At NXT Takeover: Portland, Adam Cole successfully defended his NXT Championship against Tommaso Ciampa in a match that has divided opinions within the IWC. While the in-ring action in the match received unanimous praise, a lot of people took umbrage to the fact that the match was laden with far too many false finishes. The ending that saw Johnny Gargano turn on his DIY partner, Ciampa, clocking him with the NXT Title for Cole to pin him didn't sit well with a lot of fans. Following the event, The Leader of The Undisputed Era was left with gold on his waist among the quartet as Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly lost the NXT Tag Team Championship to Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle.
Ever since winning the NXT Championship from Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover: XXV, Adam Cole has been on quite a run as the top dog of the black and yellow brand. The Panama City Playboy has successfully defended the title across all three brands. Cole has defeated the likes of Johnny Gargano, Matt Riddle, Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor and Tommaso Ciampa on route to becoming one of the greatest NXT Champions. Cole has been the flagbearer for the brand as it has gone from being a developmental show to a legitimate.
With NXT Women's Championship being defended at WrestleMania 36, there needs to a big-time match for the Men's title at NXT Takeover:Tampa Bay, the night before The Showcase of Immortals.
Here are four potential opponents for Adam Cole at NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay:
#4 Damian Priest
The Puerto Rican Powerhouse has been a revelation on the Black and Gold brand. The former Punishment Martinez was considered by many to be a good hand during his time in Ring of Honor. He had a good look and could go in the ring but something was missing from his character. When he debuted for NXT late last year, no one expected Priest to be a major player on the Black and Gold brand.
But, the man billed from New York City has proven us all wrong. Martinez was repackaged as 'Damian Priest' earlier this year. He has had some excellent matches on NXT TV and has one of the best entrances in the company. Damian Priest is among one of the many big men in NXT who are incredibly agile. But, what makes him stand out is his character work. Whether it be the way he walks to the ring or his deep baritone, one cannot help but be captivated by Damian Priest.
With Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa feuding against one another, this leaves the door open for someone like Priest to challenge Cole for the brand's top prize. Although the heel vs heel dynamic here might look a bit odd, if there is one brand that could make something like this work, it is NXT.