Summerslam may be the biggest party of the summer, but most fans will tell you the night before is where the party starts.
In past years, NXT has put on events at Barclays that have been hard to follow for the main roster’s Sunday extravaganza, and this year seems to be no exception. Before we get to it, allow me a moment to say how hyped (bro?) I am for not only this show, but also the chance to cut my writing rookie teeth on these predictions. NXT is a big reason that I decided to get back into the wrestling scene, so I can’t help but find it strangely fitting that this ends up being my first wrestling article. That being said, let’s jump right into predictions for NXT: Takeover Brooklyn 4.
Velveteen Dream vs. EC3
If you took pure ego, personified it into two separate people, and then told them to wrestle, this would be the result. Larger than life doesn’t even begin to describe both of these guys. The possibility of a match between EC3 and The Dream has been lingering in the minds of fans for a few months now. Not only on the basis of “Who’s the biggest personality in NXT”, but also because of the touch and go rivalry we’ve seen grow on NXT programming. Starting as two of the six combatants in the inaugural NXT North American Championship ladder match at Takeover New Orleans, then moving on to a less than stable tag team effort at day 2 of the NXT U.K. Championship tournament, having the slow burn leading up to the face to face this weekend.
In my opinion, this feels all kinds of one and done. After Saturday night, I doubt you’ll see these two facing off again until one of them is holding a championship. Now, that doesn’t at all mean that I think this confrontation will be lacking in any major department.
EC3 is a throwback to the Hogan/Warrior golden era of powerhouses. His time as part of Impact’s roster lamented him as a performer who can excel as a mid carder as well as a world champion. Not to mention allowing him to improve on a natural talent WWE glimpsed during his early days as Derrick Bateman. Which is why EC3 can eat the loss he’ll be handed this weekend without fear of slowing his momentum.
Nearly all of Dream’s recent rivalries have found him on the losing end of the battle. A win now is more critically needed than it has ever been. It’s obvious that NXT creative knows they have a proverbial gold mine in the Velveteen Dream, and if they think this guy is ever going to hold actual gold, they need him on a uphill climb soon. Saturday will be the turning point, Dream wins, making him an undeniable personality which will push him into NXT Championship contender-ship. EC3 stays mid card with a possible North American Championship match in the near future.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream
NXT Tag Team Championship – Undisputed Era vs Moustache Mountain
First off, I have to admit a personal bias in this match. I’ve been a huge fan of Tyler Bate and Trent Seven since first seeing them compete in WCPW. With their unique look and amazing in-ring talent, working for WWE in some fashion was almost inevitable. Along with Pete Dunne, these gentlemen serve as the foundation of NXT’s new U.K. brand.
That being said, I’m a journalist now, which means I need to remain impartial. And as much as I love riding the British Strong Style bandwagon, it’s hard to ignore the accolades of the team of Strong and O’Reilly. Roderick Strong is a name I’ve been hearing since the early 2000’s, even though I’ll admit never seeing his work until his NXT debut. This may be hard to believe, but independent wrestling used to be pretty challenging to get your hands on. Strong, in my mind, is one of the men who got Ring of Honor noticed in it’s fledgling days as a promotion. Kyle O’Reilly, on the other hand, is one of the men who kept ROH in the game. Teamed with Bobby Fish as ReDragon, he dominated the ROH tag division holding the tag titles three times. An eventual singles run would even see him winning the ROH World Championship. Needless to say after that rant, Strong and O’Reilly are the best tag team in NXT currently.
So, after an extreme amount of smoke blowing up both teams respective butts, who wins in Brooklyn? My call? Undisputed Era keeps the tag titles. Hear me out. I feel like the first time Seven and Bate won tag gold was half keeping things fresh and half ensuring WWE got decent viewership numbers on the network. The powers that be know how fast information flows through the wrestling fan community, and they also know that match results from previously filmed network specials get leaked. Hell, they might even be responsible for said leaks.
That conspiracy theory aside, I am confident in the idea that Mustache Mountain will be the first team to hold the NXT U.K. tag titles allowing the new brand’s tag division to grow around them. Therefore, the only likely conclusion Saturday night is the Undisputed Era retaining.
Prediction: Undisputed Era
NXT North American Championship – Adam Cole vs Ricochet
Mother of God! Where do I even start?! The two biggest independent signings in NXT history, in my humble opinion, going head to head for the newest championship in NXT. They put matches like this on “best of” dvds, people! Matches like this get “Match of the Year” awards, and this one will. Even if you miss the rest of the card, you’re going to have to see this match! Ahem, allow me a moment to quiet my inner fanboy…
Okay, you might say I’m excited about this one, folks. However, as I’ve said, I’m supposed to be predicting and what not. So, remember that ROH World Title reign of Kyle O’Reilly’s I mentioned earlier? Well, it ended at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 in a match against Adam Cole. This win made Cole the very first three time Ring of Honor World Champion. Impressive, right? Ricochet, on the other hand, is the first man to have ever held the Lucha Underground Championship under the masked persona of Prince Puma. In 2014 he won both the Best of the Super Juniors (NJPW) and the Battle of Los Angeles (PWG) tournaments respectively. But, wait! Adam Cole is the first NXT North American Champion! Hold on, Ricochet is the first African-American wrestler to ever get a five star rating from wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer.
Are you seeing my dilemma?! Christ, I just don’t know, guys. Screw it, I’m calling Ricochet. The North American Title is due a new champion, and Ricochet is the perfect successor to Adam Cole….BAY BAY! Sorry, had to at least once.
NXT Women’s Championship – Shanya Baszler vs Kairi Sane
The Queen of Spades defending against Japan’s Pirate Princess. A rivalry that started in the finals of last year’s Mae Young Classic tournament with Sane gaining the upper hand. Since then we’ve seen Shayna Baszler establish herself as the apex talent within NXT’s women’s division. After capturing the NXT Women’s Championship from Ember Moon at Takeover: New Orleans, Baszler preceded to make examples of several female competitors. Defending the gold against the likes of Dakota Kai and Nikki Cross, it was almost certain that the champ’s cross hairs would fall on Kairi Sane once again.
As the first member of MMA’s Four Horsewomen to sign with WWE, Shayna Baszler has made an almost seamless transition to the world of professional wrestling. Now, I’m aware she logged a few years working the Indy circuits before making the jump to NXT, but I don’t think I’m wrong in saying her current work serves as her introduction to most wrestling fans. Baszler’s time in Mixed Martial Arts has equipped her with the skills to make her a fierce technical talent within the squared circle. In short, Shayna is the perfect bully persona currently signed. I honestly think Paul Heyman’s newest client after Brock should be the Queen of Spades. Makes sense, huh? But, I’m getting off topic…
Am I the only person who sees Kairi Sane as the spiritual successor to Asuka’s NXT run? The similarities are certainly noticeable. Although, it would seem that creative isn’t nearly as quick to push the Pirate Princess. After her inaugural Mae Young Classic victory, Sane would find herself in the fatal four way match to determine a new NXT Women’s Champion after Asuka’s ascension to the main roster resulted in her vacating the title. Since then, Kairi has popped up in a few televised matches, and has served as the ever perseverant protagonist to Baszler’s reign of terror. With Sane already holding one win over the champ’s head, it’s not hard to see why many people are hoping she can do it again in Brooklyn. Therefore, my call is Kairi Sane. A choice made strictly based on my hope that the Pirate Princess can finally hold NXT gold.
Prediction: Kairi Sane
NXT Championship (Last Man Standing) – Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano
ormer best friends facing off in a feud which is quickly bringing a different meaning to the chant “fight forever”. Originally, this match was scheduled as a three way bout that would also feature former NXT Champion Aleister Black. But, after sustaining an injury, Black has been pulled and it seems creative has opted to fall back on the original plan they had for Gargano and Ciampa’s last confrontation. In all reality, I don’t feel like fans should complain about this. Tommaso and Johnny are what great matches are made of, as a team or against each other. Sure, this feud is getting very close to feeling stale, but we still know we can expect a barn burner come Saturday night.
Ciampa’s dark transformation into probably the best heel character I’ve seen in a long while, has been an absolute joy to watch. I mean, his entrance music is the massive wave of boos that erupts the moment his name is shown on the tron, pure genius! That alone makes the realization that most fans hate this guy, even harder to ignore. It’s a complete no brainer to put the top title on a personality that elicits that type of response. With that in mind, ask yourself this: what’s the bigger pop? Ciampa’s chorus of boos, or the chants of “Johnny Wrestling” that Gargano gets the moment his boots touch ring? Tough call, right?
Well, so is this prediction. Ciampa is the perfect antagonist, creating heat without having to speak a word. But, Gargano is atypical as a protagonist can be. Baby faced good looks, unique in-ring talent, never say die attitude, and of course endearing underdog status. Johnny is the whole good guy package! Although, recently we’ve seen some cracks forming at the foundation. In an effort to embrace his dark side with the hope of it giving him an advantage over his rival, Gargano has become obsessive and even slightly deranged at times. His damaged mental state has already resulted in Ciampa gaining the NXT Championship, and I’m fairly confident that it’ll cost him the win come Saturday.
Keeping Tommaso as champion is a sure fire way to fill seats for future events. Fans are gonna pay for the chance to see someone bring Ciampa’s reign to an end. It’s the same idea behind Sgt. Slaughter winning the WWE Title as an Iraqi sympathizer back in the 90’s. People pay to see a good guy champion, but they’ll pay more to see the heel champion get what’s coming to him!
Prediction: Tomasso Ciampa