NXT 2018 Year In Review - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

NXT 2018 Year In Review - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Saturday, December 8, 2018
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Greg Coleman, and Callum Wiggins will be giving their thoughts on all that occurred this year in NXT.

It is time for a year in review discussion on everyone's favorite brand, NXT! What was the Match Of The Year? Who stood out this year? Let's discuss...

Question 1: Who, in your opinion, was the NXT Superstar Of The year?

WIGGINS: My NXT Superstar for 2018 is Shayna Baszler. Anyone who has listened to the Smack Talk podcast will not be surprised by this, she has been spectacular. While there have been others who've had more spectacular years between the ropes, Baszler has rightfully ruled over the women's division in NXT for the entire year, becoming the first-ever two-time women's champion in the process.

She is one of the standout heels in all of WWE, devoted to delivering sadistic beatings and cheap shots to beloved babyfaces at every opportunity. Her expertise in joint manipulation and performing subtle yet dangerous moves with real finesse gives Baszler's matches a sense of realness and jeopardy that many others can't match, even if they are less spectacular. She's a special talent.

COLEMAN: Johnny Gargano. NXT TakeOver is the big stage for NXT superstars to showcase their skills the night before a major WWE Pay Per View and no wrestler has performed better on that stage in 2018 than Johnny Gargano. Starting at NXT TakeOver Philly with his instant classic with then NXT champion Andrade Almas through his 5-star caliber trilogy with former friend turned bitter enemy Tommaso Ciampa and ending with his match of the night grudge match against Aleister Black, Johnny TakeOver has stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries on NXT’s grand stage.

DeFELICE: I'm going to cheat here and say that the Undisputed ERA, as a package are the Superstars Of The Year.

This year, they added Roderick Strong to the group, and it was like the last piece of the puzzle that nobody even knew was missing. Everything that they do as a unit is so succinct. Their promos are unique, their work inside the squared circle is so crisp, and this year only laid the groundwork for better things to come in 2019.

Question 2: What, in your opinion, was the NXT Match Of The Year?

DeFELICE: The Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano matches are great, the Ladder Match in New Orleans was epic, but there was no match that compared to the WarGames.

I watched that match four times. It gets better every time. As I mentioned above, the cohesiveness of the Undisputed ERA really lends itself to every spot that occurs in this match. The War Raiders really play their role as a modern-day LOD perfectly. Ricochet was there to provide the 'wow factor,' and everything Pete Dunne is so smooth and perfect.

Put all of that together, and this is by far my favorite NXT match of 2018.

WIGGINS: While all of the classics between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa rightfully deserve the acclaim they received, the most exhilarating match for me in 2018 was the 6-man ladder match to crown the inaugural North American Champion from NXT TakeOver New Orleans. It might be my favorite ladder match of all time, and that's a high bar, but the excitement of the match and all the amazing names involved made it such a spectacle to behold.

COLEMAN: Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and Almas-Gargano from NXT TakeOver: Philidelphia garnered some consideration for this honor in my book, but ultimately I gave the nod to Gargano vs Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. This was an excellent match that was back and forth, intense, and brutal. Add in the great storytelling and psychology and you have the match of the year.

Question 3: Who, in your opinion, will be a breakout Superstar of 2019 for NXT?

COLEMAN: Bianca Belair. This was a tough one because of the unknown of when and how some of the new signees will debut, but I decided to go with the EST of NXT, Bianca Belair as my breakout Superstar of 2019. Belair is a charismatic powerhouse of a woman who has a great gimmick and seemingly gets better every time we see her. Eventually, the Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane saga will come to an end and this will leave a void near the top of the NXT Women’s Division. Bianca has all of the tools to carry the flag for the NXT Women’s Division. All she needs is the opportunity.

DeFELICE: I'm going to go with Donovan Dijak.

I watched a lot of him in Ring of Honor. He's got a size and crazy athletic ability and I think it's only a matter of time before the yellow-roped rebellion uses all of his great attributes to create the next big WWE Superstar.

WIGGINS: If I can't choose someone obvious like Matt Riddle, I'll go for a longshot - Jaxson Ryker.

If the Forgotten Sons do build up steam in 2019, which they could potentially do if the Undisputed Era gets called up and leave a faction void in NXT, then as the de facto leader of the group, Ryker is most poised to be a breakout star. I see a lot of potential in a story where Ryker becomes North American Champion and talks about how he'll never be forgotten ever again, as he has his name etched in history. I liked his work in TNA as Gunner so I think he could make a significant splash in 2019.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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