Here, ye, hear, ye. The Royals of Wrestle Royalty are at it again – this time pontificating, elaborating on, and predicting what promises to be an amazing “TakeOver: Phoenix” show from NXT! NXT is always fun so see what we have to say…and predict along with us! Vote in the polls following each match!
NXT Championship – Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black
Queen Kendra: I love both of these guys in very different ways. Black has impressed me from word go, while Ciampa was good in DIY but really showed what he could do when he and Gargano feuded. We all know that Black lost his strap due to Ciampa, so it wasn’t a clean loss. Of course Black will go all out in this match, especially since Ciampa has held the strap for like eighty days longer than Black did. I guess the big question is which of these guys I want to see on the main roster first, and for me that’s Black. I’ve wanted to see him on the main roster since before he won the NXT Championship. Therefore I’m going with Ciampa to retain here and continue being the badass he truly is.
Queen’s Predicted Winner – Tommaso Ciampa
Baron Botch: This has really been well-played. Ciampa has been the dark cloud hanging over the NXT men’s division and Aleister will bring little relief from said darkness; he just wants his title back. Ciampa contends that the title made Aleister, not the other way around. He’s also hung on to the title through some incredible defenses. Will Aleister be different? Well, Ciampa has had the title for a while now. I’d like to see him chase again but I don’t think we will. I think this may end up being more about DIY than anything. That said, I think Gargano interferes.
THE WINNAH via DQ – Tommaso Ciampa
Sir Mitch: This is a curious main event. One one hand, Black’s Title reign was a bit of a letdown due to not main eventing shows due to having a Title reign in the middle of the feud of 2018 with Ciampa and Gargano. On the other hand, Ciampa doesn’t seem to be having the same impact as champion now that the feud with Gargano has ended (for now).
While this will be a great match, I’m having a hard time picking a winner because I’m not sure what direction either guy can go if they go under.
But if you have to put a gun to my head…
Winner – Aleister Black
Sovereign S.A.M.: This is a rematch that has been in the making ever since Black dropped the title to Ciampa and was forced out of the triple threat match due to injury. Ever since Ciampa has been champion, he has been putting on some of the best matches I have ever seen and that is saying something. Ciampa is also the best heel going right now in the industry and he plays it with such grace. There haven’t been many repeat champions in NXT, so I do take that into account with my pick. I expect a great match between these two as they deliver at every turn and this has the makings of being a great. Something tells me that there will be some sort of screwy finish in this match but that may just be me overthinking it.
THE WINNER AND STILL NXT CHAMPION – Tommaso Ciampa
Duke Dre: Aleister is super hot ever since he returned from his injury. With Black exacting revenge on Gargano at the last TakeOver after being screwed out of the title by him it feels like the stars and planets are now aligned for Black to take back the very title he lost to Ciampa.
Ciampa has had an amazing run as champ down in NXT defeating all of NXT’s top faces so it feels like there isn’t much left for him to do with the strap so with that said I’m picking Black here to regain his title. It just feels like Black has a lot more to offer as champ at this point than Ciampa does.
THE WINNER – Aleister Black
Magnate Mat: Tommaso Ciampa as NXT Champion is the best thing to happen to NXT in a long long time. Upon winning the title under dubious circumstances and an indirect assist from his former tag team partner, Johnny Gargano. Ciampa has lorded the NXT title over everyone – EVERYONE. Johnny, the NXT audience and the former champ Aleister. He’s manipulated every angle and managed to hang on to “Goldy” at every turn and this Saturday will be no different. As angry and righteous as Black is, it won’t be enough.
THE WINNER – Tommaso Ciampa
NXT Women’s Championship – Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair
Queen Kendra: I actually saved this match for last as it’s the one I’m most interested in. Shayna is one of the best women in the WWE and we all have been chomping at the bit for her to be called up, or come up for any reason. Each PPV where Ronda has a match, we always think that maybe it’s time for Shayna to get involved, but she hasn’t yet. That being said, I’ll be shocked if we don’t see her at the Royal Rumble, either in the actual match, or involved in either Ronda’s or Becky’s matches. It might be me wanting Shayna to be brought up to the main roster that colors my pick. It may be my opinion that Bianca is a much better opponent for Shayna than Sane ever was. Whatever it is, I’m going with Bianca to win this. I don’t expect Shayna to be brought up immediately, or even before WM weekend, but I’m hoping it’s sooner than later. I know there are no guaranteed rematches, but Shayna should get her ‘rematch’ at TakeOver the night before WrestleMania, then possibly show up at WM for one reason or another – maybe to cause issues in the main event? There’s no reason to wait for SummerSlam as a build to her first big 4 match at SummerSlam could be a beautiful thing.
Queen’s Predicted Winner – Bianca Belair
Baron Botch: This is going to be amazing. As Queen said, Shayna has been absolutely amazing since the moment she appeared in NXT. Unlike her compatriot, Ronda, she came to WWE ready to go…and she’s been nailing. Whether it’s having great matches or getting it done on the mic, no woman in NXT does it better. That said, Bianca is her biggest threat on the mic up until this point. Bianca has swag and she can go toe-to-toe with Shayna on the mic. She’s also amazingly athletic and can really go in the ring. These two will not disappoint. I really want Bianca to win and I think her crowing would yield to more interesting stories for her. I also love it when Shayna loses. It twists her and that’s always fun. So…
THE WINNAH AND NEWWW!!!!!! – Bianca Belair
Sir Mitch: Baron Botch and Duke Dre are going to HATE me for saying this, but if you were to ask me which chant I would be a part of if I were in the crowd for a Belair match…it would be “over-ra-ted…clap clap clap clap…over-ra-ted.”
I’m sorry, but I just don’t see all the hype behind Belair, and I don’t understand why they’ve given such a strong push to a Jacqueline wannabe who’s average at best in the ring and has a ridicules hair weave.
So unless Baszler is getting called up (don’t see it happening until after Mania), I’m picking the Queen of Spades to go over in this one.
Winner – Shayna Baszler
Sovereign S.A.M.: Shayna Baszler is quite simply the best heel in all of women’s wrestling right now and she is someone that is ready for the main roster. I wasn’t an initial fan of Bianca Belair at first, but she has grown on me over the last several months. She seems to have IT and will be someone to keep an eye on for years to come. This should be a fun match and the story that will be told will be interesting. I have a feeling we will see some things in this match that we haven’t seen before and I hope Baszler can bring the best out of Belair and vice versa. I have had a feeling about this match since it was announced, and I will go with it when making my pick.
The Winner AND NEW NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Bianca Belair!!
Duke Dre: When Baszler lost her title at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 I was positive she would be called up to the main roster soon after but boy was I way off. Here she is once again sitting as women’s champ once again with the help of two familiar faces ( Marina Shafir & Jessamyn Duke) at Evolution last October.
While Bianca Blair has been on quite a roll racking up wins and remaining undefeated, I have a hard time envisioning her winning this Saturday due to some kind of screwy finish involving Duke & Shafir. I get the feeling that Baszler will be holding that title until she’s finally dethroned by Io Shirai sometime later this year
THE WINNER – Shayna Baszler
Magnate Mat: Shayna Baszler is easily the most dominant and convincing champion this womens division has had in some time, and its not because the womens division isnt good, its that Baszler is that good, that convincing and that dominant. Bianca Belair is an athlete in every sense of the word, she’s got the personality, the moves, and the attitude to not only challenge Shayna Baszler but take the NXT Womens Title from her and usher in the Era of the EST.
THE WINNER and NEW NXT Women’s Champion – Bianca Belair
NXT Tag Team Championship – Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. War Raiders (Rowe & Hanson)
Queen Kendra: Going into this prediction, I really thought I was going to be sticking with Undisputed Era, but then I did some research and realized just how much time UE has spent as NXT Tag Team Champs. They’ve spent more total days as champs than any team other than Ascension. Knowing how long NXT has been in existence, over two hundred days (depending on how you want to want to count) is pretty impressive considering the championship has been around for just under six years and that Ascension held them for almost a year of that time. They have been a strong faction, even though Strong hasn’t been as good as I hoped or expected him to be. All that being said, I’m going with the War Raiders who might not be as humorous as Heavy Machinery, but they are still a very formidable team.
Queen’s Predicted Winner – War Raiders
Baron Botch: This is the inevitable clash that the UE boys have been running from since they showed up. Roderick and Kyle have been champs since the moon landing and they’ve had some incredible matches. The War Raiders have been threatening to break out since they showed up. Winning here will absolutely do that. They just never need to talk and they’ll be fine. Either way…
THE WINNAHS AND NEWWW!!!!!! – War Raiders
Sir Mitch: Another thing NXT does better than the main roster (I know, I know) is Tag Teams. While Raw and Smackdown feature the same three teams on each show week after week, NXT has a different team featured on each weekly show.
This match should be a wonderful clinic in tag team wrestling as well as a mix of styles between the agile powerhouses in War Raiders and pure technicians in The Undisputed Era. I expect a very ROH style match from these two teams as all four men were standouts for that promotion for years.
As far as picking a winner, I expect Strong and O’Reilly to be on top of the division until Mania weekend.
Winner – The Undisputed Era
Sovereign S.A.M.: The tag team division has been booming in NXT and these two teams can put on a quality match any day of the week. War Raiders are clearly being built as the next dominant tag team in NXT and they play that well. The Undisputed Era are the best faction in the world right now and they all have swagger oozing from them. This could be a knock-down/drag-out slugfest of a match or quite the high paced one. This is probably the match I have had the hardest time picking because I can see either team winning here. I think I just have to go with my head as to what will be best for NXT going forward.
The Winner AND NEW NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPION: War Raiders!!!
Duke Dre: Since December of 2017, O’Reilly & Strong have dominated the tag division in NXT with a iron fist and with that it appears that there isn’t much else left for them to do with those titles. All signs would indicate that they will be dropping those titles to the War Raiders who are as big a NXT tag team signee as any, these guys have done it all as a tag team outside the WWE and the time feels right for the Undisputed Era to finally be toppled. The War Raiders will be your new NXT tag team champions this weekend
THE WINNER – The War Raiders
Magnate Mat: The Undisputed Era have ruled all of 2018 and with good reason. Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly are good, damn good. Good is not going to help when the destructive force of Hanson and Rowe finally get in the ring with the Era. Chasing them down since NXT Brooklyn, the War Raiders have one goal and are tearing through anyone in their way to achieve that goal of taking the NXT Tag Titles as their next trophies
THE WINNER and NEW TAG TEAM champions – The War Raiders
NXT North American Championship – Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano
Queen Kendra: I’m still kicking myself for missing one of Ricochet’s last indie matches. My daughter Ellie was there and was blown away by him. Not only was he great in the ring, but after his match he came out to the audience and ended up sitting next to Ellie through the rest of the show, and the most insane “Audience Brings Weapons” Hardcore Match. He was on his feet watching the Lego-covered ring with Ellie – cringing and squirming right along with the rest of the fans. I’m still really bummed that I missed it, but I’m also thrilled that Ellie got that experience to make up for the WWE house show where a guy in front of her had a heart attack and died. All that being said, and even though I love Gargano, I think it’s too early for this strap to change hands, so I’m going with Ricochet for the win and retain.
Queen’s Predicted Winner – Ricochet
Baron Botch: I can’t wait for this match. They are going to burn the building down. Ricochet is just startlingly good and few tell stories better than Johnny Wrestling. Ricochet/Gargano came to a vicious head on this week’s NXT so I’m totally here for this match now. I’m not sure I’ll be be able to handle all the goodness they’re going to give us. Who wins? Me. I win. As for the matter of the belt, I kinda wonder what it’d be like for both Gargano and Ciampa to have belts. I have a feeling NXT will show me too.
THE WINNAH and NEWWW!!! – Johnny Gargano
Sir Mitch: Matches like this are why people love NXT. Two pure in-ring artists being given a PPV match with no silly or convoluted storylines that will tear down the house. Is it any wonder why the last Takeover special was watched more than Survivor Series on the WWE Network? I hope these two NEVER get called up to the main roster because they will NEVER get the same opportunities to create magic then they will in NXT.
As far as picking a winner goes, I’m going with Gargano as he needs the win.
Winner – Johnny Gargano
Sovereign S.A.M.: I have no idea how my heart will take this match because this should be the match of the weekend. Gargano is “Johnny Wrestling” for a reason and Ricochet does things in the rings that few can match. This will be an adrenaline rush of a match and a “don’t blink” match. Gargano has been great in this new role he finds himself in and I expect him to do everything he can to win here. I really don’t know what else to say other than I cannot wait to sit back and watch this match as it will be one for the ages.
THE WINNER AND STILL NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION – Ricochet!!
Duke Dre: This is without the question the match I’m looking forward to the most. This will challenge Rey/Andrade from Smackdown a couple weeks ago as an early MOTY candidate.
Gargano, more than anybody else over the past 3-4 years, has been the workhouse of the NXT brand and has probably produced the best matches in NXT in that span against a whole host of the guys but for whatever reason NXT gold has always eluded him.
In Ricochet’s case, it’s still really early in his North American title run but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that he loses to the title to Gargano.
THE WINNER – Johnny Gargano
Magnate Mat: Ricochet is one of the best performers on this roster, period, but his “character” wasn’t the strongest outside from the guy who flips around a lot. His feud with Cole over last summer and this feud with Gargano have remedied that. Johnny Gargano has gone to a whole new place, costing Aleister Black the NXT Title, this constant back and forth with Tommaso Ciampa, have bought him into this conflict with Ricochet because he needs a championship to validate this darker path he’s taken
THE WINNER – Gargano by DQ but Ricochet retains
Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno
Queen Kendra: I just don’t feel Ohno. I just don’t get him at all. I’ve tried for years to find a reason to be interested in him, but I don’t. The first pic I ever saw of him was backstage at an indie show, or maybe ROH or something, where he was sitting with Daffney. She posted the pic online and talked up Hero, so I was really interested and excited, but then I saw him in the ring and lost all interest and haven’t been able to get it back. This was well before NXT and things haven’t improved for me in any way. It’s for this reason that I have to go with Riddle over Ohno. I cannot call for anyone to win a match when I feel so little anything for him.
Queen’s Predicted Winner – Matt Riddle
Baron Botch: Zzzzz. Ohno has been summarily killed by WWE and, bro, I couldn’t care less about Riddle.
THE WINNAH – Absolutely no one.
Sir Mitch: They have gone the “slow burn” route with these two. A five-second match at the last Takeover to put Riddle over hard and fast plus a few brawls here and there is all the ring time these two in-ring masters have been given. What a tease of a booker Triple H is with NXT.
I can’t wait for this match. I’m going with Ohno in this one because he could use the win and I want this feud to continue.
Winner – Kassius Ohno
Sovereign S.A.M.: This has been a physical rivalry and one I didn’t expect to see. Ohno’s role in NXT has been to get talent over and I think he has done that with Riddle. I was a fan of Riddle when he was doing MMA, so I love that he has grown into a solid performer in the wresting ring. I really don’t know why these two are still having matches because Riddle has won both previous encounters. This is probably the match I am least looking forward to, but it may surprise me with its quality.
The Winner – Matt Riddle Bro!!
Duke Dre: Talk about a sure thing here. At least in my mind there’s no doubt what the outcome will be here. Riddle is NXT’s latest big acquisition and Triple H clearly has a lot invested in him. Ohno, on the other hand, is in NXT with the sole purpose of putting over up and comers.
Riddle wins this and then moves on to bigger and better things. I can definitely see Riddle feuding with the likes of Adam Cole or Gargano (who I picked to win the North America title) a lot sooner then later.
THE WINNER – Matt Riddle
Magnate Mat: This has been an oddly interesting story that popped up. Riddle being the shiny new arrival and Ohno being the passed-over vet. Ohno is selling “bitter” really really well and plays great off of the extreme chill of Riddle. This will be longer than 7 seconds but I expect Riddle to knock Ohno out.
THE WINNER – Matt Riddle