Welp, WWE has attempted to corner the market on everyone's television viewing this week, with nine straight days of programming. Last night it was RAW, tonight it's the Hall of Fame ceremony, and this Wednesday and Thursday it's the first two-night NXT TakeOver special, Stand & Deliver (followed by Smackdown, two nights of 'Mania, RAW and NXT).
We have ourselves some pretty great-looking matchups on tap for this pair of shows. I'm not up on all of NXT's goings-on (perhaps I'll watch the weekly show more often now that it will no longer be head-to-head with AEW), but I'll be damned if NXT hasn't put together a pretty stacked lineup. Let's get started....
Pete Dunne vs. Kushida
This might be the one I'm most interested in. Both guys are fantastic, both guys killed it at the last TakeOver show, both guys deserve to be NXT headliners. This should be a tremendous, hard-hitting match with lots of grappling as well.
Pick: I think Dunne wins this one.
Gauntlet Match: Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah Scott vs. Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis vs. LA Knight
I'm generally not a fan of gauntlet matches; what a stupidly arbitrary way to determine a #1 contender. They tend to be overly long sequences of overly short singles matches. Not sure who wins here to challenge Johnny Gargano on Night 2, but I'll pick Dexter Lumis I guess.
Pick: The guy with the nerdiest name
NXT Tag Team Championship: MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma
The NXT Tag belts are vacant thanks to Danny Burch getting hurt, so this match will determine which team gets to be the new champs. Should be a helluva car wreck of a match; MSK and the Veterans had an amazing Dusty Classic Final a couple months ago. Add a pair of lucha-style guys and you have a recipe for nonstop action. I'll go with MSK since they had a star-making performance at Vengeance Day.
NXT UK Championship: Walter vs. Tomasso Ciampa
Hot damn this'll be great. I haven't seen a Walter match since two years ago at NXT: New York, when he and Pete Dunne tore the house down. Walter has held this thing for two full years now, but since I can't see Ciampa going to the UK brand, I think Walter probably retains.
Pick: Walter retains
NXT Women's Championship: Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez
Raquel is the hot new women's star in NXT, Shirai should've been called up to the main roster a long time ago. Between those two facts, this is probably Io's NXT swan song or close to it. The main roster needs more women anyway (imagine Asuka vs. Shirai - oh man), so now's as good a time as any to make the change. Should be a fine contest.
Pick: Gonzalez wins the belt
NXT Women's Tag Team Championship: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. The Way
What a stupid way to establish these titles - they had Gonzalez and Dakota Kai win the Women's Dusty Classic for a shot at Shayna and Nia, they lost, and then William Regal just announced a new set of NXT belts, and rather than have a Dusty Classic rematch to determine the first champs, he awarded them to Kai & Gonzalez, then they had Ember and Shotzi beat them for the belts the same night. Just stupid. Anyway, the champs will probably retain here.
Pick: Ember and Shotzi retain
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Jordan Devlin vs. Santos Escobar
So Devlin is the Cruiserweight Champ but due to COVID travel restrictions he wasn't able to get to the US for most of the last year, thus they crowned Escobar the interim champ, a la UFC rules. Kinda weird. When has WWE ever shied away from just stripping someone of a title when they can't defend it? Anyway, this should be fine - I know nothing about either of these two, but NXT cruiserweight action is always fun. I expect Devlin will unify the titles and reclaim his top spot.
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. TBD
It's Mr. Wrestling vs. whoever wins the gauntlet. Usually TBD wins in these situations, so I'll go with the field.
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly
This is the other match that should steal the show, stemming from the Undisputed Era's implosion coming out of Vengeance Day. O'Reilly is an incredible worker, Cole is one of the best in the company. This should be fantastic. It's unsanctioned which means they'll add a buncha bells and whistles, but it would steal the show even without all that. I'll go with Kyle to get his first big singles win.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross
Welp, Kross was supposed to be the next big thing in NXT a year ago but had to relinquish the title due to injury (Hey, why didn't they just create an interim title?), and so Balor won the vacant championship. Clearly the company is going to re-pull the trigger on Kross, because "tall guy." We'll see if he's up to the task; thus far I don't see main event potential out of him but I could be wrong.
And there's your two nights of NXT action. Should be a couple of fine shows, and I'm going to be very busy keeping up with those and AEW and WrestleMania. This is gettin' to be a lot.
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