Amid a minefield of uncertainty over the future of what NXT will look like post-brand split, it’s almost time for something we can rely on: a great Takeover special!
We’ve got a five-match card going into this show, with three of those look to be worth going out of your way to see when Takeover: The End hits the WWE Network this Wednesday night.
Steel Cage Match for NXT Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Finn Balor
On the plus side, this is the first ever steel cage match in NXT history. On the plus side, these guys have worked well together. On the plus side, this is the first Takeover where Finn is chasing, not defending.
On the down side, this is now the third Takeover special in a row headlined by these two (after London and Dallas), so the title of this Takeover is pretty fitting. With the brand split on the horizon, many people have surmised that whomever loses this is getting called up – and with Finn Balor nearing the two-year anniversary of his time in NXT, now’s a good a time as any to get called up, even if it doesn’t mean that everyone’s dream scenario of the Balor Club being christened by Finn joining in the fight against John Cena at the Money in the Bank show later in June.
On paper, this will be another good match, and as long as they avoid the accidental bloodbath that threatened to derail their match in Dallas, this should be a memorable blow-off to the feud. As long as they don’t do what every other promotion in history has done and kill the steel cage stipulation by having run-ins. Not that Samoa Joe has any allies, but there were a few wrestlers who have appeared at NXT or been hinted at signing with the group, including two former TNA champions…Prediction: Samoa Joe to retain, Finn Balor to finally get the call
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Nia Jax
This has been a weird one for me; since dethroning Bayley in Dallas, Asuka’s run as Women’s champion has been somewhat forgettable. Perhaps it’s because the Asuka character is best used in one-sided squashes, or against people who are perceived to be at her level. Let’s just state the obvious here: Nia Jax isn’t at Asuka’s level.
Since Jax’s last title shot (losing to Bayley in London), Jax’s televised singles action was largely limited to the three squash matches, beating Liv Morgan, Tess Blanchard and Deonna Purazzo in two minutes or less, before beating Bayley and winning a triple-threat number one contender’s match.
Now, we do have the novelty value of Nia not having faced Asuka in any form (at least, on TV) before, with their only singles meeting being on a recent NXT event in Seattle. That being said, it’s going to take something pretty special for this match to be anything beyond average. Asuka may be a better worker than Bayley, but I fear they’ll be telling a largely similar story to Nia Jax’s London match, but it’ll have the same result. Prediction: Asuka to retain via submission.
NXT Tag Team Championship: American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) (c) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson)
At Dallas, this was a sleeper hit, and I have no reason to believe that it’ll be any different this time. If anything, it could steal the show, since these two teams have worked against the Revival on several live events… however, there’s not much of a story to this match, save for “The Revival want their titles back”.
Unlike with Joe/Balor in the main event, this isn’t a match that I can see “the losers getting promoted to the main roster”, but I also feel that it’s way too soon for Gable and Jordan to drop the titles – even if they are getting a call-up. Prediction: American Alpha to retain.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries
Can someone tell me why either of these guys are in NXT, let alone having a match together? Nakamura stole the show in Dallas, but I’m not expecting him to do the same here, mostly since he’s likely been told to tone things down.
Since Dallas, Nakamura’s become a fairly regular TV character, beating Tye Dillinger, Elias Samson and Alex Riley as he swept through “guys fans largely don’t care for”. A victory with Austin Aries over Blake & Murphy became the catalyst for the one-off team to break up and a rushed match between the two.
It’s been billed unofficially as a number one contender’s match, and out of all of the possibilities, none of them include Austin Aries. That’s no slant on him, but all of the buzz behind his NXT arrival was obliterated by Nakamura, and it’s going to take something major for that to change.
Aside from a NXT house show, we’ve never seen Joe vs. Nakamura… and that’s where I feel WWE will go next, freeing up Joe for a call-up, and making Nakamura the latest face of the brand. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger
In an early draft of this, I’d joked that Tye would be the opponent here, and sure enough, it was confirmed on Twitter on Thursday that NXT’s unofficial gatekeeper would be lining up against the former La Sombra.
Almas is expected to be the focal point of the upcoming Cruiserweight Classic, and given that this Takeover special is the last one before that starts taping, this makes sense. There’s only one outcome here, isn’t there? Prediction: Andrade “Cien” Almas.
NXT Takeover: The End takes place this Wednesday (June 8) from Full Sail University, and as always, is live on the WWE Network.