NXT Takeover: Rival Preview

The card for tonight’s NXT Takeover: Rival live event reads like a wrestling fan’s dream. Of the six matches on the card, four of them have the potential to steal the show. Get ready for a night of fast-paced, hard-hitting action on the WWE Network with our preview for tonight’s highly anticipated show! Also, make sure to check out our exclusive NXT depth chart.

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Sami Zayn (c) vs Kevin Owens – NXT Championship

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the epic El Generico vs Kevin Steen feud in Ring of Honor, Owens’ ascension to the title picture probably seemed like a rush job. For those of us who are familiar with the Generico/Steen feud — one of wrestling’s all-time great rivalries — it only felt natural.

WWE has likely never had a feud like this since the territory days. The entire basis of this rivalry is that it’s not a redux of their previous encounters; it’s a continuation. The Generico/Steen feud really never ended — it just took a couple years off, while Zayn waited for Owens to join him in NXT. WWE hardly ever goes beyond the briefest of mentions regarding wrestlers’ pre-WWE days. This feud, however, is based entirely on Zayn and Owens’ history in Ring of Honor and the indy scene.

Tonight is their first singles match since the brutal Ladder War at ROH Final Battle 2012, and to expect anything less than an instant classic would be foolish. This one has match of the year written all over it. As for picking the winner…that’s a tough one.

NXT title matches are so hard to call because the specter of the main roster is constantly looming over guys like Zayn. It wouldn’t surprise me if Zayn drops the belt and debuts on the main roster shortly after WrestleMania. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he retained, and let the feud with Owens play out in NXT for a while longer. This all just leaves me with one big, overarching question: Do we see a package piledriver tonight? I say yes.

One thing is for sure — this match will be must-see TV.

 

Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley vs Becky Lynch – Fatal Four-Way for the NXT Women’s Championship

This feud has been painted in broad grey strokes, and I have loved every moment of it. Charlotte has been pretty much unwavering as the babyface in this four-way rivalry, with Sasha playing the pure heel. Between them are Bayley and Becky, who have both embraced tweener roles to fill out the program.

Charlotte and Sasha are two of the best female in-ring technicians in the world. Becky is a hell of a hand in her own right, and Bayley has come a very long way from the green worker she was when she debuted in NXT. For all the great match-ups the men have on this card, this fatal four-way has the potential to be every bit as good as any other match tonight. (I’m also intrigued to see if they take advantage of the no-DQ aspect of the fatal four-way match type.)

I think Sasha walks out with the title tonight. She deserves it, and she’s ready for a title run. I don’t see Charlotte retaining, simply because she has nothing left to prove in developmental. Bayley and Becky probably aren’t ready…which leaves Sasha.

Expect a great match — and a finish that sets up Sasha’s next feud with either Becky or Bayley.

 

Adrian Neville vs Finn Balor – NXT Championship #1 Contender’s Match

Have you ever seen Pac vs Prince Devitt from NJPW Best of Super Juniors 2012? If not, go watch it right now and we’ll continue this conversation afterwards.

Okay, so now we’ve all seen the match, yes? Good. This was the match that William Regal showed to Triple H, which convinced the latter to sign Neville to NXT. It is one of my personal favorite matches of the last decade. And the rematch is tonight.

This show is so stacked that the sequel to one of my favorite matches ever is in the middle of the card. All common sense points to Finn going over here, but the somewhat foregone conclusion doesn’t make me any less excited for what should be another match of the year candidate.

 

Tyler Breeze vs Hideo Itami

And the hits just keep on coming! Are you kidding me with this card? Breeze is one of NXT’s most charismatic Superstars, and Hideo is already a legend in the ring. Breeze has been lost in the shuffle a bit lately, and this match is just what he needs to get himself back in the spotlight.

Hideo’s going over, but as with the Neville/Finn match, the predictability isn’t affecting my excitement at all. I can’t wait to see Prince Pretty take a Go 2 Sleep.

 

Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake (c) vs The Lucha Dragons – NXT Tag Team Championship

Murphy and Blake suddenly went from generic jobbers to champs over a few short weeks, and while all four men in this bout are good wrestlers, it’s hard to get too interested in a match we’ve already seen several times over the last couple months. I just hope Murphy/Blake have new ring gear and music. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

 

Baron Corbin vs Bull Dempsey – No-Disqualification Match

The question “Can Baron Corbin wrestle?” will likely not be answered tonight. This will probably be 5-8 minutes of kendo sticks and chair shots. Yippee. As for the prediction, come on. The Lone Wolf ain’t dropping this one.