The dust has finally settled from NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, and NXT is looking to find footing on its brand new night. One great way for WWE's black and gold brand to set itself up for future success would be putting together some fantastic bouts for their champion. 

Karrion Kross won the belt off of Finn Balor in a super solid match at TakeOver and now it is time for us to see what he can do when defending the title that he never lost. 

But a champion is only as good as his challengers so let's go ahead and look at who the best potential challengers are for Karrion Kross's NXT Championship. 

5. Pete Dunne 

pete dunne

Pete Dunne is an absolute monster in the ring and recently proved himself against Kushida in a solid opening match to Night 1 of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. Dunne is a former WWE United Kingdom Champion and held that title for a ridiculous 685 days, in addition to that he won the 2020 Dusty Cup and the NXT Tag Team Championships with Matt Riddle. 

Dunne hasn't had as many opportunities to shine as of late and I don't think he has been built up to the point that he would present a massive challenge to Kross, but Pete Dunne is due for a massive push and a hard-fought attempt at the championship would be a great place to start. 

4. Kyle O'Reilly

Kyle O'reilly

Kyle O'Reilly has had his fair share of shots at the NXT Championship as of late, but both of those were against Finn Balor. Kyle O'Reilly is now a man freed from The Undisputed Era and his win against former friend Adam Cole might be the kind of confidence boost he needs to step up to Kross. 

KOR's two matches against Finn Balor proved that he has what it takes to put on a MOTY candidate, but this most recent feud with Adam Cole proved that he has what it takes to carry himself in a solo capacity. 

I doubt that O'Reilly is done with Cole and the rest of the UE just yet, but when he puts them all in his rearview, the path to the gold is wide open. 

3. Johnny Gargano 

nxt-halloween-havoc-johnny-gargano-north-american-champion-1242677-1280x0

Gargano is likely one of the great wrestlers of this era and if you disagree with that I need you to go back and check out his long list of great matches with a variety of opponents. Johnny has also totally transformed himself into one of the best heels on television right now, and that was no easy task to accomplish. 

I doubt that NXT would go back to the double North American and NXT Champion well so soon after doing it with Keith Lee back in the Summer of 2020, so that means Gargano would likely drop the North American Title before stepping up to Kross. 

This is easily one of the most intriguing matchups on the list here as it presents a ton of opportunities up and down the card. If Gargano has to drop his belt that gives an opportunity to an up and comer like Bronson Reed or Cameron Grimes to have a run while Johnny helps elevate the main event scene. 

This match is definitely TakeOver worthy, so I wouldn't expect to see it until much later in the year, but I for sure hope this one happens. 

2. Finn Balor 

Balor and Kross

I'm no fan of automatic rematches and I don't think that Finn should get his shot again just yet, but that doesn't mean that we don't deserve another match between these two. 

Finn Balor was nearly unstoppable as NXT Champion and despite not being sold on it at first, I really enjoyed his most recent run with the belt. 

A rematch between Balor and Kross could end up being one of the most compelling stories of the year and that's without even mentioning the number of crazy ways that these two could really turn it up a notch. 

This could be the match that gets Balor to bring back his demon persona, or maybe we see an even more monstrous side of Kross that we can't even imagine yet. The sky really is the limit with these two and that makes me excited. 

1. WALTER 

walter

The Ring General is probably the biggest monster currently signed to a WWE contract. He really is everything that I want Karrion Kross to be.

I love the way that Walter's presence just hangs over all of NXT UK, he is so unmatched that everyone on that show just feels like they are fighting for the spot of second best. While some fans might not be too familiar with his work, he has certainly made an impression with his handful of matches on US soil and that is why he is probably the best opponent for Karrion Kross. 

This match seriously has no bad outcome. If Walter defeats Kross and becomes a double champion, it totally makes sense because he is so believable. If Walter puts Kross over it is the ultimate sign of faith in the NXT Champion, and honestly with the way that Kross has been booked it is still believable. 

This match is also the least likely to happen on this list so I wouldn't get my hopes up, but when I decided to examine the NXT men's division and see who the biggest contenders are, this match just made too much sense. 

So there you have it, 5 guys that need to step up and challenge Karrion Kross and help elevate the NXT main event scene. Did I leave anyone off? Would you like to see one of NXT's women step up to Kross? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer

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