By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole in a best of three falls match for the vacant NXT Championship: One of the biggest disappointments of the year is the injury suffered by Tommaso Ciampa. The storyline arc was peaking perfectly for a potential match of the year candidate, perhaps feuding ending showdown between Ciampa and Gargano on this event. As a fallback plan, this match is not a bad replacement by any means. Cole has shown in NXT what made him so special from a personality standpoint on the independent scene and Ring of Honor, and now this is his opportunity to really showcase his in-ring ability. He has had good to great matches on previous Takeovers but against Gargano he will have an opponent who I believe he will mesh perfectly with.
I don’t see any other result in this match other than a win for Gargano. Although I’m sure the temptation is there to continue with the storyline of Gargano getting knocked down and having to fight his way back up again, it is time now for the next evolution of the story with Gargano as champion, possibly until hopefully Ciampa returns. If that indeed happens, they can pick up where they left off and because of the gap in the story, it will feel fresh.
Prediction: Johnny Gargano to win the vacated NXT Championship.
Pete Dunne vs. Walter for the WWE UK Championship: I’m really looking forward to seeing the reaction to this match if it goes down the way I expect it too. If this is a true Walter style match this will be stiff, it will look like it hurts like hell (because it probably does), and it will bring a different form of wrestling to the masses who may not have seen it before. In that sense, it’s similar to Dunne vs. Tyler Bate from NXT Takeover: Chicago a few years ago in that it will be a match that I will feel like I’ve seen and yet I’m sure the masses will love it.
It will also show is that Dunne is an even greater wrestler than most people already believe. The guy can wrestle any style of match and look good in the process. He can face a high flyer like Mark Andrews and have a high flying match. He can face a technical wrestler like Zach Sabre Jr. and have a technical battle focusing on body parts. And here with Walter and his power, Dunne will show that he can wrestle a stiff style. I don’t envy him. I saw Walter face Matt Riddle about a year ago at a Progress event and he placed Riddle on my lap and chopped him. And he hit him so hard that it actually hurt me!
In all seriousness, I am looking forward to this match, and I think it’s time to move the title off Dunne. I suspect there are big things in 2019 for Dunne, so I think it’s time for him to move up to the main roster or the main NXT full time. We already know that the first opponent for whoever exists as champion will be Jordan Devlin, so I can see that being another interesting match down the line.
Prediction: Walter defeats Pete Dunne to win the WWE UK Championship.
Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle for the NXT North American Championship: Dream has been doing some of the best character work in NXT over the last couple of months and one could argue the best character work in the whole of WWE. The sickening thing is he while he has a great look, a great character, and confidence on the mic, he’s also damn good in the ring! Riddle has been showing a much more aggressive side to the Bro persona, and I think that will play out here. I feel that Dream will be called up to the main roster sooner rather than later so an aggressive win by Riddle against the established Dream would be a nice launching pad going forward for the rest of the year.
Prediction: Matt Riddle defeats Velveteen Dream to win the NXT North American Championship.
Shayna Baszler vs. Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair vs. Kairi Sane for the NXT Women’s Championship: This is a strange one to predict because I think Shayna will lose the title here, but I don’t have a strong feeling about who will defeat her. Out of all of my predictions about who’s going to go up to the main roster within the next month, Baszler is my most confident pick. She’s been ready for twelve months but they wisely kept her in NXT until the time is right. With the rumored hiatus of Ronda Rousey following WrestleMania, now is the time for Shayna Baszler to step into the big shoes of Rousey.
So that leaves me with trying to work out who is going to win. Following a three-way tournament of rock, paper, scissors with my work friend, I’m going to go with Bianca Belair. The key though is that I don’t believe Shayna will be pinned so that she can confidently declare upon her arrival on the main roster that she was the NXT Women’s Champion for a long time and was never beaten for it.
Prediction: Bianca Belair wins the NXT Women’s Championship.
“War Raiders” Hanson and Rowe vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet for the NXT Tag Tites: I think it goes without saying that I’d be very surprised if Black and Ricochet win the titles here simply because every indication is they are now WWE main roster full time. I feel this match is here to simply allow Black and Ricochet to say goodbye to the NXT fans while at the same time give the War Raiders a meaningful win on the way out of the door.
Prediction: War Raiders retain the NXT Tag Team Championship.
Join Jason Powell for live coverage of NXT Takeover: New York as the show streams on WWE Network tonight beginning at 6CT/7ET. Check below for the Paul “Triple H” Levesque conference call heading into the NXT Takeover: New York event. We will also have his NXT Takeover: New York post show media call available after the show tonight.