Tonight’s show finds us in NXT’s home base of Full Sail Live for the fourth and final episode from a taping (spoilers from which are here) which takes us all the way to this year’s TakeOver: WarGames.
Here’s what to expect, and some thoughts on the overall landscape of the black-and-yellow brand.
It looks like we’re headed to the smallest to the smallest TakeOver ever in terms of matches on the card. But are the four matches we know about set in stone?
Given the turmoil surrounding the other big show at Staples Center this weekend, it would be nice to see everything go according to plan for the black-and-yellow brand. But last week’s main event left a lot of people wondering if at least one more wrestler won’t find his way into a big match. And including him is the kind of change NXT could make via backstage segment, even on one of these typically clip heavy ‘go home’ episodes.
The decision to book Velveteen Dream in a match with Lars Sullivan after naming him #1 contender for Tommaso Ciampa’s NXT championship was strange. Having Dream lose to the Loquacious Leviathan, even with a Ciampa distraction, was stranger. Sure, Velveteen winning the show-closing brawl with the champ helped make up for him eating a pin, but it also only added to Sullivan’s argument that he deserves another shot at the belt.
Making Saturday’s title bout a Triple Threat is an idea which has been floated around the interwebs, and it makes some sense. In story, Lars’ case is certainly strengthened but the record books showing he has a singles win over Dream (and Velveteen did choose to take out Ciampa before the Blackheart did anything, more or less sealing his own fate). From a creative perspective, making the bout no disqualification gives the performers more to work with on a show which features a couple other matches with stipulations which set them apart. It also gives them the option of pinning Sullivan rather than having either of the hotter acts take a loss here.
Of course, that’s another high-profile loss for Lars. And NXT is already balancing making him a monster without giving him a title.
We’ll see if they opt to make the change. Even if they don’t, we are guaranteed one impactful outcome from this week’s show...
The Title Scene
That’s because one half of the tag champs, Undisputed ERA’s Kyle O’Reilly, will go one-on-one with an as-yet-undetermined member of the foursome his faction will face in Saturday’s titular match. And whether it’s O’Reilly getting his hand raised at the end, or one of North American champion Ricochet, United Kingdom champ Pete Dunne or the War Raiders Hanson & Rowe will determine which team gets to play the numbers game until all eight men have entered WarGames on Saturday night. We like Kyle’s chances, because Dusty Rhodes’ two-rings-one-cage set-up is more fun with the odds stacked against the babyfaces. But as long as we get an eight-man brawl to close the show, we’ll be happy.
If you like the odds being stacked against the babyface, then TakeOver’s Women’s championship match is for you. Not only will submission specialist Shayna Baszler get two-out-of-three falls to soften Kairi Sane up, but there’s nothing barring Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir from ringside. Maybe the Pirate Princess will introduce us to some of her friends before the big match...
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Bianca Belair doesn’t look to have made the cut for this weekend, but she’ll get to show off a bit tonight when she goes one-on-one with the Mae Young Classic’s Mia Yim.
- It didn’t happen last week as teased, but we’re told First Lady of NXT Lacey Evans will definitely be in action this week.
- The stacked tag division’s been trading wins for a while. We’ll be looking to see if a big match gets made for either the pre-TakeOver spot or the TV taping happening in Cali this week, as that may tell us who’s primed to break from the pack.
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See you tonight for NXT, Cagesiders!