NXT has always been an alternative for WWE fans who care more about wrestling in the ring than soap opera styled storylines. However, there are too many fans who don't follow the product closely who claim, inaccurately, that NXT is all wrestling with no storylines. This statement is far from the truth.
Instead of goofy and sometimes cartoony storylines pushing feuds forward, NXT is all about creating their stories in the ring. The rivalries in NXT often exceeded those on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown over the years. Here are the 10 best rivalries in NXT history, the feuds that made it one of the best shows in WWE.
10 PAIGE VS. EMMA
When people look at the women's evolution in WWE, they see Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch. However, the genesis of the women's evolution started in NXT, and it wasn't with those four women, it was with new young upstarts named Paige and Emma.
Paige was a second-generation star from the U.K. and Emma was an Australian wrestler, both signed to work in WWE's developmental territory FCW. When FCW turned into NXT, these were the two women who kickstarted the women's evolution. Paige won the first NXT title in this feud, and they proved women in NXT could tear it up as much as men — opening the door for the Four Horsewomen to take over.
9 SASHA BANKS VS. BAYLEY
While Paige and Emma were the two stars who started the WWE women's evolution, it was the Four Horsewomen who took it to another level. What was crazy was the one member of the four who seemed least likely to become a major star was the one who captured the hearts of the NXT universe.
Bayley went through a year where she beat her fellow Four Horsewomen, with wins over Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair pushing her to the top. However, it was her feud with Sasha Banks that took her to the next level. They wrestled in the best women's matches in NXT history, and their rivalry was better than even those involving the men in the company.
8 CESARO VS. SAMI ZAYN
Early in NXT's run, the company would often have an underutilized main roster star come down and work a few shows. The purpose was to put over new talent, and that is what Cesaro did in 2012-13 when he took his United States Championship down and defended it against NXT talent.
After losing his title, Cesaro continued to visit NXT, and that is when he began to feud with Sami Zayn, the man formerly known on the indies as El Generico. The two ended up putting on some of the best matches in WWE in 2014 with Zayn becoming a star when he beat the Swiss Superman.
7 NEVILLE VS. SAMI ZAYN
After Sami Zayn beat Cesaro, he grew into one of the biggest fan favorites in NXT. The crowd popped big every time he came to the ring. Zayn was the best pure babyface the brand had ever seen until Johnny Gargano came along later. It seemed to be just a matter of time before he got his title run.
The feud ended up being with Neville, the current NXT Champion and the two popular wrestlers turned things up. They were no strangers, with Zayn as El Generico and Neville as PAC on the indies, but they took it to another level in NXT. When Zayn finally won the title, it was well deserved and ended a brilliant rivalry between the two.
6 KEVIN OWENS VS. SAMI ZAYN
On top of signing Sami Zayn, WWE also signed his former Ring of Honor tag team partner and best friend, Kevin Owens. Zayn and Owens had one of the best rivalries in Ring of Honor history, formerly best friends and tag team partners who then went through a blood feud.
When Sami Zayn won the NXT title, Kevin Owens was the first man out to congratulate him. Owens then attacked and destroyed Zayn. Soon, Owens won the NXT title and became the most hated man in NXT and fans still chant "fight forever" when the two go head-to-head on the main roster.
5 THE REVIVAL VS. AMERICAN ALPHA
NXT has always had an excellent tag team scene. In 2015-16, things went to another level with a rivalry that called back some of the best in wrestling history. Many fans compare the feud between American Alpha and The Revival to the old-school feud between the Rock 'N Roll Express and Midnight Express or Brainbusters.
American Alpha was Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, and they seemed destined for greatness. The Revival was old-school all the way and the contrasting styles pushed their matches into instant classics, one of the two best tag team rivalries in NXT history. Sadly, American Alpha flopped on the main roster, but The Revival remains great.
4 DIY VS. THE REVIVAL
While American Alpha and The Revival were one of the best tag team rivalries in NXT history, it was DIY and The Revival that takes the top spot. This rivalry was between the best technically sound tag team in WWE (The Revival) and two best friends with contrasting attitudes, the pure babyface Johnny Gargano and the always angry Tomasso Ciampa.
The storyline was leading to the feud between Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa, but along the way, the two tag teams put on some of the best tag team matches in WWE in over a decade. By the end, the Authors of Pain got involved, and even the three-way at NXT TakeOver: Orlando was a brilliant match.
3 SAMOA JOE VS. FINN BALOR
Samoa Joe came to NXT after a very successful career in Impact Wrestling, where he dominated the X-Division scene for years. He also made his name in Ring of Honor, where he was, at one time, the longest-reigning champion in that company's history. Finn Balor came to WWE after a strong career in New Japan as Prince Devitt.
With Samoa Joe, a rugged brawler and Finn Balor working in the company known for Strong Style, this rivalry was guaranteed to succeed, and it exceeded all expectations. The rivalry started when Joe turned heel and attacked Balor and then he was the man to end Balor's 292-day title reign.
2 ALEISTER BLACK VS. VELVETEEN DREAM
To understand great rivalries, it usually just requires two men who are just different enough from each other to create a visually intriguing dynamic. These two men should then be able to portray their characters in a way that makes fans interested in seeing what will happen when they face. Finally, they need to be great enough in the ring to tell the story.
Aleister Black is metal, a very dark and disturbing character. Velveteen Dream is a flamboyant showoff who wants his name in the spotlights. When the two began their rivalry, it checked all the boxes without a title even on the line. Their match at NXT TakeOver: War Games stole the entire show, and their rivalry was one that took NXT by storm.
1 JOHNNY GARGANO VS. TOMASSO CIAMPA
The greatest rivalry in NXT history is easily the one between Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. The two men were best friends, coming into NXT at around the same time, and becoming stars together. They formed the tag team DIY and captured the hearts of the fans.
When Ciampa betrayed Gargano and turned heel, it was enough to get the fans completely invested. There was not a more hated wrestler in NXT than Ciampa and not a better babyface than Gargano. The two men then worked a trilogy of matches against each other that were all five-star affairs and built from the last. It was the best overall rivalry in the entire WWE.