The Undisputed Era reigned supreme over NXT for the best part of 2019. Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish each held one of NXT’s four major championship titles, all dominating over their respective divisions and rightfully earning the moniker of being the faces of the black and gold brand. Their reign of terror came at a pivotal time for NXT: during the transitional period from tapings for the WWE Network to going live on Fox Sports. NXT was suddenly given a whole new spotlight, one that allowed the entire roster to shine brightly, but none more so than The Undisputed Era.
From the get-go, UE were displayed as an unstoppable force who had rightfully maintained an iron grip over the brand’s main event scene. Their matches would often steal the show, most notably Adam Cole’s first televised championship defence against Matt Riddle, Roddy Strong’s stellar exhibition with Velveteen Dream and Fish & O’Reilly’s flawless tag title bouts. Veteran and newfound fans alike were all learning to appreciate just how far The Undisputed Era had come since their debut in 2017.
But as the year came to a close, so did UE’s run at the top. Throughout history, dominant heel stables have been used as a means to an end; to put over a new cohort of top babyface stars. Evolution were used to establish the likes of Goldberg, Randy Orton and Chris Benoit in 2004, The Four Horsemen made stars out of Sting, Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat and The Undisputed Era helped produce a new batch of heroes for the Full Sail audience.
One by one, the champions fell. First was Roderick Strong, who lost his North American Championship to ‘Limitless’ Keith Lee, who was enjoying an incredible rise to the top of the roster thanks to his impressive performance at the 2019 Survivor Series pay-per-view. Next was Fish & O’Reilly, who managed to hold onto their titles through thick and thin, until they were met with the odd-couple Dusty Cup duo of Matt Riddle & ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne.
Which only leaves Adam Cole, who, as of writing, has managed to keep hold of his coveted NXT Championship. Although a huge challenge awaits him in the coming weeks, as he is set to defend his title against the returning Velveteen Dream. A match that was originally set for NXT: TakeOver Tampa but had to be rescheduled to an upcoming episode of NXT TV. No matter the setting, this will likely be the final undoing of the Undisputed Era, ripping the last of their championships away from them leaving four incredibly popular athletes on top to take NXT through to its next chapter.
Overall, UE have had an excellent run in NXT. It may have taken Adam Cole and his stablemates some time to finally establish themselves as the top guys, but thanks to their undying popularity with the fans, they are all ready-made superstars. This of course begs the question, what exactly is next for Cole, Strong, O’Reilly and Fish?
As much as I’m sure NXT would love to continue making sweet dollar off of Undisputed merch, it’s time for UE to seek new success as part of the main roster. NXT call-ups have become somewhat of a thing of the past, with the majority of the roster, and even some former stars, choosing to remain loyal to the black and gold brand and avoid potential career disaster on RAW or SmackDown.
Nevertheless, there are some superstars that have outgrown NXT. Shayna Baszler, for example. She had accomplished everything she possibly could as the longest reigning NXT Women’s champion to date, and had built more than enough status to make her a threat to the biggest stars on the main roster. Baszler would have almost been wasted if she was kept tucked away in NXT, even if that was to guarantee better match quality and general treatment. After only two months of being on the main roster, ‘The Queen of Spades’ is set to battle Becky Lynch for the RAW Women’s title at WrestleMania 36. A huge nod to how big her star has become acros the entire company.
The same goes for Undisputed Era. All four members of UE have already been featured on a main roster pay-per-view and were heavily involved during the brand warfare angle back in November. The casual audience would quickly be reminded of the pack-mentality of UE and how much of a threat they each were to some of WWE’s biggest stars. With that being said, what better time to ‘shock the system’ than the RAW after WrestleMania.
Each year, the RAW and SmackDown following WrestleMania are emphasised as some of the most exciting episodes of TV WWE will produce that year. They don’t hold back with the drama; giving wrestling fans a reason to stick around to see what happens throughout the build to the next WrestleMania. Legends, returns, debuts, all typical features of one of these episodes. In the past we’ve seen the likes of Neville, Shinsuke Nakamura and the team of Enzo & Big Cass have all found themselves being greeted by a rabid post-WrestleMania audience, giving them all the momentum they need to kick-start their main roster careers.
This year, I highly suspect we’ll see Adam Cole and his henchmen steal the show during the finale of the RAW after WrestleMania, giving people a reason to check back into RAW once the off-season is over (providing there is one). Perhaps they will look to make a huge statement by attacking the same man they first butted heads with upon arrival in NXT. Of course I’m talking about the soon-to-be WWE champion, Drew McIntyre.
UE would leave ‘The Scottish Psychopath’ beaten and bruised following his championship celebration. Still feeling the effects of his brutal match with Brock Lesnar a few nights prior, the champion is defenceless against the four-man assault. Statement made.
When we eventually return to regularly scheduled programming, the UE start airing vignettes eerily similar to that of the nWo. A very UE-stylised rendition of their typical promos in NXT, talking about taking over, shocking the system and what not, setting the scene for their impending crusade through the main roster’s divisions. The Undisputed Era would eventually unearth themselves at the next pay-per-view, targeting the different champions throughout the night.
Over the next few weeks, UE would be put to the test, making their official in-ring debuts on RAW and running the gauntlet of their best competitors. Roderick Strong would earn himself the right to challenge US champion Aleister Black, while Fish & O’Reilly dual with The Viking Raiders to earn a shot at The Street Profits. Adam Cole meanwhile will have to go through a pretty big hurdle before he gets his opportunity at Drew McIntyre, he instead has to contend with AJ Styles and The O.C.
Having come off a huge WrestleMania victory over The Undertaker, Styles stakes his claim at the WWE Championship. Drew is happy to oblige Styles to a match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, but The Undisputed Era have other ideas. The stable storm the ring during their contract signing and batter both men senseless, even laying waste to Gallows & Anderson who hit-the-ring to defend their fallen comrade. Styles is furious, and insists that WWE book a match between The O.C and UE prior to his title match against Drew.
With the main event spot on the line, faction warfare takes place between the original trio of Cole and the newly-crowned RAW Tag Champions, Fish & O’Reilly, and the O.C. With the X-factor being Roderick Strong in this match, UE manage to just about steal the win, giving Adam Cole his first championship main event bout later on the night.
Of course, the match between Cole and McIntyre doesn’t quite go to plan. As the battle reaches its peak, AJ Styles and The O.C enter from the crowd and cause a DQ finish, allowing for Drew to retain his WWE Championship. The tension bubbling between all three men, on the next episode of Monday Night RAW, a triple-threat main event is announced for SummerSlam between Drew McIntyre, Adam Cole and AJ Styles.
Meanwhile, UE continues to thrive in the mid-card and tag divisions, with Strong scoring the upset victory over Aleister Black in a series of fantastic one-on-one matches, and Fish & O’Reilly settling in as RAW Tag champs. Eventually, The Viking Raiders meet with Fish & O’Reilly once again to pick up where they left off in NXT, perhaps the titles will switch hands here, leading to a massive two-out-of-three falls Tag title match at SummerSlam.
Strong in the meantime commits himself to an ‘Undisputed Open Challenge’, giving a range of different superstars the opportunity to show off their best stuff and earn the right to face him again but with the United States title on the line at a later date. Pretty much the same as John Cena’s popular Open Challenge, but this time without the title being on the line for every competitor, got to keep him a heel somehow.
Regardless of whether all four superstars maintain their championship reigns past August, the entire Undisputed Era all find themselves on the top of their game by SummerSlam, less than half a year after their main-roster debut. Perhaps by the time WrestleMania 37 comes around, UE will find themselves in a similar scenario to their recent run in NXT, holding all of the gold with no end to their dominance in sight. I see nothing but big things in the future for Cole, Fish, O’Reilly and Strong.
How would you book UE’s main-roster debut? Where do you see them in a years time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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