NXT Takeover: San Antonio is live tonight on the WWE Network. Takeover, for the casual fan that may not know, is the quarterly event that the NXT brand holds. Itâ€™s their pay per view level event. Some of the best matches the WWE put on last year were at Takeover events, such as Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn at Takeover: Dallas and The Revival vs #DIY at Takeover: Toronto. The level of talent at NXT meets and in some cases exceeds the talent on the main roster so if youâ€™re a fan of good, entertaining matches, this show will be a canâ€™t miss show. Presented for your approval is a preview of the show and my predictions for who comes out victorious.
Roderick Strong vs Cien Andrade Almas
Fans of Ring of Honor will be the first to tell you that Roderick Strong is an amazing talent in the ring. So good in fact that I feel two or three years down the road, weâ€™re going to be seeing him main event a Wrestlemania. In the mean time, spending some time in NXT will help him adjust to the WWE way of performing.
Iâ€™m just not digging Almas as a character right now. His work in the ring is fine but heâ€™s trying to be a villain yet keeps trying to win the audiences approval with some of his moves and actions in the ring. Too often folks donâ€™t want to fully commit in wrestling to be a full fledged bad guy, the type of person that fans would boo out of the building. They take pointers from performers from ages past like the members of the NWO and D-Generation X, bad guys who were cool that the fans cheer. Almas needs to stop trying to get approval from the audience. Do something despicable and bad. Embrace the hate from the audience if youâ€™re being positioned as a bad guy.
As far as the match tonight, while I suspect the feud between the two is just beginning, Iâ€™ve seen nothing to indicate that Strong wonâ€™t go over in his match.
Prediction: Roderick Strong Wins
Tye Dillinger vs Eric Young
Itâ€™s great to see Eric Young experience the renaissance in his career which he deserves. He put a lot of time in at TNA which, thanks to horrible management from the company, didnâ€™t do much for him. Seeing him get a chance to shine with the Sanity stable is a well deserved win for a great performer.
Tye Dillinger, as Iâ€™ve said in previous articles discussing NXT, Iâ€™m just not a fan of. He hasnâ€™t connected with me as a performer yet. I donâ€™t dislike him like I did Adam Rose but Iâ€™m just not seeing the love that some fans are sending his way.
As far as the match, I think thereâ€™s enough support from fans that tomorrow at the Royal Rumble, Tye Dillinger will show up in the number 10 spot (being that his nickname is The Perfect 10). That, as well as the need to build up Sanity as a more dominant stable leads me to believe that weâ€™ll be seeing Eric Young winning the match, with some assistance from his Sanity stable members.
Prediction: Eric Young, with some assistance from Big Damo.
#DIY vs The Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag Team Championship
#DIY, the team of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are the modern day answer to The Rock and Roll Express. Theyâ€™re great in the ring, building the emotion up from the opening bell to the point where they finally overcome the threat theyâ€™re facing and get the win. The great part about the tag team division in NXT has been the back to basics approach. Whatâ€™s old is new again as the saying goes and #DIY are a textbook example of a great good guy team.
The Authors of Pain are being built up as a pretty dominant force. Theyâ€™ve been on quite a tear since they debuted with the legendary Paul Ellering as their manager. One drawback I see with them is their level of experience. You can tell theyâ€™re not the most polished team as of yet. Their matches are usually pretty short, relying upon big impact moves to get themselves over.
Rumor has it that #DIY are being positioned for a call up to the main roster soon. That, as well as the build up The Authors of Pain have received, makes me think weâ€™re going to see a title change tonight. Iâ€™d personally be hesitant of doing it now, holding off until Takeover: Orlando before Wrestlemania this year. Yet The Authors of Pain are on too much of a roll.
Prediction: The Authors of Pain win the NXT Tag Team Championship
Asuka vs Nikki Cross vs Peyton Royce vs Billie Kay for the NXT Womenâ€™s Championship
This is a match of missed opportunities for me. Asuka has been built up as the most dominant female performer on the roster. No one has been able to successfully stop her. And thatâ€™s the rub. As a fan, you love to see performers go on long winning streaks yet if the performer is being shown to go through their opponents with ease, you lose all the potential tension their matches could offer. You want to see the winning streak yet you need to see them close to losing. We havenâ€™t seen that from Asuka yet.
Nikki Cross has the most upside of the womenâ€™s roster. Her character is nuts in the right way. I love her intensity in the ring, which as Iâ€™ve stated before reminds me of a modern day Luna Vachon. With the focus of late on the NXT show of building up the Sanity stable, I see Nikki Cross having an incredible future.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay I just donâ€™t like. â€œWell, theyâ€™re villains. Youâ€™re supposed to not like them,â€ you may retort. My disinterest in the two stems from the fact that theyâ€™re being presented as a couple of catty women. Itâ€™s too clichÃ© for my tastes. Sure, emphasize their beauty if you wish and make them cocky as hell, yet they seem to be drawing their characters from the â€œStereotypical Female Character Playbookâ€ which just does nothing for me. Take Charlotte Flair on the main roster. Sheâ€™s just as physically beautiful as Peyton and Billie yet sheâ€™s presented as an athlete first and foremost. They really need to work on these two ladies characters.
I think weâ€™re going to see Asukaâ€™s reign as champion come to an end tonight. This could have been a bigger moment but similar to the original Goldberg streak being broken in an anticlimactic way, fans are probably going to sit on their hands for this one.
Prediction-Nikki Cross wins the NXT Womenâ€™s Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship
This is the match Iâ€™m most excited about. While I have concerns about Shinsukeâ€™s ability on the microphone, he can straight out go in the ring. Heâ€™s put on some of the best matches with some of the highest caliber performers the world has seen. He can be the one performer that can simply let his work in the ring speak for itself.
Bobby Roode is finally getting a chance to show the world what he can do in the ring. Yes, he was a TNA original. Yet by the time they gave him their World Championship, it was in the middle of that horrible run in 2010 when Dixie Carter brought in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. TNA was run so poorly at that time that they wasted the talents of folks like Roode, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe. Seeing Bobby get his chance to earn gold in a WWE ring is validation for long time TNA fans and honestly, a finger of shame in Dixie Carterâ€™s direction. She had the chance to have one of the greatest rosters in wrestling and she wasted it by throwing a boatload of money at a performer in Hulk Hogan who was twenty five years past his prime. (I donâ€™t knock Hogan for taking the money. Iâ€™d have done the same. His star power in 2010 was nowhere near where it once was.)
So where does that leave this match? It really depends on what the WWE wants to do with Shinsuke Nakamura. Personally, Iâ€™d have him stick around as NXT Champion until Takeover: Orlando before considering bringing him to the main roster. While I would love to see him in the Royal Rumble, I just donâ€™t think the Rumble needs him. Bobby Roode needs more time to get himself over to the WWE fans. He will do it, I have no doubt, but the casual fan needs to see what makes him so great. This is a tough match to call.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura retains the NXT Championship
Join me on Twitter tonight as I live tweet the show. You can find me at @LRM_Tim