Designed to be the company’s top feeder system, the yellow brand certainly achieves that, but also distinctly sets itself apart as destination viewing for wrestling fans all around the globe. And as we turn the calendar over to June, the company is once more riding a positive wave of momentum.

    NXT TakeOver: Chicago was a great event that continued the tradition of the Saturday night show typically outshining the WWE’s Sunday Pay-Per-View offering.  And we already know they’ll have a strong chance to do it once more for their next live special, slated for the night before Summerslam.

    With that in mind, it’s a perfect time to take stock of the brand and dish out some hardware in recognition of the biggest and brightest.


    Best Male Superstar:

    Bobby Roode wins this hands down. And that’s not a knock on the men’s roster as it currently stands. In fact, if anything, it shows just how good Roode has been.

    From the moment he was spotted in the crowd at TakeOver: Dallas, he’s had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Pair that reaction with arguably the best theme song going today, and a series of fantastic matches with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Hideo Itami, and it’s easy to see why Roode stands tall above the rest.

    Runner up: Shinsuke Nakamura, Roderick Strong, Eric Young


    Best Female Superstar:

    Much like the men’s award, the female competition wasn’t close, either. Asuka, currently in the midst of a record breaking win streak, has been the pace setter for the women of NXT for over a year now.

    Asuka’s explosive offence looks as dangerous as ever, and the booking has done a great job of mixing up her opponents, making it look as though she has a dominant hand over all involved. Though the likes of Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot have done a better job of it lately, perhaps NXT’s biggest obstacle is finding a credible challenger for their long-reigning champion.

    She also deserves a ton of credit for adding some layers to her character, which has allowed her to seamlessly walk the fine line between face and heel, painting her persona with all sorts of grey tones.

    Runner up: Nikki Cross, Ruby Riot, Ember Moon


    Best Tag-Team:

    It’s still probably too soon for most of us to talk about DIY following the events that took place at the conclusion of TakeOver: Chicago. Still, when their body of work this calendar year is considered, they sit  comfortably atop the list as NXT’s Best Tag-Team at the halfway point.

    Their rivalry with The Revival will go down as one of the best tag team feuds of this decade, and their matches with the Authors Of Pain (who aren’t exactly mat technicians) were always among the best on the card.  The bookers of NXT, obviously recognizing this, even gave them the main event slot of TakeOver: Chicago (though surely that was a decision made with the post-match situation in mind).

    Their run in NXT as a tag team was absolutely fantastic, and part of me thinks it’s perhaps a missed a opportunity to not get a main roster run for them as a unit.  But the other part of me knows that the deeply personal rivalry these two are set to embark on has all the makings to potentially become the greatest the brand has ever seen.

    Runner up: The Revival, Authors Of Pain, Sanity


    Most Intriguing:

    The last thing I need to be doing is telling most of you that Aleister Black is quite good at what he does.

    But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: Aleister Black is quite good at what he does.

    His body of work in NXT is quite minimal in nature at this point, almost enough to take him out of the running for the award. But that can be said for just about everyone I considered for the honours. Plus the fact of the matter is, the guy has all the tools to be an absolute star.

    From the moment his entrance theme hits and you get your first look at his sinister scowl, you know this is a guy you need to see.  Combine that with his strong style of hyper realistic striking, and it’s not a stretch to think Black is going to have a very long and successful career in both NXT and WWE.

    To say someone could be the next Undertaker for the WWE is to put an incredible amount of pressure on them, and obviously there will only ever be one Undertaker. However, the character of Aleister Black could fit a similar role.

    Runner up:  Tommaso Ciampa, Nikki Cross, Eric Young


    Biggest Disappointment: 

    This one is a bit of a toss-up. First let me say the one thing I’ve learned from watching NXT extensively since it’s beginning is that it’s so critical to remind yourself it’s a developmental brand.

    It’s very easy to get lost in the HD production, weekly prime-time program, and special live events in front of 15,000 or so fans. But at its core, it’s still very much a place where people are finding their way, getting their feet under them. And sometimes that takes time.

    For instance, I didn’t see much in Becky Lynch when she first debuted and was doing… whatever it was she was doing.  But some tweaks to her character, and a few opportunities to show off her talent, and it all started clicking into place.

    And so, for those that made this list. It isn’t particularly an indictment on their talent or their future. Simply, it’s the fact that for whatever reason, the start of their 2017 year hasn’t been great.

    Peyton Royce wins this award, and could share it with Billie Kay if she was so inclined.

    The two have been trying some new things with their characters, and it’s starting to come around, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time before it comes together for them. But, fact is; their work with Asuka was just okay, and now they’ve been completely leapfrogged by the likes of Riot, Cross, and Moon.

    It’s gut check time for these two ladies.

    Runner up: Andrade Almas


    Best Newcomer: 

    A quick scan of the NXT roster reveals this to be a very loaded and interesting question.

    My feelings toward Aleister Black are well known, but having already given him an award, I’ll take this somewhere else.

    Kassius Ohno and Drew McIntyre are fantastic performers who really haven’t done much since their return, so I would assume we’ll see something from them sooner rather than later.  Andrade Almas (who I did mention above as a disappointment) is adding interesting pieces to his character that may finally push him forward. Ciampa versus Gargano is going to be fantastic.  We will hopefully be getting more from the U.K. Champion Pete Dunne (who is destined to be a star), and his bevy of talented challengers.  Eric Young is developing his new cult leader persona well. And if healthy, Hideo Itami could take over the world.  And that’s really just the beginning of what could happen with a roster this talented and deep.

    But the award for most intriguing?  I’m giving that to Roderick Strong.

    His time in NXT has seen him consistently be a bright spot no matter where he’s placed, and a feud with Bobby Roode (which surely is coming) is going to be a big money draw.

    In Roderick Strong NXT, and to that effect WWE, have their next big superstar locked and loaded, ready to be fired forward at will.

    Runner up:  Nikki Cross, Pete Dunne, Aleister Black


    Overall MVP: 

    This is a close contest.  Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, Bobby Roode beats Asuka for a reason that isn’t even her fault.

    The only thing separating the two is quality opponents.  Roode has the advantage, and therefore picks up the award. As discussed earlier, his theme song is more over than several wrestlers, his matches have been top notch, and he seems destined to smoothly transition to the main roster when that time comes.

    Aside from Asuka, Roode sees off incredibly still competition for the award from the likes of Nakamura, DIY, The Revival, Roderick Strong, and maybe a dark horse vote for Tye Dillinger who really was excellent in everything he did in NXT, though he didn’t factor much into their 2017 plans as he was preparing to move on.

    As you can imagine, nobody (Roode included) seem in much of a hurry for him to make the jump to the WWE. He’s one of the hottest properties in wrestling today, and with him as captain of the ship, so is NXT as a brand.

    Runner up: Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura, DIY