This has been a pretty active week on the blog, with the Liv & Maddie Retrospective and the WrestleMania Week lists keeping me busy. But now we arrive at the two big ones: the individual Forecasts for both WrestleMania and the NXT TakeOver event that it’s paired with. Arguably, the TakeOver: Brooklyn shows are kind of the big ones for the developmental brand, but having an event take place over WrestleMania Weekend is a huge deal. This show features two debuting stars both of whom have earned their Indy stripes, and feature contests for all three NXT Titles, one of which will see a year-old reign put on the line against someone many saw as a future champion from day one. They may not be leaving NXT’s homestate, but these stars are certainly planning to leave an impressions. How? Let’s predict, shall we?
Aleister Black vs. Andrade Cien Almas
NXT TakeOvers usually always have these showcase matches where the debut a new talent who’s set to be the next big thing in the promotion. It’s how Andrade Cien Almas debuted at a previous NXT TakeOver show. Unlike everyone else who’s done it in the past, however, my info well is a little dry on Aleister Black. He made a surprise appearance at the WWE’s UK Championship Tournament to a huge reception, but since I’m not from the UK, he’s still a relative unknown to me. I looked him up and discovered that he’s Dutch, has a background in martial arts and kickboxing, and has apparently appeared for numerous well-known global promotions. Have you watched Insane Championship Wrestling, Progress, CZW, Evolve, and PWG more than I have? You may be familiar with the former Tommy End after all, and are probably looking forward to him inevitably defeating Almas in this match.
Who I Want to Win: I wish I was invested enough to say that I want either man to win.
Who Will Win: Aleister Black, since these TakeOver debuts never results in a loss for the newcomer.
8-Man Tag Team Match
I don’t think NXT has ever had a dominant stable on the show since Bray Wyatt and his family were still living in the swamp, so when SAnitY debuted, it was kind of a breath of fresh air, especially for a roster that was quickly beginning to wear thin on actual characters. Eric Young, Nikki Cross, and company brought grunge to full sail with the mission not necessarily to win, but just to destroy. And No Way Jose, Roderick Strong, and Tye Dillinger have constantly felt their wrath. Ever since the previous TakeOver where Dillinger fell to Young, it was obvious that another collision course was coming. But how to deal with the wildcard Cross when they didn’t have another female to be the equalizer? Enter former Indy star Heidi Lovelace under her brand new persona of Ruby Riot. This is the Punk-Rock Ragdoll’s first NXT match and what bigger way to debut than during WrestleMania Weekend?
Who I Want to Win: I’m kind of hoping to see Ruby Riot score the winning pinfall here.
Who Will Win: The good guys; not just so Ruby doesn’t lose on her debut, but also because anyone from the good side gets a post-Mania call-up, they’ll need momentum on their side.
NXT Tag Team Championship
Much like the main roster, WWE NXT is kind of short on credible tag teams, especially since Blake & Murphy quickly disintegrated once separated from Alexa Bliss and TM-61 never caught on. So with the NXT Tag Team Titles on the line on the biggest weekend in pro wrestling, why not take the opportunity to showcase the three biggest teams they current have? Akam & Rezar are the current champions; not exactly favorites with the internet crowd, but their size was bound to take them places. More popular with the internet crowd as well as the fans who attend NXT shows are DIY and The Revival. Gargano, Ciampa, Dash, & Dawson put on one of the best matches of the year together last year, and it would be amazing if they can manage to do the same thing with an additional team who’s tons bigger than them.
Who I Want to Win: Not the Authors of Pain, that’s for sure. I’d honestly like to see DIY get it back.
Who Will Win: The Authors of Pain. I’m like everyone else; I feel like the Revival are main roster-bound soon, and as much as I want to see it, I don’t realistically expect a DIY victory.
NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka‘s has the longest NXT Women’s Championship reign ever. She’s ruled over the division with an iron fist. And while her ring work, charisma, and popularity definitely deserves some credit for that, there’s another reason for her dominance that’s hard to ignore: the rest of the division hasn’t been given much of a chance to stack up. There’s some talented people in there, but generally, they haven’t been booked or even talked up into being much of a threat to the Japanese sensation. That’s why when Ember Moon came in, huge reputation intact due to her past success as Athena, people immediately saw her as the one to knock Asuka off of her perch. I ranked her #20 on my all-time favorite wrestlers list, so obviously I would very much enjoy if that happened. But the fact of the matter is that Ember Moon has wrestled mostly squash matches since coming to NXT; Asuka will be her first true in-universe test. Will she be the one?
Who I Want to Win: Ember Moon. I’ve been waiting for her to win the NXT Women’s Championship since the second she arrived in the company.
Who Will Win: Ember Moon; even NXT has to admit that Asuka‘s reign has been rather long and is growing stale with virtually no competition remaining to take her down since Asuka’s defeated everyone else. So assuming Billie & Peyton don’t interfere or succeed in their efforts to get the Eclipse banned, Ember’s probably gonna win.
Like Ember Moon, Bobby Roode also came into NXT with past glory on his name. His reign with the TNA World Championship is still the longest running in the promotion’s history, a far cry from his tag team success with Beer Money and Team Canada. So it was safe to assume that he too would quickly find himself as one of NXT’s marquee names. And that he did. It didn’t happen overnight, but Bobby earned the opportunity to take on Shinsuke Nakamura for the NXT Tag Team Championship. And he won. Taking advantage of an injured sustained by the King of Strong Style, Roode put Nakamura away and began the Glorious Era. But now, Nakamura is health and ready for a rematch. While most online fans may be disappointed that he’s not getting the AJ Styles WrestleMania match this year and that Shane O’Mac was chosen as The Phenomenal One’s opponent instead, they can at least take solace in the fact that Shinsuke will in fact headline a wrestling event over the weekend with a title on the line.
Who I Want to Win: Sorry, Shinsuke, but the Glorious Era shouldn’t end this quickly. Bobby Roode for the win.
Who Will Win: Bobby Roode; I don’t know if Nakamura is going to the main roster after this, but even if he’s not, a loss here would be a fun way to get the Internet buzzing anyway.