It was just announced, but we only have three weeks until the fifth NXT special event, live on the WWE Network. The show, the fourth to bear the name Takeover, will air on Wednesday, February 11th at 8PM Eastern time exclusively on the company's subscription-based, over-the-top service.
With no time to spare, General Manager William Regal already booked the show's main events on the latest episode of the Developmental program's flagship show. We can also look at the calendar and make a pretty good guess about a third match.
If things seemed rushed, that's because they are. Past live events have had at least three months between them. The dirt screens have it that this Takeover (whatever it ends up being sub-titled) was set to follow that schedule and arrive in mid-March. For whatever reason - probably not wanting to conflict with or steal the spotlight in any way from WrestleMania build, most likely - the decision was made at the last minute to have it before Valentine's Day. As a result, last week's taping* was re-written to speed up events and get things where they needed to be for the special episode.
*NOTE: Spoilers are out there for the pre-taped broadcast leading up to the live special, but yours truly and many of our regulars don't partake. If you are going to post or discuss spoilers or results of future shows, please use the spoiler bar in your comment.
- Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens; Non-title Grudge Match
Regal did not want to reward Owens' repeated attacks outside of sanctioned bouts by giving him a title shot, so NXT Champion Sami Zayn agreed to take the belt off the line in order to get his hands on his best friend - a man who has spent his brief time in the company targeting the Likeable One.
- Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch; Fatal 4Way for the Women's championship
Banks got her second shot at the Queen's title last night, but that was cut short - first by interference from her Team B.A.E. partner Lynch, then by a save from Bayley that ended with the Hugster throwing down the gauntlet to let Charlotte know that she wants her belt more than her respect.
The GM squashed any further beef between the combative ladies by booking a fourway dance for The Nature Girl's Championship. While Charlotte would seem to have the most to be upset about, considering she can lose her crown without being pinned, The Boss had the best reaction...screeching her indignation that Lynch was named for the match before her.
- Finals of the tournament to determine the #1 Contender for the NXT Championship
This tourney kicked off last night, with Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami both advancing. While it wasn't officially announced (and the bracket design cryptic enough to be open to interpretation), it appears that they will face off in one semi-final on the February 4th episode of NXT. They'll be joined in that round by the winners of Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey and Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville.
A showdown of semi-final winners would then be part of Takeover on the 11th.
Each previous live event has featured six or seven matches, so we can expect this card to double. A rubber match between Corbin and Dempsey seems likely, especially with both men long shots to win the tournament. There's a tag title match set for next week between Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy and the champs, Lucha Dragons. The winner of that one will almost certainly be on the show in some capacity (Triple Threat with The Vaudevillains, a frequent rival of both squads, perhaps?), and Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady probably won't miss two straight Takeovers.
There's also Marcus Louis' Phantom of Full Sail stalking Tyler Breeze from the shadows being teased, and the oft-rumored debut of Solomon Crowe being bandied about the interwebs.
What do you think of the card so far, Cagesiders? What else would you put on it? How does it stack up to the illustrious history of NXT live shows?