After every pay-per-view, WWE recalibrates and starts to immediately build to the next event. Following NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, the next NXT-branded event will be NXT TakeOver: New Orleans set for April 7, 2018 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Per usual at the end of an event, I like to try to give my extended projections for which matches I think we’ll be getting on the next card, what makes the most sense, what missteps WWE may take and so forth before it’s all been fully fleshed out and announced while also recapping what we do know for sure is being set up.
This also allows everyone else to leave their comments below to sound off on which directions they think WWE will go so we can trace back to this point and say we were right all along, or that we wish they would have done something different, so on and so forth.
So what do I see in my crystal ball for NXT TakeOver: New Orleans?
NXT Championship Match: Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) vs. Aleister Black
Unless EC 3 is given a massive push super fast—something I don’t think will happen in this scenario—the next logical No. 1 contender is obviously Aleister Black.
It’s not going to be Gargano again, as he’ll be busy elsewhere. It’s not going to be Kassius Ohno, who keeps losing. It will be the guy who has a virtually undefeated record and was voted not only the Male Competitor of the Year, but Breakout Star of the Year.
Black was always an option to go up to 205 Live, but with more and more focus being put on him in NXT, it started to seem like a given that he would win the NXT Championship somewhere down the line, with New Orleans striking me as when WWE will be pulling the trigger.
By that point, Almas will have had a long enough title reign that it won’t seem strange for him to drop the belt, and it will be WrestleMania weekend, so passionate fans would enjoy the title change to a fan favorite.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
100%, and it’s no grand prophecy foresight (even though I was saying Ciampa would attack Gargano at TakeOver: Philadelphia for weeks, but that’s nothing special). This is a gimme.
Not only is it something we can all see coming, it’s also something we should all be looking forward to.
Their match together in the Cruiserweight Classic was pretty awesome, and since then, they both have had even better matches with all sorts of different competitors.
Now that they have a bitter rivalry to go along with it, can you imagine how good this is going to be?? We’re talking Match of the Year contender that could end up surpassing Almas/Gargano so much that it blows it out of the water.
I’m curious if this is going to have a stipulation attached to it, but until something happens to make me think otherwise, I’m going to assume it won’t. They don’t need it right now and it could end up potentially getting in the way rather than being a crutch (no pun intended) to make it better.
Gargano vs. Ciampa could have been for the belt, but it doesn’t need that, either, and I think this is going to really turn a lot of heads and steal the show.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Ember Moon (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
Frankly, I’m not all that interested in this, but it seems like the next step will be to just repeat what we’ve seen before by having a rematch.
Perhaps they get around that by including Kairi Sane into the mix, as she has a bone to pick with Baszler and could be inserted to make it a Triple Threat match, but there’s certainly a high chance this is just Moon vs. Baszler II, with Baszler coming out on top as the new champion.
If you think that would result in two many title changes to have both the men’s and women’s belts switch, look back on previous TakeOver events and you’ll see that that has happened before.
Outside of those three women, I don’t expect anybody else to be in the title hunt.
Zelina Vega is still a manager more than a wrestler, Candice LeRae is a babyface and won’t be paired up with Moon like that so quickly, and folks like Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair and so on just won’t be prioritized this high over someone like Baszler.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed Era (c) vs. SAnitY
There’s a very good likelihood that these two teams clash on a regular episode of NXT rather than at TakeOver: New Orleans, but for now, it’s the safest bet to try to predict.
SAnitY wasn’t able to receive their proper rematch after dropping the tag titles, since The Undisputed Era jumped them behind the scenes, which opened up The Authors of Pain to swoop in and snatch the title shot away from them.
With SAnitY attacking The Undisputed Era during the Extreme Rules match between Aleister Black and Adam Cole, that proves that this feud isn’t over and the rematch will happen somewhere down the line.
The main reason why I think this could be dragged out enough time to happen at TakeOver: New Orleans instead of on television is because there’s only going to be what, 8 episodes between the next set of tapings and WrestleMania week?
Those 8 episodes could comprise of plenty of other material, with these two teams fighting once or twice in non-title matches of pairings between various members of the stables.
Then, at TakeOver, we could see a true 3-on-3 with the titles on the line and likely, The Undisputed Era retaining once again.
Options for Match #5
TakeOver tends to have five and only five matches, so this is where things get difficult, as there are plenty of people who should be factored in yet only really two spots available.
The Velveteen Dream is certainly someone who could be wrestling, particularly after his great performances at WarGames and Philadelphia. If he starts a new feud with someone on the next set of tapings, we’ll know who that person could be, and it could be any number of folks like No Way Jose, a push for Cezar Bononi after he just won the award for Future Star of the Year, a random push for Fabian Aichner or Lio Rush, or even a returning Drew McIntyre (though doubtful).
Then again, Roderick Strong has become the No. 1 contender to Pete Dunne’s United Kingdom Championship. Is that going to play out just on regular NXT episodes, or is that going to be something they target for TakeOver?