It’s been a year in the making as Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa return to the scene of the crime as face off one more time in a street fight to try and settle the score. Add to that a potential showstealer in Velveteen Dream and Ricochet and Aleister Black’s first Takeover defense of his NXT Title, this show could once again overshadow WWE’s main show the following day. But who do I think will come out on top? Let’s find out.
Velveteen Dream vs Ricochet
This match seems to have grown out of mutual admiration and respect for one-another. Well, that and wanting to prove that ‘anything Ricochet can do, the Dream can do better’.
The different feuds that the dream has been in on NXT have been epic and he’s taken and enhanced his game due to them. Having fought against Aleister Black because Black refused to say his name, to then becoming his own version of a knockout artist to combat the modus operandi of Kassius Ohno, complete with wearing boxing trunks and a mouthguard to the ring. He has a superb concern for the most minuscule of details and this feud will only enhance him and bring out his high-flying skills.
It all seemed to start at the last Take:Over when Ricochet’s first move was a springboard shooting star press, which Ricochet then followed up during the match with high-flying ladder spots. So what does Velveteen do, he only has to go and do a Purple Rainmaker elbow drop from the top of a ladder.
This is the most intense type of one-upmanship that I’ve seen in a wrestling ring and will only likely stop with one of them getting hurt (storyline or otherwise) trying to outdo the other and going too far, or they call it quits and admit that they are equals.
When Velveteen loses, he still wins something out of a one-on-one matchup, for example the respect and admiration of Aleister Black, so I think Ricochet will win the match, but finally relent and say (in a way that will make the audience bristle) – “Velveteen Dream, you’ve done it, you’ve proven to me and to everyone here.. Anything Ricochet can do, the Dream can do better”.
NXT Women’s Championship – Shanya Baszler vs Nikki Cross
Since winning the title from Ember Moon, Shayna Baszler has been running roughshod over the women’s division. Intimidating many and making the ones who stand up to her look foolish.
The way she has treated Dakota Kai, belittling her and making her look genuinely afraid to be in the same room as her has been fantastic storytelling on the part of both women involved. As a result, Dakota has looked like she could never face back up to Baszler.
Enter Nikki Cross.
Nikki has been marvellous to watch since SanITy left for the main roster. She’s been the catalyst to Dakota managing to fight against Shayna. Which lead to one of my favourite 10 minutes of NXT TV this year, with Dakota facing off against Shayna, being beaten down mercilessly and then battling back. Then when Dakota sadly lost the match, Nikki shows up and steals Shayna’s title and runs off. Shayna chases and Nikki taunts her into a match with DK as guest referee, which she wins and proclaims herself as champion.
Shayna looked shaken by this turn of events and we have finally found someone who can remove that aura of invincibility from her. Shayna has been the dominant force but doesn’t know how to handle this unhinged lunatic in Nikki.
As much as I want to see Nikki win, the only way that’ll happen is in a blitz of a match and despite her crazed ways, she’ll run into an opponent too strong in Shayna who will retain here, but will be seriously challenged by Nikki.
Prediction: Shanya Baszler
NXT Tag Team Championship – Undisputed Era vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch have experienced what could best be described as a meteoric rise since joining forces with Pete Dunne to form a kind of ersatz version of British Strong Style. As a tag-team, Lorcan and Burch have picked up a sole victory, that of a couple of weeks ago when they were in 6-man action with Pete against the Undisputed Era. Other than that, neither member of the team has experienced much success in matches. Lorcan has 4 wins to his credit in televised action, and Burch has just the one, and that includes a win over each other).
On the other hand, U.E have looked fairly strong and it was a surprise to see them lose against British Strong-ish Style. It will be interesting to see how the Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Pete Dunne feature in the match and whether Undisputed’s numbers advantage plays a factor in the outcome.
When Dunne took on Adam Cole, there was interference from the other members of Undisputed, and last week on NXT with Burch facing off against Strong, Undisputed got involved once more. This week it was Dunne vs O’Reilly and there was an Undisputed beatdown after the match. I would not be surprised to see some shenanigans on Saturday.
Undisputed will retain, either through a win (clean or otherwise) or a disqualification loss so the title doesn’t swap hands. I’m also hoping that there will be some kind of beatdown and story-line injury to Lorcan and Burch, so that we can get the British Strong Style that we know and love and get those b i g s t r o n g b o i s involved.
Prediction: Undisputed Era
NXT Championship – Aleister Black vs Lars Sullivan
This is Aleister Black’s first Takeover since becoming champ and only his second defense of his title. What a challenge he has in front of him, the erudite behemoth Lars Sullivan.
Last Takeover Lars excelled in the ladder match and has looked indomitable in his singles matches to date, even taking on the combined team of the Dream and Ricochet and coming up on the winning side. Sure, he benefited from a lack of collaboration, but to get that far through a match against to future mega-stars without being pinned.
To combat this, Black has his Black Mass kick that ends most matches in a heartbeat and won him the title. One problem, Lars stopped it last week and held Aleister, letting him know that the Black Mass might not be enough, and this week Lars took all the strikes Black had to offer and then beat him down, carried him to the announce table and stood over his fallen opponent.
The big question is will Lars catch the Black Mass again, or will he be caught by it. And if he is caught by it, will that be enough to finish the match?
I’m finding this one hard to predict, as Lars is a juggernaut but the Black Mass has the potency and out-of-nowhere-ness previously seen from Randy Orton’s RKO. Lars, though, has proven that he can stop the Black Mass. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that Lars will win this, as not many would predict Aleister to lose so soon, but why not. It’ll be bold, but this is NXT, where they’ve changed the title on a non-televised ‘house show’.
Prediction: Lars Sullivan
Street Fight – Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa
This is a Chicago Street Fight, no disqualifications and no count-outs, the only way to win is by pinfall or submission.
The last time these two fought was in an unsanctioned match, which was one of the best matches in terms of in-ring skill and storytelling. For me it was a masterpiece of a wrestling match. This time they’ve ramped up the pressure with the inclusion and further involvement of Candice Le Rae.
She’s seen Johnny get beaten down, put through tables, go to hospitals and endure. Her fear is that this is stoking the fire beneath Johnny, making him dark and vengeful. A side to himself that he’s been showing recently during the in-ring promos and video packages.
I’m going to be boldly wild here, but my hope is that I will look like a genius should I be right. The way I see it going is, that Johnny will have to go to depths of his psyche to try and beat Ciampa. Ciampa won’t give in and will keep battling back, no matter what Johnny does against him. This will be the case until Johnny uses a weapon and truly threatens the durability of Ciampa, so much so that this will look like more than revenge; Johnny is becoming the bad guy.
Candice, having already warned Johnny and attempted to stop him in the build-up to this match, will interject herself and stop her husband. Already in a psychotic rage, Johnny will be deaf to Candice’s pleas and shove her out of the way or even hit her unknowingly with the weapon. He will go on to continue to beat Ciampa down, the victory no longer a priority, and bloodied, Ciampa will start laughing and Gargano will realise and also embrace his dark side and re-uniting #DiY, just not in a way that anyone would want.
Prediction: No Contest