The final TakeOver of the year, WarGames, may be the best one yet, but the machine doesn’t stop too long to reflect on things before we start looking ahead to the future and the next show, which will be NXT TakeOver: Phoenix.
It will hit us Saturday, January 26, 2019 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix (duh), Arizona, one night before the Royal Rumble, and there’s no telling what we’re necessarily in store for, but we can take a shot, right?
The first set of tapings that will lead into plans for the build to this event have taken place and while they don’t give us much to work with, part of the fun of super early predictions is the blind guessing, so I invite everyone else to take part in the process by leaving their predictions in the comments below, too.
With that being said, when I look into my crystal ball, this is what I can see going down at TakeOver: Phoenix…
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
NXT Championship Match
Tommaso Ciampa is intrinsically tied to Johnny Gargano, who is feuding with Aleister Black, while there’s also Velveteen Dream somewhere in the mix.
It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if we had a Fatal 4-Way, but I’m thinking more so that we’re getting Ciampa vs. Black vs. Gargano in a Triple Threat before WrestleMania, rather than having Velveteen Dream involved. And yet, his lack of involvement is something that makes me doubt my opinions about this.
My gut was telling me Black beat Gargano, so he gets a title shot, but we know that already happened at the tapings, with Ciampa retaining the championship. After that, Dream attacked Ciampa, and earlier in the night, Dream defeated Gargano.
So unless the game plan is to do two matches on NXT and then simply repeat them on TakeOver, with Ciampa/Black and Gargano/Dream, I’m assuming we’re getting that Fatal 4-Way and there’s some other plan in mind for April 6th that doesn’t involve these guys, like Ciampa defending against Matt Riddle or something.
Very, very curious…
NXT Women’s Championship Match
We know Shayna Baszler’s going in as champion. That’s a guarantee, barring any kind of scandal or injury. She wouldn’t have won the title back at Evolution and retained it at WarGames if they didn’t want her holding that belt into WrestleMania season.
The real question is who she’ll be up against, as the babyface side of things isn’t exactly painting a strong picture right now.
I think we can rule out Candice LeRae. She’s not been pushed all that much, as she’s been in Gargano’s shadow. I think we can also eliminate Deonna Purrazzo from the mix as she’s still on the outskirts and will likely have the same sort of build-up phase that someone like Mia Yim is going through (even though Yim does stand a chance and is my #2 option).
Had Dakota Kai not already had a mini-feud with Baszler, I would think she’d be the one to take a shot at the title here, but I think that’s dead, too. She’ll probably be someone Baszler can beat along the way while teaming up with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, as those two defeat Kai and Kairi Sane on one of the upcoming episodes, based on the tapings.
That leaves Io Shirai. She was the third person to balance out the equation, she’s yet to feud with Baszler, she was second-place in the Mae Young Classic and the two of them can have a very good match.
And for anyone wondering, no, I don’t think Lacey Evans or Bianca Belair will be turned babyface to fight Baszler….at least, not yet. Talk to me about Belair come New York.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match
Going back a while now, it has seemed as though The Undisputed ERA were destined to lose the titles to War Raiders, but it keeps not happening. When WarGames happened and the babyface team was victorious, I felt like that sealed the deal for the titles to be on borrowed time with Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly.
Then, they apparently have already had the title match and it ended in a disqualification, further dragging this out…and now, I’m starting to question it.
Occam’s razor. Why did they do this? Because they wanted fans in San Jose to think the title change was happening there, have the DQ stall the switch, but since Hanson and Rowe won, they’re entitled to a rematch. Somewhere down the line, William Regal will say he’s had enough of the shenanigans and book The Undisputed ERA against War Raiders in something like a Last Man Standing match and THEN, the belts will have new homes.
The Street Profits are holding the Evolve tag titles. Heavy Machinery aren’t taking the top priority spot. The Forgotten Sons and The Mighty are heels. Moustache Mountain are aiming for the NXT UK Tag Team Championship and they’ve already done that feud, and as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any other tag teams ready to get signed or pushed. It’s not like Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude are going to surpass War Raiders, right?
North American Championship Match
Ricochet and Pete Dunne definitely have something going on, but we’ve seen them do a title for title match, and I can’t imagine WWE would actually have a dual champion. They’ve also had a Triple Threat with Adam Cole, and if I think we’re getting a Fatal 4-Way, I don’t think they’ll add a three-way on top of that. Cole has fought Ricochet. Cole has fought Dunne. And I think Dunne will defend the United Kingdom Championship on an NXT UK event coming sometime in 2019 that they’ll announce at TakeOver: Phoenix, as Triple H said a big announcement was coming in the first quarter.
So…what do they do with the North American Championship?
Well, on the tapings, EC3 beats Marcel Barthel and then calls out Bobby Fish. They’re feuding, but that doesn’t factor in Ricochet. Unless, maybe, it does.
Maybe, while O’Reilly and Strong are busy with Hanson and Rowe, we get Fish and Adam Cole against EC3 and Ricochet, and this whole thing with Pete Dunne is just a tease for something that isn’t happening, or at least, isn’t happening now. And then, maybe Ricochet and EC3 end up at odds with each other and facing off for the title at TakeOver.
It’s as good a guess as any, and I’m fresh out of other ideas, as they still have another set of tapings happening on the 28th that can potentially clarify all of this by going in a completely different direction like introducing the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic or something that would swallow this card up and prevent the North American title from being defended.
Matt Riddle has to do something, right? And since he’s a babyface, he needs to be paired up with someone other than Kassius Ohno, since he made him look like a fool and there’s no reason to keep that going anymore.