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WWE NXT TakeOver: 31 predictions - Bálor vs. O’Reilly, Shirai vs. LeRae, more!

WWE NXT will be putting on their latest live special, TakeOver 31, tomorrow (Sun., Oct. 4, 2020). It’s a quick turnaround from the last one, but a lot has changed since August’s show - namely that neither of the men who main evented TakeOver XXX are even on this weekend’s show.

Still, the card set to come our way tomorrow at 7PM Eastern, from Full Sail Live the Performance Center and exclusively on WWE Network, looks to be the usual high quality we’ve come to expect from the black-and-gold brand.

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 NXT-following Cagesiders to give us their thoughts & predictions on each.

Let’s get to it.


Finn Bálor (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT championship

Sean Rueter: Whatever drama they have in store for us, there’s no way they’re giving us another short reign after Lee & Kross. Pick: Finn Bálor

Kyle Decker: This is a match I’m very much looking forward to but not because I have any question about the winner. The match itself should be great and the story of Kyle and the future of the ERA is very intriguing. But Finn is winning in the end. Pick: Finn Bálor

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Let’s go Kyle! KOR is, I think, pretty well underrated as a singles guy and the exact kind of left-field champion that NXT needs. Well, my personal choice would be good ol’ Tim Thatcher, but Kyle’s the guy we got, so... Pick: Kyle O’Reilly

Stella Cheeks: We all know Finn Balor is walking out the champion, but the real story here is KOR and the future of ERA. ::sad air guitar music:: Pick: Finn Bálor

Henry T. Casey: I really really need a KOR win here, but this seemingly incoming face run for O’Reilly works better if he doesn’t win here. Pick: Finn Bálor

Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai (c) for the NXT Women’s title

Sean Rueter: The specter of next week’s Draft looms over this one. The main roster needs reinforcements. With her husband being “NXT4Lyfe” the Poison Pixie isn’t going anywhere. Asuka’s proved how valuable a great worker with charisma is even if they can’t cut five minute promos. I think you see where I’m going with this. Pick: Candice LeRae

Kyle Decker: This seemed like a match meant to kick off the meat of the LeRae/Tegan Nox feud. Unfortunately, that’s indefinitely on hold because of another serious knee injury for Tegan. I don’t think that changes anything with who the champion will be coming back. I bet Shotzi Blackheart gets slotted into the role Tegan was in (though won’t play a role tomorrow). Io Shirai still has a feud with Rhea Ripley that she needs to get to. Pick: Io Shirai

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: NXT just loves their never-ending women’s championship reigns, and I also think NXT doesn’t really believe in Candice LeRae, so... Pick: Io Shirai

Stella Cheeks: Candice may have a new mean streak, but that’s nothing compared to the fury of Io Shirai in the ring. Candice certainly has the potential to be a future women’s champion, but she needs a little more time to marinate in her new character before she does. Pick: Io Shirai

Henry T. Casey: Candice is the only person of her household who has a chance, but I don’t think it’s her time yet. As Kyle said, Io has Rhea to face at some point. Candice/Rhea could also happen, though, but it feels like there’s more to be done with the current champ. Pick: Io Shirai

Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano the NXT North American championship

Sean Rueter: The NA is a belt NXT doesn’t have a problem booking for short reigns, but they seem to be using it differently when it comes to the Archer of Infamy (still a stupid nickname, but it - like Priest’s gimmick overall - is growing on me). Plus, tying this in to the pick above, Johnny quietly fuming about being the half of NXT’s Power Couple without a title would be great. Pick: Damian Priest

Kyle Decker: Much like the men’s world title match, the quick build and the fact Damian just won the title has me thinking there’s little chance of a change. Pick: Damian Priest

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I always like to put my mark hat on and throw my pick to my man Johnny Gargano, but l have to admit that 2020 NXT Johnny Wrestling is a long, long way from the WWN Icon I knew and loved. Damian Priest isn’t very exciting and the whole party gimmick turns me off from what I’ve seen of it, but he’s winning here. Pick: Damian Priest

Stella Cheeks: Damien Priest’s character is awful and doesn’t make any sense. Johnny Gargano is a whiney dork cosplaying as “evil.” Feels like a lose lose to me...though I suppose if Johnny wins and Candice loses that adds an interesting wrinkle to the infallible “Gargano Way.” Pick: Johnny Gargano

Henry T. Casey: The living breathing avatar of NXT’s habit of names is so short into his reign, and it’s already helping him... I think. Also picking the champ because he’s so bad in a fun way that I need this to continue. Pick: Damian Priest

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

Sean Rueter: This is a make or break point for whether Kushida goes the way of Hideo Itami. They seem to think Dream is someone fans will tune in to see regardless of his win/loss record. For kayfabe and meta reasons, they may be right. Pick: Kushida

Kyle Decker: While I love aggressive Kushida, I think NXT feels the future is obviously in Velveteen Dream. The fact that they keep coming back to him even as there are subsets of fans who don’t want to see him now clearly illustrates that. Pick: Velveteen Dream

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: KUSHIDA is a hero to the people, and Velveteen Dream should be long gone by now. Gotta do it. Pick: KUSHIDA

Stella Cheeks: Unfortunately, they can’t seem to pivot their plans away from Velveteen Dream. He feels like the natural choice to pick to win here. I feel the same way about Kushida that I do about Candice. He just needs a little more time to marinate in his new aggressive character before getting a big push. Pick: Velveteen Dream

Henry T. Casey: Let’s keep the KUSHY train going with more of this fierce run. Have him take a souvenir or two from this match. A win here puts Kushida up as an interesting challenger for Bálor or Priest, matchups that feel a lot more interesting than either of those against Patrick. Pick: KUSHIDA

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Santos Escobar (c) for the NXT Cruiserweight title

Sean Rueter: Not sure moving this belt to NXT helped it. 205 Live isn’t on most folks’ radar any more, but at least it was the focal point there. Here, even with a well-built feud between two talented guys, it feels like an afterthought. Anyway... going with the guy who has lackeys, a loaded mask, and the best topé suicida in the business. Pick: Santos Escobar

Kyle Decker: Looks like I’m going with zero title changes tonight. This actually has a longer story than all the other title matches on the card, but NXT loves their heel champs and heel stables. I imagine it’s more likely Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde win the tag titles before Escobar loses his Cruiserweight one. Pick: Santos Escobar

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Always bet on Swerve. Pick: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

Stella Cheeks: In the interest of continuing this feud, I think Swerve picks up the win and then El Legado del Fantasma take it back by force and interference. An extended feud between these two mid-card, but fantastic wrestlers would do them both favors. Pick: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

Henry T. Casey: Once unwanted, now impressive. I don’t know if his reign will last forever, but ain’t nobody needs a win this much. Pick: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

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

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