WWE brings you the first TakeOver of the year and my word it’s going to be a great one. On the heels of one of NXT’s best shows in New Years Evil, can NXT deliver the goods once again? I don’t doubt it for a second. However, before we get there, it’s time to hear who we think will walk away winners.
IO SHIRAI (c) vs TONI STORM vs MERCEDES MARTINEZ for the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
This triple threat should be a ton of fun and I like that the odds are not in Io’s favor in defending her title. It is nice that they are making Mercedes look like a true threat because she certainly should be in that role. Toni has been better as a heel and I like how cocky she has been over the fact she has beaten Io in the past. Io does still confident that she will retain, but even she knows the odds are stacked against her. I think if this was a one-on-one match between Toni and Io, my decision would be harder but I think this one could be a bit easier to choose. I will just go with what makes sense right now and I think that is a good choice.
The Winner and STILL NXT Women’s Champion: Io Shirai
If anyone ever doubted Martinez’s decision to drop out of Retribution to go back to NXT (I can’t imagine anyone did), then this is exactly why she did. Mercedes is a star and along with Storm and Io, I expect this match to go long and hard. Personally I think it’s time Io drops the title and while I was really hoping it would be Candice or Dakota Kai, Storm or Martinez are just as qualified. Martinez has to be the most unlikely of the three to win, so that’s exactly who I am picking, because who doesn’t like a surprise? Not only that but I predict Io will lose her title the same way she won it, in a triple threat match where the winner doesn’t pin the champion.
Winner – Mercedes Martinez
This is a difficult match to call as the two challengers could win the match and I wouldn’t be mad, as they would make a great champion as well as Io keeping the title. Issue is, if she does win, who would be left to challenge her? She has beaten nearly everybody worth challenging her. I definitely know this match is going to be hard hitting. just like the World title match is going to be, and it has no DQ implications as it’s a triple threat match, so they are certainly going to introduce weapons into the match. This is going to be one of two MOTN’s for sure. Winner and new champion – Mercedes Martinez
DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZÁLEZ vs EMBER MOON & SHOTZI BLACKHEART in the WOMEN’S DUSTY RHODES TAG TEAM CLASSIC FINALS
Both teams make sense here and I really have no idea who to pick. Raquel has looked like a beast of the last several months and has continued to pick up big wins. Shotzi and Ember are in a nice spot right now and Shotzi is clearly seen as a top face in the women’s division. Regal would announce that the winning team gets a tag title shot and I really hope the titles are brought to NXT. They mean virtually nothing on Raw/SD and NXT has the deep roster to warrant the tag titles acting like a midcard title. This should be a fun one and I will just go with my gut here.
The Winners: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
The Women’s tournament has been a revelation and a step completely in the right direction. NXT’s women’s division is so stacked, so if they’re not going to be called up to the main roster to help beef up Raw and Smackdown, then there needs to be more opportunities for them, and here we are. If this was just for the Dusty Cup, then I’d know in my heart Kai and Gonzalez would be walking out winners, but with a title shot against [potentially] Shayna Baszler and Nia ‘My Hole’ Jax, I see only one team that can make this match HUGE. With WrestleMania just around the corner I really want to see Nia and Shayna hold onto the titles and face off with Moon & Blackheart on the biggest stage of them all.
Winners – Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart
I could see Kai & Gonzalez going after the tag team titles as well as Moon & Blackheart, but it depends on who is women’s tag team champions at the time. If it’s still Baszler & Jax then I could see Moonheart winning the match, but if the Ravishing Glow wins the titles, then I see Kai & Gonzalez winning this match. This is providing difficult to call as either team can win so I spun a wheel in my head.
Winners of the first Women’s Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag team Tournament – Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart
MSK (WES LEE & NASH CARTER) vs GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (JAMES DRAKE & ZACK GIBSON) in the MEN’S DUSTY RHODES TAG TEAM CLASSIC FINALS
The men’s Dusty Classic has been a ton of fun and these two teams are the right ones to be in the finals. MSK has been booked hot since making their NXT debut and they have not disappointed in any of their matches so far. GYV are an amazing tag team as well and they have shown it with good performances in the tournament. This match has all the makings to be a fun one and I certainly do not see it disappointing. I will say though that I am not sure as to who to pick because both teams make sense as the winners. I think I just have to go with my gut here in making my prediction.
The Winners: MSK
I’d like to point out I called this match when the brackets were first announced. I said MSK/Legado and GYV/UE would be the semi-finals match with MSK facing GYV in the final. Okay, so I got one team wrong, I saw (and hoped) we’d see this as our finals. Personally I think the winners are predictable too, while Grizzled Young Veterans are the sure fire favourites to win, you can’t forget the current champs (Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch) are heels and I just can’t envision two heels facing off for the titles. I can however see MSK making a dream start to their NXT careers winning the Dusty Cup and going on to face the champs at the first time of asking. Whatever the outcome there’s one undeniable thing, this is going to steal the show. I mean all the matches have the quality to do it, but this match has me the most excited.
Winners – MSK
Both teams are going to put everything on the line to win this match with a tag team title match on the line, as well as etching their name into the Dusty Cup history. GYV have been in the finals of the Dusty cup tournament before, but has yet to win it and this time will be no different, as they are going to lose to the red hot team of MSK. I don’t see MSK losing this match but it is going to be a great match nonetheless.
Winners of the Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Classic – MSK
JOHNNY GARGANO (c) vs KUSHIDA for the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
This is a match I have been looking forward to since they first teased it. KUSHIDA is someone that hasn’t done much in NXT but this feud has really been fun. Gargano is quite possibly the most hilarious heel right now and that is saying something considering there are plenty of candidates. This is the match that can clearly be a match of the year contender given what both men are capable of in the ring. I do hope they are given the time to give us a classic because this certainly can be one. I honestly do not know who to pick here but will just go with my gut.
The Winner and NEW NXT North American Champion: KUSHIDA
NXT has done some amazing and fun things, the Robert Stone Brand, Dexter Lumis/Cameron Grimes and now The Way has been an absolute revelation. They are so much fun to watch develop and then you bring in KUSHIDA and you have Gargano’s most exciting North American title contender to date. While Cole and Ciampa has taken Gargano to the limit in the past, this could be Gargano’s toughest opponent in NXT history if given enough time. The curse of Gargano losing the title on his first defence is over and I don’t think he’s about to drop it here. Austin Theory along with the rest of the Way will make sure of that and lead into a new challenger, Dexter Lumis.
Winner – Johnny Gargano
I’m going to love this match, as they’re going to put on an amazing match together in an instant classic. Gargano is going to use everything at his disposal including Austin Theory, but Kushida already knows all of this and will be prepared. I’m wondering if Candice and Indi will get involved, but not all hope is lost as Dexter Lumis might be Kushida’s back up in the match. Even with Lumis, I don’t think that would be enough as The Way will find a way to keep the title around Gargano’s waist.
Winner and still champion – Johnny Gargano
FINN BÁLOR (c) vs PETE DUNNE for the NXT CHAMPIONSHIP
This feud has been built up quite nicely and it is one that has certainly been worth it. I have said that this could possibly be Bálor’s best match in WWE/NXT and I stand by it. Dunne seems to put on nothing but classics when given the spotlight and this could very well be another one. Even though Kross is occupied with Santos for the moment, it is hard not to imagine that he gets the winner of this match. Kross has made it known he wants the title back so I expect him to show up at the end of this one. As for the winner, I think only one person makes sense to me.
The Winner and STILL NXT Champion: Finn Bálor
This match makes complete sense. They both have the ability to rip the roof of the building. They could wrestle an hour straight and I wouldn’t grow tired of it. I honestly don’t care who wins because we all win with this match. If I had a gun to my head and had to pick one, I’d have to go with Finn. Reason for that is Kross is coming for the title and I’m sure he’s not about to pick up his first loss to either man. So rather than a short reign by Dunne, I can see Finn finally picking up a loss to the monster.
Winner – Finn Bálor
If this match gets a lot of time, we will be in for a brutal match as they don’t know the meaning of ‘slow down’ when a title is on the line, which is a win-win for the audience and the people at home. There is going to be cringe spots as it is with a Dunne match, so expect to see some snapped fingers like they are celery sticks. I know that Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch are going to be on Dunne’s side, but I wonder if Undisputed Era is going to be in Bálor’s corner to even the odds.
Winner and still champion – Finn Bálor