faction is out for gold. Other than the tag-titles, which are currently held by Lorcan and Burch, the North American Championship is a great place for them to start.
Dunne is an accomplished wrestler and has put on some fantastic bouts during his time in NXT. I hope to see him making up for lost time soon, and he and Gargano could have a fantastic match.
As of writing this piece, Andrade is still an undrafted member of the WWE roster, and while some outlets are reporting that he will return to Raw following an elective procedure that is keeping the former NXT champion out of action for a few more weeks, I think that Andrade should return to NXT (even for just a short run) to challenge Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship.
Andrade hasn't quite taken off on the main roster the same way that he did in NXT, and while I want to see him have success on Raw or SmackDown, I am going to be greedy today and say I want to see him back on NXT. Andrade has already made allusions to a potential return to Wednesday nights on Twitter, and let's just say people were more than happy to entertain the idea. I don't think that Andrade will be coming for the NXT Championship quite yet, but a run trading the North American title with Gargano could be awesome for both men.
1. Candice LeRae
I've said it before, and I will repeat it if NXT wants to dip their toes into the world of intergender wrestling, the perfect place to start is with Candice LeRae. LeRae is an intergender veteran who has held her own against some of the best male wrestlers in the independent scene. Not only is Candice a solid intergender wrestler, but she and Johnny have had fantastic matches against each other on many occasions.
The way that Johnny and Candice are currently being booked makes it easy to see the standard team breakup storyline being useful in this situation while still feeling very fresh. Smaller "mainstream" promotions such as Impact and Ring of Honor have been doing intergender for a while now. NXT could be on the cutting edge by offering matches between men and women before their competition.
Not only is it time for NXT to get into the intergender scene, but it is also time for LeRae to get recognized for her stellar work throughout her career.
What do you think? Is there anyone I missed? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
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