by Frank Lucci
The Easter Bunny has delivered a late present with this one. TakeOvers are usually grad affairs, but WWE really have gone all out on this one.
This could be one of those events that gets into the rarefied air of other legendary live events. I could not hype this one up more if I tired, and I plan on spending my Saturday night freaking out and yelling at my TV like I am a wee lad again. Hell, I plan on taking a nap after work so that I can be fully energized for the event. When your wrestling is so good you need to take an afternoon nap beforehand you have something special on your hands. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my TakeOver: New Orleans predictions!
Ember Moon (C) vs. Shayna Blazler (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
I start with the match that has the least mystery to me.
I was shocked that Ember held on to her championship the first time around, so I think Kanyser McDanger will take the belt here. NXT told a good story of how Moon survived their first encounter, but they cannot do the same finish twice. Plus Ember is prime for a main roster run and get some matches in with ladies like Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch.
I could see Wanyer Gamezer jumping ship to act as Ronda’s proxy while she get’s good, but really I think WWE has made it clear on their weekly programming she is going to be the focus for the foreseeable future. Blaszler wins in the only potential misstep of the show.
Undisputed Era (C) vs. Authors of Pain vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne (Triple Threat for NXT Tag Team Championship)
It is very unfortunate that Bobby Fish got injured right at WrestleMania season, but it did add some last minute mystery to this match. I was hoping Adam Cole would be forced out of the North American Championship match, but having him choose is also an interesting twist. I see him choosing the singles belt but running interference to help his buddy Kyle. Authors of Pain have nothing to prove, and I want them to challenge Braun and his mystery partner for the Raw belts the show after ‘Mania. Strong and Dunne are the X factor here, and they could be a super fun tag team that has a good run before the sudden but inevitable betrayal. But I think Undisputed Era wins via some tomfoolery to retain, with Cole losing his ladder match so that they can keep Undisputed strong sans Fish.
Adam Cole vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Velveteen Dream vs. EC3 vs. Ricochet (Ladder Match for NXT North American Championship)
My reaction to finding out about this match boiled down to this for about four days.
For one thing, my boy Ricochet is making his debut, and I am all in on seeing him in WWE. Second, we got EC3 also making his in ring debut, and just his intro promo alone has me excited to see what he will be able to do for NXT. Throw in four other capable wrestlers and this could be special.
My only complaint is I wished they swapped Cole out of the match once Bobby Fish got hurt and replace him with Kassius Ohno or someone similar. But between Lars and Dain trying to out hoss each other, several debuts, and Cole probably flying through the air repeatedly I am stoked. Plus, anything involving the Dream could lead to some levity in what could be a death defying showdown.
I think EC3 and Ricochet have the best chance to win, and out of the two I can see EC3 getting the strap. He would serve well as the entitled heel that NXT is known for, and having him already debut has allowed the crowd to get their “welcome to NXT” pop out of their system.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
IT’S TIME FOR BLOODSPORT BABY!
These guys are going to tear each other to pieces and I cannot wait. One of the best long-term stories in WWE of the past decade, which is even more impressive because Ciampa has been gone for most of it.
Johhny Wrestling is one of the most over pure babyfaces in all of WWE, and Tommaso has been pitch perfect as a vengeful heel. Just watching the hype packages they have rolled out for this have me ready to see some violence.
But who wins this match? I could see it go either way. Gargano is ready for a main roster run, even if he will most likely end up on 205 Live, so that makes me lean towards a Ciampa win to keep Johnny off of NXT. However, considering Johnny has won very few big matches and I think NXT will allow everyone’s favorite wrestler a chance to hear his entrance music play twice on a live event. Gargano wins in a gutsy affair.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (C) vs. Aleister Black (NXT Championship Match)
Who would have thought after seeing this match at TakeOver: Orlando that this would be the main event of any show?
Cien has grown tremendously as champ, and while it still feels a bit odd that he is the top guy in a loaded field, it does not seem as improbable as say, Jinder’s run at the top.
His opponent, meanwhile, has been steadily proving himself as one of the most believable and consist performers in all of WWE. He looks the part of a demonic kickboxer, and I could see a scenario where he is on the main roster ASAP.
That being said, I think we have gotten all we can get out of Cien as champion. He had a match of the year candidate against Gargano, so they should have him drop the belt and move up while he still has some goodwill. I just do not see him being compelling for much longer in NXT and could be a boon to 205 Live. Aleister wins, holds down the fort, and offers up some dreams matches for the next year or so.