It’s been quite a year for NXT. Not only have their Takeover specials consistently overshadowed main roster WWE PPV’s, but they have managed to deal with injuries and top stars being “promoted”, and I use the word loosely, to the main roster without missing a step. Their last Special of the year looks perhaps a bit weaker than previous events on paper, but with talents as Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Asuka and Bayley involved, weak might be a very relative term in this case. Anyway let’s take a look at what NXT Takeover London has in store for us:
Apollo Crews vs Baron Corbin:
While it’s still somewhat the norm to criticizes Corbin for his abysmal in-ring performances, objectively he hasn’t done THAT badly in matches against Samoa Joe and a few others. OK that might be mostly thanks to those talented opponents, but Corbin has evolved to the point where he occasionally delivers somewhat acceptable, if still very bland, matches. And yes, it’s probably still not enough to warrant the push he has been receiving but, let’s face it, such things are not THAT uncommon in wrestling. Anyway, it’s up to Apollo Crews to light a fire under Corbin’s ass and make this one better than it looks on paper. And given Crews’ energetic style and offense, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Also, in typical NXT fashion, this match isn’t there just for the sake of having the match, the rivalry between those two has been brewing for some weeks, and there is the added intrigue of the winner almost certainly becoming number 1 contender for the NXT Title. This is the main reason why I go for Crews as the winner. Apollo has been storming through the ranks ever since he debuted, much like Kevin Owens did earlier this year. To continue with the Owens comparison, KO was called up to the main roster rather quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if Crews follows the same route. So I predict a win for Crews here, followed by a short, KO-like reign to legitimize him once he appears on RAW. Beside given who I think will win the Main Event, a Crews win makes a lot of sense.
Winner: Apollo Crews
Asuka vs Emma (with Dana Brooke):
After a disastrous main roster run (though she wasn’t really at fault for that), Emma is slowly recovering from her ordeal. The Heel Emma character has been rather interesting to watch, displaying new aspects of her personality while warping some of her old ones, so I see her climbing up the ranks (again) in the coming months. Not here though, as she is basically in London in the role of Asuka’s punching bag. And yes there will be some Dana Brooke shenanigans, yes both Dana and Emma will do everything they can to stop ‘The Future”, but, well, the Future can’t really be stopped can it? Speaking of stops I believe this is Asuka’s last stop before starting her road towards a Championship match so I am very curious to see how this will play out here. Until now, she has been facing less experienced performers in rather short matches (invariably giving those performers the best matches of their career), but against a reinvigorated Emma this could be somewhat of a show-stealer, if given enough time. Triple H did tell us to expect big things from Asuka at Takeover London after all.
Dash and Dawson vs Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady (with Carmella) for the NXT tag team titles:
Rather intriguing situation here as Enzo and Cass were the Number 1 Contenders for the Tag team Titles, before being “injured” by Dash and Dawson who would then go on to defeat The Vaudevillains for the titles. Dash and Dawson have been rather effective in their role of “old school” type heels while Enzo and Cass’ popularity is undiminished so the London crowd should be hot for this match. As for the winner, while many would like Enzo and Cass to have a run as NXT tag team champions, I simply don’t see it happening here. Enzo and Cass might very well become the Tyler Breeze’s of the tag division, being moved to the main roster without having won the titles they were after. The reason for that is NXT’s most improbable success story of 2015, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. They have been defeating ex-champions left and right so they are obviously next in line for a shot at the titles. While they could have an awesome match against both team, Gable’s popularity is best exploited against pure heels. And that’s Dash and Dawson.
Winner: Dash and Dawson
Bayley vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Women’s Championship:
Bayley faces her biggest test to date. And I’m not talking about Nia Jax’s size here but about the fact Bayley has to make fans forget it is not Sasha Banks she’s facing but The Rock’s cousin. On the plus side, Bayley already performed a minor miracle by dragging Eva Marie towards an acceptable match a few weeks ago. Can she repeat this performance against the, admittedly, more talented but still very inexperienced Nia Jax? Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t mind that NXT has Bayley and Asuka fight against the less experienced wrestlers, that’s the best way for the Dana Brooke and Nia Jax’s of this world to learn. But Bayley and Sasha has set the bar so high that comparisons to those matches will be inevitable. So it’s up to Bayley to answer those high expectations once more. For the winer, this could go both ways, as much as some might hate this. Given the way Asuka has been pushed she can’t be far from the number 1 challenger position. Therefore a Nia Jax win might make sense. On the other hand, Jax’s inexperience plays against her. Will NXT take the risk of putting the women’s championship on the shoulders of someone as unproven as Nia Jax? Also people have been asking for an Asuka vs Bayley match ever since the former appeared on NXT so the face/heel boundaries might not really matter here. Besides, with Asuka’s experience she can easily turn heel on Bayley, all they have to do is let her go psycho on the fan favorite and you have something big going on for the Wrestlemania weekend show. Si I’m gonna go with Bayley, but I do think this match will end in confusion, giving them a reason to add Asuka to the mix.
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship:
The match everybody wanted ever since Joe appeared in NXT. After a alliance born out of necessity during the Dusty Rhodes tag team Classic Tournament, Joe turned heel on Balor in rather spectacular fashion, leading us to this match. I doubt any of you will be surprised if I say I have high expectations for this one. If handled correctly this might even be a late entry for match of the year candidates. And I’m sure both Joe and Balor are well aware of the high expectations so they will go all out to meet them. But this does lead us to perhaps the most unpredictable match on the card as i really believe this could go both ways. A heel Champion in the form of Joe would completely change the dynamics of the NXT main event scene, so that’s a point for him. Then again Balor has been displaying signs of becoming more cocky character-wise, so perhaps him keeping the title is the best way to develop that. Furthermore there are the possible challengers to consider. If Crews wins against Balor then Joe vs Crews seems more likely. Then again Balor’s expression when Crews told him they had unfinished business might be another indication towards the aforementioned character change. There is also the impending returns to consider. Sami Zayn is already part of the UK tour and Hideo Itami will follow shortly, that’s two more very viable candidates for the Title and, let’s be honest, any combination involving these five names will make wrestling fans salivate in advance. So who? I’m gonna base my prediction on the fact all the other names I’ve cited are faces (for now) and go with Samoa Joe making the biggest impact he possibly can by destroying Finn Balor and becoming NXT champion. Whatever happens, this should be great.
Winner: Samoa Joe
There you have it. For once, I will be able to watch the card at a reasonable hour (since it’s happening in the UK), so expect a full review an hour or so after the event ends. Until then, have fun!
Tags: apollo crews, Asuka, Baron Corbin, bayley, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Dash and dawson, emma, Enzo and Cass, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Nia Jax, sami zayn, Samoa Joe