The WWE NXT Championship is the top prize on the black-and-gold brand. The title has been held by notable names like Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens. It's fair to say that the NXT Championship is a gateway to success, as the majority of former champions have successfully moved up to the main roster.
Throughout its short history, many excellent matches have involved the WWE NXT Championship. At WWE NXT Takeover: New York 2019, Johnny Gargano battled Adam Cole for the vacant WWE NXT Championship. The match received a 5.25 star rating from Dave Meltzer.
Recently, Balor has brought a lot of star power to NXT. In 2019, he returned to the black-and-gold brand with a new edge to his character. At WWE NXT Super Tuesday II, Balor defeated Adam Cole for the WWE NXT Championship. Since then, Balor has defended the gold twice against Kyle O'Reilly. At WWE NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day, Pete Dunne will challenge for the title.
If Balor retains the title, several compelling challengers are next in line beyond Dunne. Here's a look at the three top contenders who could take the NXT Championship
# 3 Former WWE NXT Champion Karrion Kross
Karrion Kross is arguably one of the most intense wrestlers in WWE, and he has a bright future with the company. He has competed all over the world, but now the black-and-gold brand is his home.
Kross has dominated since he arrived in NXT. He quickly rose up the ranks, and at NXT Takeover XXX, he defeated Keith Lee to win the NXT Championship. But in the same match, Kross suffered a shoulder injury, so he was forced to vacate the title. Kross returned to NXT in December, and he has reemerged as a force to be reckoned with.
Kross seems like an unstoppable beast. He's chasing the NXT Championship, and it's only a matter of time before he gets a title match. Whoever leaves WWE NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day as the champion should expect Kross to be waiting for them.
# 2 Former WWE NXT Champion: Kyle O'Reilly
Kyle O'Reilly has honed his craft with several wrestling promotions, such as Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerilla. He won the ROH World Championship, and he was a hot prospect when he signed with WWE in 2017.
O'Reilly debuted for WWE in 2017, and he quickly teamed up Adam Cole and Bobby Fish. The trio formed the Undisputed ERA, and the stable dominated the NXT brand. The group has been involved in many notable matches, such as the first WarGames match in NXT history.
In 2020, O'Reilly earned an opportunity to challenge for the WWE NXT Championship. At WWE NXT Takeover 31, he took Balor to the limit, but "The Prince" emerged victorious.
Earlier this year, O'Reilly failed to beat Balor in a heated rematch for the title. Even though he lost the bout, O'Reilly proved his legitimacy as a potential WWE NXT Champion. With his technical prowess and his intense MMA striking ability, O'Reilly should remain a contender for the NXT Championship.
# 1 Former NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne is one of the greatest wrestlers in the modern British wrestling scene. Alongside fellow wrestlers Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, he helped form British Strong Style. He wrestled all over the United Kingdom, and he was one of the top wrestlers in the region.
In 2017, WWE hosted a new tournament to crown the very first WWE United Kingdom Champion. Dunne lost to Tyler Bate in the final match, but The Bruiserweight defeated Bate to win the gold a few months later.
Dunne's impressive reign lasted 685 days. Since he lost the title, Dunne has worked mainly on the NXT brand. In 2020, he formed a team with Matt Riddle, and they won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The duo won the NXT Tag Team Championship
After he was absent for a few months, Dunne returned at NXT WWE Halloween Havoc, where he aligned with Pat McAfree, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch. In recent months, Dunne has been a main event player in NXT.
Dunne, McAfee, Lorcan and Burch lost their rivalry with the Undisputed ERA. But Dunne has remained a constant threat to Balor's championship reign. The Bruiserweight will challenge The Prince for the gold at WWE NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day.
Even if Dunne loses on Sunday, he could take the title from Balor in a rematch at some point.