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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - Can NXT TakeOver WrestleMania Weekend Two Years in a Row? (Plus Predictions & Rants!)
By Super Chrisss
Mar 31, 2017 - 2:13:47 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

Although my real-life, WWE but non-NXT fans don’t believe me, I think it’s universally agreed that TakeOver: Dallas blew WrestleMania 32 out of the water one year ago. While WM32 won’t go down in history as the WORST WrestleMania of all-time, it probably won’t crack anyone’s top ten list anytime soon. It didn’t help that two nights earlier, TakeOver: Dallas gave us not one, not two, but THREE Match of the Year candidates during a two-hour period (Bayley/Asuka, Revival/American Alpha, Zayn/Nakamura). Meanwhile, most of WM32’s memorable moments left little worthy of future revisiting (Ambrose vs. Lesnar was extremely anti-climatic, Shane vs. ‘Taker was all about the one huge spot and Reigns vs. HHH was one of the worst WM main-events in history). Beginning with TakeOver: Dallas, the rest of NXT’s 2016 special events arguably delivered to much greater success than the main roster’s subsequent Pay-Per-View effort.

The question that not a lot of people have been asking is whether NXT can steal the thunder from the Show of Shows for the second straight year. I think my last two columns can partially explain why: not only do a lot of fans appear to be ‘down’ on the NXT product since the brand split, but WWE has done an overall adequate job of building to WrestleMania 33. Has the build been perfect? No. Are there matches on the WM33 card I would change in a heartbeat? Yes. But nevertheless, the build to this year’s Mania has been much more engaging and less paint-by-the-numbers since, well, the Road to WrestleMania 28 or so. In my opinion, it’s been FIVE YEARS since WWE got me hyped for WrestleMania, and they’ve managed to do that despite Goldberg vs. Lesnar and Reigns vs. ‘Taker being two of the headlining match-ups on Sunday.

Meanwhile, NXT’s journey to Orlando has been…questionable, to say the least. If anything, they are doing the complete opposite of WWE right now: offering a very compelling TakeOver line-up but the build has been borderline abysmal. Have Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode even interacted since their NXT Championship rematch was made official? I don’t think they have. Hell, not one but BOTH guys were absent from the last two weeks of TV. Instead, we were given video packages instead, neither of which contained sit-down interviews (very non-NXT of them). I really enjoyed their match in San Antonio last January, and I think they can top their effort from back then. Whoever loses will be joining the main roster next week, I believe, and with Shinsuke Nakamura not being advertised for NXT’s U.K. tour this summer, it seems like NXT will remain glorious for the foreseeable future. Bobby Roode retains the NXT Championship tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, the rest of the TakeOver card has been built adequately well. I’ve seen a lot of people pitch the theory that Asuka defeats Ember Moon at TakeOver and brings her undefeated streak to the main roster but I HATE that idea. Sure, it will build Asuka as an unstoppable force but not only will the entire NXT women’s division have been buried, but what if that carries over to the main roster? I’m not saying Asuka should be losing matches as often as Sasha Banks or Becky Lynch, but creating an unbeatable monster on either brand has more cons than pros. But that’s a discussion for another day, maybe sooner than we think. With the way NXT has been selling Moon’s Eclipse as a finisher that can ‘injure’ someone if she hits it off, I see it being Asuka’s kryptonite on Saturday. Ember Moon defeats Asuka to become NXT Women’s Champion and becomes the new, official face of the division.

Our third and final title match comes from the ranks of the tag team division, as both #DIY and The Revival look to dethrone the also-undefeated Authors of Pain and become tag team champions once again. Since this is a triple threat elimination match, it’s almost a guarantee that as the only face team, Gargano and Ciampa will be one of the final two teams involved in the finish. It seems rather easy to predict Revival being the first team eliminated (what with main roster call-up rumours and all), but I think we’ll see a shocking early elimination of the tag champs. #DIY vs. AOP from San Antonio was a lot of fun, but the wrestling purists booking NXT will probably gift us with one final ‘match’ between #DIY and The Revival before the latter debuts on either Raw or SmackDown. In the end, I fully expect #DIY to reclaim the NXT Tag Team Championship in another potential MOTY candidate.

While the rest of the card may feel like ‘filler’, I assure you it’s not. Tye Dillinger has been feuding with SAniTy since December, and his team consists with two guys who will likely carry the midcard division of NXT after some call-ups go down in No Way Jose and Roderick Strong. I like the addition of Ruby Riot to the match (even though it was random as hell), but as a veteran of the indy scene, I’m sure she will be just fine in her debut match. As for who wins, it’s a tough call since SAniTy has owned the babyfaces for 95% of this feud. That being said, in addition to plenty of other babyfaces presumably winning on Saturday, I think NXT wants to keep SAniTy looking as dominant as possible for as long as they can. SAniTy for the win. Also, wouldn’t it be cool if they neglected the traditional ‘woman must fight woman when tagged in” rule and just let Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot face off with their male counterparts? It would fit in perfectly with each woman’s character, honestly.

Finally, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas continues to fill the spot formerly held by Tyler Breeze as a midcard heel who takes on and usually puts over newer or unfamiliar talent. I’ve only seen one Aleister Black match, and that was his match with Neville in the U.K. tournament. It will be interesting to see what kind of persona he debuts with: hopefully one closer to that of “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin than the failed Sami Callihan/Solomon Crowe ‘hacker’ gimmick. As mentioned, I’m petty unfamiliar with Black’s in-ring work, but I’m sure Almas will put on a good show, regardless. Aleister Black with the hard-fought victory.

Looking over the card, all three title matches have the potential to go down as a Match of the Year contender when everything is said and done, much like the year before. However, WrestleMania 33 poses a much larger threat to surpassing TakeOver’s quality than last year’s ‘Mania did. The biggest question going into WrestleMania is how WWE will handle the issue of time. With the SmackDown Women’s title match now being moved back to the main card, plus a stupid musical performance, plus several unfunny New Day segments, plus entrances, PLUS the Hall of Fame segment, this show might go on until minutes to midnight or have a lot of matches cut down in length: neither is a good thing. Here are my quick predictions for each match:

-Cruiserweight Championship: Austin Aries vs. Neville Absolute JOKE this was bumped to the pre-show. Before you start preaching that the kick-off is now part of WM, that both guys get a pay-day, etc., miss me with all that nonsense. I’m with my good friend The Doc in the camp that if you’re not on the main card, you’re not on the actual show. You’re the opening act for the headlining band. You’re the Deadpool segment before Logan. I know something had to get booted from the card, but if we didn’t have a stupid Pitbull performance and fewer part-timers around, we might not have this problem at all. Anyways, Neville wins, but this feud will continue.

-Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Don’t care. Braun Strowman wins.

-Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (c.) vs. Baron Corbin With the aforementioned SmackDown Women’s Championship match moved back to the main card, I fear this match may get bumped off instead. Not because it’s Ambrose or Corbin, but because it’s the IC Championship, which WrestleMania has not been kind to in recent years. Should that happen, I hope Ambrose rips into officials backstage. The dude has been WWE’s workhorse since 2016, having wrestled more matches than anyone else on the roster and if he gets left off WM, it would be the ultimate slap in the face. Unfortunately, I don’t see them getting a lot of time to work with (eight minutes MAX), but I’m sure Dean will be out to right the wrong which was his WM32 match with an uninterested, “lazy” Brock Lesnar. It could go either way, but I think Baron Corbin wins the Intercontinental Championship.

--Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c.) vs. Enzo & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus. WWE just can’t go a single WrestleMania without a ladder match, can they? Oh, well. At least it’s a breath of fresh air from the past few years. I had little to no interest in this match previously, but adding a ladder adds a lot more excitement. Enzo & Cass win the titles but New Day really should have been in this match rather than be hosts.

-Six-Pack Challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c.) vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Naomi. Although Bliss should really win this match, I think they’re going to do a repeat of the feel-good moment from last year with Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Championship by letting Naomi regain the title in her hometown. Naomi wins the championship.

-Fatal-Four-Way Elimination Match for the Women’s Championship: Bayley (c.) vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax. I have so many issues with this match it’s not even funny. Bayley should have been on the verge of winning the championship on Sunday, not defending it; Nia Jax has no business being part of this match; these four women feel like the female variation of Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins/Chris Jericho/Kevin Owens from late 2016/early 2017. As a result, I’m very apathetic about this match-up. I think it comes down to Bayley and Sasha but Bayley retains her title and Sasha turns heel afterwards or the following night.

--John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse This feud has been the surprise hit on SmackDown television for the past month or so. All the the MizTv and Total Bellas Bullshit segments have been must-see from the beginning and I’m actually excited to see it all go down. Prior to last Tuesday, I was certain Cena and Nikki would get the “feel-good” win, but the way Cena trashed and belittled Miz on the mic makes it seem like Miz & Maryse ‘must’ win on Sunday for the sake of their careers. That’s why I’m boldly picking Miz and Maryse to pick up the win.

--United States Championship: Chris Jericho (c.) vs. Kevin Owens Hands down, one of the most anticipated U.S. title matches in a long time, especially at a WrestleMania. This feud has been booked to near perfection since the Festival of Friendship, and it makes you wonder how much creative freedom both guys have been given. Again, both guys have a legitimate shot of winning, as Jericho deserves to get redemption on KO for his betrayal, but with Jericho set to leave the company any day now, it would make sense for Jericho to put Owens over on his way out. Kevin Owens defeats Chris Jericho for the United States Championship, but I could be very wrong.

--AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon. I honestly think this match will end up surprising a lot of people. I’m a bit baffled they made this a regular wrestling match, but I expect some ref bumps to happen along the way, leading to Shane risking his life as he tends to do. Is there any doubt? AJ Styles wins.

--Unsanctioned Match: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins Another hard match to predict. As someone else pointed out, HHH has made it a habit of going win-one, lose-one every year with his WM matches. Since he lost to Roman Reigns last year at WM32, The Game could very well get his win back on Sunday. I don’t see this match going on very long, not because Rollins is actually injured (because he’s not), but because it’s going to be constructed more as an angle than a match. I see plenty of interference from Samoa Joe and maybe even the likes of Mick Foley, Sami Zayn or Finn Balor. In the end though, I think Triple H wins and Seth has to jump through hoops all over again to get another shot at The Cerebral Assassin at a later date.

--Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker. As of this writing, rumours are circulating that this is the match that will close the show. If so, that is a fucking joke if I ever saw one. I understand WWE wanting to “hottest match available” to close the show, which neither world title match may be able to provide, but come on, now. This would be Roman’s THIRD straight WM main-event in a row (joke) where he headlines over not one, but TWO world title matches (joke) and there’s no guarantee he turns heel after the match anyway (joke). I would be willing to accept this match going on last if and only if The Streak was still intact – but it’s not. In fact, this is easily the most poorly built top match on the card. If it closes the show, WWE have really lost their minds. Roman Reigns wins, but fuck that guy.

--WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt (c.) vs. Randy Orton The saving grace of this match not going on last (because let’s face it – it has no chance in hell of being the show-closer) is that Wyatt’s chances of winning go up considerably. Now, Orton Is still the heavy favourite to win the title on Sunday, but we’ve seen plenty of Royal Rumble winners fail at winning the title over the past decade. Wyatt needs the victory 100x more than Orton does, but does that really matter to WWE? This smells like Orton’s reward for being embarrassed by Brock Lesnar back at SummerSlam with Vince ‘owing’ Randy a favour. Randy Orton becomes the new WWE Champion, but hopefully Wyatt doesn’t fall too far down the card too quickly.

--Universal Championship: Goldberg (c.) vs. Brock Lesnar The only person who needs to win his match on Sunday more than The Miz is Brock Lesnar. I still vehemently disagree with the decision to squash Lesnar back at Survivor Series, so you can only imagine how I felt when Goldberg dominated Lesnar at the Rumble AGAIN and followed that up by taking down The Beast with just one Spear on this week’s Raw. The Goldberg ‘experiment’ is over: time to give Lesnar all his heat back. No surprise Goldberg win here, for the love of God. Brock Lesnar defeats Goldberg for the Universal Championship in the main-event, and is then confronted by Finn Balor moments later. THAT’S how you end the show.


YOUR Two Centsss: Which show and match(es) are you most looking forward to this weekend? Why?

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Have a great WrestleMania weekend!

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