QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you think will be the best match at NXT Takeover tonight?
No time to waste with a witty intro. It turns out having a second kid doesn’t make you twice as busy, but rather exponentially busy.
The Hall of Fame Ceremony was as expected, a mixed bag. I enjoyed the Dudley Boyz, Hillbilly Jim, Mark Henry and JJ. Kid Rock took up space. Ivory seemed like she had hit the bottle too hard prior to her speech. Jeff Jarrett didn’t delve nearly deep enough into the controversial aspects of his career and that duet was atrocious. Goldberg was an absolute abomination. It was sad to see that all of the WWE wrestlers left before Mark Henry’s speech, but I can’t blame them. It’s a taxing weekend for the entire crew, and the show can’t continue to be almost 5 hours long. It’s hard to cut someone’s time, so the answer may lie in reducing the number of entrants per year. I’m a degenerate so I will continue to watch, but this wasn’t one of the stronger outings for the Hall of Fame Ceremony.
Onto part II of the Wrestlemania Weekend Extravaganza – my predictions for NXT Takeover.
Tag Title Match: The Undisputed Era v AoP v Strong/Dunne.
Several injuries have really put a wrench into the tag title match. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Tournament has been taking place on NXT for the past few weeks. It appears that the original plan was to have Trent Seven and Tyler Bate win the tournament and challenge The Undisputed Era at Takeover. Unfortunately, an injury to Trent derailed those plans.
NXT adapted as they always do, and inserted Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne into the spot previously occupied by Seven/Bate. They also ran a non-finish to the finals of the tournament that saw the Authors of Pain get added to the match. Everything was going smoothly until an injury hit Bobby Fish and the tag champs were down a man.
It seems like Adam Cole will pull double duty and take Fish’s spot. Despite the chaos, I think this match will be fantastic. Dunne and Strong are much better workers than Seven and Bate. NXT has shown that they do multi-team tag matches as good as anyone.
As for the winner, this one is hard to call. This entire weekend is filled with matches that look to have multiple potential winners. This is a match where none of the teams involved look like obvious victors. The AoP have done everything there is to do in NXT and are likely going to show up on the main roster this coming week. The Undisputed Era is down a man and unlikely to keep the belts as a result. Dunne and Strong weren’t even a team at the start of the tournament, so logic would state that they aren’t going to win either. In the end, I believe that Seven and Bate were being groomed for the title win at Takeover. I’ll go with the team that replaced them, setting up a feud upon Seven’s return from injury.
Prediction: Pete Dunn and Roderick Strong.
Women’s Title Match: Ember Moon v Shayna Bayzler.
I’m really interested to see how this shakes out. This has been an under the radar feud. I’ve really enjoyed the dynamic between the two. I am a big fan of Ember Moon’s in-ring work, but I felt like her character was bland and didn’t bring much to the table. She’s really shined as the underdog face-in-peril during the run she is currently on.
I think that being paired with Shayna Bayzler has really helped. Bayzler is everything that the WWE hopes Ronda to be. She’s incredibly physical, can cut a passable promo and while she’s far from a finished product, you can see the potential there.
I abhorred the ending to their previous match, but I need not let that cloud my judgment. The match between the two prior to the ridiculous finish was really good. Moon and Shayna had really good chemistry together and it felt like they were just getting started when they cut to the aforementioned ending. I’m expecting this to be a sleeper match on a show that will be absolutely loaded with great matches.
I’m torn on the winner here too. On one hand, I can make a strong argument that neither woman should be moved up after Takeover. Both still have room to grow, the NXT Women’s division is light on talent and with the main roster going down to non-branded PPVs, there isn’t a pressing need for additional women on the main rosters. This would lead me to believe that Moon would retain and we’d see the storyline stretch out a bit longer. However, conventional wisdom states that Moon’s time in NXT is up, and it would be unwise to job Bayzler out again if the intent is to build her up as a monster. For once in my life, I’ll go with the obvious over the creative.
Prediction: Shayna Bayzler.
North American Title Ladder Match: Richochet v Killian Dain v Lars Sullivan v Velveteen Dream v Adam Cole v ECIII.
I couldn’t be more excited for this. Everyone and their mother is looking forward to Gargano/Ciampa and Almas/Black, but this match is my jam. I have absolutely no idea who is going to win this one, so it’s time to take a closer look at each wrestler in hopes to come to a reasonable conclusion.
Killian Dain reminds me of a better Bray Wyatt. He has shined in the single’s action that he has seen. He doesn’t scream title holder to me though. I think he follows a similar path as Elias did. Like Elias, his character is a better fit for the main roster than it is for NXT. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get promoted soon. He has some size and he’d be a perfect fit with a revamped Wyatt Family that I believe to be coming soon. I am fairly confident that he won’t win.
I could rinse and repeat my words for Dain when discussing Lars Sullivan. The giant types just don’t seem to thrive in NXT the way that they do on the main roster. It’s a philosophical difference between the creative departments, and speaks to the type of fans that are likely to be the majority of the viewers on each show. I have more concerns about Lars on the main roster than I do with Dain, but that’s a conversation for another day. All in all, he just doesn’t fit the profile of someone that can win the match.
I think that we can effectively rule Richochet out. He’s on a collision course with 205Live. He’s everything that the division needs and should immediately become the centerpiece. Most of you probably think that I’m a WWE-only watcher, but I am a HUGE fan of Lucha Underground. His run as Prince Puma has been nothing short of spectacular. He can’t win this match because he’s not going to be in NXT by the time their next major show rolls around. Moving on.
ECIII is an interesting choice to me. In a bubble, he’d be the right guy to carry this title. He has a tremendous amount of charisma and a character that is more or less a finished product. He would bring prestige to a brand new title. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s in the cards for him. I get the feeling that the plan is to push him to the World Title as early as the next Takeover event. He’s going to get the Kevin Owens treatment, and that’s fine by me. However, that rules him out as the winner.
In the end, it’s between Adam Cole and The Velveteen Dream for me. I don’t see Cole as a main event level talent, so a mid-card title run is perfect for him. However, this ladder match feels like a set up for a feel good moment when the eventual winner ascends to the top and snatches the gold. Adam Cole doesn’t give you that moment, but The Velveteen Dream surely does. He’s been on fire for a long time and I fully expect his victory to blow the roof off the arena.
Prediction: The Velveteen Dream.
World Title Match: Aleistair Black v Cien Almas.
I’m not going to spend a tremendous amount of time on this match. We’ve seen it before. It was excellent the first time around and will be even better with the additional time that it is likely to get.
I’m fairly confident that Gargano/Ciampa is going to close the show. Not being the closer isn’t a knock on Black and Almas, but rather a nod to how amazing the Gargano/Ciampa story has been. Many have high hopes for Black. I’m not one of them. I think he’s a transitional champion. He’s a lock to win tonight, but I’d be surprised if he still has the belt by the time Summerslam’s Takeover rolls around.
Prediction: Aleistair Black.
Tommaso Ciampa v Johnny Gargano.
The feud between Gargano and Ciampa has been incredible. I think that they have more than earned the right to close out the biggest Takeover of the year. Their work as a tag team is the stuff of legends. I recently re-watched the entire Cruiserweight Classic, and their match was one that stood out to me as being significantly better than I remembered it.
I’m expecting a five star affair that will eclipse what we saw out of Gargano and Almas at the last Takeover. I think there’s an amazing story left to tell. I’d love to see Ciampa get the better of Gargano again. He could ride the wave of momentum directly to a title shot and dethrone Aleistair Black at the Money in the Bank Takeover show. From there, Gargano finally gets his revenge at Summerslam and captures the world title in a spectacular moment.
A guy can dream can’t he? Despite what I’d like to see, Gargano simply isn’t losing this match. The WWE is ready for this to be the payoff. I expect Gargano to win and the pop to be massive. NXT is going to make one thing crystal clear tonight: Johnny Gargano is the new Sami Zayn and NXT is HIS show.
Prediction: Johnny Gargano.
That’s a wrap kids. Tune in first thing tomorrow for Part 3, my Wrestlemania 34 predictions. Agree or disagree? Sound off below!
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