NXT is heading back to Brooklyn, New York with the latest TakeOver special event next week, meaning it’s time to do another breakdown of predictions for which superstars are going to shine the brightest, win their matches and steal the show. Not everybody can be the standout performers, but even on a card with “developmental” talent, there will always be those handful of people who get the WWE Universe talking.
Which wrestlers will make a bigger name for themselves at this particular event? Let’s start breaking down the top couple of likely options.
It’s not a guarantee by any means, but the longer we separate ourselves from the original draft for this year’s brand extension, the more convinced I am that Samoa Joe is getting called up to the main roster and will debut on SmackDown sometime after SummerSlam.
If that’s the case, Shinsuke Nakamura—a guy who I feel could also be called up, but is less likely to be in that position at the moment—will instead be the figurehead of the brand after he wins the NXT Championship at this event.
With Finn Balor gone, Nakamura became the de facto top babyface with nobody currently even remotely close to his level of popularity yet to be even a definitive #2. Could you really imagine Samoa Joe retaining and Nakamura taking a backseat while someone like No Way Jose becomes the champion instead? I doubt it. Hideo Itami is going to take a little while to get back into the swing of things, too, and since he’s been part of the WWE roster longer, I wouldn’t be shocked if WWE moved him up to the main shows quicker than Nakamura, even though many fans would probably disagree with that decision.
This is Nakamura’s time to secure his first championship in WWE and to take the next step at progressing in the company, where he’ll eventually crossover onto the main roster sometime in 2017.
Just as I’m convinced that Nakamura will defeat Samoa Joe to open up his ability to move to the SmackDown roster, I also think that Bayley will be moving up, but to Monday Night Raw. Becky Lynch is going to be the big babyface on the SmackDown side of things with Carmella being second-fiddle, whereas Bayley will bring her bubbly spirit to the more dark and dour red show to work against Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Charlotte and so on. It’s the Sasha Banks show for now, so Bayley will take that secondary spot for a while, as there’s currently no other babyfaces for the women on Raw.
As such, Asuka will be retaining her championship. Two titles aren’t likely to change hands and if I’m going with Nakamura winning his match, Asuka (and The Revival, who aren’t on this list) will be retaining. Asuka is impressive in a lot of ways, but she also still hasn’t gotten fully out of Bayley’s shadow as champion, and it doesn’t help that she’s having yet another match with her. It’s almost as if WWE doesn’t think Asuka has any strong enough opponents to face her and make it worth the card, which is actually kind of true, looking at the roster. Nobody would really care about Aliyah, it’s tough to argue that Peyton Royce or Billie Kay are worthy of getting title shots yet, Liv Morgan hasn’t accomplished much so far and Mandy Rose is as fresh as can be, so Bayley is here just to eat up some time before Ember Moon comes in.
If Bayley were to win the title back from Asuka, it would be setting both women back as far as their progression goes, and for no reason other than WWE panicking that Asuka can’t successfully handle the women’s division in NXT, which wouldn’t be entirely saved just by putting the belt on Bayley, either. This will have to be a match where Asuka retains and wins in a way that solidifies her as champion, possibly even with a heel turn to give it some extra zing.
Andrade “Cien” Almas is super new to the roster, but I can’t help but feel that he’s nowhere near the bigger star in this match compared to Bobby Roode.
Obviously, Roode comes with a fan base from his TNA days and more people who watch WWE are likely to be familiar with him over Almas, but he also just has more of a spark to him, too. There’s been talk about him for months, but the buzz for Almas never really maximized. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone bring up his name, and that might have only been at NXT TakeOver: The End where his match was okay, but didn’t wow as much as it should have to make a more impressive debut.
Since then, what’s he done? More importantly, what’s he done that can justify him getting the win over Roode, who has more going for him just when he stands in the audience and does nothing? Beating Angelo Dawkins almost means less than not wrestling at all, and Roode has that “debut match” momentum in his favor. It would be strange to see him lose just because he’s a heel, particularly when he can win through nefarious means and it would boost the credibility of himself while not hurting Almas much at all.
I would be remiss to not mention the debut of Ember Moon, although not much has been solidified about what is planned for her segment. If it’s going to be a match, she’ll win. If it’s going to just be an introduction to her, then that will be underwhelming. In some fashion, she’ll be a focal point, but it could range from a major impact to a passing nod and nothing more. The intensity of how much of a spotlight WWE plans to put on her is up in the air right now.
Should Austin Aries, No Way Jose, The Revival or the team of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa be on this list? Do you think Andrade Almas or the other opponents will be victorious instead? Sound off with your thoughts and predictions in the comments below!