Welcome to the third and final part of my series of possible winners of the 5th annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal coming our way April 8th at WrestleMania 34.
The Monday Night Raw contenders and the superstars from SmackDown Live have already been discussed, but while those are the two main brands in WWE, history has shown that NXT has a presence in this match as well, with a former winner (Baron Corbin) using it as a launching pad for his graduation.
Typically, NXT only has one or two representatives in this match, but all it takes is one of them to come in and make an impact to prove that the yellow brand does indeed have options.
With that in mind, here are my top 3 picks for who I think stand the best chances of making the jump from NXT to winning this match at WrestleMania:
The Glaring Omission of Adam Cole
Before we begin, I wanted to add a fourth section here to talk about someone who I know will be brought up, but isn’t on this list: Adam Cole.
In many ways, it would make sense to jump to the conclusion that he would be one of the best possible choices for this, considering how he’s been a focal point for the brand and a major star who even competed in the Royal Rumble, but I just don’t see it happening.
The main reason why I say this is because of Bobby Fish’s injury being very disruptive to The Undisputed Era. Without Cole filling in Fish’s shoes, there is no stable anymore, and Kyle O’Reilly probably can’t sustain himself on his own.
I think Cole is staying around NXT for the rest of the year in order to be alongside O’Reilly while WWE reassess the damage with Fish and tries to figure out a new game plan. Thus, I don’t even think Cole is going to be competing here, particularly as he’ll pull double duty the previous night at TakeOver: New Orleans, where he’ll either walk away with the North American Championship and the NXT Tag Team Championship, just one of them, or neither.
In any fashion, that will be more than enough to deal with for that weekend without having to be in a battle royal, too.
3) Eric Young or Killian Dain
For the life of me, I just couldn’t decide between Eric Young and Killian Dain to the point where I almost scrapped both of them and tried to argue Johnny Gargano instead, but after thinking more on the issue, I went back to my original idea and decided “screw it, they’re a faction, a win for one is a win for all.”
SAnitY could be useful in bolstering more than one division on either Raw or SmackDown, as it would provide a new stable for the tag team division, a new powerhouse in Killian Dain to build up to eventually face Braun Strowman, a midcarder in Eric Young to vie for the Intercontinental Championship and United States title, and another woman in the mix for the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championship in Nikki Cross.
I don’t think Young is going to achieve main event status in WWE, nor do I think even midcard solo accolades are in store for Alexander Wolfe, but based off the way Dain has been booked, it’s safe to assume WWE sees value in his future.
Being part of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal last year could be a good sign or a bad omen, as he achieved that spot so early on in his career but came up short. There’s a chance he is given another shot and wins it this time around, but I also think his participation in the North American Championship match may undercut those odds.
Not only is there a major possibility he wins that title, there’s also a chance WWE might just want him to not wrestle back to back nights, and instead, give this win to Eric Young by means of help from his SAnitY brethren.
That accomplishes the same basic goal of getting the stable on the main roster with a victory, but gives the momentum to the leader of the pack so he can announce himself to those who don’t watch NXT with a promo the following night on Raw or even on SmackDown, if that’s where they’re intended to go.
However, that North American Championship around Dain’s waist or just the idea that SAnitY might stick around in NXT a little while longer could put a damper on their chances at winning this battle royal.
2) Andrade “Cien” Almas
Similar to the situation with Ember Moon when I argued her chances at winning the women’s battle royal, Andrade “Cien” Almas could be booked in a sort of payback situation.
On Saturday night, he drops the NXT Championship to Aleister Black, but he does so mostly because WWE wants the duo of Almas and Zelina Vega to go to the main roster and he can’t do so with the title.
On Sunday night, he enters the battle royal, much in the same vein as his Royal Rumble appearance, but he’s victorious this time around and it gives him all the reason in the world to boast about how great he is to have made an impact in his first WrestleMania and so on and so forth.
I wouldn’t bet my house on this, though, as this match has no guarantees and while this scenario makes sense, it’s far from something WWE has to do.
Almas could just as easily stay in NXT for another few tapings until he gets a rematch at TakeOver: Chicago in June, or at the very least, wrestle some more on NXT television to ease the transition until a new contender is established for Black come that TakeOver event.
It’s only a matter of time before Almas is on the main roster, though, and that journey may start here.
1) Drew McIntyre
On March 9th, WWE posted an article about how Drew McIntyre was working with DDP Yoga to help with his recovery.
On March 11th, McIntyre tweeted out the following:
Consider this advanced warning. As much great stuff as I’m watching in @WWE & @WWENXT I’ve noticed some complacency across the board. Sitting ducks. I’ve never worked this hard in my life. If you’re across the ring from me & you’re not on my level…I will eat you alive #TickTock
— Drew McIntyre (@DMcIntyreWWE) March 11, 2018
I’m suspicious, and maybe that’s the point and I’m falling into the trap, but that’s perfectly okay to do as a wrestling fan, as it makes it all more fun.