William Regal announced on the March 7th edition of NXT that there will be a new title debuting in NXT at its Takeover: New Orleans event. The new championship aptly named the NXT North American Championship will determine its inaugural holder in a blockbuster six-way ladder match featuring some of NXT’s most promising talent in Adam Cole, Lars Sullivan, Velveteen Dream, and Killian Dain, as well as newcomers EC3 and Ricochet. Who would have pictured a match like that would be occurring at a WWE sanctioned event in 2018?
The new North American title is a testament to the growth that NXT has achieved over the years. NXT has thrived on its simple structure of having the NXT Championship, NXT Women’s Championship, and NXT Tag Team Championship as top prizes of each division. For many years, there simply was no need for a midcard championship.
The role NXT serves in the WWE model did not require, nor had a large enough roster for a midcard championship. The NXT Championship is NXT’s top prize, however rather than working up from a midcard championship to the NXT championship, one would capture the NXT Championship and then move up to the main roster as every NXT Champion has done since 2012. In a way, the NXT Championship is just a midcard championship in the whole landscape of WWE. The top prize was never really the NXT Championship, it was the main roster.
As NXT continues to grow and acquire high profile names from all around the globe, it becomes harder to showcase talent in a meaningful and creative way. Plus, some I’m sure some individuals would rather remain in Florida rather than moving up to the hectic main roster.
However, the NXT North American Championship is not NXT’s first stab at a midcard championship. In 2017, the WWE United Kingdom Championship was born. Though technically not a NXT championship title, the belt is featured primarily on NXT television rather than the main roster.
Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne have collectively held the belt since its inception, and rather than being showcased on WWE’s main roster, the championship has crafted a home on NXT. Many thought that the United Kingdom Championship would become a mainstay midcard championship in NXT with some great matches between Pete Dunne and Johnny Gargano as well as the 2017 Match-of-the-Year between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne at NXT Takeover: Chicago. However, both Bate and Dunne are unfortunately not consistently used on NXT programming and the title struggles to be featured regularly.
I’m sure there are many fans on both sides of the issue: is the North American Championship needed in NXT? Personally, I am torn on the subject and would be fine with either scenario, but nonetheless, we will look at both cases.