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WWE NXT TakeOver: Portland predictions - Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair, more!

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WWE NXT will be putting on their latest live special, TakeOver: Portland, tomorrow (Sun., Feb. 16, 2020). That’s right, it’s a Sunday show with no “main roster” PPV in sight - the latest effort to establish the black-and-gold brand on equal footing with Raw and SmackDown.

As such, they’ve puffed up the card a bit. But what’s on tap for us from Moda Center at 7 p.m. Eastern is the usual high quality we’ve come to expect from a TakeOver - including numerous title tilts, lots of bad blood, and probably a surprise or two.

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 vs. Adam Cole (c) for the NXT championship

Sean Rueter: If you’d have told me a year ago I’d be picking against Ciampa, I wouldn’t have believed you. He certainly could win, but it feels like his moment has passed for now. The next wave of hot acts are babyfaces, so they’ll need a bad guy to chase. And the Panama City Playboy breaking Finn Bálor’s record for longest NXT Men’s title reign sounds like a nifty basis for a cool heel feud after one of those popular faces wins the belt in Tampa. Pick: Adam Cole

Kyle Decker: Tommaso is probably the easy pick, but Undisputed ERA haven’t look too strong the last month, making me think they’re not going to pull the trigger. (A lil reverse momentum theory for ya.) Plus with Velveteen Dream back looking for revenge on the ERA and the North American title firmly held by Keith Lee, Dream would make sense to challenge Cole next. Pick: Adam Cole

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I like the Sicilian Psychopath as much as the next girl, but I stand with my man Stellar Sean’s reasoning on this one— Cole is creeping up on Finn Balor’s 292 day reign, and with NXT as a real standalone cable TV brand, it’s time to start making history, baby. (Or bay bay, if you will.) Pick: Adam Cole

Stella Cheeks: Between Cole closing in on Balor’s reign and Velveteen Dream out for ERA blood there are, frankly, more interesting reasons for Cole to retain Goldie than for Ciampa to get his girl back. Also, it’s the Undisputed ERA; expect shenanigans. Pick: Adam Cole

Henry T. Casey: Sorry Tommy, your Goldie’s not coming home this Sunday. The tale of the Undisputed unravelling doesn’t feel like a pre-Mania weekend tale. Maybe, just maybe, Ciampa can hold out until Tampa. Pick: Adam Cole

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s title

Sean Rueter: Not sure how exactly this plays out, so mostly I’m predicting a WrestleMania Triple Threat where WWE uses The Queen to help elevate two stars. But since momentum, and fan love, appears to be on her side, let’s say they do the switch here. Pick: Bianca Belair

Kyle Decker: I wasn’t picking against Ripley even before the whole Charlotte thing. Now I’m definitely not. The best Bianca can hope for is they decide to make the WrestleMania NXT title match a triple threat, but I don’t see that happening. Pick: Rhea Ripley

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: It’s a shame that the EST has been so good for so long without the gold to back it up, but yeah, with a real bigtime main roster angle served up to her on a silver platter, Rhea ain’t losing. Pick: Rhea Ripley

Stella Cheeks: Considering the almost absurdly lengthy title reigns of Asuka & Baszler the NXT women’s championship could use a little hot potato action. Bianca has been so close too many times and another loss here could be embarrassing - EST has to mean something. I say give it to Bianca here and let her take it to Mania to face Charlotte and Ripley. Pick: Bianca Belair

Henry T. Casey: The second time should be the charm for Bianca. Should. Something tells me that Rhea won’t be going to Raw or Smackdown, but instead pulling Charlotte down to Full Sail. Pick: Rhea Ripley.

Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Bálor

Sean Rueter: Honestly could see either man brushing off a loss without much damage to their reputation. This is basically just a continuation of he fantasy booking I was doing in my main event prediction, because I could see a Gargano loss leading to a “#DIY returns to their roots to reclaim their mojo” story. Pick: Finn Bálor

Kyle Decker: This was meant as Finn’s feud feud before Gargano’s injury and no way was Finn losing his first feud. I don’t think the outcome changes just because they waited awhile. Johnny is the type of character who can lose many times and not get hurt. Badass heel Balor is not. Pick: Finn Bálor

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: C’mon. I haven’t really loved his work in a long, long time now (the high drama ACT-TING, THANK YOU kick outs on kick outs guy we get now seems so far removed from the dude who went hold for hold on the mat with the likes of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and Zack Sabre, Jr. in Evolve), but I can’t pick against a WWN Icon and a guy who I thought for a long time was the next The Guy. Johnny Wrestling 4 Life. Pick: Johnny Gargano

Stella Cheeks: If Finn Balor doesn’t win, then honestly what was the point of relegating him back to NXT? Johnny TakeOver already plays the underdog role with aplomb let him languish there. (Honestly, what is the world like when I am picking Finn Balor to win a match??) Pick: Finn Balor

Henry T. Casey: Finn’s still in a repackaging moment, and it’s time to turn Johnny TakeOver into Johnny Underdog. Bálor, on the other hand, could use this moment as the elevation he needs to go towards an NXT world championship shot. Pick: Finn Bálor

The BroserWeights (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle) vs. Undisputed ERA (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) for the NXT Tag Team championship

Sean Rueter: Rome didn’t fall in a day (or maybe it did, I’m a wrestling blogger not a historian, work with me here), and The ERA of Undisputed holding gold won’t end in one either. But the tag straps are the next to go. Pick: The BroserWeights

Kyle Decker: I originally had the ERA in here, but the more I thought of it, the more I just have to go with Matt and Pete. They’re just too entertaining not to continue with them as a tag team for a little while longer. And if that’s the case, put the belts on them. Because this is a very thin tag team division and winning the titles would establish another team besides Bobby and Kyle. Pick: The BroserWeights

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Boy, between the BroserWeights, Ibushi & Tanahashi, Page & Omega... sure seems like superteams are the way tag titles are going right now, doesn’t it? Anyway, even if that wasn’t the trend, I’d love to see an NXT tag title reign as a neat footnote at the bottom of Riddle and Dunne’s Wikipedia pages for the rest of eternity, so... Pick: BroserWeights (Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne)

Stella Cheeks: Dunne and Riddle are a wildly entertaining odd couple and selfishly I want to see what their tag team win celebration party will look like. Undisputed ERA already won all the gold. They are formidable, their matches are legendary, the crowd loves to hate them and they did the whole “dripping in gold” thing. Time for new champs. Pick: BroserWeights (Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne)

Henry T. Casey: I wanted to say “it’s time for another shock to the system,” and say this was the end of the line for reDRagon’s title run, but Cole being the only member of the ERA to hold the gold going into Tampa doesn’t make as much sense — it makes it too easy for folks to see where they’re going. So, sorry Ratthew Middle and Peter Dune, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Hope that flight wasn’t too intimate. Pick: Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish

Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT North American title

Sean Rueter: Epic match, post-match handshake, no title change. Pick: Keith Lee

Kyle Decker: Much like Rhea Ripley, Keith Lee isn’t losing his first match after winning the title. They see big things in the big man and he’ll hold that title until he gets elevated to the main event or called to the main roster. Pick: Keith Lee

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: The man of the hour, king of the ring, intelligence and power... yeah, I wanna be wacky and use the fact that I’ve been TakeOver-only for a bit to pick against the consensus, but c’mon. Pick: Keith Lee

Stella Cheeks: Three words: Bask in His Glory. Oops. That was four words. Whatever Pick: Keith Lee

Henry T. Casey: I don’t pick against Keith Lee. That’s against my religion. Pick: Keith Lee.

Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox

Sean Rueter: Much like with her 2018 feud with Shayna Baszler, I get the feeling WWE isn’t behind Kai as much more than a mid-card gatekeeper. Her Welsh friend on the other hand is destined for bigger things. Pick: Tegan Nox

Kyle Decker: Tegan won in decisive fashion, cheating or not, on NXT. That means Dakota has to win here to save face. Maybe debut a stable behind her to protect Nox in the process. Not the Robert Stone Brand though - they’re losers. Pick: Dakota Kai

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: This being a street fight (best wear street clothes, ladies, or I will chide you gently in the liveblog!) and all, and the circumstances of their TV match, I gotta think it’s a heel victory to set up some bigger third match down the line. Pick: Dakota Kai

Stella Cheeks: If you want Dakota to be a big bad than she has to win some big matches. Considering this is a street fight too, Dakota should have no pesky morals in her way to disseminate Tegan. We already know the phoenix gimmick works well for Tegan - give her something more to fight for next time, Pick: Dakota Kai

Henry T. Casey: Dakota could rise from a loss even angrier than before, but it feels like they’ve got high hopes for her NXT run. Pick: Dakota Kai

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

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