As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve seen quite a few big title changes in WWE NXT over the past year. With new stars establishing their claim and spots opening up as others get called up, who is poised to win NXT gold in 2019? Who are the favorites for each of NXT’s four championships?
We saw the creation of an entirely new title this year with the introduction of the WWE NXT North American Championship. Six men went to hell in a ladder match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. Every competitor showed us something special, but only one could be crowned the first ever NXT North American Champion.
“There is not a person in that match who is more deserving of becoming the first ever NXT North American Champion than yours truly, than Adam Cole bay-bay.” – Adam Cole (BAY-BAY!)
The words of Adam Cole rang true when he emerged from the chaos as the first-ever NXT North American Champion. Cole’s gold rush for the night wasn’t over yet, but no one expected things to go down like they did. Going in to the night, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish of The Undisputed Era were the reigning NXT Tag Team Champions. They were set to defend their titles in the finals of the year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic against The Authors of Pain and the duo of Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong.
There would’ve have been a problem with that, but Bobby Fish was injured prior to TakeOver. NXT General Manager William Regal refused to change the match, and fellow Undisputed Era member Adam Cole was forced to replace Fish despite already having a match that night. It looked like this might be too much of an obstacle for Cole and O’Reilly to overcome, but Roderick Strong shockingly turned on his partner Pete Dunne. The move helped Undisputed Era win, and Strong was revealed as a fourth member of the faction.
Not only did Adam Cole technically become an NXT Tag Team Champion at this point, substituting for Fish via the Freebird Rule, but Roderick Strong became one as well. When The Undisputed Era showed back up on NXT, Roderick Strong was holding one-half of the Tag Team Titles and Adam Cole had slid out of his position in the trio in order to focus on his NXT North American Championship.
The Undisputed Era weren’t the only ones who captured gold in New Orleans. Shayna Baszler vanquished Ember Moon to become NXT Women’s Champion, and Aleister Black took out Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas to become the NXT Champion. While Baszler managed to keep her title for (most of) 2018, Aleister Black ran into a huge roadblock with the unexpected rise of Tommaso Ciampa.
As Ciampa and Gargano’s personal issues started to meld into the NXT Championship picture, it was the actions of Gargano that inadvertently helped Ciampa capture the title from Aleister Black. These are just a handful of the amazing title changes we saw in 2018, but what does the future hold? Which NXT superstars are poised to capture each of NXT’s four titles at some point in 2019?