Samoa Joe is NXT Champion: Who Are His Top Contenders?

Coming up short in two previous epic battles, the third time proved to be the charm for Samoa Joe. “The Samoan Submission Machine” is the NXT Champion after finally defeating Finn Balor at a live event in Lowell, Mass. on April 21. Balor’s historic 292-day reign was snapped, giving way to Joe’s turn defending the coveted strap.

Searching NXT’s current active roster, who are the contender’s to Samoa Joe’s NXT Championship?

Alex Riley 

Losing repeatedly to former reigning NXT Champion Kevin Owens left Riley with a major chip on his shoulder. Explosive, aggressive, and motivated by anger, Riley could direct his soured temperament toward Joe for another shot at the title.

Apollo Crews 

Apollo Crews teased the coming of a more aggressive side after losing both a championship opportunity and a non-title clash to former reigning champion, Finn Balor. While Crews has been making waves on the main roster, his time in NXT may not yet be over. Recently tapping out to Samoa Joe could motivate him to seek retribution by way of besting Joe for the NXT Championship.

Austin Aries 

Experience and skill can lead to championship gold, and Austin Aries has a great deal of both. A former TNA Champion and a former 2-time Ring of Honor Champion, A Double’s arrival in NXT is to be NXT Champion, and nothing less. He and Joe are not strangers in the ring, so a clash between the two veterans is inevitable. A new arrival with established championship credibility, “The Greatest Man Alive” is easily a Top 3 contender.

Elias Samson 

There’s something unhinged about “The Drifter” Elias Samson. He calmly plays guitar, sings folky hymns, but in the ring he tunes up his opponents with noted pain. With a much better win than loss record, the time is coming for him to drift into the title picture. Even a bruiser like NXT Champion Samoa Joe will find a challenge facing Samson.

Shinsuke Nakamura 

The only reason Shinsuke Nakamura is not the #1 contender to the NXT Championship is because former champion Finn Balor is entitled to a rematch. A 5-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion and 3-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, “The King of Strong Style” is undoubtedly a serious threat to Samoa Joe’s title. With his MMA background and fearless full-on attacks, the flamboyant New Japan legend would push the “The Samoan Submission Machine” to his brutal limits, and quite possibly his breaking point.

Tye Dillinger 

Face or heel, Tye Dillinger is on course to be NXT’s next breakout star. He’s got the look, the personality, and is highly skilled in the ring. After leaving the tag ranks for a solo outing, Dillinger quickly proved himself to be one to watch. Calling himself “The Perfect 10”, this charismatic competitor may prove his claims by challenging Samoa Joe to the NXT Championship.

By: Mr. Joe Walker

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