8/21/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
NXT Champion Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens in a Ladder Match
Background: It didn’t happen overnight, but Balor finally won the NXT Title with a solid victory over Owens at WWE’s Beast in the East event last month. Owens continues to pull double duty between the main roster and NXT, though this rematch might be the end of that assignment.
Prediction: Balor is the safe bet. As much as WWE likes to assert that NXT is a separate brand more than a feeder system, we still haven’t seen a repeat champion in any of its divisions. Prospects tend to “graduate” to the main roster and until we see otherwise, that’s likely to continue. It will be interesting to see whether the tensions between Owens and William Regal play any part in the outcome.
Storyline Implications: If Balor retains the title, the list of challengers is not as robust as it once was. Rekindling his rivalry with Tyler Breeze might be the most compelling option. Beyond Breeze, there’s the face-face possibility with Samoa Joe, the uninspiring Baron Corbin challenge, or the eventuality of Hideo Itami and Alex Riley returning from injury.
NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Background: So far, Bayley has been the perpetual bridesmaid of the upper-echelon women in NXT. She has challenged for the title without ever winning it and she was left out of the group call-up to the main roster. To get this singles title match, she had to beat Charlotte and Becky Lynch and both matches were very good.
Prediction: Sasha is in the same position as Owens- an outgoing champion who is not likely to be on NXT regularly. It appears that Bayley was left on the NXT roster to preserve some semblance of a women’s division with three stars exiting at the same time. She will win a great match and have a long title reign.
Storyline Implications: One of the reasons Bayley will have a long title reign is that the NXT women’s division has quickly gone from highlight to wasteland. Her top challengers will be Dana Brooke, Eva Marie, and Emma. In other words, she has her work cut out for her.
Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin
Background: Joe stepped up to Corbin after Corbin beat up on two jobbers in a handicap match. Corbin heeled it up and backed down from the fight, which led to this match going on the Takeover card. It was the bare minimum storyline to get the match on the card at the last minute.
Prediction: Given how little was put into this narrative so far, I will pick Joe to take the first encounter and Corbin to get his heat back, either after the match or next time they cross paths.
Storyline Implications: Despite his slow development, WWE has not given up on (nor should they give up on) Corbin. The part that is confusing to me is that he continues to work very short squash matches rather than extended encounters that would stretch him to learn new tactics. Hopefully, a rivalry with Joe will help him develop more diversity.
Tyler Breeze vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Background: Thirty years into his legendary wrestling career, Liger was announced as competitor to push this Takeover card over the top. The matchup with Breeze is one of convenience, but it fits Breeze’s career arc perfectly.
Prediction: The only sensible outcome is for Breeze to get the win. Since he is the most consistent, active heel in NXT, the win would likely propel him to a challenge for the NXT Title if Balor retains in the main event. While Liger is not what he once was, he can tell a compelling story in the ring. This match should be pure fun.
Storyline Implications: Liger is precisely the sort of wrestler who works brilliantly as a special attraction. Breeze looks good by association with a legend with strong name recognition. Liger can still wrestle, so a win by Breeze is still meaningful for his career.
NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy vs. The Vaudevillains
Background: Since the last time the Vaudevillains challenged Blake and Murphy, most of the story has revolved around Alexa Bliss. To be specific, most of the story has been Bliss slapping Gotch and English every time she crosses paths with them. On the last episode of NXT, she slapped them both twice! That’s double the slaps!
Prediction: Blake and Murphy winning the titles from the Lucha Dragons in the first place was a major surprise. The fact that they held onto them throughout their rivalry with Enzo and Cass was almost as surprising. Now, it seems like they are destined to retain the titles, but since nothing ever goes as expected with them, it’s hard to say that with much confidence.
Storyline Implications: NXT has never been a tag team “territory.” The tag division has typically consisted of the champions and whoever is challenging them at that time. In fact, there were months when The Ascension were the champions and had no obvious challengers. Unless you’re a big believer in the Hype Bros, we might be set for a similar reign in the near future.
There are several other matches set for Barclays Center on Saturday night, but it appears that they are all part of the upcoming NXT tapings. Perhaps one or more of the smaller matches will sneak onto the Takeover card. In any case, the five matches listed here are the core of the show.