This Sunday, WWE will present its 30th annual Royal Rumble, but, before that, NXT will once again have the chance to upstage its big brother by presenting their Takeover San Antonio show at the Freeman Coliseum. Of course, the presence of the full NXT roster will present some interesting Royal Rumble surprise entrants possibilities, but, before we get into that in articles to come, let’s start with looking at what the boys and girls from NXT have in store for us:
Roderick Strong vs Andrade Almas:
Interesting match between two wrestlers who do have something to prove. While Strong was booked rather strongly from the start, picking up some victories and being included in the Fatal 4-way for the number 1 challenger spot, one must also note his first NXT matches haven’t quite created the big buzz he (and NXT) might have hoped for. This is a recurring problem with Strong. He’s a very capable wrestler, sure, but he also sometimes struggles to get the fans firmly behind him. Almas has had much the same problem since his debut, but he, at least, can blame that dreadful “Cien” persona. Again, his matches were good, but the gimmick made it kind of impossible for fans to get behind him. However, since his heel turn, Almas has been able to channel shades of La Sombra, which is good news for him. On a side-note, I don’t really see why NXT didn’t have him simply adapt his successful La Sombra character to suit the promotion, but, that’s one of those question that probably never will be answered. Hey, maybe that IS what we’ll be getting from now on, let’s hope so at least. Winner or loser doesn’t really matter here, what both need to do is have NXT and WWE Network viewers take notice and go: “Oh, that’s what these guys are about, now I get it”. In other words, time to deliver what your fans KNOW you can deliver, guys.
Winner: Andrade Almas.
Tye Dillinger vs Eric Young:
Not sure what to expect here. Dillinger has managed to gets some kind of cult following with his Perfect 10 gimmick, but the truth is, he kinda reminds of Tyler Breeze. A decent wrestler, that’s for sure, but we also know what happened to Breeze when he moved to a bigger stage. Can Dillinger take that next step? I honestly doubt it. As for young, the Sanity thing is certainly intriguing, but, in-ring wise, Young had made a career out of having good hits but also quite a few misses. And right now, Young really needs a hit. With Dillinger, he does have a good opponent for that so let’s see which Young we’ll see on Saturday.
Winner: Eric Young.
Fatal 4-way for the NXT Women’s Championship – Asuka (c) vs Nikki Cross vs Billie Kay vs Peyton Royce:
There is no question Asuka has been very successful since her debut in September 2015. More, she has now become the most dominant woman’s champion in NXT’s history. That dominance does pose some problems though, problems NXT has deftly sidestepped with this fatal 4-way. Indeed, none of Asuka’s three opponents would have been taken very seriously in a singles match against the champion. Of course, a a Fatal 4-way changes the dynamic of this situation radically. With the Aussie Girls banding together and the always unpredictable Nikki Cross all in there at the same time, this might very well be Asuka’s toughest test to date. Personally, I deem it very likely she will loose here, without being pinned. I mean, they can’t keep the title on her forever and, in recent weeks, I’ve started to question if it would indeed be such a good idea for Ember Moon to be the one to accomplish that momentous task. There have been problems between the Aussie Girls and Moon already, so it would probably be better for the former Athena to go after the heelish duo and become champion despite the odds, than all of a sudden succeed where Bayley and Nia Jax failed. Besides, they need to move Asuka to the main rooster sooner rather than later, if only to give Moon and all the others a chance to really shine. This would not be a bad way to do things, under the current circumstances.
Winner: One of the Aussie Girls.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match – DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) (c) vs The Authors of Pain (Rezar and Akam) with Paul Ellering:
The Authors of Pain are the latest entry in a long list of teams trying to fit the mold the Road Warriors created. Only problems, most of those teams have failed miserably, and I’m not sure the AoP will fare much better in the long run. They do have a typical Road Warriors opponent with DIY, meaning, smaller, more talented guys who can bump all over the place for them and will, more than likely, carry them to a good match. But, if the AoP win, the biggest test for them will come after the match. Can they carry the title? Can they mask their short-comings? Can they succeed where so many teams have failed. More importantly, can they find that extra factor, that thing that has eluded those other teams (see the Ascension as the most recent example), can they try and fit that mold WITHOUT looking like a cheap Road Warriors rip-off? From what I’ve seen at the Dusty Rhodes classic, I’m not convinced. Don’t get me wrong, they might look good as champions in the NXT environment, but… So did the Ascension.
Winner: The Authors of Pain..
NXT Championship Match – Shinsuke Nakamure (c) vs Bobby Roode:
Amusingly, this is kinda the same problem as with Asuka. They can’t keep the belt on Nakamura forever and, while having Nakamura debut in NXT was a good decision back in March 2016, it’s safe to say the King of Strong Style has already achieved all he can in NXT. With Bobby Roode they also have an opponent who is experienced, over and with whom they can protect Nakamura in the event he indeed looses. Therefor, I can see the upset happening at San Antonio.As I explained in another article, for now, Samoa Joe is the prime NXT candidate for a Royal Rumble appearance and a subsequent push towards WrestleMania. Does that mean Nakamura is out of the equation? I, for one, do not think so. There is no reason Why WWE couldn’t push one on RAW and the other on Smackdown! for example. As for Nakamura’s chances of being at WM, well, Naka:mura vs Styles anyone? For Roode, this would be the ideal opportunity to shine in a “glorious” way and for Nakamura, a loss could mean the start of his road to WM. It just fits too well for me to not go with that so…
Winner: Bobby Roode.
And there you have it. Like said, NXT Takeover San Antonio looks good on paper and I have no doubt they will also deliver where it matters most, in the ring. As for me, my Royal Rumble previews will be coming up soon and you can expect my full NXT Takeover review this Sunday. Until then, have fun!