Despite all the roster overhaul and injuries, NXT is poised to deliver one of its strongest lineups for Takeover: Toronto this Saturday. Even without Aries vs. Itami, which was sure to take place here had both men not gotten hurt, this show looks like it’s going to be tremendous and with what should be a rabid, energized, Canadian crowd, could provide some of the most memorable moments for the Yellow and Black. Let’s dive into the card and see who I think will come out on top and what it will all mean for the future of the brand heading into 2017.
“The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger vs. Bobby Roode
First off, what better match to kick off the show with? Both men are Canadian and both men are competing for the hottest act in NXT right now. (In full disclosure, I’d give the nod to Roode pretty easily, but the point is still valid) So the crowd will be red hot to start with and will only grown in volume when both these men come out. They will barely have to touch in the ring to get a reaction, which has to make this match planning incredibly easy for both men. The storyline has been simple but effective. Roode left Dillinger high and dry in their first round match of the Tag Team Classic and Dillinger feels betrayed now, whereas Roode just feels that Dillinger isn’t on his level. Since everything Roode is doing, turns to gold right now, he would be perfectly fine with a loss here as that could really elevate Dillinger. However, I think Roode is next in line for a NXT Title shot after Joe & Nakamura wrap up. So let Dillinger prove that he is indeed on Roode’s level, but Roode has one too many tricks up his sleeve and pulls out the match in a hard fought contest.
Prediction: Bobby Roode
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals – (Paul Ellering will be hung above the ring in a Shark Cage)
TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain
This year’s culmination of the Tag Team Classic could not have been booked more in the vein of Dusty Rhodes. The upstart, renegade, bruising tag team of The Authors of Pain, made in the mold of The Road Warriors complete with Paul Ellering, take on the young and dynamic tag team TM61. As if that wasn’t enough, they put the icing on the cake with Ellering being suspended above the ring in a shark tank. Which is straight out of late 80’s/early 90’s NWA/WCW booking when the likes of JJ Dillon, Paul E. Dangerously, & Jim Cornette would be hung over the ring the same way. It legitimately made me smile when I saw the video online with William Regal making that ruling. Dusty is certainly smiling now. With all that said, I have decided to not harp on the fact that I think they missed an opportunity to have a gigantic brawl between AOP and Sanity that surely would’ve been a spectacle to see. This is probably the easiest match for me to predict on the card, as it’s clear that there are big plans for AOP and having this win will be a nice, early feather in the cap for them. TM61 will be valiant in defeat and hopefully it’ll be an effort to help crowd get behind them more consistently moving forward. Typically when a manager gets put up in a cage above the ring, he still manages to drop something from the cage to his men to still help them win, but I don’t see that here. I think the play here should be the fact that AOP clearly doesn’t need Ellering to succeed, so it’ll be even more infuriating when they do use him in the future.
Prediction: The Authors of Pain win The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
NXT Tag Team Title Match – 2 out of 3 Falls
#DIY vs. The Revival (c)
A lot of us have been wondering if a match the rest of the year would touch the classic that Sami Zayn and Nakamura had at Takeover: Dallas. That match was extra special for me since I got to see it live. I’m proclaiming it now though, this match will surpass it and be the match of the year for NXT/WWE. It has all the makings for it. Hot crowd, great storyline, tremendous performers with a lot to prove, title on the line. I was worried that this match would get left off the card, just between the Tag Team Classic going on and not knowing the severity of Scott Dawson’s injury. He was legit injured, but they played it off very well to be worse than it was so they could get to this match. Gargano and Ciampa have been nothing short of marvelous as a team and having one clear goal, to take the straps off The Revival. If there’s one thing Survivor Series has shown us, it’s that there is a lack of top tag teams right now. Both brands probably have two or three max, and that’s if you’re generous. So I say that to say that the time is now for The Revival to come up. They would be perfect on either brand (but make it Smackdown please) and once you’ve become the first ever two-time NXT Tag Champions, there’s not much left for you to do. On the flip side, DIY have a ready made program with The Authors of Pain that will be quite the interesting pairing. Their match in Brooklyn had a couple of the best near falls I’ve ever seen and now with more familiarity between the two and two more falls to add to the match, I really expect this to be not just match of the year, but one of the greatest tag matches we’ve seen in years.
Prediction: New NXT Tag Team Champions, #DIY
NXT Women’s Title Match
Mickie James vs. Asuka (c)
It was really interesting, and quite frankly great, to hear Triple H say on his conference call last week that he wanted to give his new women on the roster time to grow as performers and thus went after Mickie James. The likes of Ember Moon, Billie Kay, & Peyton Royce are definitely developing their own personas and coming into themselves, but being rushed into a program with Asuka would’ve done no good for anyone. I also found it interesting that Hunter went out of his way to debunk the rumor that Mickie was Plan B after Trish Stratus came up pregnant and that’s who they originally wanted. I tend to take him at his word on that, for a myriad of reasons, but regardless of how we got here, this match should tear the house down. Mickie is still top notch in the ring and I really feel will give Asuka her toughest battle, even more so than Bayley did. The crowd reactions in this match should be quite interesting. Will the fans not believe or not care about what Hunter said and boo Mickie just for the fact she’s not Trish? Will they boo Asuka and cheer Mickie because of the nostalgia factor? I tend to pick the latter and I think it will start the wheels in motion for Asuka’s full fledged heel turn. I would love for Mickie to put on a performance that leaves WWE/NXT no choice but to bring her back for more than one match, as she would be a huge asset to either division. (Personally, I’d put her on Raw immediately because those matchups are going to get stale quick, as Sasha Banks pointed out in a recent podcast) Mickie should go for a handshake or a hug post match to show Asuka respect, and then Asuka blows her off. As the follow up, Asuka says Mickie is an old timer and not in her league and let the heel turn manifest itself like that.
Prediction: Asuka retains the NXT Women’s Title
NXT Championship Match
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (c)
The hardest match to predict on the card and it’s not even close. Both men have a claim to win this match and both deserve to with their outstanding work since Brooklyn wrapped up. On this week’s episode of The Match Beyond podcast, I put out a scenario where I said the loser of this match should go to the main roster and debut at the Royal Rumble, win it, and then challenge AJ Styles for his World Title since both men have storied history with him. I’m keeping that as my official prediction, mainly because I’m an optimist and can’t help it. So how do we get to that point and who should it be that moves on to the main roster? NXT has managed to steady the ship after all the roster turnover of late, but they need a face of the brand and someone they can sell for every show. Not that Joe couldn’t be that guy, but typically you want that guy to be a babyface, and Nakamura is the ultimate babyface. He is worshipped everywhere he goes for NXT, and that’s exactly what the brand needed after Finn Balor left, and it’s what it needs moving forward. The other thing that makes this scenario work out is that Joe can be as good as he’s been as both a heel or a face. Nothing changes with that guy, just the opponents he goes against. You can even have him come in as a babyface, just naturally from the reaction he’s sure to get, and then after his WrestleMania match with AJ, turn him right back to heel. So with that, I think Nakamura will win this match, but I can easily see it going the other way.
The work these two have done since Brooklyn has been nothing short of fantastic. The promo Joe cut this past week where he put Regal in his place and refused to put himself in a position where he and Nakamura would come to blows and then having Nakamura power bomb the security guard through the table, was an incredible segment. Both men are at the top of their games and I love the aggressive side of Nakamura that Joe has brought out. The last match these two had, one of them ended up with a fractured jaw, and I expect the rematch to be just as hard hitting and physical. They had a lot to follow in Brooklyn and still knocked it out of the park, and I expect nothing less from them in Toronto.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura retains the NXT Championship
K-Tank’s Final Take: I expect this show to end up being better than Brooklyn but just a small step below Dallas. I think it has that much potential from top to bottom and if the Tag Team Classic final is even better than expected, then this could have a case for Takeover of the year. What are your thoughts or predictions on the show? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, @KTankTMB!