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  #1  
Unread 07-05-2019, 10:21 PM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Default Golden Gauntlet: Crowning The Greatest Ever NXT Champion!

Heya all. I was given permission by a moderator to plug this and give updates here, and I greatly appreciate it. I recently started to become a wrestling columnist, currently working for a brand new site called The Overtimer. It's still in the development stage so it's a bit rough around the edges, but it has given me a nice bit of creative freedom to try something new, and I'd like to share that with you guys. I've been kicking around this idea for a while.

It's inspired by the minor fad where every March, people will make their own March Madness style brackets featuring anything they can think of. Songs and movies and stuff. I know that with atleast some of them, the idea is that fans can vote on the results. Basically one big poll except it's a tournament, which to me makes it a million times cooler and allows for some fun presentation.

I felt like this idea could work really easily with wrestling themes. So I devised the Golden Gauntlet, in which I will be 'running' tournaments just like the above, but with wrestlers, events, promotions, tag teams, theme songs, eras or anything really. Anything that could reasonably used to theme something like this around.

I'm also making TV-style match-up graphics for this, as well as Tales of the Tape, and in the posts themselves I go into each champion's legacy and end with a little preview of what the match might be like.

For my first go-round I wanted something simple and relatively quick. So I opted to go for a tournament to crown the greatest NXT Champion of all time. This is because thanks to Adam Cole's title win, there have now conveniently been exactly 16 of them, which is pretty perfect.

Just for fun, my girlfriend and I went through and seeded them based on how good a champion we considered them to be. This was based on how big a moment their crowning was, match quality as it pertained to their title win and defenses, how much they did to elevate the title and brand as a whole whilst holding it... stuff like that.

All a matter of opinion of course and ultimately who wins is entirely up to the voters. If #16 takes the whole thing I won't be upset. The voting is done through twitter polls, all of which will be linked to within the articles themselves. No sort of walls there, any guest can vote.

The intro post going more into this has been published and is linked to below. That post will itself be updated for every new match posted. If this interests you at all, I'd really appreciate if you checked it out and considered voting! Thank you for your time~

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  #2  
Unread 07-06-2019, 09:42 AM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Round 1, Match 1:

Voting still ongoing!
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  #3  
Unread 07-06-2019, 02:20 PM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Round 1, Match 2:

An exciting clash of two men known for speed and technique!
Choose your victor!

Last edited by Zeel1 : 07-06-2019 at 07:36 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 07-06-2019, 03:36 PM
moon_lit_tears's Avatar
moon_lit_tears moon_lit_tears is offline
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Match 2 link, gives a 404 page not found for me.
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  #5  
Unread 07-06-2019, 07:37 PM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Hm, guess it's not actually available publicly yet. I was under the impression the direct still worked but maybe not. I did change it but I imagine it'd be the same effect.

Ah well it'll be working fairly soon.
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  #6  
Unread 07-07-2019, 02:43 AM
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Derek B Derek B is offline
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Still a 404 going on from here. Is the link definitely correct?
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  #7  
Unread 07-07-2019, 11:31 AM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Yeah, it works for me, they're just taking their time making these public... which is annoying because these twitter polls can only be active for 7 days!

To heck with it, here's that write-up:



#8 - Andrade 'Cien' Almas

Destiny hasn't been kind to every NXT Champion. Andrade sure seemed to have luck on his side though. Undeniably talented as he was, unlike everyone else in the lineage, it really seems like he wasn't meant to become NXT Champion. He was setup to be a fine contender for it, but not one who would quite hold the gold. But an injury to champion Drew McIntyre changed all of that, and he ended up being in the right place at the right time to claim the title.

In that situation, most would find themselves dropping it within days. But to their credit, they ran with it and man did it work. Now, I mean no disrespect to any former holders... but recent champs Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode had set a certain precedent for their defenses. They were slow-paced posedowns, and they were very effective thanks to the incredible charisma involved, the crowd responses were electric for it, no arguing that. But they were always following such exciting, nonstop action that they seemed a tad underwhelming watching at home. The main event was practically never the match of the night on these cards, always outshone by the Women's or Tag Title matches.

That isn't the case anymore and we have Cien to thank for that.

The match in which he defeated McIntyre for the title was, in my opinion, the best NXT title match I'd seen in years. And he followed that up with a defense against Johnny Gargano at the next TakeOver that earned NXT it's first-ever 5 star match. Even after his reign ended, his influence is still felt as it really seems like he raised the bar for NXT title matches going forward. For our money, that puts Almas in the upper half of NXT Champions... but what do you think?

As an aside, I really miss the days when Andrade has his full ringname. I always thought it was cool that you could say any of the three names by themselves and they worked.



#9 Seed - Seth Rollins

There's nothing quite like being the first. So many great talents have held this title since and many more will going forward. But there's only one man who can lay claim to being the original. Before he was burning it down on the main roster, Seth Rollins was proudly holding - and swinging - the NXT Championship. A fitting name, and a lovely little bit of foreshadowing of what was to come for the future Kingslayer.

This accolade earns him a lot of points, as does the fact that he was far and away the best choice. But in a way, that statement also describes why he isn't higher than #9 in our seeding. On it's inception, NXT did have a lot of talented guys, but fittingly, many of them were still developing. Aside from Kassius Ohno, nobody else was really at the level of being a world champion. Which meant he was a bit lacking for big time challengers and stellar title defenses.

I mean, he won the title by defeating Jinder Mahal in a tournament final so uh... yeah, it was a different time. Also docking him was how his reign was cut short by his unexpected call-up. His leading the Shield and suddenly sporting SWAT gear was also really jarring for those actually following it, and it caused NXT's top babyface to abruptly end his reign as a heel.

In a different circumstance, he could've easily been in the top 3 in our seeding. Maybe this tournament will serve as vindication...

That brings us to our Golden Gauntlet Tale of the Tape:




Now see, if Rollins had challengers like Almas his reign would've had a much bigger legacy... funny how that works out. Anyway, this would be an absolutely classic match, one that I'd love to see get a chance to headline a PPV in real life some day.

These two have very similar styles. Speed and technique would blend beautifully here, mixed with the occasional brutal knee or elbow. Cien's awesome manager Zelina Vega would no doubt play a role with key interference spots. An interesting thing about this fantasy aspect is the question of whether or not Rollins would have the Shield by his side, like he did in his final defenses originally. But personally, I'm imagining this as whitemeat babyface Rollins all by his lonesome trying to take on the devastating double threat of Andrade and Vega... you can look at it however you want though.


Who wins...? You tell me! Vote here!
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  #8  
Unread 07-11-2019, 01:29 PM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Round 1, Match 3:

Read the preview and vote here!
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  #9  
Unread 07-12-2019, 12:49 PM
Zeel1 Zeel1 is offline
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Round 1, Match 4:


Seed #5 - Sami Zayn

For my money, Sami Zayn was the original true blue top babyface of NXT. He made a big splash in his debut on the black and gold brand in May of 2013, defeating Curt Hawkins and then, stunningly, Antonio Cesaro back-to-back. In doing so, he immediately began one of the four feuds that not only defined his tenure in NXT, but did a lot to define NXT itself. His 2 out of 3 Falls rematch with Cesaro was the first taste of NXT for many, due to the buzz it garnered and even with the lofty standards of today's NXT, it still holds up quite nicely today.

Sami Zayn's rivalry with Cesaro would raise the bar in NXT in terms of pure match quality. His betrayal at the hands of Kevin Owens set the tempo for how heated the show's feuds could get. But it was in many ways the angle with Bo Dallas that would create the blueprint for NXT's long-term storytelling. Bo was by far the most hated heel they had at the time, and Sami, by far the most beloved face. So it was only natural that a lengthy angle would ensue between the two.

Sami was relentless in his pursuit of Bo's title, and the two battled wits just as much as they wrestled. To any watching, it seemed like the only natural conclusion was for Sami to one day finally unseat him as champion. He would be the one, without question, to take down Bo Dallas and wipe that unnaturally huge smile off his insincere face once and for all. It was the era-defining feud and it needed it's era-defining ending.

But then... it never happened.

Ultimately Sami lost his last shot at Bo. Adrian Neville would go on to defeat him instead, and while he was popular, he wasn't really close to being the same level of star. It felt... wrong, somehow. Neville would go on to have a record-breaking long reign on top of that, with Sami desperately struggling to claw his way back into title contention all the while. He got closer and closer everytime and at one point even pushed Neville into pulling out a few dirty tricks to keep his reign intact. Until finally, the night came where he took him down, in perhaps the best match in the brand's history up to that point.

The celebration was uproarious... but short-lived. Sami's best friend Kevin Owens, who debuted earlier that night, turned on him in shocking fashion, powerbombing him into the apron. This was in many ways the first true shockwave moment NXT had ever seen. And it made Owens a prime villain, especially when he went on to defeat Sami in brutal fashion to take the title mere months later.

Like Gargano, the brevity of the reign kept Sami from being any higher on our seeding. But also like Gargano, he's much too important to the title and brand's identity to be any lower.


#12 Seed - Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe had a curious run in NXT. He debuted in big-time fashion, confronting Kevin Owens at TakeOver: Unstoppable after he'd mercilessly beaten the legit injured Sami Zayn. This seemingly set up the next big angle, but it... kinda didn't. Himself and Owens only squared off once, on a regular NXT episode and that bout ended in a No Contest. We were seemingly building towards a huge title showdown between the two but the story just sorta faded away. Finn Balor beat Owens for the title instead whilst Joe mostly hung around fighting other bruisers.

This would actually pay off a bit later, as Joe and Balor would go on to win the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic together, only for Joe to turn on him soon after, angry at not receiving a title shot in spite of his successes. He would go on to have a very, very long feud with Finn and actually lost two straight TakeOver main event title shots, only to surprisingly take the gold at a seemingly random house show in Lowell, Massachusetts. One can only surmise this was done so as to allow Finn to just barely beat the record for longest reign before taking him out, but it certainly took something away from Joe's crowning. Nobody saw it happen!

After finally finishing Balor at the next TakeOver, he went on to drop it to Shinsuke Nakamura a couple months later. The two then traded it back and forth to become the only men to hold the title twice. That's cool, but Joe really seemed more like the type to hold the thing for a long time without any breaks.

I have a lot of respect for Joe, but I personally find his NXT run disappointing.

When he came to NXT, he was 36 years old and he'd already been wrestling for 16 years. For a 280lber, putting that weight on his knees for that long, it's hard to stay at the same level of athleticism. Big dudes get that wear and tear at a faster rate than others, generally speaking. He's still a good big man, but from watching his major NXT matches, I always felt that his best work was behind him. Seeing him on the main roster has never really changed my mind. And that's okay, it happens to everyone eventually. He's still very effective in 10-minute bouts. But to me, he wasn't really at the level of 20 minute headlining TakeOver bouts anymore. He's just a guy who came in too late, from my perspective.

It's cool that he was there, it's cool that he held the NXT title. And it's cool that he feuded with the likes of Finn and Shinsuke, but I never thought his matches with either were ever that great. The most sad example was at TakeOver: Dallas where they started off hot and for a moment it looked like he was finally ready to change that. But he suffered a cut minutes into the match that caused it to be constantly stopped and slowed down, much to his and the crowd's frustration. So this too ended up being nowhere as good as it could've been on paper.

But hey, that's all just one guy's opinion. Joe's legacy will always be that of being perhaps the most talented super heavyweight of all time, and rightfully so. And he'll always bring a legitimacy to everything that he does.

And now... our Tale Of The Tape!




Assuming everyone's firing on all cylinders here, this would be a lights out match. Needless to say, Sami would be playing his Underdog From The Underground role to quite the advantage here. Joe would bully him and throw him around but Sami would keep getting back up, showing the damage slowly mounting in that way only he can but never once backing down. It'd be a great opportunity for Sami to show his rarely seen hard-hitting strikes, as you'd need to bring all you can to really hurt Joe.

The two of them could even trade submissions if they wanted. See if we could get a Coquina Clutch countered into a Koji Clutch. The two have had big matches before and they went over quite well so this would certainly be interesting to see. Who wins this time around? That's up to you!

Vote on this match here!
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