We’re gearing up for the first TakeOver show that’s not being used as a prelude to a big main roster pay-per-view. The spotlight is solely on the NXT roster, as they’re set to TakeOver Portland this coming Sunday with a huge card that Triple H has referred to as a Mania-type event because of the sheer amount of incredible matches we’ll be seeing in the Moda Center.
Not only will the four NXT championships be defended on the show, but we’ll also be treated to some massive dream matches that’s sure to keep the wrestling world buzzing as we approach WrestleMania 36. With another TakeOver event scheduled for WrestleMania weekend, we can only assume that this is going to build to an even more epic show over the next few weeks.
So let’s run down the card and our predictions for NXT’s first TakeOver event of 2020. Make sure you leave your own hot takes and big predictions in the comments section down below.
Adam Cole vs Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Championship
Since ‘Daddy’ came home to NXT in October, fans have been eagerly awaiting the showdown between Tommaso Ciampa and Adam Cole and the potential reunion of Ciampa and Goldie. With Team Ciampa scoring a huge victory over The Undisputed Era at TakeOver: WarGames, it was only a matter of time before the singles bout was confirmed between the two leaders. We finally have a date; February 16th, TakeOver: Portland.
Adam Cole has been an incredible staple for NXT programming as its champion, but Ciampa has been patiently waiting for the opportunity to reclaim the title he never lost in the first place. It’s the perfect time for Tommaso to pick up his second NXT Championship reign as the days draw in on the biggest NXT TakeOver of the year; TakeOver: Tampa.
Should Ciampa walk into WrestleMania weekend as NXT Champion, then it would truly solidify him as the man on the black and gold brand. Adam Cole and the rest of the Undisputed Era have done an amazing job at holding things down for NXT during a huge transitional period as they enter into their first TV deal, but fans are ready to see their regime crumble and Ciampa is more than capable of being the man that chops the head off of the snake.
Goldie’s coming home.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
Rhea Ripley vs Bianca Belair – NXT (Women’s) Championship
The real story heading into the NXT (Women’s) Championship match at TakeOver: Portland is who exactly will potentially be going to WrestleMania 36 to defend against Charlotte Flair. Bianca Belair earned the right to face Rhea Ripley in a huge number one contenders battle royal, as if she hadn’t already earned her place at the top of the division after her career-making performance in the 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble match. Although her plight against ‘The Nightmare’ has taken somewhat of a backseat over the past couple of weeks, this match should be an exciting one nonetheless.
Ripley and Belair are both incredibly popular NXT superstars, both competing in the prime of their wrestling careers. This is a huge opportunity for them both to show off everything they can do in a big match situation, prior to their first showcase on the grandest stage. This could certainly steal the show in Portland, even outshining the hotly-anticipated clash between Cole and Ciampa.
As far as a winner goes, both women could easily fit the bill as Charlotte Flair’s WrestleMania opponent. Although there’s one superstar in particular that deserves that spot, and that’s Rhea Ripley. Ripley has become one of the flag bearers for NXT in such a short time, and has even made a big splash on the main roster during the brand warfare angle at Survivor Series. Fans are ready for ‘The Nightmare’ to make the next step in her career, a big collision at WrestleMania with the NXT Championship in the center of it would be huge for not just Ripley but NXT as a whole.
Regardless, Bianca Belair should look like a true superstar coming out of this match. She’s surely a future NXT Women’s Champion in her own right, but perhaps just not yet.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
The Broserweights vs The Undisputed Era – NXT Tag Team Championship
The 2020 Dusty Classic was a lot of fun, mostly due to the hilarious hijinks of the make-shift team dubbed ‘The Broserweights’. Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne went on to win the whole thing in a fantastic finals contest against NXT UK’s Grizzled Young Veterans, earning themselves a shot at Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish at TakeOver: Portland. I don’t think the NXT fans have got on board so quickly with a tag team like they have done The Broserweights. Dunne and Riddle are both headlining stars that are both owed a championship run, what better time than after their big Dusty Cup win?
Much like Adam Cole, the team of Fish and O’Reilly are more than ready to pass on their titles. Already multi-time winners of the NXT Tag titles, there’s not much left for the hard-hitting duo to achieve in the division. As much as it pains me to say this, it’s time for them to seek other opportunities on the main roster.
Meanwhile, Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle could do wonders as the frontmen of the tag division. Even though they’ve only been for a short amount of time, The Broserweights have a natural chemistry that could make for some excellent tag matches around WrestleMania weekend.
Winners: The Broserweights
Keith Lee vs Dominik Dijakovic – North American Championship
Oh boy, here we go again.
Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic have been given a lot of credit for their incredible series of matches on NXT TV. They’ve redefined big-man wrestling, stringing together some insane sequences that would make the cruiserweights jealous. It’s high time these two hosses are given the spotlight on a TakeOver card with the North American Championship on the line. The mid-card scene has never been so stacked, and I’m certain that Lee and Dijakovic are about to make the most of their surge of momentum.
With Damien Priest also staking his claim at the North American title, there’s a chance we might see ‘The Archer of Infamy’ get involved in the match, setting up a triple threat match for the next TakeOver event. Either way, I see ‘The Limitless One’ walking out with the North American Championship. Lee has been making waves as of late, there’s no reason to derail him now with a loss to Dijakovic.
Expect big things from this match, if you’ve never managed to catch one of their previous matches, prepare yourself for something special.
Winner: Keith Lee
Finn Balor vs Johnny Gargano
A true dream match for NXT fans; the face of yesteryear going toe-to-toe with the modern day Mr. TakeOver. Finn Balor targeted Johnny Gargano shortly after making his return to the black and gold brand, forcing ‘Johnny Wrestling’ to sit on the sidelines for a few weeks with a pretty devastating injury and to miss his first TakeOver event in years. This was a huge spit in the face of the man that has defined NXT since Finn left for the main roster, giving way to a dream singles match at TakeOver: Portland.
Finn Balor has already racked up an impressive portfolio of matches since turning heel in October. His bouts with Matt Riddle, Adam Cole and Ilja Dragunov have all been incredible performances and a massive nod to Balor’s days as the leader of the Bullet Club in NJPW, a time most fans would consider his peak as a singles wrestler.
This match should be the cherry on top of his renewed character in NXT. Johnny Gargano can get a fantastic match out of anyone he steps in the ring with, so naturally he and Balor should knock it out of the park and deliver on the high expectations of wrestling fans across the world.
Who wins? Well honestly it could go either way. Balor has been on a strong streak since returning and came extremely close to capturing the NXT Championship, all it would take it one more big win to put him in line for another chance at the title in Tampa. With that in mind, I think the match will go to ‘The Prince’.
Winner: Finn Balor
Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai – Street Fight
Another former best friends-turned bitter enemies feud that has quickly become one of the most heated rivalries on NXT. Nox and Kai are about to take their bitterness to the next level by competing in a street fight at TakeOver: Portland. Both women are easy sells for the eventual spot of number one contender to the NXT Women’s Championship, so this should go a long way in making both superstars look like the next big thing for the Women’s division.
NXT has always delivered on their ‘extreme’ matches, leaning more towards the chaos of an old-school style hardcore match from the Attitude Era and getting the crowd in on the action as much as they can. Having already battled in a normal exhibition match on NXT TV, we’re set for a big treat when they do battle once more under street fight rules.
Expect a ton of weapons and plenty of big spots from both women in Portland. With Tegan Nox already picking up the win over Dakota last week, I expect we’ll see some classic 50/50 booking, leading to a big rubber match between the two rivals in a few weeks time.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Roderick Strong vs Velveteen Dream
The Velveteen Dream made his triumphant return to Full Sail University this past week and sent a direct message to Roderick Strong of the Undisputed Era. Emotions are still very tense between the two former North American champions, and I highly suspect we’ll see a singles match between the two announced for TakeOver: Portland on this week’s go-home show.
Dream returned to a huge ovation as he battled off all four members of Era, leaving Roddy for last as he taunted him with his typical fourth-wall breaking mind-games. Unless NXT writers are sitting on this rubber match for the next TakeOver card in Tampa, I think we’ll see Dream shake off the cobwebs and pick up a big win over Strong as he completes his comeback to the black and gold brand.
Also it’d be nice for Roderick Strong to receive one final showcase on an NXT card before he and the rest of The Undisputed Era are potentially shipped off to the main roster in time for WrestleMania.