With half as many events per year as the main roster, NXT TakeOver events are immensely important for the men and women in the developmental brand as far as exposure and momentum to carry them into the next stage of their careers. There are only a few opportunities to get on the card and each spot is highly coveted real estate.
The card for this Sunday’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago event seems pretty locked in at this point and per usual, not every superstar was able to make it onto the lineup. For whatever reason, these men and women weren’t deemed important enough to find a spot for at the pay-per-view—at least as far as what’s currently being advertised. Some of those omissions might be justified while others are a bit more questionable.
Let’s take a look at who will be sitting this show out…
Drew McIntyre / Wesley Blake
These two are in a feud at the moment, but since one half of it is Wesley Blake, it certainly doesn’t feel worthy enough to bother putting on the special event. Instead, McIntyre put a challenge out there for Blake to answer for the Wednesday show following TakeOver.
This will be taped beforehand, so technically they’ll be wrestling at the event, but we all know that doesn’t count as it won’t be airing as part of this specific show itself.
I can’t help but feel like McIntyre is on hold right now until a variety of new feuds start, where he can sink his teeth in something meatier. I have no idea what that will be, but I would place a lot of bets that Wesley Blake is nowhere factored into those plans.
Just as McIntyre and Blake are scheduled for next week’s regular episode of NXT, the same applies to Aleister Black. They’ve yet to announce an opponent for him, instead choosing to keep it vague as him “being in action” for now, but it could be against literally anybody and the same bullet points will be accomplished.
My guess is we’ll see him face off against someone like Sean Maluta or Kona Reeves who pop up as the reserves to lose to the bigger stars, but perhaps there’s an even more interesting opponent lined up for him to start an actual feud with.
Either way, we’ll have to wait until the spoilers come out before TakeOver to find out what’s next in store for Black.
Kassius Ohno / Andrade “Cien” Almas
If they hadn’t already wrestled on this week’s episode of NXT, I would have thought these two would be a lock for TakeOver. Instead, if their feud continues, it will have to be during the tapings beforehand to air at a later date.
Alternatively, I can see Kassius Ohno making a run-in to save Roderick Strong during his match with Eric Young, as the two have had their dealings with SAnitY in the past and we know Wolfe and Dain will likely get their hands dirty somewhere in that segment.
Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight have surprisingly been gaining a lot of steam as of late. In just a handful of appearances, they went from the live event crew and infrequent losers to wrecking balls in the tag team division.
Their time will come, but it isn’t now. There is still a waiting period where they need to be built up a little more before they can challenge The Authors of Pain, who, of course, should be retaining against #DIY.
If Ciampa and Gargano move up to the main roster, it will open up room for Heavy Machinery to swoop in and take the top babyface tag team role, but they will have to be patient when it comes to TakeOver: Chicago.
No Way Jose
Where the hell has No Way Jose been lately? He was pulled from his last TakeOver match and to the best of my memory and knowledge, I can’t remember seeing him ever since.
Has he been legitimately injured this whole time and it has just been a quiet topic nobody is talking about because it’s No Way Jose, or is this maybe a sign that the company doesn’t see much value in using him in any creative way?
I’ve kind of grown to like the guy, so I hope the lack of exposure isn’t a bad omen, but the more time spent away, the more it seems like something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
From the Women’s Division
The injured Ember Moon was obviously not someone who was meant to be off the card as she was already penciled into the NXT Women’s Championship match before being pulled, so in her case, this is just unfortunate circumstances and timing.
Aliyah and Liv Morgan weren’t able to really gain much traction in the few weeks they were given the spotlight, so it’s understandable why WWE would put them on the backburner somewhat until they need to utilize them again. At this point, they just aren’t high enough priorities to be inserted in as a new fourth member of the title match. The same goes for Sonya Deville and Lacey Evans, who are just starting out, for the most part.
With Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, though, they have really carved out a spot for themselves in this division in NXT and it’s somewhat surprising they aren’t involved in something, if not just being called up to the main roster by now. Part of me thinks they’ll show up on Raw or SmackDown right after Backlash, but another part of me thinks WWE is just waiting for Asuka’s call-up at Brooklyn before giving Royce and Kay the chance to actually run the division as the definitive top heels in NXT, so they’re just stalling before they give them anything big to sink their teeth in.
The Usual Suspects
When is the last time you remember seeing Buddy Murphy, Angelo Dawkins, Sawyer Fulton (who is no longer out with his injury), or Nick Miller (who has been completely MIA since Shane Thorne went down with his injury)?
Oney Lorcan and even HoHo Lun do make some appearances here and there, but not at TakeOver events. They’re too far down the totem pole to take up a spot that plenty of other bigger names aren’t even filling.
Of course, there’s also the live event squad who aren’t truly members of the roster quite yet, such as Riddick Moss, Patrick Clark, Tian Bing, Kona Reeves, Montez Ford, the Ealy brothers and more, but until they become more heavily used on the actual television show, this is always to be expected.