For 2015, no program has been as reliable to provide quality entertainment as the NXT TakeOver specials. Monday Night Raw is hit or miss, shows like Main Event, Superstars and SmackDown are utterly pointless to watch, and the main roster’s pay-per-views range from surprisingly awesome to disappointingly awful. NXT seems to hit it out of the park each time, though, and that’s partly due to the storytelling, but most of it falls to the performers.
As we do with every special event, let’s take a look at some of the people who I think might end up standing out among their peers as the true stars of the night that will leave a great impression heading into 2016.
Let’s just get this one out of the way real quick. Asuka is going to destroy Emma, right? Right. That whole segment is entirely devoted to continuing the perception that she’s vicious and the person she’s beating is merely a formality. She could have been facing Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Evie, Blue Pants, so on and so forth—the point of this segment is “Asuka’s gonna kill you.”
Dash & Dawson
It pains me to say this, but I think Dash and Dawson are going to leave TakeOver still the champions. Every time Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady seem prime for a title run, two other people win the titles instead. By this point, since history has shown that those two are used to set up the heels before they lose to other people, I can’t trust that a title change is going to happen.
More than likely, I’m expecting the entire match to revolve around Enzo and Cass lifting the crowd up and controlling the energy, only for them to lose just so Dash and Dawson look like bigger obstacles for Jason Jordan and Chad Gable to beat in 2016.
I would argue that Bayley’s matches against Sasha Banks are two of the top matches of the year for the entire WWE, not just NXT or the women’s division in the company. This girl’s track record is far too good to ignore and if there’s anybody that I feel confident in saying will look like a star, it’s her.
I might not be super confident that she’s leaving with her championship intact, but even if she loses, I imagine her still overtaking Nia Jax in the eyes of the fans for the performance factor. Jax could definitely win the belt and would then be the focal point as far as storylines go, getting a massive boost to her career, but she hasn’t been on the roster long enough to develop anywhere near as strong of a fan base. I would be surprised to hear that fans are more interested in this due to Nia Jax’s involvement than Bayley’s, and I think if/when Bayley retains the championship, we won’t be hearing the audience express their disappointment that her reign continues.
While I feel Apollo Crews is a higher priority right now in the mindset of WWE, part of me just keeps thinking that Corbin is winning this match. It’s too easy to book Crews to overcome him, isn’t it? Since making his debut, Crews has won nearly everything unless there have been some kind of shenanigans or the odds were stacked way against him. Baron Corbin is just another opponent, but he’s also the #2 heel on the roster right now.
To the best of my recollection, Corbin hasn’t had a solid push for the title yet. It seems like he should have been the obvious top contender at least once, but Finn Balor was busy with the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic for a while there, is currently feuding with Samoa Joe, and was facing Kevin Owens before all that. When Owens was the champion, Corbin was still a heel, so the poles weren’t attracting in that sense. Sami Zayn’s title reign was entirely about Owens and when Neville held the title, Corbin was still in the midst of being repackaged as well as a babyface, so again, he wasn’t in the right position to be that top guy.
Crews has continued to tease that he’ll be coming after the title when Balor is done with Joe, so I think it’s a misdirect. Corbin could use a win over Crews to propel him into the spotlight as the next contender for Balor’s title. Whether he would be the one to dethrone The Demon is a topic for another story, but as far as London goes, I’m leaning more towards Corbin than Crews for this victory.
Clearly, if I’m going to talk about Corbin being set up as a challenger for Balor’s title going forward, that means I’m not expecting Samoa Joe to leave with the title. Granted, I would not be surprised in the slightest bit if my predictions here are way off and WWE pulls a 180 from what I’m thinking will happen. There’s a very good chance Apollo Crews defeats Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe wins the NXT Championship. Crews can continue to feud with Corbin until he gets a shot against Joe and takes the belt off him, and in the meantime we see a rematch or two between Joe and challenger-Balor.
That being said, I’m going with my gut to say Balor retains after a performance largely dedicated to making Samoa Joe look strong and unbeatable. This isn’t going to be a squash match, but it should heavily favor Joe in order to put Balor in the underdog position that Bayley will also be in, albeit more evenly matched than that scenario.
Balor is the guy in NXT and has said many times in the past that he is in no rush to move up to the main roster. Sami Zayn coming back makes the product not have to rest as much on his shoulders, but I’m convinced that Zayn won’t be staying in developmental for long. They need him up on the main roster and he has a built-in reason to return (vengeance upon Kevin Owens) as well as the perfect venue to make his resurgence (Royal Rumble). If that’s the case and Zayn isn’t sticking around NXT, then Balor will still be the top babyface above Apollo Crews. While he’s held the championship for nearly half the year, I don’t hear many people complaining that his run is getting tiresome and he needs to drop the belt, so why try to fix what isn’t broken?
That’s my list, but I’m curious as to what you guys have to say. Who do you think will end up winning these matches? Who will put on the best performances? Is there anybody that you think will end up doing the opposite and hurting their credibility rather than getting an upgrade?