On the September 18th episode of NXT TV, Lio Rush made his return to the ring after being gone since mid-April.
He defeated Oney Lorcan to become the number one contender to Drew Gulak’s NXT Cruiserweight Championship, and the two squared off for the title this past week, with Rush defying the odds and becoming the new champion. With 205 Live being cancelled and moving underneath the NXT umbrella, I suppose it made sense to put the title on someone with Rush’s charisma and talent.
Now that The Man of The Hour is at the top of the division, he’s going to need some new competition. So here are five potential challengers for Lio Rush and the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
5. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
Kicking off the list is a man that has started to turn more heads as of late.
Scott made his NXT TV debut back in early July as a part of the NXT Breakout Tournament, where he lost in the first round to Cameron Grimes. He then made several appearances on 205 Live, most notably challenging then-Cruiserweight Champion, Drew Gulak.
Last week, he wrestled NXT North American Champion, Roderick Strong, in a non-title match, where he lost due to The Undisputed Era’s interference. Regardless of the outcome, he still impressed many with how he held his own against the champion.
It’s looking like Scott is going to get more and more opportunities on NXT TV, so now would be the perfect time to get him into the cruiserweight title picture. A match between him and Rush would be extremely entertaining to watch, especially with their similar high-flying styles.
Scott has the makings of a true star for the black-and-yellow brand, so what better title to kickstart his NXT career off with than the NXT Cruiserweight Championship?
4. Johnny Gargano
Next, we look at the heart and soul of NXT.
Gargano’s career so far definitely speaks for itself; he was the first NXT Triple Crown Champion, capturing the NXT North American Championship, the NXT Tag Team Championships with Tommaso Ciampa, and the NXT Championship in the four years he’s been with the company.
But since he lost to NXT Champion, Adam Cole, at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, his momentum has slowed down quite a bit. He defeated Shane Thorne several weeks ago on NXT TV, but that’s about it in terms of wins
He could use some more high-caliber competition, and Rush sounds like just the right guy for the job. Gargano has had cruiserweight experience, competing in the Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016. This kind of storyline has Johnny Wrestling written all over it.
Having him go back to his roots could give Gargano the shot in the arm that he needs right now. He has a tendency to make almost every match he’s in a “match of the year” candidate, and a showdown with The Man of the Hour would be no different.
3. Joaquin Wilde
Then we move to another newcomer to the NXT roster.
Wilde signed with the company in May and was a part of the NXT Breakout Tournament in July, where he lost in the first round to Angel Garza. Before that, he was known for his time in the International Wrestling Cartel, Absolute Intense Wrestling, and Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling. His daredevil style in the ring has captivated fans wherever he has gone, and has earned him quite a few titles along the way as well.
Perhaps the next title he could set his sights on is the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Much like with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, seeing Wilde and Rush fly around the ring would be very entertaining and a great way to help Wilde gain more exposure on a national stage.
However, he hasn’t been on NXT TV as of late due to injury. His last televised match was back on August 7, in a losing effort to Shane Thorne. So while a match between Wilde and Rush might not happen right away, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw it happen at some point in the future.
2. Jordan Myles
Now we take a look at the winner of the NXT Breakout Tournament.
Myles joined NXT back in February, and defeated Boa, Angel Garza, and Cameron Grimes in the aforementioned tournament to earn an NXT title opportunity of his choosing. He chose to challenge NXT Champion, Adam Cole, and was unable to capture the title when the two faced off on September 4th.
Since then, we haven’t seen Myles on NXT TV. I would like to think that wasn’t going to be the only opportunity he received for quite some time, especially with him giving Cole a run for his money. If he were to stay out of the main-event picture for a while, I think maybe he should get a chance at the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Much like the other men on this list, Myles possesses a style that could provide some high-octane offense if he and Rush were to step in the ring together. While he might be in the back of the proverbial line for the NXT Championship, maybe shifting his focus towards the cruiserweight division could help him regain some momentum.
1. Finn Balor
Finally, we come to one of the most popular performers in NXT’s history.
Balor was an integral part in getting NXT to where it is today, being the face of the brand for the two years he was there. He was the longest-reigning NXT Champion, holding the title for 292 days.
He recently made his return to the brand two weeks ago, confronting Adam Cole and proclaiming that, as of now, “Finn Balor is NXT”. In my opinion, this is exactly what he needed to help reinvigorate his career; he hadn’t been on TV for almost two months and was basically stuck in the mid-card on the main roster.
This also helps NXT as well, giving them a big name to help strengthen their already stacked roster.
While it looks like he’ll be going after Cole and the NXT Championship in the near future, eventually putting him into the cruiserweight division against Rush immediately elevates the title picture. Giving the champion a legitimate challenger right out of the gate would show that the title is to be taken seriously.
It may not happen right away, but putting Balor and Rush together could create an instant classic if they’re given the chance to do so.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!