The Road to NXT TakeOver: New Orleans

Over the next few months, the main focus in WWE will be on the buildup to the biggest event of the year, WrestleMania. With the Royal Rumble now over, the Road to Wrestlemania has officially begun, but that also means the Road to Takeover: New Orleans has started as well.

Following in the footsteps of events past, Takeover: Philadelphia was a fantastic show from start to finish. Not only did each match deliver, but it also laid the groundwork for a number of stories to bring them through the next few months.

The Undisputed Era successfully defended against the Authors of Pain in what was likely the latter farewell match as they are likely to make their main roster debut sooner rather than later. While this left many people wondering what was next, it seems that there are two distinct paths they could take.

The fact that Sanity kept them from interfering in the Adam Cole match would hint that the two teams aren’t quite finished with each other.  The other possibility though is, of course, the newest Tag Team signing. War Machine was shown in the crowd, and to the surprise of many, they kept the name we all know them by. While I don’t think they will be thrust directly into the title race, I do feel it’s only a matter of time before they have their eyes set on gold.

Speaking of gold, the outcome of the NXT title match came as a shock to many as it had seemed a virtual lock that Johnny Gargano was going to realize his dream of having WWE gold around his waist. Instead, we were treated to an instant classic, match of the year candidate between Gargano and Andrade “Cien” Almas that saw the champion retain in a rather clean way. From here, the title picture seems a bit murky as no clear-cut contender has a claim to the belt. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Velveteen Dream get a shot, between now and TakeOver: New Orleans, that he falls just short in because the best matchup for WrestleMania weekend would have to be Almas versus Aleister Black.

Now I know the popular opinion is that we should see Adam Cole in the main event picture, the fact that he lost to Black combined with his strong showing in the Rumble has me feeling a main roster promotion will come his way before Aleister Black. Plus, Black is one of the most unique wrestlers we have seen in years and is beyond ready for his time in the spotlight. Putting the belt on him is the closest thing to a home run that NXT has had in quite some time, and the matches that could come as a result of that would produce MOTY contenders left and right.

Neither title match will be what people are talking about leading to the next Takeover though. That of course, will be the inevitable collision of former partners and friends Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano.  While many expected Gargano to win the title, most also thought that if he were to lose it would have been because of Ciampa.

Instead, we had yet another Takeover that was on the verge of ending when the curse of the credits hit Gargano, this time in the form of a crutch across the back. One swing and we were reminded just what the Psycho Killer was capable of, and all signs point to a battle of epic proportions.

While the next Takeover has a lot to live up to, there is no doubt in my mind that the NXT roster will deliver a show that leaves all of us begging for more, and one if not multiple MOTY candidates that will have the industry buzzing.


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