This weekend we're getting an NXT TakeOver show that doesn't immediately precede a main roster PPV, and it's on a Sunday to boot. This here is what you'd call "NXT trying to stand on its own." The lineup looks pretty spectacular as always, and we're getting an unusual six matches instead of five. I imagine this means the show will go a full three hours, and I ain't even mad. At least one major NXT star seems to have a WrestleMania match in her future, and I wonder if others will follow.
Let's take a gander and make some predictions....
Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
This is the long-awaited payoff to Kai's shocking heel turn at Survivor Series and the rules are out the window. Should be heated, and the crowd should be into it. I think it'll get somewhat lost in the shuffle on a loaded card like this, but it should be a fun bout.
Pick: This being Nox's revenge story I'll pick her to win
North American Championship: Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic
The two monster babyface pals face off for Lee's newly won NA Title. This should be a real battle of the bulls. Keith is obviously keeping the title here and will I assume face Roderick Strong at the 'Mania weekend show, but Dijakovic should give him an entertaining first big title defense.
Pick: Lee retains
NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era vs. Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne
This might just steal the show. The sheer amount of in-ring talent in this match is insane. Riddle has drawn Vince's ire lately (as well as Brock Lesnar's) with his Twitter activity, but I can't see Triple H punishing him for that. This should be a big title change to cap off an incredible tag team bout.
Pick: The Broserweights
Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano
Another MOTN candidate, this is the make-up for the match we didn't get in November. Balor will be super motivated to prove his lack of main roster push unjustified, while Gargano always brings his A-game. Aside from the tag match this is the one I'm most excited for.
Pick: If this feud is continuing, Balor should win the first encounter.
NXT Women's Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair
The two hottest women's stars in NXT face off. Ripley has "future megastar" written all over her, she just needs more in-ring seasoning, while Belair is an incredible athlete coming off a great Royal Rumble showing. Both will want to create a career-defining match here, it's just a matter of whether or not they'll live up to that. I'm rooting for them to succeed.
Pick: Ripley retains on her way to Charlotte
NXT Championship: Adam Cole vs. Tomasso Ciampa
My pick for 2019's Wrestler of the Year (as well as Pro Wrestling Illustrated's) vs. the fallen hero/unbeaten champion seeking redemption. These two went to war in the double cage last November and now it's time for the big title match. It's honestly hard to say which way they'll go here. Cole has had this title since June, but I feel like he should lose it on the biggest TakeOver of the year, which would be in April. So I think Cole retains here and maybe drops it in a rematch WrestleMania weekend.
Pick: Cole retains
This is yet another stacked card for the NXT brand, and we should get some idea where things are headed for the Tampa Bay show in two months. NXT's TakeOver shows in 2019 were pure fire and that trend should continue here. Buckle up.
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