After a hard-hitting bout at NXT TakerOver: New York, Pete Dunne failed to put down the aggressor, Walter. The result of the match saw the crowning of a new champion. With his reign cemented after an asterisk victory in the rematch and formation of a new faction, Imperium, the question remains, who can stop Walter?
A New Challenger Approaches
Like any champion in professional wrestling, there is a target on Walter’s back. What make Walter and his reign somewhat unique is his road to becoming champion. At the time of Walter’s debut, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he would challenge Pete Dunne. In addition beating a seemingly invincible champion in the Bruiserweight, Walter also put down a few credible threats like Jordan Devlin on his way to the top.
NXT UK is full of talent. However, Walter’s reign is likely to stamp out most of the top talent. Travis Banks has been the first to go. Pete Dunne lost his rematch despite interference. With Imperium behind him, it is hard to see Walter dropping the title anytime soon. However, depending on the length of his planned reign, the following superstars are most likely to dethrone Walter in some form.
3. Kassius Ohno
Admittedly, this is something of a dark horse pick. On paper, it makes a great match, but there isn’t much pointing to an Ohno victory and that’s the point. The Knock-Out Artist has strung together a series of victories sense popping up sporadically on the NXT UK scene. So far, the storylines revolving around these victories have been short. However, it wouldn’t be a stretch for a group with an MO like Imperium’s to take umbrage against Ohno for saying he’s the best at British wrestling.
It is unlikely that Ohno would be the champion for long, and he’s more suited to face off against a babyface champion. Nonetheless, if they (NXT UK) were to play off Ohno’s “genius in-ring IQ,” we could see him ending the reign of Walter by using Walter’s own men against him. It would not be deliberate, rather Ohno would elude their numbers’ game as Imperium would see their tactics backfire causing Ohno to catch Walter off guard. The win could come via roll or Walter walking several variations of rolling Elbows. It’s simple, and makes for interesting use of Kassius Ohno. Segments following his win would essentially be a dangerous game of “keep away” through various underhanded tactics to avoid a rematch with Walter.
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2. Ilja Dragunov
This shouldn’t be much of a shock or stretch. Ilja Dragunov has already made a noteworthy debut and brings some serious intensity. It is unlikely he will rise as fast as Walter did, but Dragunov will certainly be a force to reckon with. If you’ve followed him before his time in NXT UK, then you know he is capable of big matches of great quality.
In the past, Ilja and Walter have fought in what can only be described as a hard-hitting bout. No doubt they could channel the same intensity and passion from then on the grander stages of NXT UK. How Ilja Dragunov would overcome the other men of Imperium may take some finesse narrative-wise. Perhaps, he could take them out one-by-one on his way to Walter and the WWE UK Championship.
1. Joe Coffey
If I had to bet money, it would be on Joe Coffey. Despite having loss to Pete Dunne and failing to capture the WWE UK Championship, Coffey and Walter surprising have had little direct contact in terms of TV storylines. My guess, Coffey will be focusing his efforts on cementing Gallus as a threat. This will see him along with Mark Coffey and Wolfgang gaining control of the other divisions as they see fit. When momentum is finally in their corner, they will want to go after the main championship to claim the NXT UK brand as their kingdom.
In terms of size and power, Gallus has enough to bring the fight against Imperium despite being down a man. Depending on where Killian Dain ends up, that may very well change. With or without a fourth man, Joe Coffey and Gallus already pose a considerable threat to most the locker room. It’s only a matter of time before they rule the main event.