It was just officially announced, but we only have two shows until the sixth NXT special event, live on the WWE Network. The show, the fifth to be branded Takeover, will air on Wednesday, May 20th 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 two matches that are key for the NXT title on the latest episode of the Developmental program's flagship show. Luckily, there are also #1 contenders waiting for the tag and women's championships, so it's looking like roughly two thirds of the card is set.
The previous TakeOver, February's Rival, was rushed - supposedly to avoid any conflict with WrestleMania. Partially because of that, and partially because of NXT's increased presence outside of Florida as a touring brand, the last month's worth of shows have been a bit of a jumble. But with last night's first episode of a new taping*, booking seems to be lining up to get thinsg where they need 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.
Booked last night...
- Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (c) for the NXT Championship
This one goes back to Owens' debut in December (or to Ring of Honor in 2009, depending on how adherent you are to cross-promotional kayfabe). The current champ attacked his long-time friend just as he finally captured the NXT title, baited him into a match with the strap on the line for Rival and then beat him until he couldn't answer the referee's call to claim the belt. After some soul-searching, Zayn returned fire physically last week and psychologically last night to get this match made for the championship.
- Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami vs. Finn Bálor in a Triple Threat match to determine the #1 Contender for the NXT Championship
Itami got to appear at WrestleMania thanks to a victory over his friend Bálor, in a tournament where Finn had already taken out Prince Pretty. Breeze recently challenged Finn after winning the two-out-of-three falls match designed to end his program with Hideo.
All three men have a legitimate argument about deserving a title shot, even if the Irishman just lost the match he earned by winning the tournament that ended at Rival. Regal, in his infinite wisdom, booked this beauty of a match to settle the issue.
Not official, but likely...
- Sasha Banks (c) vs. Becky Lynch for the Women's championship
The Boss has been way too absent from my screen of late, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing her come back to build this program with her former Team B.A.E. partner. The Irishwoman was granted a somewhat surprising shot at the Women's belt in the Fatal 4Way at Rival, and felt that she was disrespected by her friend when Banks won the title from Charlotte.
She's since been on a major roll, submitting Bayley in a one-on-one match to address the fact that they were dueling away from the action that resulted in the title change, and then pinning the Hugster in a Triple Threat to determine the #1 contender (as The Nature Girl was stretching her legs out in a Figure Four).
- Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. Blake & Murphy (c) for the NXT Tag Team championship
Much of the story behind this has focused on the Dubstep Cowboys, as Blake & Murphy are known in the internet wrestling community (IWC), hitting on Enzo & Cass' valet/manager Carmella. It's been an entertaining distraction, particularly since the New York/New Jersey need some time for their ringwork to catch up with their off-the-charts charisma and mic skills.
Things seem to be settling down on the Carm front, with her pretty definitively telling them to shove it last night before her boys beat the champs in a non-title match. Interestingly, Alexa Bliss stood up to the Princess of Staten Island and was consoled by Blake & Murphy when she was told off for it. That could set the stage for another women's feud or a six person matches, but it's unlikely either would hit the card on the 20th.
- Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin
They haven't even interacted face-to-face on television yet, but they did this match in San Jose and other house shows. It's exactly the kind of thing the Man-Beast is on the roster for, and a real make or break moment for the Lone Wolf, as even his most ardent supporters are growing weary of 30 second squash matches.
Each previous live event has featured six or seven matches, so we can expect this card to pick up a few more bouts.
In addition to Bliss and Carm, Bayley has been tormented a lot lately by Emma, whose return to NXT has revealed a bitterness about her failed main roster push. Dark Emma has made it her business to disavow the Huggable One of her fan-pleasing ways, but so far without an overt heel attack. Newcomer Dana Brooke joined this mix last night, as the Barbie Killa was the beneficiary of Emma's distraction, and the two shared a high five on Brooke's way out after her pinfall victory.
There's also a long list of performers and even angles who have been absent from television that could be spruced up for the undercard...Jason Jordan's turn, Marcus Louis' Phantom of the Opera act, anything having to do with former #1 contenders The Vaudevillains, Solomon Crowe's plans for domination...
And, for anyone wondering, word on the dirt screens is that this show will be dubbed TakeOver: Unstoppable (NOTE: shortly after this was posted, official WWE social media accounts began referring to the show as Unstoppable, so it's locked in). We can do better than that, though - right?
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?