by Frank Lucci
It’s time again for WWE to put on their biggest show of the year. Lately, that big show had been overshadowed by the critically acclaimed Takeovers that precede it, which act like the Guardians of the Galaxy films to the populist Avengers movies. They are not suppose to be better, but really, with this cast, how could they not be? This year it seems like WWE has made a concentrated effort to tamper or even dull the NXT before Wrestlemania, with the build being built primarily on video packages as other people who are not even on the card (cough, Kassius Ohno) to keep the weekly NXT shows running in the meantime. I mean, I get that WWE does not wanting for Shinsuke during the main event of their big show like last year, but why not just try to make Mania better rather than hurt NXT? Petty conspiracy theories aside, until NXT actually disappoints me I will be all in on their live events, and their is plenty to like here despite the promo package heavy build. I am Spaceman Frank, and here are my NXT: Orlando predictions.
Team Perfect Best Friends (Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, No Way Jose, and Ruby Riot) vs. Sanity
The big question here is if this will be the standard WWE mixed tag match, or if NXT will be bold and allow Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross to mix it up with the boys. It would make sense for Cross to attack the men since that would very much be in her character, and I believe the best way to get the debuting Ruby over with new fans is to have her stand up to Sanity and lay into them regardless of gender. I like everyone here, and given that this is one of the best built up feuds in NXT, I think NXT can have a brawl for the ages here. If this is a plain jane mixed tag natch I see Cross getting the win to give Sanity some cred and herself some momentum because I think she is next up for the Women’s Championship. If everyone can hit anyone I think this will end up being an epic chain of finishers that give Tye a win that he is desperate for. Dillinger has put in the work in NXT, and her deserves a Big Damn Hero moment for once. In front of the Mania crowds right in the backyard of NXT and I think The Perfect Ten gets the pin.
Aleister Black vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
Another big debut sees the former Tommy End get his proper debut (after showing up during the UK Tournament in an exhibition loss to Neville) against Almas. Almas has gotten so much better as a heel, and honestly I see him taking over the mantle of cocky heel for Bobby Roode whenever he gets called up. It seems odd then that NXT would feed him to their next big debut, and it is even stranger that Kassius Ohno is nowhere to be found despite being all over NXT TV the past weeks. Ohno has not exactly impressed since coming back, and NXT honestly seems to be punishing him by having him lose and wear unflattering outfits. I think a triple threat between the three would have been dynamite and add an air of mystery here, but without Ohno I see Black getting the win. He is knew, he has a stellar look, and he can be the star power NXT will need post-Mania. I just hope Almas gets his stuff in and looks good here because NXT is going to need him to step up even more in the weeks and months to come.
Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
Asuka is facing literally the only women possible that seems to have a remote chance to take her championship. I should be super hyped for this and yet…I am not. Triple H is on the record for saying he is not pleased that the NXT Women’s Division was gutted by the WWE draft, and it really shows that only Asuka and Moon are the legit ladies left who can get the crowd into a singles match for the belt. But the booking has done Ember Moon no favors, and she has been hot and cold since her debut the past summer in Brooklyn. She is undefeated, sure, but she appears infrequently and did not face as stiff competition as Asuka has. I think Asuka will win here in a competitive match, then go the main roster (preferably Smackdown because in generally I think they handle people much better there). She is very close to breaking Goldberg’s streak, and if there is one thing WWE loves is stats they can parade around every week. Have her keep the streak intact so she has a default storyline and drawn out her beating each person on the roster as she gets closer. Then we get Asuka vs Charlotte in the battle of ladies with have/had streaks to get her past 176. Asuka is ready and we need new blood ASAP. Meanwhile to cover the cost of getting to the main roster she gives up her NXT championship without losing it and the long rumored women’s tournament crowns a new champ in Moon leading to an eventual rematch down the line. Book it Triple H the Spaceman demands it (please don’t hurt me).
Authors of Pain (c) vs. The Revival vs. Team DIY (Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships)
This is NXT’s (and WWE’s by extension) Big Giant Indy Exhibition Craziness Matchup of the weekend. The important (aka only) tag teams in NXT go at it all at once, and this will surely big the match that people talk about when the dust has settled on the weekend. Team DIY and The Revival are opposite sides of the same workhorse coin, while The Authors of Pain are the stereotypical team WWE craves while at the same time showing of some impressive moves when asked. Something special is here, and what I really want is a Wrestlemania 17 TLC match between the three to crown the next wave of stellar tag teams going forward. Instead, we get an elimination match between the teams, which is fine but I really want to see something that requires people to crash and burn to achieve glory. I could almost see the two smaller teams teaming up on Authors of Pain to take them out, but I think they are keeping the belt her and sticking around to dominate for a long time as is customary in NXT I could also see the long standing split between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Wrestling actually happen if not for the fact that NXT (and WWE) are desperate for tag teams. I think The Revivial are the ones out first because they are the most main roster ready (Evolution 2.0 with them, Joe, and Pete Dunne with Triple H being the shadow puppet master please!) and to balance things out between face and heels. But in the end AOP needs the belts to stay relevant, as heel tag teams have a bad record in NXT once they lose the belts.
Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)
After putting on a psychological showcase, we now get Roode trying to fend off a pissed off Nakamura in Orlando. What I do not get is WWE first running the injury angle of Nakamura, followed by backstage or pre taped segments of the former champ. I can give a pass on the whole injury angle if I believed for a second Nakamura was actually inured. Meanwhile, Shinsuke is best in front of a live crowd to feed off their energy and showcase his charisma, as he just does not have the same effect over Twitter updates and taped footage. Roode has suffered as well, though props go to the props department for adding little things for people to praise the champ over such as the picture of himself behind the champ during his sit down interview. Bobby is such a dastardly heel that my roommate Kim has wished get dies in a fire, so he must be doing something right. I think he will retain here cause Nakamura has nothing left to give NXT and needs to be on the main roster. Roode is the evil champ the brand needs as it collects some new stars, and Nakamura is the exciting new babyface both shows needs. I think this match will be fine, but I am ready to see what’s next.