Since TakeOver: New Orleans back in April, the Undisputed Era have been on top of the NXT world. Adam Cole had just defeated five other superstars to become the inaugural North American Champion and Cole and Kyle O'Reilly recruited Roderick Strong on their way to retaining the NXT tag team championships. However, a few weeks ago, the wheels began to fall off.
At the United Kingdom tournament last month, O'Reilly and Strong found themselves as the visiting team when they entered Royal Albert Hall to defend their titles against the hometown heroes, Moustache Mountain's Tyler Bate and Trent Seven. In somewhat of a surprising twist, Bate and Seven secured the victory to become champions and loosened the Undisputed Era's grip over the brand. Though it was hard to imagine O'Reilly and Strong not making a legitimate push to reclaim the gold back in the States, the moment was worth it for the U.K. fans and for the fantastic duo of Bate and Seven.
The celebration was short-lived as the Undisputed Era was determined to replenish their waists with gold and invoked their rematch clause during the latest set of NXT tapings. The finish to the match saw O'Reilly lock in a variation of a heel hook submission on Seven's injured leg, but Seven refused to tap out. This caused a concerned Bate to throw in the towel, and as a result lose the match and the championships in an incredible showing from both teams. The match was an instant classic. It was a smart booking decision from the standpoint that it illustrated the Undisputed Era's ruthlessness while keeping Moustache Mountain looking strong enough to remain future contenders.
Outside of a potential rematch for Bate and Seven, who's next for the champions? Similar to what we did last week in examining some of the NXT women's championship contenders, let's take a look at a few of the tag teams who could be on the brink of title contention.
War Raiders: Rowe and Hanson have to be at the top of this list at the moment. They've done nothing but dominate since their NXT debut and have shown no signs of slowing down. Could TakeOver: Brooklyn IV serve as the destination for an epic showdown between arguably the two most popular teams within the brand? We should find out in the coming weeks.
The Mighty: While traveling under the radar a bit, The Mighty have been on quite a roll. Embracing their newfound villainous personas, Shane Thorne and Nick Miller have won four NXT TV matches over the past couple of months. Their direction is clearly pointing up, and they'd pose the most dynamic threat to the Undisputed Era from an athletic perspective.
Heavy Machinery: They've fallen victim to some shady tactics throughout their recent battles with The Mighty, but Heavy Machinery are still major players within the NXT tag team division. Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight ooze with charisma and are still very much over with the NXT audience. They'd make for intriguing opponents for O'Reilly and Strong.
Adam Cole defeats Danny Burch. What's next?
Adam Cole has been a stellar addition to the NXT roster since signing with the WWE last year. He's magnetic, brings a ton of energy to the table and, most important, is undeniably over with every crowd he steps in front of.
Cole and Danny Burch put forth another quality effort on Wednesday night that saw the leader of the Undisputed Era walk away victorious, but as good as Cole has been, the North American Championship has felt insignificant to say the least.
The introduction of the title by way of a six-man ladder match at TakeOver: New Orleans was spectacular, but since Cole walked out as champion, the strap has felt like an afterthought, and it's not really Cole's fault.
As seen this week, he continues to perform at a very high level, but why wasn't his title on the line against Burch? For whatever reason, the North American Championship is not being featured as a coveted title in NXT. Case in point, Cole and his championship were omitted from the last TakeOver card in Chicago. That needs to change. Hopefully, as Cole embarks on a new journey headed toward Brooklyn, the North American Championship will not only be a key ingredient, but the premier focus of Cole and his challenger.
Following an intense conversation between NXT champion Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano in which Gargano insisted that Tommaso Ciampa cannot become NXT champion when he takes on Black in two weeks, Ciampa made a statement of his own. After Black and Gargano parted ways, Ciampa blindsided Black and delivered a vicious DDT to the floor. The more this story progresses, the more it appears that both Gargano and Ciampa will remain factors in the NXT championship conversation for the foreseeable future.
In a segment taking place in the parking lot, Candice LeRae approached NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler, calling her out on comments she made last week. Baszler told her to maintain her role as a sidekick, resulting in LeRae slapping her across the face and beginning a brawl.
Sticking with the wide-open women's division, Kairi Sane continued to make a case for herself to be considered a worthy challenger for the NXT women's championship by picking up a win against Vanessa Borne. She'll get a chance to make that official next week. The next No. 1 contender will be determined by way of a Fatal Four-way match between Sane, LeRae, Nikki Cross and Bianca Belair next week. Lacey Evans and Dakota Kai will also do battle.