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NXT TakeOver: XXV preview - Stand on your own

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NXT is back tomorrow (June 1) with TakeOver: XXV, emanating from the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We’ve already made our predictions and you can find those here.

Now it’s time to look at the card. We’ll run down the matches, discuss the main roster implications, and then for a little fun, make an outrageous prediction that won’t happen.

But before we get into that, there’s something about this TakeOver that makes it unique. While NXT has been rolling for years (this IS the 25th TakeOver after all), this is the first time they’re really out on their own testing the brand.

Test Your Strength

It almost feels ridiculous to question whether NXT can stand on their own when they put on a TakeOver. They’ve had years of TakeOvers and all have been successful shows in front of hot crowds.

But it dawned on me when looking over the last 24 TakeOvers that this one is different than the rest. It’s one of the only TakeOvers outside their home of Full Sail University that’s not attached to a major WWE show. (The only other one was TakeOver: London back in 2015.)

Usually, TakeOvers are a day or two prior to one of the Big Four shows (There have been a couple in Chicago prior to non-Big Four shows). These main roster WWE events are major shows that make their presence in that city an event, often with not just TakeOver and the PPV but Raw and SmackDown as well. This invites the hardcore WWE fans to roll into town and add that energy we’re used to.

This is the first TakeOver without that. Yes, you can point to the London show as an example of them already doing that. But England doesn’t get many WWE shows and those crowds always bring the energy. TakeOver: XXV isn’t going it alone in a wrestling hotbed like Chicago, Boston, or New York. They’re holding their show in Bridgeport, Connecticut, something they’ve gone out of their way to avoid admitting when advertising the show.

Despite being in WWE’s backyard, Connecticut isn’t traditionally known as a hot wrestling town. (Though to be fair, when Money in the Bank was held an hour north in Hartford just a couple weeks ago, that crowd brought the energy.) It’s possible we don’t get a crowd as rabid as the normal TakeOver crowds we’re used to. Without a major WWE show as an anchor, it’s less likely that fans are going to travel from all over to see TakeOver: XXV. As of yesterday, the show had plenty of reasonably priced tickets available at the primary ticket outlet, and the Webster Bank Arena holds about half the capacity as their usual locales. Those surely may get scooped up, but it shows that this show isn’t the hot commodity it is during those big WWE weekends.

That’s not to say the crowd that does show up won’t get hyped for NXT like all the others. Maybe the crowd will be as excited to see NXT as all the others. That’s what this show will be testing. Is the product popular enough to attract the same type of crowd as normal on their own in a city that’s not known as a wrestling crowd? It’s something interesting to watch for.

Luckily, NXT has put together a typically great lineup to help ensure whatever crowd shows up has something to entertain them.

Let’s take a look at that card:

Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Adam Cole for the NXT championship

There’s an overarching theme to this show and that’s centered around the Undisputed ERA.

Coming out of the last TakeOver, the ERA were going through a very rough patch. Adam Cole blamed his mates for his world title loss at TakeOver: New York. Roderick Strong and Cole were at each other’s throats after costing each other matches. Things looked dire for Undisputed.

But then it appeared that Roddy had a change of heart, attacked Matt Riddle as a show of good faith, and everything was back on track. Now they can get back to their goal of winning all the titles (or implode after failing miserably).

One of those titles is the top prize in the promotion. Johnny Gargano defeated Adam Cole in a 2 out of 3 falls match to win vacant title at TakeOver: New York. Adam Cole’s scored the first fall and used that to claim that if it were a normal match, he’d be champion.

Well that’s what Gargano has granted him: A normal match to try to prove it.

While the action in the ring will surely be electric, keep your eye outside the ring to see how the Undisputed ERA get involved. Will they help Adam win the title or will it backfire, costing the group for good?

Main Roster Implication:

If Johnny Gargano loses, I can imagine a scenario where he moves up to the main roster. But I really don’t see him being a one and done champ after his long journey to the title. An Adam Cole loss feels like it’s the beginning of the end of Undisputed, which is a major story to be told in NXT. In the end, I don’t think either of these men are moving up any time soon. They are the anchors of the promotion right now.

Outrageous Prediction:

Due to miscommunications with the Undisputed ERA, Adam Cole takes another loss. However, instead of lashing out at the ERA, triggering a full break up, he is understanding and forgives them, teaching us the true meaning of friendship.

Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Io Shirai for the NXT women’s championship

Shayna Baszler has been in the title scene for a long time now. She won the championship from Ember Moon at TakeOver: New Orleans over a year ago. While she lost it to Kairi Sane in a summer feud that year, she won it back last September and has held it since.

About a month ago, Shayna and Kairi faced off in a match containing the stipulation that if Sane lost, she would not get another opportunity at the title. The match did not go Kairi’s way, and Shayna did some serious damage to her opponent’s arm. When it seemed like the champ was just toying with Kairi, Io Shirai, Sane’s friend and tag partner, interfered on behalf of Kairi. It resulted in a disqualification on behalf of the champ and ended the Pirate Princess’ run in NXT.

This result of this match caused Io to go into warpath mode, hunting Shayna at every turn. She attacked her while training at the PC. She has gone after her with kendo sticks. It’s a more vicious side of the Genius of the Sky.

Candice LeRae recently offered to have Shirai’s back tomorrow as Io had her back in a Horsewoman attack a couple weeks back.

Main Roster Implication:

This really feels like a loser moves to the main roster deal. Maybe they try to extend it and do the change in Toronto in August, but I think they do it tonight. Shayna has been holding down the women’s division for awhile now and it’s time to move her to the main roster. If Io loses, they could move her as well, but I don’t think she loses. Plus with Kairi already in a random team with Asuka, the natural spot for Io isn’t there.

Outrageous Prediction:

Normally, a LeRae heel turn would feel a bit outrageous, but given how they choreographed her being ringside, that feels like a viable option. What would be outrageous is if Candice went all out with it, not just attacking Io after she wins the belt, but then joining the Undisputed ERA (the enemy of her husband) to be the last piece of their “win all the gold” plan.

Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Tyler Breeze for the North American championship

This match was set up in one segment, when Tyler Breeze interrupted a Velveteen Dream promo. A back and forth ensued, Dream poking fun at the fact that Breeze has meandered on the main roster and Breeze mocking the fact that Dream still hasn’t been called up. It ended with Dream offering to take a selfie with Prince Pretty but getting hit with the phone instead.

Main Roster Implication:

I mean, I should kind of write this as NXT implications since Tyler is a main roster talent. The bigger question isn’t does Dream go up but does Tyler stay down? My initial gut was this was a one and done, but Triple H has since confirmed Breeze is part of the NXT roster. We still don’t know what that means though. Is he going to be a featured member or slide into more of an Ohno role. I say give the man the title run he deserves.

Outrageous Prediction:

Fandango returns and helps his boy win the title. They later insert themselves into the tag match and win that too. (You can just insert yourself into ladder matches, didn’t you hear?) And of course, at the next TakeOver, Fandango wins the NXT title and the Fashion Police become the real Undisputed. Eat that, Cole.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong

This is the only non-title match on the card.

Matt Riddle and Adam Cole found each other jawing prior to a photo shoot. This led to Riddle helping out Johnny Gargano in a match against Strong when the Undisputed ERA tried to use their numbers game to thwart the NXT champion. The Bro helped Johnny win, and the loss furthered the issues between Strong and Cole.

The ERA were in a bad way, with Adam and Roddy at each other’s throats for weeks. Cole figured he would be the one to take care of the Bro problem and decided to fight Riddle on his own. He lost because Strong tried to help. This led to a huge blow up in the ring where O’Reilly and Fish tried to act as peace keepers to little success.

However, Strong soon changed his mind (supposedly) and as an olive branch, brought Cole Riddle’s sandal, which he took from him after attacking him.

That attack set up this match.

Main Roster Implication:

There aren’t any immediate main roster ramifications here. Riddle will get called up eventually, but he’s like going to get a main event run in NXT first (I said that about Ricochet at one point too so you never know). Meanwhile, the ERA should be treated as a unit and if they’re not, it’s Adam Cole who will get a solo call up, not Roderick Strong.

Outrageous Prediction:

In the middle of the match, Roderick Strong wonders, “Why do I have this blood feud with Matt Riddle. After all, Matt seems like a cool guy. He’s even got the nickname Bro. This is all because of Adam. Well that ends here.” They finish the match, but afterwards, become friends. Roddy doesn’t leave the ERA but instead brings his new friend Matt around to the backstage hangouts. It’s quite awkward.

The Street Profits vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. The Forgotten Sons vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish in a ladder match for the vacant tag team champions

The War (now Viking) Raiders were called up to Raw suddenly while still NXT tag champions. Instead of taking a loss to help elevate a team, they opted to relinquish their titles, which allowed them to remain strong as they do nothing on Raw.

The Street Profits goaded them into a title match prior to their departure, but that ended when the Forgotten Sons interfered. The Brit-Am Brawlers (Lorcan & Burch) were having their own issues with the Sons so they entered the fray soon.

This set up a fatal 4-way ladder match after they added Fish and O’Reilly into the mix and here we are.

Main Roster Implication:

The Street Profits are the only team that feel like they could be called up, but I also think they are winning this. (Fish and O’Reilly are certainly ready for the main roster, but I don’t think they go up without the rest of their stable.) The NXT tag division is pretty slim currently, so sending any of these teams up wouldn’t make sense. However, SmackDown could really use a tag team so it’s not impossible to see one of these teams head up to fill that gap.

Outrageous Prediction:

Using the above mentioned rule of “Anyone can enter a ladder match,” a fifth team is entered into the mix: the freshly re-re-re-named Aaron and Ivan of the War Experience! They reclaim the NXT titles that they relinquished just weeks back. They hold them for a month until creative decides they’re going to use them on Raw again when they have to relinquish them once more.

NXT TakeOver: XXV airs tomorrow (June 1) on the WWE Network at 7 pm ET.

Let us know what match you’re looking forward to and let us know your outrageous predictions below!

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