You may or may not have noticed that we at Hooked On are particularly buzzed about WWE bringing back the 1990s nostalgic event theme for this weekend’s Takeover event.
Now, it’s time for us to pick the winners. Below are the choices of some of our esteemed team members. Do you agree?
You can tell us your choices by entering our NXT Takeover Prediction Game right here.
NXT Men’s Championship, Backlot Brawl: Adam Cole (c) vs Velveteen Dream
Paul Benson: This is a tough one to call. The feud has been seriously affected by the cancellation of Takeover: Tampa Bay, which felt like it was set up for a Dream title win (also, can you imagine the pirate garb he would have come out in?). They’ve tried to keep the feud going until this event with mixed results and it comes in lukewarm.
I would say the loser will be leaving NXT in short order and I guess I’ll stick with what I think was the original plan. Velveteen Dream to win and Undisputed Era to invade SmackDown.
Steve Cox: There’s a lot of speculation around Adam Cole at the moment, lots of noise about being champ for more than a year. There’s also been a lot of stuff going on around the Dream. No doubt one of the most talented guys on the roster, Dream seems to be in a bit of a hole at the moment.
That said, if everything’s cleared (seems to be), I think Dream may shock the world.
Lewis Brown: I’m really excited for this match and I think it’s finally going to be The Dream’s big crowning moment. Cole has had the title over a year now and I think it’s time for him to move on. On an unrelated note, I actually think Cole might be All Elite soon if the rumours are to be believed. If that is true, they will want the title off him.
Mike Paul: This could also go either way. I don’t think this is the moment they’ll take the belt from Cole, since I’m sure they’d want a live audience for that – so with that said, I’m going champ to retain.
Justin Czerwonka: Is it weird that the World title match is getting the least amount of buzz out of all these matches on the card? Because that is 100% the case here. Dream has been kept it of the spotlight after his little social media dust-up. And I don’t think he’s taking the title from Cole here. Undisputed Era will be around NXT for a bit longer. I think they are building to Cole/Balor next so I have Cole retaining the title.
Marc Hemingway: In what has become a necessary standard, this will be another ‘cinematic match’ but on this occasion it feels like that’s the wrong choice. There’s already plenty of emotion and backstory going in plus the stipulation of if Dream loses then he can’t challenge for the title again while Cole is the champion surely is enough of a pull? Anyway! It’s Dream’s time to be the face of the brand with a strong showing. Dream to win.
NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs Rhea Ripley vs Io Shirai
Paul: The NXT Women’s title is one of the best protected belts in wrestling. It tends not to change hands without a significant moment or heated personal rivalry in play. To that end, Charlotte Flair wins this. The match will likely be good to very good. I pick Charlotte to retain.
Steve: Charlotte’s new NXT title run feels really empty to me. I do think she’s losing it here, but to whom? Rhea deserves it, but so does Io Shirai and I think the genius of the sky is about due a breakout performance.
Lewis: This is a tough one. On the one hand, Io Shirai is amazing! I would love for her to be champion. On the other hand, however, Flair is probably going to keep the title for now. I’m going to go with Flair for this one.
Mike: So hard to predict, but I’m going to go with a title change. Flair hasn’t done much since becoming champion, so I think Ripley pins Shirai to regain her belt.
Justin: Has Charlotte been a bust in NXT so far? I’d argue she has the outstanding women’s division down there stuck in neutral rather than moving forward. Meanwhile she appears on every brand. I don’t think Charlotte has done nearly enough as champion. And with Becky gone, I think it might be time for her to go back to RAW and be the focus there full time. But I don’t think the title goes to Rhea.
I’m picking Io Shirai in a slight upset here. She’s busted her ass for so long that she finally deserves a reign as champ. Rhea can either get a one on one win over Charlotte in a match soon, or possibly wait until winning the Rumble next year to get it.
Marc: This will be the match of the night in my opinion. Flair did more for the NXT women’s championship before winning it then since with the solid build up to her challenging Ripley for the title at Wrestlemania and now needs to drop it back to Ripley. Shirai is brilliant but she’s in the match so that it’s not just a WM rematch and she’ll be the one that eats the loss. Ripley beats Shirai, new champion.
NXT North American Championship: Keith Lee (c) vs Johnny Gargano
Paul: This is my pick for match of the night. The dynamic of Gargano as the sneaky heel against the imposing face in Lee will be an interesting one. It’s another match I’m torn on when it comes to the outcome. I think I’m going to go with a Gargano win and second North American title reign. Keith Lee is on the rise and maybe he needs to move to Raw or Smackdown soon.
Steve: Keith Lee Whoop Whoop! I have a sneaky feeling that Lee is main roster bound so this would be the time to take the belt off him and Gargano has proven to be a great guy to hand a title to.
Lewis: I’m not so sure about this one. Gargano did just come off his legendary rivalry with Ciampa where he picked up the win at the end so I could see them putting the title on him, however, Lee is over like rover.
This will be match of the night I reckon, and I think Gargano is going to win. The reason is because Dominic Dijakovic is rumoured to be heading to Raw soon and I think Lee is going to follow him so we can all BASK IN HIS GLORYYY!
Mike: Another horrible match to predict because it really could go either way. I’m of the mind that heel Gargano would be better with the championship than Lee, who conversely doesn’t really need one to be a main event attraction – or possibly main roster call-up?
Justin: If this isn’t the match of the night I will be shocked. I’ve liked the heel turn of Gargano and Candice LeRae so far. It is something different for both after playing faces their entire NXT run. So a win here wouldn’t really be a step back for Gargano. But a loss for Lee definitely would be. I see this match being the first of a series of matches between the two. I’ll take Lee the win in this one.
Marc: Lee has been on a decent streak since Survivor Series and his championship win back in January was deserved. I’m not saying he’ll squash Gargano but it’ll be 75/25 in favour of Lee. Gargano has enough momentum just now with his recent heel turn, so don’t do too much too soon by having him take the belt from Lee. Lee retains.
Karrion Kross vs Tommaso Ciampa
Paul: Ciampa is arguably the top face in NXT. Him dropping down the card to face newcomer Kross feels very akin to how Bret Hart would drop down the card at the original In Your House events to face the likes of Hakushi and Jean-Pierre Lafitte. How very retro!
Bret tended to win those matches but I don’t expect Ciampa to do likewise here. He has built up a large amount of capital in the 18 months of success he has had and can more than afford a loss here without it hurting him. However it will make Kross an instant main-eventer. Good pairing, this one.
Steve: They are certainly building Karrion Kross to be the ‘NXT big thing’ since his arrival so I expect this to be given plenty of time.I also expect him to take the win on the night after a knock-down drag-out ‘killer’ of a match.
Lewis: I think Kross will take the win simply because it is his first feud since joining the company and Ciampa can afford the loss. Not much else to say really, can’t see any logic behind Ciampa winning.
Mike: It’s got to be Kross, hasn’t it? He’s only just arrived and needs a marquee PPV win to properly establish him. This is going to be an epic encounter.
Justin: It is quite clear that there are big plans for Karrion Kross in NXT. His entrance and presentation alone show that. We’ve seen two Kross squash matches so far and now we get his first real test inside the ring. There might not be anyone better for that than Ciampa. I expect a very physical contest here. But in the end this the first big time match for Kross, and I expect him to get the win.
Marc: This is the first big challenge for Cross since joining NXT last month and it’s a big one. Ciampa is one of the biggest stars on the black and yellow brand and a win for Cross would give him a very credible push. It’ll be a hard-fought match without a doubt and it’s one that Cross should come out on top. Cross to win.
Finn Balor vs Damien Priest
Paul: I’ll be honest, I’m not a Balor fan. I’ve never quite ‘got’ him in the same way as others. I was hopeful his NXT return and heel turn would ignite a fire for him in me but alas, he’s slid slowly back into being a face and I’m still not that fussed. Same with Priest to be fair so I’m not jumping through hoops to see this match. Balor to win of course. I would expect him to be the next World title challenger.
Steve: I expect this to be a great technical match. I think Priest should take this one as I feel Finn is in the ‘launch everyone else’ part of his run at the moment.
Lewis: Balor takes the win. Easy pick really, he has more to lose than Priest. Especially if he is going to challenge Walter for the UK title.
Mike: Priest would benefit from a victory more than Finn, so that’s where I’m headed. Could be a classic big vs little encounter.
Justin: I’m a big Damian Priest guy. I’ve seen him wrestle a handful of times in person when Ring of Honor came to my time. He had a great match with Will Ospreay at one of those shows and it was not all Ospreay. Priest brought his A game too. Priest hasn’t won a big match in NXT. Does he do it here? My gut says no unfortunately. I think Balor is next in line for the NXT title so he picks up the win.
Marc: This is another one that’s hard to call. Finn Balor is another huge star in NXT and you’d expect the former Undisputed Champion to get the victory nine times out of 10. Damien Priest is coming off the back of a big loss to Keith Lee and needs a win as he can’t seem to get the victory when it counts, in the big matches. Best outcome for both is a count out or disqualification to keep the feud going and to minimise any momentum. Balor wins by DQ.
Mia Yim, Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai & Raquel González
Paul: Or….The One Where They Through Everyone On The Card. I thought Takeovers were immune to this type of match but alas, not this time. However, these is some real talent in this and also, some personal rivalries in and amongst which could well elevate this to more than just filler if those stories are allowed to be spotlighted.
Who will win? Based on the fact I’ve picked heels in three of the other matches, let’s say the face team and even up the score.
Steve: Lots of talented women in one match, guessing this will be the opener to ‘heat things up’ and it should be spectacular. Got a feeling Nox, Blackheart and Yim will get the nod here.
Lewis: I’ve not really been following the storyline with the six women so I’m not overly invested in the match – however I can see the faces taking the win. I think this will be the opening match and get the show off to a happy start.
Mike: Similarly to the Gargano/Lee match, I think Candice LeRae would be better off getting the win in this one to properly establish her heeishness. Plus I want to see Gonzalez crush.
Justin: The faces badly need a win in this match. I’m a big fan of Tegan Nox but she hasn’t been a main focus of NXT since the end of her feud with Dakota Kai. Same with Mia Yim, she’s kind of been the losing babyface of NXT. I’ll give the faces a win in this one.
Marc: This match is going to come down to Mia Yim and Candice LeRae without a doubt but it’s going to be a tough one to call as to who gets the win. LeRae got a win on NXT the other night so Yim has slightly more to prove. As for the others, get off a few big moves and show what you can do but otherwise leave it to Mia and LeRae to go at it. Yim to get the win but not at LeRae’s expense. Face team wins.