Published on January 16th, 2015 | by Bryan


A Network Guide To The Champions Of NXT

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So you’ve just signed up to the WWE Network but you don’t know what to watch first?  Well can we recommend you watch what is probably the best thing that WWE have going at the moment and that is NXT.

In it’s original format, NXT was an updated version of the old Tough Enough programme.  A number of talents from WWE’s developmental division all vying for a slot on the main roster and mentored by a WWE superstar.  Wade Barrett, who would go on to be a five time Intercontinental Champion, had Chris Jericho as his mentor whilst the future two time WWE Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan had to put up with…. sorry, was mentored by, The Miz.

Looking at the lineup for that first season, all of the competitors went on to get a shot on the main roster.  Well all except for Michael Tarver.  Things didn’t work out quite so well for him and he was last seen plying his trade on the independent circuit.   As for the others, well we’ve already discussed Barrett and Bryan’s success but they weren’t the only ones to hold titles.  Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater would hold the tag titles, Michael McGillicuty (aka Curtis Axel) would also hold the tag titles with fellow Nexus member David Otunga (who would also hold the tag title with John Cena when he was forced to join The Nexus) as well as have a reign as Intercontinental Champion.  The only members not to hold any belts (so far) are Darren Young and Skip Sheffield (known to us now as Ryback).

So it was pretty much a successful format, right?  Well not really.  After another 4 patchy seasons (The final one just seemed to go on forever.  No really, it was the best part of 12 months!  I think WWE had forgot about it!), which did introduce a few current faces (AJ Lee, Fandango, Naomi, Bray Wyatt, Titus O’Neil to name but a few), the format was abandoned and they headed in to a new direction…..

Which leads us to the show we have now.  In the Summer of 2012, WWE closed up their developmental company, FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling), retired it’s titles and re-branded it to NXT.  The show would still have developmental wrestlers on it but they wouldn’t be competing in challenges or be mentored by WWE superstars as in the previous incarnation of NXT.  It would be a traditional 1 hour wrestling show filmed within Full Sail University in Orange County, Florida and would be overlooked not by Vince McMahon but HHH.

“Well what’s so good about it?” I hear you ask.  Well quite simply,  we get wrestling.  And lots of it.  We don’t have needless cutaways to backstage for a useless segment.  If we do go backstage it’s usually to set up something later in the hour or for the following week.  After that, straight back to the action.  And what action it is.  The wrestlers actually get time for their matches which is a world away from a throwaway 3 minute match on RAW.

So who are the stars that are entertaining us so much?  Well let’s start with the champions of NXT.  We’ll give you rundown of some of the important moments of their NXT career with links to the Network so you can view them.  So… let’s get started shall we?

NXT Tag Team Champions:  The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto)

Lucha Dragons

The Lucha Dragons consist of Kalisto (better known by his independents name of Sumuary del Sol) and Sin Cara.  But it’s not the original one played by Mistico.  This Sin Cara is Hunico who temporarily took over the Sin Cara role when Mistico was suspended for breaking the Wellness Policy in 2011 and took over the role permanently when Mistico was released from WWE.

Their tag team pretty much came from nowhere as Sin Cara had came down to NXT to get some more ring time and Kalisto had been teaming with El Local (Ricardo Rodriguez under a mask).  Kalisto and Local had failed to beat The Ascension at NXT Takeover in May and parted ways.  A few weeks later Kalisto and Sin Cara announced that they had decided to form a team and entered in to a number one contenders tournament to face the then champions The Ascension.

After defeating Buddy Murphy & Wesley Blake in the first round, Adam Rose & Sami Zayn in the semi-finals and The Vaudevillains in the finals, The Lucha Dragons would then go on to face The Ascension at NXT Takeover: Fatal Four Way for the tag titles.  The Ascension were in the middle of a long reign as champions after winning the belts in October 2013 but were still expected to beat the luchadors.  But in a surprise to many, The Dragons would win the match and become the new champions.

Since winning the belts they have went on to feud with The Vaudevillains (Simon Gotch & Aiden English) facing them at NXT R-Evolution and after a disputed finish to that match, they would face off again a few weeks later on NXT with The Lucha Dragons coming out on top.

It doesn’t look like this feud is over so expect it to continue for a while yet.


NXT Women’s Champion:  Charlotte

Charlotte Flair

Why is Ric Flair bawling his eyes out in that pic you ask?  That’s because the woman who has just won the NXT Women’s Championship is his daughter Charlotte.

Charlotte would debut on NXT in the Summer of 2013 as a face, teaming up with fan favourite Bayley for a few tag team matches.  During some of these matches, the “BFF’s (Beautiful, Fierce Females)” Summer Rae & Sasha Banks would come down to ringside also and attempt to get Bayley to join them.  However it would be Charlotte who would join them, turning heel in the process and attacking Bayley.

The three of them would form a vicious team, running over a lot of the competitors in the NXT Women’s division but Charlotte had aspirations of her own and that was to be the Women’s Champion.  When Paige had to relinquish the NXT Women’s Championship after winning the WWE Divas Championship, there was a tournament to crown the new champion.  Charlotte would take on Emma in the first round, before facing Alexa Bliss in the semi-finals and finally defeating former WWE Divas Champion Natalya in the final to win the belt in what was possibly the best women’s match in WWE last year.

After winning the belt, some cracks started to appear in the BFF’s family.  They would lose a six diva tag team match to Bayley, Emma & Paige when Bayley would get the pinfall over Charlotte.  The infighting would continue and even though Charlotte would get a measure of revenge over Bayley when she beat her in a tag match she would leave her partner, Sasha, to be attacked by Bayley after the match.  The BFF’s would be officially disbanded after this and Charlotte would then defend the title against Summer Rae a few weeks later.

We would then start to see a possible difference in attitude from Charlotte as she would rekindle her feud with Bayley.  Although Bayley came across as an innocent child who couldn’t believe how lucky she was to be in the WWE, she was still a formidable challenger to Charlotte’s title and would very slowly start to earn her respect.  The first signs of this happened after Charlotte defeated Bayley at NXT Takeover: Fatal Four Way when Sasha Banks attempted to attack Bayley after the match but was stopped by Charlotte.  Bayley requested a rematch and even though she failed to win the title, she did win Charlotte’s respect as Charlotte raised her hand after the match and they hugged.  Charlotte would then go on to team with Bayley as she did when she first debuted as they took on the duo of Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch.

Charlotte would then go on to defend the Women’s Championship against Sasha at both NXT Takeover: R-Evolution and on the Xmas Day edition of NXT.  Sasha is determined to be crowned the Women’s Champion so expect her and Charlotte to continue to battle over the title.

NXT Champion: Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn

Ole-ole-ole-ole!!  Ole…. OLE!!

Sami Zayn, the true underdog of NXT, is the current NXT Champion and his path to the title was more than a year in the making.

After coming up short in an epic 2 out of 3 falls match with Antonio Cesaro, Sami would make his first challenge for the NXT Championship against Bo Dallas.  Sami thought he had won the match but unfortunately the referee had failed to notice Bo’s foot on the ropes and the then GM of NXT, John Bradsahw Layfield, called for the match to be restarted.  Sami would go on to lose the match after being thrown in to an exposed turnbuckle by Dallas.

He would go on to have a short feud with Leo Kruger (the former, and arguably better gimmick, of Adam Rose), which was culminated in another 2 out 3 falls match that, this time, Sami would win.

But the loss to Cesaro the previous summer was still weighing on his mind and he was determined to prove that he could defeat the Swiss Superman so Sami challenged him to a rematch at the first NXT Special Event, NXT: Arrival.  He would once again come up short but between the 2 out of 3 falls match the previous August and this match, Cesaro was more than impressed by Sami and would show his respect to him after the match.

He would get another chance to challenge for the NXT Championship when a 20 man Battle Royal was held to name the number one contender to the then champion, Adrian Neville.  The match would have a crazy end with the final three men (Zayn, Tyson Kidd & Tyler Breeze) eliminating each other at the same time.  With the referees unable to name a decisive winner, the three men would face each other in a triple threat match the following week to name the number one contender.  Kidd would come out on top and would go on to face Neville at NXT: Takeover and on the same night, Sami and Breeze would face each other to determine the number one contender to the winner of that match.  Sami looked to have the match won but as he hit Breeze with the Helluva Kick he would receive what appeared to be an accidental low-blow as Breeze attempted to shield his face.  Breeze would go on to win the match and the number one contender spot.

After this, Sami would enter a short feud with the Tyson Kidd, who had came up short in his challenge for the NXT Championship.  Sami came out on top for most of the feud, defeating Tyson in a singles match as well as in the NXT Tag Team Championship number one contenders tournament when he would team with Adam Rose against Tyson and Justin Gabriel.

Feeling confident, Sami would make his case for a shot at the NXT Championship but so would Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze (who had been defeated in his challenge for the title).  Adrian Neville would give all three men a shot at the same time as he would face them in a Fatal Four Way match at the aptly named NXT Takeover: Fatal 4Way Special Event.

Sami had the match won but as the referee was making his 3 count, Neville would pull him out of the ring, breaking up the pin and go on to win the match himself.  The ending to this match caused a lot of friction between the two men as they had been friends for a long time and Adrian’s actions hinted that he was perhaps heading towards a heel turn.  He would go on to accuse Sami of being “unable to win the big one” due to the fact he was losing the important matches.  After suffering a few more defeats, including one to Titus O’Neil, Sami declared that he was starting on his own “road to Redemption” and that redemption would be winning the NXT Championship.

As he headed down this road he would take on some of the men who had been roadblock’s to his quest during the year and would defeat Tyson Kidd, Titus O’Neil and Tyler Breeze to build up momentum before being rewarded with a shot at Adrian Neville and his title.

As expected, it was a great match between the two but as Zayn was on the verge of victory, Neville would appear to suffer a knee injury.  Although they hadn’t been seeing eye to eye, Sami was still worried about his friend and was hesitant to take advantage.  Neville would instead take the advantage and roll Sami up in a small package to retain the belt.

In the following week, Sami would confront Neville about what happened and requested a rematch saying that if he was unable to win, he was done and would quit NXT.  Neville would agree and the two men would face each other again at NXT: R-Evolution.  In what was possibly a late contender for match of the year, Sami would finally show that killer instinct and defeat Neville to win the championship.  The two men would embrace after the match and Neville would show respect to his friend and new champion.

However the celebrations wouldn’t last for very long.  Debuting the same night as the title match, Kevin Owens, (formerly Kevin Steen), a long time friend of Zayn’s, would come out to congratulate him on his victory.  As the fans were cheering on the touching image of two real life best friends who had traveled the independent circuit for years, Owens would suddenly attack Zayn and powerbomb him on the ring apron in a vicious attack as the event went off the air.

The two men have had some incredible battles before joining WWE and it looks like we’re going to see another battle added to that list in the coming months.

So there you go.  NXT’s champions and the matches that helped to make them champs.  Enjoy the matches and enjoy NXT!

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