Thursday, May 30, 2019

NXT TakeOver: XXV Preview & Predictions

Another NXT TakeOver special is here, so let's take a look at the card and make some predictions, shall we?

Hard to believe we've arrived at the 25th TakeOver.  NXT continues to be the one part of WWE programming that is always worth seeking out.  While the main roster product is flying apart due to an unsustainable creative infrastructure with zero long-term direction, Triple H and his NXT team keep churning out a simple (in a good way), easy-to-watch show featuring great matches and angles that leave everyone satisfied.  And somehow despite constantly having their talent raided by an increasingly desperate Vince McMahon, NXT always has more talent ready to step up.  TakeOver: New York was an absolutely stellar card that will almost certainly hold up by year's end as the best WWE-produced show of 2019.

But now let's get to current events.  The XXV card looks pretty great too, and will be the first NXT show since NXT London to not immediately precede a main roster PPV.  So for the first time in almost four years the black and gold brand will stand or fall totally on its own.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong

This match could end up stealing the show.  Matt Riddle finally sold me on his abilities with a fantastic New York showing against Velveteen Dream, and I expect an incredibly crisp, hard-hitting match with Roddy.  Coming off a major loss to Dream I have to think Riddle takes this one to rebuild his mojo and put him back into title contention.

Pick: Riddle

North American Championship: Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Breeze

I'm very happy Breeze got sent back to NXT; he's too valuable a talent to be wasting away on a main roster that doesn't have anything for him to do.  I can think of several other misused stars who'd benefit from such a move (Gable, Harper, hell, even Banks), so hopefully Hunter is lobbying for them as well.  Dream on the other hand is a prodigy, already a stellar worker at 23 years old and loaded with charisma.  This should be a fine title match.

Pick: I'll go with Dream to retain

NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Street Profits vs. Forgotten Sons

I'm kinda pissed they had War Raiders vacate the belts just because of a call-up.  I'm old enough to remember when NXT Champion Kevin Owens moved up to the main roster to feud with John Cena but still got to drop the belt properly to Finn Balor a couple months later.  No reason Hanson and Rowe couldn't have done the same (or just not gotten the call-up yet since RAW has done nothing with them so far except give them a stupid new name).  But since the belts are vacated we have a 4-way ladder match to crown new champs.  O'Reilly and Fish seem the only appropriate choice at this point, as Street Profits and Forgotten Sons are too new, and Lorcan and Burch aren't quite ready yet.

Pick: Undisputed Era

NXT Women's Championship: Shayna Baszler vs. Io Shirai

I'm excited for this one - the women's 4-way at the New York show was a super fun match and Shirai turned in a starmaking performance.  This should be an excellent follow-up as she plays the scrappy, athletic underdog to Baszler's dominant monster.  I think it's definitely Io's time and this match should be her crowning moment.  Hopefully they get enough time to knock it out of the park.

Pick: Shirai wins the title 

NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole

These two had an absolutely incredible match in April and will undoubtedly show us something special again here.  Gargano's quest for the title has been one of the great NXT stories and this match should help solidify that, just as Bayley-Sasha II did in 2015.  I predict another Match of the Year contender.

Pick: Gargano should retain

NXT TakeOver shows are one of the few truly enjoyable offerings left in WWE, whose main roster product has become joyless, stagnant, and consistently fails to reward ongoing viewership.  I still dream of the day when Triple H and his associates are given the chance to do for the main roster what they've done for this brand.  Look no further than the live crowd reactions to these shows compared with RAW, Smackdown or even WrestleMania; NXT fans have so much more fun, and it's night and day.  Anyway, enjoy the show, and thanks for reading!

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