Once again, Triple H’s pet project will be aiming to wow us all with its expert blend of in-ring brilliance and storytelling. Despite taking place in the Barclays Center, this is not Brooklyn 5. New York’s name is being attached to this event’s branding in an effort to communicate its sheer scale. There are five matches on the card, and every one is for a title. We’re going to be seeing a send-off for some and a coming out party for others. This is NXT TakeOver: New York, these are our predictions.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match
War Raiders (C) Vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet
It feels so very strange to not see Undisputed Era in the TakeOver tag team match. In fact, this is the first time since the faction debuted where they’re not teaming up on the card. War Raiders relieved the former champs of their belts back in Phoenix in a stellar contest, now they’re meeting their first real test. Aleister Black and Ricochet were an unlikely duo to win this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, hearkening back to Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe winning the first edition in 2015. These two teams going head-to-head is an oddly perfect coupling that will surely start the night in a big way.
Prediction: Given the fact that “Blackochet” are challenging for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania on Sunday, it would be weird for them to hold the developmental gold. I’m not even sure why they’re allowed to challenge for both. Either way, this match will serve as a means to get War Raiders a signature defence to solidify their reign, and as the swan song for two of NXT’s top guys.
NXT North American Championship Match
Velveteen Dream (C) Vs. Matt Riddle
In what stands to be the sleeper hit of the night, two of NXT’s most colourful characters will go at it for the mid-tier belt. Ever since prematurely ending Johnny Gargano’s run with the NA Title, Velveteen Dream has been typically brilliant. His showboating and sexual ambiguity has been elevated to another level in a game of psychological warfare against the Original Bro. Speaking of which, Matt Riddle’s been an unstoppable force thus far, yet to taste defeat since touching base in the company. When two studs with something to prove butt heads, sparks fly and classics are made.
Prediction: This is a tough one and it simply comes down to which direction we go in the story. Does Dream continue his run and redefine the North American Championship? Or does Matt Riddle’s momentum keep going all the way to the bank? Given how quickly Johnny Gargano dropped the belt, I don’t see Velveteen Dream acting as a transitional champion. Matt Riddle taking his first loss at the hands of NXT’s most impressive homegrown star is more interesting than him just getting another win.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Match
Pete Dunne (C) Vs. WALTER
Six hundred and eighty five days. I felt the need to express that number in words to emphasise the utterly staggering length of Pete Dunne’s reign. Pete will be in his 685th day as UK Champion at TakeOver, the longest title reign of any kind in WWE since the ’80s. That is a scary number. The only thing equally as scary is NXT UK’s answer to Godzilla, WALTER. The man with chops that could cook a rotisserie chicken debuted after Dunne defended his gold in the main event of TakeOver: Blackpool against Joe Coffey. Ever since then, it has been obvious that he’s been drafted in for one purpose: to give The Bruiserweight a credible challenge.
Prediction: Part of me thinks that they might keep the belt on Pete, if not just so he can crack the 700-day mark. His reign has been outstanding and building the UK brand around him was absolutely the right call. However, there is nothing more for Pete to prove, he’s been presented as such a world beater that if WALTER can’t unseat him, then who the hell can? It’s time for Dunne to drop that belt and explore new opportunities, whether they be on the main roster or in the regular NXT rotation.
Fatal Four-Way Match For The NXT Women’s Championship
Shayna Baszler (C) Vs. Bianca Belair Vs. Io Shirai Vs. Kairi Sane
All of the elements in this match represent the sheer diversity of NXT’s talents. Shayna represents the dominance of a woman who came into professional wrestling from MMA, took to it like a fish to water and has been kicking butt ever since. Bianca is the homegrown competitor, whose athletic acumen is unmatched by any of her peers. Io and Kairi are the Stardom standouts who, having conquered the world of Joshi wrestling, are ready to ply their trade in the United States at an elite level. So many layers and so many stars, this is gonna be great.
Prediction: I’ve whittled down my choices to two women. They are Bianca Belair and Io Shirai. Shayna and Kairi have been tremendous assets to NXT (Shayna especially), but they’ve done it all. They’ve both held the gold, they went to war at Evolution, Kairi has been in TWO Royal Rumbles. It’s now or never for that main roster call-up, whether we like it or not. So, does the title go to the Japanese ace? Stardom was practically built around Io Shirai, her role in modern Joshi wrestling could be compared to that of the legendary Hiroshi Tanahashi or Kazuchika Okada. However, I believe we’re about to see Bianca Belair’s coronation as the future. Much like Velveteen Dream before her, Bianca has learned the ropes within the WWE system and has excelled. Triple H has demonstrated that hard work and being a good company rep can reap rewards. After how strong Bianca looked against Shayna Baszler in Phoenix, I’ll be surprised if we don’t see her walking away victorious.
Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match For The Vacant NXT Championship
Johnny Gargano Vs. Adam Cole
It is a shame that we’re not getting the final chapter of Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, but this is a pretty damn good substitute. Johnny Wrestling will be challenging once again for the NXT Title in his unprecedented sixth TakeOver main event. Meanwhile, this marks Adam Cole’s first proper opportunity for the top belt (live events and dark matches notwithstanding). The stipulation is in place to guarantee a “definitive” winner and, given the cardio of both these guys, means it’s gonna be a long one.
Prediction: There is a strong argument to be made for both men here. Gargano’s been chasing the gold for so long and has always come up short, whereas Cole has been groomed as NXT’s next top guy for what feels like forever. I’ve had nothing but praise for the work of both men and their respective runs, but there has to be a winner. Call it a coin toss, but Adam Cole is my pick. Johnny seems destined to never win the big one, and the Panama City Playboy is the perfect dickhead heel to block yet another bid for greatness from Johnny Wrestling. I don’t think the crowd will be unhappy with either man holding the title aloft, as they are both seen as credible in the eyes of the fans.