On the eve of the Royal Rumble, NXT will be having their first TakeOver of the year. After a string of five great TakeOvers in 2018, the yellow brand will like to continue that streak.
The TakeOver: Phoenix match card will have five matches in total with all the NXT brand titles on the line. Here are my predictions for Saturday night.
Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle was one of the top signings NXT made in the summer of 2018. In his debut TakeOver match, he beat Kassius Ohno in a matter of seconds. Ohno has been looking for revenge ever since which leads up to TakeOver: Phoneix.
The “King of Bros” has the skill set and athleticism to become a star in NXT and this looks to be the start of his push. Having him go up against a veteran like Ohno is a good start for him. I don’t think it’ll be a quick five-second match like last time, given that this is a chance to Riddle to show what he is all about.
Prediction: Matt Riddle wins
NXT North American Championship – Ricochet (c) vs. Johnny Gargano
As a face, Gargano was never able to win the NXT Championship after numerous attempts. Now a heel, Gargano looks to finally get a piece of NXT singles gold. Ricochet, on the other hand, has been one of the more popular wrestlers on the brand and has held his own as NXT North American Champion.
During the last few weeks of NXT episodes, it looks as thought him and NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa are going to have another match in the near future for the title once again. If that is the case, I don’t see him winning. Ricochet should stay in NXT for a little longer, so keeping the belt on him would help his case. Ricochet wins and Gargano then once again moves on to Ciampa.
Prediction: Ricochet retains the NXT North American Championship
NXT Tag Team Championship – The Undisputed Era (c) vs. War Raiders
The Undisputed Era has been one the best tag teams we have seen in NXT. Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly, along with fellow stablemate Adam Cole have all been popular acts on the NXT brand. It is a matter of time before they get called up the main roster. The War Raiders have been on a tear since debuting in late 2018 and looks as if they will be the next tag team to hold onto the championships.
I see UE getting called up sometime after WrestleMania 35. Have them drop the belts to War Raiders now and then get a rematch at TakeOver: New York.
Prediction: War Raiders win the NXT Tag Team Championship
NXT Women’s Championship – Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair had been undefeated since coming into NXT and looks to break out in 2019. Her athleticism and hair whip move gives her a chance to be the next star in the women’s division. Though she still might need some time to develop in NXT, there is nothing wrong with rolling the dice and giving her a championship run in her early career.
Shayna Baszler has been great since debuting a year ago, winning the NXT Women’s Championship twice and destroying her opponents in the process. If Belair wins, it could be a sign that Baszler will be called up soon and align herself with former UFC competitor and friend Ronda Rousey. I see Belair winning here and Baszler getting a rematch WrestleMania weekend.
Prediction: Bianca Belair wins the NXT Women’s Championship
NXT Championship – Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Aleister Black
This one was a tough one for me. On one hand, Aleister Black had a good run with the NXT Championship but it was cut short with an injury and should get another title run. On the other hand, Tommaso Ciampa has been outstanding and has been putting on great matches as champion.
If Black loses it could be a sign that he will be called up the main roster sooner rather than later. It could also be a sign that Ciampa/Gargano will have another match against each other WrestleMania weekend. Either way, this match will be fun to watch.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa retains the NXT Championship
Much like TakeOver: Philadelphia 2018, Phoenix will look to start off on a high note in 2019. The matches on paper look great and there is no question that it will not disappoint. It will be interesting to see who wins/loses here, giving that it is around this time that WWE/NXT make their decisions on who will take the next step and be called up to either SmackDown or Raw.