You know what I’m looking forward to this weekend? The amount of tweets that will be rolling in following NXT TakeOver: San Antonio that will be challenging the Royal Rumble to top it. This happens EVERY TakeOver now, as if people can see from a mile away that the TakeOver special will forever top whatever the following main roster show has in store. But to be fair, they’re not wrong. That’s just how outstanding NXT TakeOver shows usually are. Admittedly, this show is taking place during the brand’s slow-moving transitional period, so the card isn’t quite as strong as previous installments. Look no further than the fact that the first match on here is one that I’m looking forward to very much. But if it’s an NXT card, you can expect the good to outshine the mediocre, so let’s take a look at what they have in store for us over Royal Rumble weekend!
Roderick String vs. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Because the IWC formula of ‘heel turn’ = 10x more interesting wrestler actually does work sometimes, Andrade Almas has started to gain some traction in NXT. I still can’t quite tell you much about his character aside from that he wears a pretty suave hat, but him establishing more of a mean-streak is actually working for him. His opponent, Roderick Strong, is getting his first bit of actual coverage on this site, but he’s not new to the game. He was a former Ring of Honor star and he was actually quite popular down there, at least as far as I can tell, just by virtue of being a great pro wrestler who was also really, really likable. Now that he’s in NXT, he’s playing the role of a great pro wrestler who is also really, really likable. Hmm…the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyway, these two will do battle on TakeOver in the one match on the card that I’m not 100% invested in.
Who I Want to Win: Again, I’m not super invested in this match, but if I was, I think I’d be pulling for Roderick Strong.
Who Will Win: If I were to guess, NXT might try to make Strong one of their next top faces, so I could see him winning here.
Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger
The Perfect 10 vs. The Crazy Four. Or maybe Crazy Three, since Nikki has a match of her own to worry about on this night. Eric Young being an unhinged individual dates all the way back even into his TNA years. This is a guy who originally lost his mind and became an America-hater mainly because Jeff Jarrett wasn’t a good enough friend to him, because I guess you’ll find some correlation there if you dig deep enough. He then got amnesia and reverted back to comedy relief with a mannequin for some reason, and eventually won a pair of women’s tag belts and getting married in a steel cage in his underwear. Aside from Abyss, has anyone in TNA had a kookier history than him? His trail of crazy carried over to WWE in 2016 and he wants Dillinger to get in on it as well. Dillinger, who’s gimmick both may have ruined counting and made him a Full Sail sensation who people are hoping to see in the Royal Rumble, chose not to stand on the side of darkness and may have to pay the price for it by going against Young, who’ll likely have his cronies in tow.
Who I Want to Win: I don’t know if this’ll be an unpopular pick of not, but Eric Young. Sure, it’ll be disappointing to see Dillinger lose again, but Dillinger could be on his way out while SAnitY is on their way up.
Who Will Win: See “Who I Want to Win”.
WWE NXT Tag Team Championship
Three Minute Warning was a professional wrestling tag team that consisted of Samoan cousins Matt Anoa’I (a.k.a. Rosey, a soon-to-be Superhero in Training) and Eddie Fatu (a.k.a. Jamal, the soon-to-be Umaga), joined by their manager Rico (soon-to-be Jackie Gayda’s flamboyant client). They were a powerhouse group who ran roughshod over Monday Night RAW from late-2002 to early-2003, decked out in clothing reminiscent of the FUBU and Sean Jean fashions of the time. Though they never captured the Tag Team Championship, there was little doubt that they were supposed to be feared. I bring this up because despite neither being Samoan and or dressing like 11-year old me did around that time, Akam and Rezar of the Authors of Pain kind of remind me of them. They’re dangerous men of size who are accompanied by a manager with a mean style game, only slightly more threatening than 3MW were. And it could be lights out for Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa if they allow that power game to overcome them in San Antonio.
Who I Want to Win: DIY. I’m not here for an Authors of Pain reign just yet.
Who Will Win: I hate to say it, but maybe the Authors of Pain. They’ll win here, then Gargano and Ciampa will try to think about what went wrong, and try to work on their game plan for the rematch. Yup, they may try to make a whole feud out of this.
Fatal Four-Way Match
WWE NXT Women’s Championship
Unless you were Asuka, Nia Jax, or Bayley, 2016 was kind of a terrible year to be a woman on the NXT roster. Either you barely ever appeared on screen (Mandy Rose), were given nothing significant to do (Liv Morgan, Ember Moon after she debuted), or were jobbed out for months to the three previously mentioned woman with little to no character to speak of. That was the problem with Peyton Royce & Billie Kay; their months of losses amounted to them having to play catch-up at the end of the year. Luckily, they’ve been up to the task, taking on the persona of The Beautiful People if they weren’t blonde and had Australian accents. And whataya know; they’re actually really funny. Nikki Storm luckily got her character immediately, ditching her Backstreet Boys-obsessed Indy persona to become a rabid, ferocious human pet basically. And they’ve all gotten on Asuka’s bad side, resulting in this meme-level outburst. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed as it’s landed them all an opportunity at the Women’s Championship in San Antonio.
Who I Want to Win: Nikki Cross and Billie Kay; then again, I’m kind of bias since they’ve had my love since Nikki Storm and Jessie McKay, so I just wanna see them win gold in WWE.
Who Will Win: Asuka, because everyone and their mom knows that they’re building up to Asuka vs. Ember Moon for the title at a later date.
WWE NXT Championship
Notice Samoa Joe has been left off of this show completely. Amid speculation that he might enter the Royal Rumble as a surprise entry, we’re left to wonder if this is the last we’ll see of the Samoan Submission Machine on the developmental brand. Shinsuke Nakamura, the man who won the war between him and Joe, will main event this show however. And his opposition is a man who was deemed glorious from Day One. Former TNA World Champion, TNA Tag Team Champion, former member of Team Canada and Beer Money, and one of the brightest stars currently in NXT, Bobby Roode was an absolute no-brainer to be next in line for a shot at the NXT Title, unless you were holding out hope for Tye Dillinger, in which case your hope is actually very admirable. Roode claims there’s nothing really special about him, but he’ll get to experience first hand whether that’s true or not come Saturday night in San Antonio.
Who I Want to Win: I’m gonna cop out here: I’d be fine with either man winning.
Who Will Win: Shinsuke Nakamura, mainly just to kill fan’s anticipation at him appearing in the Royal Rumble.