Bobby Roode vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
This match pits the man who’s nickname is Spanish for ‘100’ against a Full Sail newcomer, which is strange to say out loud since I’m going into this match knowing more about the new guy than the man who’s been to this dance before. In the time between his debut at the last TakeOver Special and our emergence to the doorstep of this one, I’ve learned next to nothing about Andrade “Cien” Almas aside from the translation of his nickname and that watching his entrance will give you Lou Bega flashbacks. Then there’s Mr. Glorious, Bobby Roode, formerly Robert Roode and one of the original members of Team Canada. In addition to that, he’s 1/2 of Beer Money, one of the greatest tag teams in recent memory despite their recent lackluster reunion. It took Roode a long time to make it to WWE, and now his first task is taking down a man who is certainly a wonderful athlete, but has yet to catch my interest as a personality.
Who I Want to Win: Bobby Roode; it’s his debut and I just more about him overall.
Who Will Win: Bobby Roode; as we’ve established, this is his debut, meaning since it’s not WrestleMania, his chances of actually winning are significantly heightened.
Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose
Another match pitting a former employee of Dixieland against one of NXT’s newer class of emerging young talent. The difference is that while I’m drawing a blank trying to say anything about ‘Cien’ Almas, I can tell you quite a bit about No Way Jose. For example, that if he was on the main roster right now, he’d be the biggest comedy jobber on the roster, laying down for people like Braun Strowman or Baron Corbin night in and night out. But since comedy characters are allowed to have more layers like ogres in NXT, he actually gets a chance to prove that he’s more than just dancing and a hairy meme. Austin Aries wanted to spoil No Way Jose’s party, and now is No Way Jose’s chance to prove that you really should mistake his generosity and fun nature for weakness.
Who I Want to Win: Gonna come as a surprise maybe, but No Way Jose. I’m all for him proving to Aries that you should take a guy lightly just because he loves to dance.
Who Will Win: I have a feeling that Austin Aries will indeed spoil Jose’s party.
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay
I totally wanted to type “Athena vs. Jessie McKay” up there. When Indy wrestlers you’ve been following for years get signed to the promised land, you gotta get used to calling them by their newly assigned identities. Not that their names are that different; Billie’s surname is still halfway the same and Ember just switched from being named after a goddess in Greek mythology to being dubbed something out of a Mortal Kombat name generator. But they’re definitely the same wrestlers who faced one another on SHIMMER Volume 40, only more evolved and taking on different personas. I think their past encounter in Berwyn is why they trusted Billie in this role against Ember over any of the other girls. William Regal booked the two against each other when the Australian Femme Fatale, after months of nothing but loss after loss, finally picked up a couple of wins and demanded a reward. She now makes her first TakeOver appearance the same night as the heavily-hyped Wrestling Goddess.
Who I Want to Win: Ember Moon. I wanna see Billie Kay gets some more wins, but this is totally Ember Moon’s night. Plus, I need to see Brooklyn’s reaction when Ember breaks out the O-Face (or whatever WWE will call it now). Bonus point if she hits it off a ladder.
Who Will Win: Ember Moon; you don’t really think they’d make those hype videos just for her to lose, do you?
NXT Tag Team Championship
The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
I must’ve missed something. When Johnny Wrestling and The Sicilian Psychopath first arrived in NXT, they hadn’t signed contracts yet and were pretty much recurring characters similar to that of Leva Bates‘ role as Blue Pants. But then somewhere along the way, the two officially signed with WWE and are now full-fledged members of the NXT roster. Maybe it does help to keep my ear to the dirt sheets once in a while. But now the Cruiserweight Classic show-stealers are officially on the roster and can challenge for some gold, and who better to go after than self-proclaimed “top guys” Dash & Dawson? These two guys actually started to grow on me when they started getting more mic time and showing more personality on the mic. The Revival are officially out of the FearlessRiOT doghouse. But can they keep their spot at the top of the tag team house against two of the best in the business?
Who I Want to Win: Ciampa & Gargano. Just because the Revival has grown on me doesn’t mean I want them to stay the ‘top guys’.
Who Will Win: The Revival. I can’t really explain why, but I just have a strange feeling The Revival are going to retain.
NXT Women’s Championship
Bayley vs. Asuka
Remember when I mentioned earlier that Billie Kay had eaten losses for months before getting her match with Ember Moon? She wasn’t the only one. Peyton Royce still has yet to win a match, Aliyah is basically a punching bag, and Liv Morgan‘s only win so far came this past week in a six-woman tag team match. And she wasn’t even the one who got the pin. For months, these woman had the wait their turns because the division was all about Bayley, Asuka, and Nia Jax. With Nia Jax murking local talent on RAW, Bayley and Asuka can finally settle their unfinished business. This angle has kind of obliterated face and heel lines, which if done on the main roster would confuse everyone and likely land WWE a nice spot on WhatCulture‘s Worst of the Week list. But NXT has made the story in a way that both woman are definitely faces, but want to make sure to let the other know that they mean business and are indeed coming to Brooklyn to fight. Never thought you’d see this kind of fire from the wrestler who came in as She-Eugene basically, did you? Y’all do remember that, right? Boy, has she evolved.
Who I Want to Win: I can’t choose. Part of me wants Bayley’s redemption arc to culminate in a feel good moment, but part of me is also looking forward to Ember Moon snatching Asuka’s title down the line.
Who Will Win: Asuka, for two reasons: 1) To continue teasing fans waiting for Bayley to get called up, and 2) To begin the build for that aforementioned Asuka vs. Ember Moon title clash.
Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
In case you need further proof that NXT has expanded past just being a developmental promotion, look no further than the fact that the current World Champion and his top contender are both guys who made their name elsewhere before arriving. For better or worse, it’s hard to think of Samoa Joe without thinking of his TNA history; and for folks like myself, Shinsuke Nakamura is definitely linked with his New Japan work. Both men have such notoriety that they even got to keep their names upon being signed. Who knew WWE would be the company that bought these two together? And as far as I know, this is the first time they’re facing each other on a televised show; that’s a huge deal. You probably wouldn’t guess that with Shinsuke’s attitude on the whole thing. Every time Samoa Joe threatens the guy, Nakamura’s responds with the facial and body language equivalent of Steve Austin‘s “What?” calls. He will obviously not back down from Joe’s intimidation; he’ll be too busy focusing on turning in another Match of the Year candidate and winning the NXT Title.
Who I Want to Win: Shinsuke Nakamura; see “Who Will Win” to find out why.
Who Will Win: Shinsuke Nakamura; not to make Joe sound like a transitional champion or anything, but going from defeating previous champion Finn Bálor to beating current champion Samoa Joe seems like a good story to end this huge event on. Happy endings all around and everything.