On Sunday night, all eyes will be on NXT as TakeOver: Portland airs live from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
There are officially six matches announced, with four title matches and two non-title bouts scheduled to be on the card. We’re going to see everything from two friends-turned-foes duking it out, to two superstars fighting to see who really gets to wave the NXT banner.
It’s that time once again ladies and gentlemen, let’s make some predictions!
Finn Bálor vs. Johnny Gargano
Kicking things off is a rivalry that has been building up over the last few months.
It all started back in October when Bálor heinously attacked Gargano and put him on the shelf for several months with a neck injury. Johnny Wrestling returned on the Dec. 18th episode of NXT, costing Bálor his title match against NXT Champion, Adam Cole. Gargano said that he would do whatever it took to get his hands on his rival, and a match at TakeOver: Portland was set.
This is one of the more intriguing matchups on the card; both are pretty similar to each other, especially since each have been regarded as the heart and soul of NXT during their respective times on the brand.
While it could go either way, I’m going with Gargano this time around. Even though Bálor has been on a roll as of late, I think Gargano is going to get the revenge he’s been waiting for and pick up the win.
Prediction: Johnny Gargano
Street Fight: Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai
Then we look at perhaps the most personal feud going into TakeOver: Portland.
Kai shocked the world at TakeOver: WarGames when she turned on Nox and reinjured her knee, putting her out of action for almost two months. It didn’t stop there, however, with Kai eliminating her former best friend from a battle royal that determined the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship back in January.
The two finally squared off just a few weeks ago on the Jan. 29th episode of NXT, with Nox getting some measure of revenge and emerging victorious.
Now they meet once again this Sunday, but this time in a street fight. I’m pretty excited to see this one because of the sheer number of ways these two could tear each other apart. That and I’m also interested to see how each woman plays off the personal aspect of this rivalry.
Initially, you would think this match favours Kai; there are no rules and absolutely anything goes. To be quite honest, I was going to pick her at first because I thought they were going to extend this feud until TakeOver: Tampa Bay.
However, I don’t think dragging it out that long would be the best idea. It could get stale rather quickly and lose the spark it has going for it right now. So, with that in mind, I think Nox is going to turn the tables on Kai and put her former Team Kick co-captain away for good.
Prediction: Tegan Nox
NXT Tag Team Championships: The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. The Bro-serweights (Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne)
Up next is a battle between two completely different teams.
The unorthodox pairing of Riddle & Dunne won the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, defeating Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner, and then the Grizzled Young Veterans en route to capturing the trophy. This guaranteed them a title match against O’Reilly & Fish, who don’t plan on giving up their gold anytime soon.
But don’t let The BroserWeights’ vastly different personalities fool you; they are a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If the UE come into this match cockier than they usually are, they can kiss those championships goodbye.
I don’t think that’s going to be the case though; there’s just no reason for O’Reilly & Fish to lose yet. Honestly, they shouldn’t be losing any time soon because there really isn’t a solid team on the roster that could believably dethrone them.
So, while Riddle & Dunne are going to put up quite a fight, The Undisputed Era is going to stand tall.
Prediction: The Undisputed Era
NXT North American Championship: Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic
Then comes a matchup between two foes who are quite familiar with one another.
Lee and Dijakovic have faced each other four times over the last year on NXT, with both men picking up a win and twice going to a draw. So, we haven’t yet determined who the better big man truly is.
If we were to go on momentum alone, it would most certainly be Lee. He has been a force to be reckoned with for quite some time now, capping it off by defeating Roderick Strong on the Jan. 22nd episode of NXT to win the North American Championship.
But Dijakovic has been on a roll in his own right, defeating Damian Priest and Killian Dain in recent weeks to earn his shot at Lee’s title. The two even teamed up with Tommaso Ciampa to take on The Undisputed Era at TakeOver: WarGames, so each man knows the other extremely well.
Given their track record of putting on quality matches, I expect Sunday night to be no different. Every time they have stepped into a ring together, these two have helped redefine what big men can do. It wouldn’t surprise me if they steal the show and put on match of the night.
While Dijakovic is a formidable opponent, there’s just no stopping Lee right now. The Limitless One will retain the title and continue to be one of NXT’s top stars for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: Keith Lee
NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair
Next, we look at a match that will determine the top dog in the NXT women’s division.
Ripley is one of the hottest superstars in the company right now. She did the impossible on the Dec. 18th episode of NXT, defeating Shayna Baszler and capturing the NXT Women’s Championship. Since then, she has successfully defended the title against Toni Storm at Worlds Collide and confronted Charlotte Flair about a potential match between the two at WrestleMania 36.
On the other hand, Belair won a battle royal on the Jan. 15th episode of NXT to earn an opportunity to face Ripley for the title. She feels slighted by the champ, claiming that she’s been overlooked ever since Ripley challenged Flair. In her mind, becoming champion on Sunday night is a forgone conclusion.
In my opinion, this is the easiest prediction on the card. There is no way that Ripley isn’t walking out of Portland without that title. The WrestleMania 36 match between her and Flair is almost inevitable, so why would she lose the title now?
To be completely honest, I wasn’t even thrilled about this matchup to begin with. Belair is a great wrestler, don’t get me wrong, but she’s just never clicked with me. During that battle royal, I was hoping it wasn’t going to come down to her and Io Shirai. While the latter has undergone a significant attitude change since her last title shot, both of them have had plenty of chances in the past year.
I guess I just wished they would have given someone new a chance instead of the usual suspects. Maybe that’s going to happen after this, but only time will tell.
Regardless, The Nightmare will reign supreme on Sunday, plain and simple.
Prediction: Rhea Ripley
NXT Championship: Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Finally, we come to a match that has been almost a year in the making.
Ciampa was forced to relinquish the NXT Championship back in March 2019 after undergoing neck surgery. While it could have easily ended his career, he made his return that October and confronted the current champion, Cole.
These two already have bad blood, with Ciampa leading Lee, Dijakovic, and Kevin Owens against The Undisputed Era at TakeOver: WarGames last November. The Blackheart sealed the victory for his team by driving Cole through two tables from the top of the cage.
He was then revealed as the champ’s opponent for TakeOver: Portland, and took out the rest of the UE and planted Cole through another table after signing the contract to make it official. The former champ claimed that he never lost the title and is going to take “Goldie” and his life back on Sunday night. Cole thinks otherwise, stating that the title is going nowhere and he will continue to be the greatest NXT Champion of all time.
This was definitely the hardest match to pick out of the six. After going back and forth for most of the week, I’m going with Cole to win here. Is it because I really like him and I’m slightly biased? Possibly, but I also think he’s going to retain by the skin of his teeth.
Undoubtedly, his UE teammates will come in to give him the upper hand. While Ciampa will most likely be up to the task, I still think the numbers game is just going to be too much. Even if they don’t interfere, Cole will likely use a few underhanded tactics to ensure the title stays around his waist.
Ciampa will get Goldie back, it just won’t be in Portland. My guess is that they’re going to save that win for TakeOver: Tampa Bay.
So, Cole will stay the champ for a little while longer. That, boys and girls, is undisputed.
Prediction: Adam Cole…Bay-Bay!
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!