Shortly after NXT was revamped as WWE's go-to developmental territory in June 2012, a tournament was held to crown the inaugural NXT champion. On the 29 August edition of NXT TV, a promising prospect by the name of Seth Rollins outlasted seven other men and beat Jinder Mahal in the finals to capture the championship, and thus an incredible lineage was born.
Unlike on the main roster, the NXT Championship doesn't bounce around easily. In fact, only two men have ever held the belt twice in their careers: Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura. Most of the men who have reigned as NXT champion in the past five years had a stranglehold on the strap, proving that officials have faith in them to carry the black-and-yellow brand to new heights.
A case can be made that despite being the top title in WWE's feeder system for talent, the NXT Championship just might be one of the most prestigious titles in WWE at the moment. It is frequently defended, has never been made to feel worthless, and has been at stake in some of the best bouts in the brand's history.
As we celebrate five years of the NXT Championship, let's look back at everyone who has reigned as champion since 2012 and rank them from worst to best.