With NXT gaining a renaissance in recent months due to the debuts and returns of stars like Adam Cole and Kassius Ohno, it looks like NXT could well be on its way to becoming a quintessential third brand within the WWE. With NXT creating new stars to steal the spotlight, the developmental brand could well be on its way to becoming what it once was: amazing. These are five superstars or tag teams to watch out for in the coming months.
1 The Street Profits
Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have recently formed as a tag team, debuting back in July. Together they are known as The Street Profits and have already gotten over with the NXT faithful.
Ford signed a contract with NXT back in 2015 and only competed on house shows until suffering an injury, keeping him out of action for three months. When he returned, he got renamed Montez Ford and formed the team with Angelo Dawkins, debuting on NXT TV on the August 9th episode of NXT. Since then, The Street Profits have racked up a few victories while also getting the crowd behind them.
Angelo Dawkins has been with NXT since 2012 and has been used as enhancement talent until forming this new team with Montez Ford. The Street Profits can be an integral part of the NXT Tag Team Division, with them possibly being built up as a team that could challenge and potentially defeat SAnitY for the NXT Tag Team Titles.
2 Lio Rush
Lio Rush recently debuted on NXT and has already shown that his wrestling skill is unparalleled and he should be a main part of the show in the next few years. Although he has a minor part in the rivalry between Aleister Black and The Velveteen Dream, Lio Rush can easily be made into a main event star that could one day hold the NXT Championship.
Pushing Lio Rush to the main event scene can come with some criticisms as some people would complain that Lio Rush is too small, but being a world-renowned superstar has its advantages. Lio Rush could also remind people of when Finn Balor was the top guy, if given the chance.
Despite being only 22 years old, Rush already has three years of experience and plenty of accolades in that time. He won the Ring of Honor's Top Prospect Tournament and has also won multiple championships in other promotions like Combat Zone Wrestling, House of Glory, and MCW Pro Wrestling. He was ranked #120 of the top 500 wrestlers in the PWI 500 of this year. Although he is young, Lio Rush is one of the hottest prospects in the world and is definitely one to watch for the future of NXT. Keep an eye on the rise of Lio Rush. He could end up being the future of the WWE.
3 Rhea Ripley
The WWE Universe was first introduced to Rhea Ripley during the Mae Young Classic. The twenty-one year old Australian made waves in the tournament, defeating Miranda Salinas in the first round before falling to Dakota Kai in the second. Although she didn't go far in the tournament, Rhea Ripley can be used in a major way in the NXT women's division going forward.
Although she's only being wrestling for four years, Rhea Ripley has wrestled in her home country of Australia and the notoriously tough Japanese circuit. She made her name in the Adelaide-based promotion Riot City Wrestling, where she held the Women's Championship twice. Before lighting the wrestling scene on fire, she was a standout soccer player. Instead of opting for football, she uses her striking expertise to rearrange the face of her opponents with dropkicks and her finishing move, which she has aptly named "Solefood".
Rhea may be the youngest member of the NXT women's division but she can be an integral part of it for years to come. She has the charisma that only some people can dream of and she would definitely be able to use that to get over with any fans that didn't see her compete in the Mae Young Classic. Remember the name Rhea Ripley: she could be a future NXT Women's Champion.
4 The Velveteen Dream
Patrick Clark got his start on Tough Enough and gained a cult following from die-hard fans who appreciated his passion for the business and disdain for how little of Tough Enough was about wrestling. Since debuting in NXT, Clark has repackaged himself by taking on the persona of The Velveteen Dream and has gotten himself over with the crowd, whether he gets booed or cheered.
He is receiving the right amount of heat, as a heel, from the crowd. He knows how to work the crowd, which helps, when you're the kind of heel that everyone loves to hate. The Velveteen Dream is well on his way to a big future in NXT and in the WWE.
With his current character, Patrick Clark can easily make himself one of the most hated heels in recent history. He's already illustrating what he's capable of during his feud with Aleister Black. Even if he turns face soon, he could also be one of the most loved superstars on the roster. The Velveteen Dream is definitely one to watch. Along with one of the best elbow drops in the business, in this writer's humble opinion, Clark could possibly be a future NXT Champion.
Dijak is well known to all who watch indie wrestling promotion Ring of Honor. Known as Donovan Dijak, he won the 2015 Top Prospect Tournament. He spent three years with Ring of Honor, establishing him as one of the top wrestlers in the company, even though he didn't win any championships.
While under contract with ROH, Dijak also competed in Chaotic Wrestling, winning the CW Heavyweight and New England Championships. Dijak started to build hype over the last year due to some spectacular matches with Keith Lee on the independent scene, including one during WrestleMania weekend at an Evolve event. They met again in September at PWG's 2017 Battle of Los Angeles. Anyone who knows PWG understand their quality of matches, and Dijak's encounter with Keith Lee at BOLA 2017 was the first ever one-on-one match in PWG to be rated five stars by Dave Meltzer. That's not an accolade to be taken lightly.
With the right booking, Dijak can become a major player on the NXT brand over the next couple of years, especially in the main event scene, with him possibly challenging for the NXT Championship. He has the advantage of being a 6' 7'' tall and 270 lb beast, something WWE definitely loves to find. At only 30 years of age and likely coming into the prime of his career, Dijak is one to watch, whether it be on NXT or even on the main roster.
The Future of NXT
With the next TakeOver taking place the day before Survivor Series with WCW staple match WarGames as the main event, NXT have got a great card set. Following WarGames, many of the superstars I have mentioned in this article can easily be added into the weekly storylines. Expect these five stars to headline TakeOver events in the future, with many potentially winning championships, and fans, along the way.
Which NXT superstars do you think are on their way up the ranks? Let us know in the comments below!
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