NXT takes center stage tomorrow night, just 24 hours before WWE present their biggest event of the year from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. NXT has become a phenomenon of its own over the past few years and it seems that once again the developmental brand of WWE has the potential to steal the entire weekend.
There are only five matches on the official card, but this includes an unsanctioned match, the only ladder match of the weekend to crown the inaugural North American Champion and three other Championship matches.
As ever, The Brass Ring’s team are here to share their predictions ahead of the event, this month panel includes Andrew Parker, Conair Bibby, Phillipa Hopwood, Jake Thorley and Victoria Hopwood.
Phillipa, Conair, Vickie – Shayna Baszler
Andrew, Jake – Ember Moon
Thoughts by Phillipa – Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon have butted heads a number of times over the past few months but it seems that NXT has finally run out of ways for Moon to keep hold of her title. She was lucky in Philadelphia when she got a quick pin on Baszler and was then saved by the return of Kairi Sane a few weeks ago. Baszler has dominated the NXT Women’s Division ever since her arrival and has made a number of enemies, but it seems that we could see the crowning of a new Champion on Saturday night since there are no more angles for WWE to play.
Moon looks set to be called up to the main roster in the coming weeks, so maybe it’s time for a switch of leader in the Women’s Division. Baszler isn’t the best wrestler, but she’s certainly the most dominant female down there and she could easily fill the void when Ember moves on.
The Authors Of Pain Vs. The Undisputed Era Vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne – Finals of The Dusty Rhodes Classic/NXT Tag Team Championships
Phillipa, Vickie, Andrew, Jake – Undisputed Era
Conair – Roderick Strong And Pete Dunne
Thoughts by Vickie – This match was only made official last week on NXT and thanks to the injury to Bobby Fish, it seems that Adam Cole could be the first NXT star to pull double duty in two Championship matches at a Takeover event. The Authors of Pain already have their foot out the door when it comes to a call-up to the main roster, whilst Dunne and Strong don’t look like the kind of team who will co-exist when the pressure is on. Dunne already has a Championship and has proved numerous times that he doesn’t work well with others.
There are rumors that there could be another addition to the match to join Undisputed Era, which would definitely give the team the edge, the triple threat rules mean that there is no disqualification so it’s definitely going to be interesting to see which team can overcome these odds and walk out with the tag team titles. My money is on The Undisputed Era.
Phillipa – Tomasso Ciampa
Conair, Vickie, Andrew, Jake – Johnny Gargano
Thoughts by Jake – Gargano lost his match to Andrade “Cien” Almas back at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia in January, but he seems confident going into his match against his former partner tomorrow night. I expect that Tommaso Ciampa will make his way to the ring first and Gargano will attack him from behind for all the other times that he’s attacked him over the past few months and cost him his job in NXT. The stipulation of the match obviously favors Ciampa much more than Gargano since he will do whatever it takes to win and weapons are allowed. Ciampa still has an injured leg and it seems that this could be the thing that Gargano targets if he wants his job back in NXT. Ciampa has nothing really to counter this but I expect it to be a close ending with Johnny Wrestling picking up the win and securing his place on the developmental roster once again.
Ricochet Vs. EC3 Vs. Adam Cole Vs. Velveteen Dream Vs. Killian Dane Vs. Lars Sullivan – Ladder Match For The North American Championship
Phillipa – Ricochet
Conair, Jake – Velveteen Dream
Vickie, Andrew – Adam Cole
Thoughts by Conair – Wow. There’s a lot to dissect here. Bringing in another championship to NXT has been a long time coming (the UK Championship has performed well as a de-facto mid-card championship in the meantime) and what a way to start the lineage. Six of the brightest NXT stars at the moment and LADDERS. LADDERS! This match seems to have taken the place of the annual “Wrestlemania needs a ladder match” trope that’s been reoccurring since 2015.
The whole idea of Ricochet and EC3 competing on a TakeOver is still ridiculous to me. So, include the fact that they’re both in the same match (making their debut and re-debut respectively) along with Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain, we’re in for a treat this Saturday. This kind of match practically builds itself, but NXT has managed to add even more hype during the main event segment of TV this past week. Having all of the competitors in the ring at the same time is a simple, yet fantastic way of getting people excited for this. Add on the various segments last week in which Mr. Regal announced all the competitors in the match from different areas of Full Sail as though it’s an ongoing news story, and you have a perfect two week build to a major match. Not to mention, the actual championship itself is beautiful. As far as a winner goes, honestly, I don’t care. I wish they could all win. Velveteen Dream is my favorite of the bunch, however, so I’ll go with him.
Phillipa, Andrew, Conair, Vickie, Jake – Aleister Black
Thoughts by Andrew – Well then, if this isn’t a match of the year contender right here. And that’s saying something, considering it’s on the same weekend as AJ Styles Vs Shinsuke Nakamura, and Asuka Vs Charlotte. We know the pedigree behind both of these talents, and how creative they can be when thrown into the big match pressure cooker, so to expect anything less than an absolute classic is just crazy. It’s also beautifully hard to pick a winner, as both have a legitimate claim to be the favorite. Almas, fresh off a stellar feud with Johnny Gargano, is a very strong champion, proving time after time that he’s able to have a five-star match with anyone. On the other hand, Black just oozes complete and utter badassery from every pore and excites anyone who witnesses his striking ability. Either one is the right pick. I think I’ll have to go with Black, as it’s Wrestlemania weekend and therefore moments™ are being handed out like candy. But if Almas pulls out the win, I will not be surprised in the slightest.