NXT Takeover: London Predictions and Analysis

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NXT has had quite the year. It seemed like as the months passed by, they only continued to grow and expand. It started with the their first television tapings outside of Full Sail University, then their first ever Takeover event outside of Orlando, Florida. Now, NXT takes it’s biggest step forward yet by presenting it’s first ever Takeover event outside the United States.

NXT Takeover: London marks a new era for NXT as well. Since their last Takeover event in August, NXT has lost Charlotte, Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch, Tyler Breeze, and Sasha Banks. This is not just a test to see if the NXT crew can succeed overseas, it’s a test to see if NXT can continue to create compelling stories and connect with the crowd without five of their best. As always, the Last Word on Sports Wrestling team got together to analyze the matches and even offer some predictions as to what we think might happen.

NXT Takeover: London Predictions and Analysis

Emma vs. Asuka

Thoughts by Adam Contant: Despite having a fairly simple and some would say forgettable story heading into the contest, Emma vs Asuka has the potential to be the match of the night. Both women have the experience to put on a clinic once the bell rings, and both have managed to do a very good job of getting over.

Emma has done everything she can to reinvent herself since returning to NXT. Her more aggressive heel persona has helped with that process, and aligning herself with Dana Brooke has given her extra heat with the fans who reject Brooke because of her background and lack of experience. Sadly, at some points this has felt like nothing more than Brooke vs Asuka 2.0. Hopefully, Emma finds the spotlight and forces it to shine on her.

Asuka entered NXT with a lot of hype, and so far has delivered when it comes to giving the fans at Full Sail University exactly what they want. She is very popular and may only be trailing slightly behind current NXT Divas Champion Bayley. While I do see Asuka remaining undefeated after the final bell is rung, I am hoping that she isn’t fed Emma on a silver platter. She needs to prove that she can also be vulnerable and gain sympathy from the fans.

nxttl_tagNXT Tag Team Championship
Enzo and Big Cass vs. Dash and Dawson (c)

Thoughts by Rich Laconi: This is interesting match for many reasons. There is a legitimate sense of this being a match where the outcome cannot be divined. Dash and Dawson have had a relatively short run with the titles, so dropping them at this point might be a bit premature. They have the feel of an old school territory day’s style tag team and their work rate and mic skills continue to develop and establish them as a tag team that can flourish for years on the main roster.

On the flip side, Enzo and Cass are perhaps the most popular tag team in NXT. Both men have paid their dues in NXT and created a rabid following amongst the fans at Full Sail University, which extended to their “hometown” in Brooklyn. The tandem would logically be the next call up to the main roster, but as evidenced by Adam Rose’s lackluster reaction that attempted to capitalize on the NXT fan base’s fervent following. However, the question is whether or not Enzo and Cass’s success in NXT will translate to the main roster.

As good as NXT is, the WWE Universe at large, especially in some smaller cities, does not react the same way to NXT stars as more “smartened” crowds do.  Will this prevent a call-up? How does that impact this match? If Enzo and Cass are heading up to the big show, a solid showing ending in defeat to the alliterative duo of Dash and Dawson would be logical, but if a call-up is not in their future, expect to see the two carry the straps for a while, putting their promotion on the back burner for now.

nxttl_corbinuhaaBaron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews

Thoughts by Adam Contant: It’s harder to know who this match is supposed to benefit more. Both men could use the win here, but for different reasons. Apollo Crews has been a rare talent in NXT in that he is everything that both the front office and the fans both love. He is good looking, athletic, and charismatic. He is the guy you want to groom for success, which is exactly what NXT has been doing. It would only make sense here to have Crews come out victorious and continue to build towards his eventually glory as NXT Champion.

Baron Corbin is the flipside of the same coin. Corbin is another guy that WWE was quick to get behind and promote strongly. Like Apollo, Baron was instantly taken in by the NXT Universe and groomed with an undefeated streak. Sadly for him, the fans could only swallow so much of the same old same old before they got bored with the Lone Wolf. Soon his flaws were becoming more difficult to ignore and the losses began piling up. In fact, Corbin hasn’t had a major singles victory this year.

So the question then becomes who needs it more? I would have to say in this instance, Baron does need the victory over Crews. If Apollo loses here, he still walks away with something. During the build up to this match, Crews showed something other than a beautiful smile. He showed anger, he showed emotion, and that will serve him far better than just another win. Another win makes him just like Baron Corbin, who really needs his hand raised to get back on track. More importantly however, he needs to develop his heel persona more, and maybe bend the rules in his favor in order to get his heat back.

nxttl_niabayleyNXT Woman’s Championship
Nia Jax vs. Bayley

Thoughts by Adam Berry: NXT Takeover: London! It’s going to big, nay: HUGE. I absolutely love a Takeover Event – even more so when it is in MY home city; and I struggle to think which match on the card is the biggest. Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe has its draw but they are two performers who we know can get the job done – the big match of this PPV is undoubtedly Bayley v Nia Jax.

We can look at the match and agree people like Dana Brooke, Emma, Carmella or Asuka are probably more deserving of a shot at Bayleys Championship, and Nia Jax has seemed to get this shot out of no where. The build has been pretty small – but who cares?

It’s going to be another fantastic underdog story which is a genre that Bayley is oh so great at delivering. I hope this is her last underdog match though – because it’s time they really built her to be a strong champion.

Nia Jax is one of the most refreshing stories we have had in Women’s wrestling since the Iron Woman announcement. She is one shining light to the creative department of WWE and I really hope they do not waste her. She has the pedigree being Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson‘s cousin and she undoubtedly had the physicality. She’s not a Woman’s Champion – yet, but this will be a great match into the story of a very powerful heel partnership between Eva Marie and Nia Jax. I’m also very excited to see what Nia can do on a big stage in such a short space of time – could this be the birth of something very special?

Bayley for the win. Nia Jax for the rub. Women’s Wrestling will be the real winner of this match and in true NXT Fashion I believe this match will truly steal the show.

nxttl_joebalorNXT Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor (c)

Thoughts by Adam Contant: There is a real sense of anticipation for this match, and that likely has to do with the fact that NXT has slowly built this story over months, planting seeds with glances and emphasized words. It has spoken volumes with it’s subtlety, and while most fans knew a day of consequence was coming for the NXT Champion, we had no idea when it would be. When that day finally arrived, I felt two emotions: Relief that I could now stop waiting to get this feud going, and excitement, for the same reason.

Samoa Joe has seen new life breathed into him since joining the ranks of NXT at the beginning of the year, especially in the last few months while performing as a rule breaker. His promos have been intense, his actions cruel, and everything has felt calculated and cold. It is almost as if he saw the space left by Kevin Owens and took it upon himself to fill that void. His no nonsense approach to the contract signing was refreshingly different, and that’s only one example I can give of how he has impressed.

NXT Champion Finn Balor has also gone under a transformation, but I can’t say it has been nearly as flattering as his opponent. Balor has ditched his Demon persona for a leather jacket and a can do attitude. He has been watered down and his edge removed. Sure, he’s a fine wrestler, but he acts more like your jock buddy than a man to be feared.

Who knows, once Kevin Owens left maybe Finn got comfortable, and started to relax a little more. Maybe Balor needs a challenger like Owens, a devious ying to his demonic yang. He needs someone despicable enough to awaken the Demon. I believe that Samoa Joe is that someone, but I also believe the demon might have lay dormant for too long. It might be roused from it’s slumber, but only after a sobering wake up call from a man who might as well be a monster in his own right. If Finn can’t bring out the Demon to play, then I predict Samoa Joe will be coming home with ten extra pounds of gold in his suitcase.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that this has been the biggest year in NXT’s existence. To end the year with a Takeover special this big only seems appropriate. NXT has gotten to the point where their biggest challenges have become topping their own achievements. The only question remaining is can they? Not only their last Takeover special, but this last year? We’ll find out in a few hours when we watch a show most definitely worth staying up to see.