NXT TakeOver events are the prelude to WWE’s biggest pay-per-views, and Wrestlemania is no exception as NXT takeover the Smoothie King Centre.
We recently saw a match of the year candidate between NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas and Johnny Gargano, but can the next installment of WWE’s third brand provide as much entertainment as the first?
*THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS – DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS ON NXT THROUGHOUT FEBRUARY AND MARCH!
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (C) vs. Aleister Black – NXT Championship
Lars Sullivan was originally penciled in to fight Almas in New Orleans, but these plans were scrapped after Sullivan was ruled out with a knee injury and illness. He could return for the final block of NXT tapings which is scheduled for March 7. Nevertheless, Aleister claimed he was due a shot at the NXT Championship and signed the contract after beating Killian Dain with Black Mass.
Black has been on a brilliant run as of late, with big wins over Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole on the last two Takeovers. As for Almas, he won the NXT Championship from Drew McIntyre and subsequently defended it against Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia and then on an episode of NXT which is due to air in February or March.
Ember Moon (C) vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship
Moon was able to defeat Baszler via a roll up in Philadelphia but it didn’t feel as though the feud was concluded. Baszler, playing the role of brutal heel perfectly, has caused havoc at the NXT tapings and eventually defeated Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane.
Ember has been a popular figure with the Women’s Championship after Asuka’s dominant reign throughout 2016 and 2017. The rematch will probably see Ember toppled and her move up to the main roster for the night after Wrestlemania.
Her counterpart Baszler is fresh to NXT, getting to the final of the Mae Young Classic and bullying her way to the front of the line in order to face Moon.
SAnitY vs. Authors of Pain – Final of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
These two have been at the forefront of NXT’s tag team division for over a year now and have been involved in some of the best matches in NXT history. Whether it’s the War Games match in November or changing the belts in Brooklyn, these guys can work together and produce brilliance.
Despite both of them being babyfaces, I expect both of these teams to reach the finals of the third Dusty Rhodes Classic. Sanity defeated Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli to reach the semi-finals whereas Authors of Pain toppled TM-61 and now face The Street Profits in the semis.
Whoever wins this match may be in line for another title shot as previous winners Akam, and Rezar won the Tag Team Championships at the next NXT: TakeOver event after winning the tournament in Toronto back in 2016.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
This one has been brewing for almost a year now and what a climax it could reach.
Ciampa was forced off of TV after NXT TakeOver: Chicago due to injury but not before he turned on his DIY partner.
These two are widely renowned as some of the worlds best workers and have already proven that they can work together on the indies and in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic, where Gargano beat Ciampa in the first round.
Now in his best persona as an evil heel, Ciampa has been taunting and attacking Gargano in the most recent tapings of NXT. Gargano has left NXT after losing to Andrade Cien Almas again for the title and was then forced to leave NXT.
However, I don’t think this will last too long, and we could see the first installment of many potential matches between Ciampa and Gargano in New Orleans.
Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole
This could easily be the show’s opener as Strong came to the aid of Pete Dunne when Undisputed Era attacked him.
Strong has recently been featuring on WWE television in the Cruiserweight tournament, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have his swansong match putting Cole over.
The Messiah of the Backbreaker has had a turbulent time in NXT as he has remained pretty stagnant in the mid-card throughout. He defeated Almas in his first Takeover match and then pinned Eric Young at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. His only other appearance on Takeover was in the War Games match, aligning with Authors of Pain.
Cole needs no introduction, bursting onto the NXT scene after an extremely successful stint on the independent scene as part of Bullet Club.