It is finally time for another NXT TakeOver! We’re firmly on the road to WrestleMania, and NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day could play a pivotal role in this year’s Mania build. We’ll have to wait and see if a certain Royal Rumble winner follows up on a tease from weeks ago, but the in-ring action will definitely be top-notch. With the finals of the men’s and women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and three great title matches, the NXT roster will surely deliver. With that said, let’s dive in!
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Although WarGames is this writer’s favorite thing about NXT, the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is a close second, and this year’s final match is a perfect example of why I love this tournament. In one corner, you have MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee), two of the most dynamic wrestlers, and one of the most cohesive units in the business period. Their tandem offense’s fluidity is truly spectacular and a shining reason why they were so sought after as free agents.
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) are of the most technically gifted wrestlers on the planet and possibly the most dominant duo in NXT UK‘s brief history. They reached the finals in last year’s cup, coming up just short in a thrilling match against The BroserWeights (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle). They will most definitely have a chip on their shoulder heading into this match. As a result, I give them a slight edge in this match. Regardless of the outcome, this will be a highlight for the evening.
Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart
When WWE announced that the women would be competing in their own Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, the fans rejoiced. Every team in this tournament has validated that buzz with great performances. Though the final pairing is not what I was expecting when the tournament was announced, these four women have done a great job carrying the buzz over to this match.
Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart have jelled together brilliantly and showed real potential as a unit moving forward. Shotzi has been a highlight for months on NXT programming. However, credit must be given to the renewed Ember Moon. Since her return to NXT, she has been on a mission to show how good she is. Unfortunately for them, I believe Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez have this one in the bag. Kai has always been great in the ring, especially in a tag team setting. Gonzalez will prove to be the difference-maker. She has an incredible amount of momentum coming off her win over Rhea Ripley and it will continue to build with a victory in the finals.
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. KUSHIDA
It’s finally happening! KUSHIDA is on the hottest run he’s had since his debut. All it took was beating the lights out of Velveteen Dream and Austin Theory in route to challenging Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship. It is not an understatement saying that the feud with Dream revived a previously stale KUSHIDA. Now, he has an incredible wave of momentum.
The only thing standing in the way of KUSHIDA potentially capturing his first title in NXT is The Way. The Gargano-led stable has played a big part in helping the cowardly and smarmy champion retain his title. I believe we will see the end of Gargano’s reign and the beginning of KUSHIDA’s dominance at NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day.
NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Mercedes Martinez vs. Toni Storm
At NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day, Io Shirai faces her toughest title defense against not one but two of the toughest in the women’s division in Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez. Since her return to the NXT, after a brief run on the main roster, Martinez has been treated like the threat she is. Hard-hitting, no-nonsense, and in your face, Martinez has been showing fans everywhere why she’s one of the most respected in the business.
Martinez alone would be reason enough to fear for Shirai’s reign ending, but one of the fastest rising stars in Toni Storm must be considered as well. Though she may still be relatively new to NXT fans, Storm has already held gold over in NXT UK, beating Rhea Ripley to capture their Women’s Championship. If her talent wasn’t enough to make Shirai fans sweat, she’s added an edge to her game that was missing before since her heel turn.
There’s still plenty of reason to believe Shirai can and will walk away with the victory, though. One shining example is she won her championship in a triple threat match against Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair. No matter who wins, the champion will have to keep their eyes open, as Raquel Gonzales is surely waiting in the wings for whoever emerges with the belt.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne
Finn Balor has seen a career resurgence since his return to NXT over a year ago. Between recapturing the NXT Championship and facing Kyle O’Reilly in some of the most celebrated matches of the year, Balor has looked near unstoppable. That momentum could easily come to a screeching halt against “The Bruiserweight,” Pete Dunne.
Since his return stateside, Dunne has a renewed focus and is set on reasserting his dominance. These two going toe to toe would normally be more than enough reason to be invested in this main event. However, there are so many questions that need to be answered regarding what’s next for the winner. Will Edge make use of his shot to challenge for the NXT Championship at WrestleMania? What about Karrion Kross? He could easily wreak havoc on the winner of the match and make a claim for the belt he never lost. Those questions are why NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is a can’t miss event for any wrestling fan.
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