WrestleMania Week is over and WWE is already moving on to the next shows to come, meaning even when it comes to NXT, TakeOver: New Orleans is old news and the build to TakeOver: Chicago 2018 has begun.
Last night, the first set of tapings for the episodes leading up to TakeOver: Chicago on June 16th at the Allstate Arena took place, giving us a window into some possible plans for the event.
However, it’s important to note two major things:
1) the Superstar Shake-up on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live has yet to take place, which could see any number of men and/or women from NXT called up to the main roster
2) the NXT tapings only covered enough material to last until the middle of May, meaning there will be at least one more set of tapings before this TakeOver event, wherein plenty of plans could change
Keeping all that in mind, what do I see in my crystal ball for NXT TakeOver: Chicago II?
Let’s take a look at how some of these feuds will go down in the next 2 months…
NXT Championship Match
As it stands, Johnny Gargano is attempting to become the No. 1 contender to Aleister Black’s title. He was supposed to get a shot, but Tommaso Ciampa jumped him prior to it.
Also, it needs to be mentioned that Candice LeRae defeated Zelina Vega with Gargano and Andrade “Cien” Almas ringside, so the former champion is still somewhat involved in these matters, which should be expected, as the rematch clause gimmick is always potentially in play.
However, that doesn’t mean Almas is guaranteed to fight Black here. Instead, this could very easily be a situation where Almas moves up to Raw or SmackDown in the Superstar Shake-up and he just doesn’t have a rematch, or they do it on a regular episode of NXT.
Ember Moon went over to Raw and ditched the Shayna Baszler feud, so it’s not unheard of.
Basically, I’m thinking we have two potential options that are very similar.
In one scenario, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Andrade “Cien” Almas are all fighting for the title and we have a Fatal 4-Way with those three against Aleister Black.
In another scenario, Almas graduates to the main roster and leaves the NXT Championship to be contended in a Triple Threat match: Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano.
With both of those options, I still think Black retains the title and gets paired up with either EC3 or Lars Sullivan for Brooklyn.
NXT Women’s Championship Match
With Shayna Baszler on top, the narrative is going to be how she’s a destructive bully, so she needs to be fighting some kind of babyface who she can defeat. It’s far too early for her to drop the title in June and it’s unlikely by then that someone will be built up enough for that responsibility, anyway.
Barring some kind of face turn or a new player brought into the division, Shayna Baszler’s only real options for a challenger are Aliyah, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, and Kairi Sane, as I’m anticipating SAnitY to go over to SmackDown in the Superstar Shake-up.
Aliyah is certainly not getting the shot, as she’s the jobber of the division. Candice does have some momentum on her side after beating Zelina Vega, but in my opinion, she’s someone who they can set up later down the line as one of the two potential people to dethrone Baszler.
The other one is Sane, who has a history with Baszler when she defeated her in the finals of the Mae Young Classic. However, it’s important to note that that victory for Sane might be exactly what holds her back from being the person to beat Baszler, whether it be in Chicago, Brooklyn or Los Angeles. WWE might want to even the odds, and that’s why I’m assuming she’s the challenger in Brooklyn, but loses, with Candice coming into the fold around Los Angeles.
That leaves Dakota Kai, who has not only been at the mercy of Baszler in the past, but was also a target for the champion on this set of tapings. Kai wasn’t attacked, but she was intimidated by Baszler, who beat down Vanessa Borne to make a statement in front of her.
My guess is we see the continuation of Lacey Evans vs. Kairi Sane play out in the next set of tapings, along with Dakota Kai earning a title opportunity against Shayna Baszler, who probably dismantles someone like Aliyah just to assert her dominance before going on to completely wreck Kai in Chicago.
The only other alternative I would go with is Nikki Cross, but that’s only if SAnitY sticks around in NXT, and I just don’t see that happening right now.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match
A quick glance at the tapings shows The Undisputed Era having problems with both Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, as well as a continuation of the feud between Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne.
Based off the track record of The Brit-Am Bruisers, as well as the way NXT events have played out in the past, I’m working under the assumption Burch and Lorcan are not going to get the tag team title shot at TakeOver, but are merely stepping stones.
In the tag team division, The War Raiders are coming off like heels who have Heavy Machinery’s numbers, TM61 (or is it TM-61? Seriously, why can’t they ever stick to something?) might be turning heel and feuding with The Street Profits, Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss are splitting and there’s no activity from The Ealy Brothers or The Forgotten Sons, so they can be counted out for now (especially as they’re likely to stay heels, too).
If nothing would have been teased between Strong and Dunne, I would be thinking that feud was just done and pushed aside, but that isn’t true, based off the tapings. Instead, Dunne has gotten himself involved with Lorcan and Burch, to an extent.
In a world where Adam Cole doesn’t have the North American Championship, I’d just skip straight to a six-man tag team match with Dunne, Lorcan and Burch against Cole, O’Reilly and Strong, but that’s not the case, either.
Instead, what I’m thinking we’ll see is The Brit-Am Bruisers getting a title shot during the next tapings and coming up short, while Dunne continues to be a thorn in the side of The Undisputed Era.
Then, he’ll bring on a partner who will team up with him to fight Strong and O’Reilly for the tag titles—and who is more intrinsically tied to Dunne than Tyler Bate?