THE PREDICTOR PREDICTS: NXT TAKEOVER: STAND AND DELIVER
By Don “The Predictor” Murphy (Twitter: @DonThePredictor)
Well, we’ve made it to the biggest wrestling week of the year. I’ll have more to say about WrestleMania later this week, but if you’re a casual fan looking for something different, there are about 60 shows taking place this week and many are available for streaming and on-demand viewing. I encourage you to take in something new, as you may just find an alternative to something you’re just not feeling. I will say, I’m probably looking forward to Takeover more than Mania itself. It’s funny because the booking hasn’t been the strongest and each time we get to Takeover, I wonder if they’ll be able to put together a great lineup. I’m never disappointed and this time, they not only gave us a great lineup, but actually spread it out over two nights. That being said, let’s run down the card!
Night 1: USA Network/Peacock Streaming
Raquel González (with Dakota Kai) wins the NXT Women’s Championship over Io Shirai: If you’ve watched the build to this match, each segment usually ends with González getting the better of Shirai, which would imply that the stage is being set for the babyface to slay the monster during the showdown. In this case, I think they’ve done everything they can with Shirai in NXT and it’s time for her to drop the title. With González at the top, I think you can set her up as a dominant heel champion, while grooming the next babyface to eventually take the title from her. But to me, that’s a while down the road.
WALTER retains the NXT UK Championship over Tommaso Ciampa: If you’ve never watch NXT UK and have never seen WALTER, you are in for a treat. He’s probably one of my favorite performers today and such a throwback to the basic, classic heel. I’m thrilled that he gets to perform on a bigger stage and they have him in there with the right opponent. Admittedly, Ciampa has cooled a bit since turning babyface and returning from a serious neck injury, but he’s still valuable enough as a top act and can deliver in the big match. Expect this one to be one of the better matches of Mania week.
MSK (Wes Lee and Nash Carter) win the vacant NXT Tag Team Championship over the Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson) and Legado Del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde): It’s a shame that former Tag Team Champions, Danny Burch and Olney Lorcan, were forced out of this match due to Burch’s separated shoulder, as their match against MSK would have been off the charts. This is a fine substitute, as I the plan to put the titles on MSK remains the same, while Legado del Fantasma can take the fall, so that the Grizzled Young Veterans can stay protected, as they’re also valuable as a top tag team on the brand.
Dexter Lumis wins the a Six-man Gauntlet Eliminator Match over Leon Ruff, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes and LA Knight to become the #1 contender for the NXT North American Championship on Night 2: I can’t say that this match does much for me and I feel like the finish is anti-climactic, since the Lumis-Gargano feud has been going on for months. Truthfully, I’d love to see Reed or Scott get the nod here, but they’re firmly wrapped up in other programs. The match will be fine, but I’m just not putting Lumis on the same level as the others in the match and definitely not against champion, Johnny Gargano.
Pete Dunne defeats Kushida: Don’t sleep on this match. Dunne continues to be a main event player in the making and Kushida is more than a seasoned performer. If given enough time, this could steal the show.
Night 2: Peacock Streaming
Karrion Kross wins the NXT Championship over Finn Bálor: So, a couple of things have struck me about this match. First, I’m not sure who I’m supposed to root for, as both have exhibited heel and babyface tendencies. Second, I’m curious to see if Kross can deliver here and become a credible champion to carry the brand. I don’t see either making a move to the main roster so I think this is only the first chapter of a longer program.
Dexter Lumis wins the NXT North American Championship over Johnny Gargano: As I said, this is not the outcome I want to see, but this is unfortunately where I think we are headed. I expect Austin Theory to play a role in the finish (either intentionally or unintentionally), which protects Gargano in the loss and starts the beginning of Austin’s split with The Way faction.
Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart retain the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship over The Way (Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell): This will be interesting to see if Moon and Blackheart can carry two workers who are in need of seasoning. LeRae is decent, but still green. Hartwell is the one I want to watch as this is her first opportunity in a big spot. In the loss, similar to Theory, I think Hartwell is also on her “way” out of the faction (see what I did there?). And, that’s a good thing because I think Gargano and LeRae are better off without the added baggage. That said, I hope that Hartwell and Theory can find relevant roles on their own.
Jordan Devlin becomes the Undisputed NXT Cruiserweight Champion over Santos Escobar (with Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde) in a Ladder Match: This is another match not to sleep on as Devlin is also a favorite of mine in NXT UK. I’m thrilled that they’re moving the title back to one person. Escobar has been fine, but I think Devlin has more of an upside in the role. Again, the question becomes who to root for, as both are heels.
Adam Cole defeats Kyle O’Reilly in an Unsanctioned Match: We’ve saved possibly the best for last. The build to this has been incredible and it’s a testament to what can happen if you take two friends and give them a good story to work with. The emotion and passion have been so evident and this is only the beginning of this feud. Cole takes Round 1 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bobby Fish or Roderick Strong play a role in the finish, in Cole’s favor.