NXT TakeOver: The End has set some people all a tither. With the brand split now confirmed rumours have been swirling that The End might be more literal than we thought. While I can claim no insider knowledge, I think it’s safe to say that idea is mental. WWE’s developmental system is one of the most entertaining wrestling shows on the go and getting rid of it would rank in the top three dumb Vinnie Mac ideas. Which considering he once tried to take on the NFL is impressive. Whatever is due to happen in the months following The End, it is tough to see this being anything but another brilliant NXT show.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Tye Dillinger
It’s great to see Dillinger get a spot on a TakeOver card. It has been one of NXT’s few failings that they have consistently refused to give him a push despite the overwhelmingly positive crowd reaction the Perfect 10 gets. It’s a shame that this is pretty much a guaranteed loss for him. Almas is making his debut and that screams of him picking up an impressive win. I’ve got to say that my knowledge of the former La Sombra is limited at best, but I have heard good things. Dillinger is a guy who can make him look great, so hopefully, this will introduce yet another hot talent to the NXT roster.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas wins
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries
Talking about hot talents, how unlucky has Austin Aries been? The guy is brilliant, but he’s joined the roster at a time when being brilliant isn’t quite enough. If he’d been in NXT when it first kicked off – or even in a few months when you assume the likes of Balor will move on to the main show – he could have been the man. Instead, he’s playing second fiddle. One of the men he is playing second fiddle to is his opponent in this match. Nakamura is just stunning. Even with his limited English he screams charisma. Put him in the ring with another brilliant worker and I can’t see this being anything but a fantastic match. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a Double-A victory. I think the way to make him stand out is to turn him heel, and if he cheats to beat the wildly popular King of Strong Style, then WWE can hit that particular bird and at the same time sends Nakamura into his first proper program.
Austin Aries wins via shenanigans
Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Woman’s Title
Nia Jax has yet to click for me. Bayley has pulled a couple of decent matches out of her, but she still feels stiff and awkward in the ring. She’s an imposing physical force but has yet to look like a top competitor. Hopefully, WWE feels the same way because Asuka should be holding that belt for a long long time. Much like Nakamura she has come into WWE and stolen the show. I love watching her wrestle and even if she couldn’t speak a word of English her facial expressions would do her talking for her. Taking the belt off her now would be a mistake, so I see her slaying this particular monster to set up her rematch with Bayley.
American Alpha (C) vs. The Revival for the NXT Tag Titles
In a recurring theme for this show, I think the champions retain here. Once again it isn’t time for them to drop the belts. The one asterisk against that prediction is whether WWE wants to fast track them to the main roster. American Alpha would match up pretty amazingly with teams like The Club while The Revival (who if they lose here you have to assume would be main roster bound) are maybe a bit too similar to Gallows and Anderson. Either way, this will be another good to great match. These teams get tag team wrestling and whatever happens with them they should both go on to be the cornerstones of that division for years to come.
American Alpha win
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Finn Balor for the NXT World Title
What was it I said about champions retaining on this show? Switching the belt to Joe at a house show and then having him lose it here would be insane booking and it won’t happen. Balor is so ready for the main show that every week where he doesn’t turn up is another surprise. With his former brothers in the Bullet Club teaming up it seems more and more likely that there is a fascinating story to be told with him either going face to face with them or joining that ever-growing force. Going out by putting Joe over means he leaves NXT in a damn strong place. I must say, however, that I do feel like we’ve seen this match one too many times. I have faith in these men to put on a performance, but they are going to have to pull some new tricks out of the bag if they want to impress. Whether the cage is enough to provide that, we’ll have to see.
Samoa Joe wins