clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WWE NXT TakeOver: Phoenix predictions - Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano, more!

Kyle O’Reilly’s Twitter

NXT, WWE's Developmental flagship-turned-stand alone brand, will be putting on their latest live special tomorrow (Sat, Jan. 26, 2019). This time, they’re out in Arizona for their pre-Royal Rumble live event - TakeOver: Phoenix.

The card comes our way from Talking Stick Resort Arena at 7PM Eastern, exclusively on WWE Network. It will feature five matches, and all four of the brand’s titles on the line.

If you're new or someone who only checks out NXT for the live specials, we've got a full preview of the matches coming up for you between now and belltime. Right now, we've assembled a motley crew of Cagesiders who watch & love NXT to give us their thoughts & predictions on each.

Let's get to it.


Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Aleister Black for the NXT title

Sean Rueter: Like everyone, I have a hard time not seeing Tommy Sports Entertainment remaining champ until a big showdown with Johnny Delusion. But I will take the technicality out and say Black picks up a win via DQ, leading to a probable rematch on the weekly show on his way out of the territory. Pick: Aleister Black

Kyle Decker: This is Aleister’s obligatory rematch (those still happen in NXT), but this isn’t his story any more. It’s still about Johnny and Tommaso. I more curious about where Black goes when he fails to claim the title. Pick: Tommaso Ciampa

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Look, only one of these guys has the power of Satan on his side, and it ain’t Tomato Camper. Plus I’m low-key kinda sick of Ciampa on top, so one part spurious reasoning to one part wishful thinking gets me right here... Pick: Aleister Black

Stella Cheeks (of the always awesome NYD podcast, and Cageside social media maven): I Pick: We now live in a world where I simply cannot imagine Goldie being with anyone other than Ciampa. Aleister is great, but honestly didn’t do that much with the title and, frankly, he doesn’t need it. I think he’ll pop up in the Rumble the next day and will soon head to the main roster. Fingers crossed he translates. Pick: Tomasso Ciampa

Henry T. Casey: Goldie stays with The Champ, as Black seems due for the main roster, and his obvious star power can help fill the voids on Raw. Pick: Tommaso Ciampa

Erin Cline (the more enigmatic half of Not Your Demographic): Is sitting this one out as she continues her boycott of WWE over their relationship with Saudi Arabia. She’s really bummed to be missing Baszler/Belair, too.

Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet (c) for the North American championship

Sean Rueter: Seeing as he’s writing a story in his head which has little resemblance to reality, Johnny wins even when he loses, right? Pick: Ricochet

Kyle Decker: Ricochet eventually needs to drop the title to challenge for the top prize. But I don’t see how winning this midcard title benefits Johnny Wrestling. His story is with Ciampa, who holds the main title. The North American title is for someone working through the ranks and not someone who’s been in the main title scene. A man like Matt Riddle is more suited to take the title of Ricochet. Pick: Ricochet

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Oh lord, oh lord, if we must have Evil Johnny, let me have Evil Johnny picking up the win by choking Ricochet out with the tag rope hidden inside a Gargano Escape, ala his successful defense of the DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Championship against Shingo Takagi at Open the Ultimate Gate 2013. Please, dear god, let me have this. Pick: Johnny Gargano

Stella Cheeks: Everyone already hates me because I don’t like Finn Balor...think I’m just going to double down and let everyone know that I’m just not that into Gargano either. Outside of his feud with Ciampa I just don’t care. I mean, this match isn’t even about Ricochet, it’s about Johnny proving himself (again). Ricochet don’t got time to deal with this nonsense. He’s got a North America to run (that’s how championships work, right?) Pick: Ricochet

Henry T. Casey: Since this feud is so infused with the guys in the main event, its path feels murky. The midcard of NXT is so chock-a-block with faces right now that I could see Gargano keeping the title to surrender it in another ‘Mania-week multi-man ladder match, but that just doesn’t feel right. Johnny’s still thinking about Tommy Sports Entertainment, who doesn’t need another title. It also seems a bit soon to end Rico’s run, especially since he’s only had one defense so far (Breeze) and that wasn’t even a TakeOver match. Pick: Ricochet

Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s title

Sean Rueter: There’s a pattern of Baszler overlooking opponents being established, and I think she’s done so here again. The EST’s reign will probably be even shorter than Kairi Sane’s, but I think she whips her hair back & forth, evades I want to say Jessica and Mary? and sneaks out with the strap. Pick: Bianca Belair

Kyle Decker: The trio of Shayna and pals has been too recently established to have them fail this soon. Belair is impressive, but she’s going to need more than herself to overcome the 3 on 1 advantage. And the EST of NXT doesn’t have any friends right now to help neutralize that. Pick: Shayna Baszler

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Undefeated streaks are a tricky thing. My gut feeling is that NXT likes to prolong them as far as they can, and maybe it’s just me being a mark for the Queen of Spades, but I feel like this is the proverbial exception that proves the rule. Pick: Shayna Baszler

Stella Cheeks: This is a cruel, cruel joke. How am I supposed to pick between the EST and the actual baddest woman on the planet? Shayna has been a great champ, and really ups her game - both in the ring and on the mic - each and every TakeOver. But Bianca is so good and so full of potential! Her move set is unique, she’s bomb on the mic and OMG the hair whip. All that and an undefeated streak? Hard to not pick Bianca...but Shayna has friends and sometimes you get by with a little help from your friends. Pick: Shayna Baszler

Henry T. Casey: Everyone seems to like The E S T, but nobody’s told me they believe it’s her time, especially when Baszler’s in no need to be rushed anywhere else. It’s unfortunate that Belair’s first TakeOver match will be a loss, and I expect Shayna’s baes to interfere, to lessen the pain of Bianca falling in the spotlight. Pick: Shayna Baszler

War Raiders vs. Undisputed ERA (c) for the NXT Tag Team championship

Sean Rueter: Adam Cole says 2019 is the year Undisputed will be draped in gold, and I believe him. You can’t start that year with a loss, especially to some dudes who don’t even know what century it is. Pick: Undisputed ERA

Kyle Decker: The War Raiders felt like the team that were going to dethrone the ERA from the day they arrived. Kyle and Roddy, your time has come. Pick: The War Raiders

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Maybe it’s just my somewhat spotty viewing habits over the last month or two coloring things for me, but War Raiders really just don’t feel like they have much momentum or interest behind them. I’ve always dug them as a team, but TUE feel somehow still vibrant and thus... Pick: Undisputed ERA

Stella Cheeks: The War Raiders desperately need this win. If they lose, I fear they are destined to be sidelined. Pick: War Raiders

Henry T. Casey: This opportunity for Hansen and Rowe feels so long overdue (and earned in War Games) that I can’t see it going any way but theirs. Hopefully this means the Era gets to play the numbers game the next night in the Rumble. Pick: The War Raiders

Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno

Sean Rueter: It’ll go longer than a minute,. But I’m here to tell all you Bros, Bro-ettes and gender-nonconforming Broheims. The outcome will be the same as their last TakeOver encounter. Pick: Matt Riddle

Kyle Decker: Yeah, there’s no way Ohno is picking up a win here. Pick: Matt Riddle

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Now that the erstwhile Chris Hero gets to show up in Evolve every few months and be his best self, I’m a lot less bothered and fangirly about the win/loss record of the Greatest Indie Wrestler of All Time (this is just a fact, do not @ me) on the yellow show and thus less inclined to throw my pick here away, such as it is. Pick: Matt Riddle

Stella Cheeks: Oh no, oh no. Bro, gonna get KO’d. Pick: Matt Riddle

Henry T. Casey: I love Kassius Ohno’s offense, but he’s about to get smashed by the fastest rising star since Ronda Rousey. This is going to be a full showcase for what the flip-flop-wearing, Disney-Tarzan-ape’ing Riddle can do, not another hit it and pin him squash. And maaaaybe Keith Lee turns on Riddle, who took the spotlight from The Friendly Fellow, who’s still yet to have his own TakeOver match, despite appearing on the scene before Riddle’s big debutt. Pick: Matt Riddle

That's who we've got. Who are you taking, Cagesiders?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats