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Manopera! Episode 33: NXT TakeOver: San Antonio Review

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Spaceman Frank and Chris review NXT TakeOver: San Antonio and talk a bit about the WWE UK Tournament.

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Spaceman Frank’s NXT San Antonio Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

It’s time for a major WWE Pay-Per-View so you know what that means! It’s time for several indie feds to put on shows in and around the area of said PPV (Oh, and also for WWE to roll out NXT shows the day before). While previous NXT PPV’s always threatened to overshadow their big brother PPV shows (and they universally did), San Antonio seems destined to comfortably fit in the background.

First off, it’s behind Royal Rumble, the most unpredictable WWE PPV of the year. Second, the build to this Takeover has been…bad. NXT no longer has time to breath and have periodic specials that make sense, and now they fit more of the WWE model of “well, something has to fit here.” Throw in several episodes focused on international tours and this definitely has been a weird time for NXT. Granted, NXT has the benefit of the doubt with me and most fans, but still, this may be a case of what could have been. Spaceman Frank is here to predict NXT Takeover: San Antonio.

Roderick Strong vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas

Roderick Strong was someone I was excited to see come to NXT, but once he got there I started wondering what the hype was about.  I know he is grand and all, but seeing him in NXT makes me think he is destined to get lumped into the Cruiserweight Division. Meanwhile, he is “feuding” (I consider it a strongly worded argument) with Cien Almas, who is much better as a bad guy but still needs lots of work. I think this match could be a great match, because it needs to be a great match in order for these guys to have any sort of meaningful impact in 2017. Considering the field is wide open for a couple of top guys to get into the main event of NXT, hopefully these guys show us what they got. A coin flip of a match, I think Cien is due for a big win over newcomer Strong.

Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger

Out of the two non-title matches, I have more hope for this. For one, Dillinger is as hot as he has ever been, and NXT fans are desperate to see this guy get a win. I do not expect a Sami Zayn-style push for him, since he seems destined to leave NXT sooner rather than later, but a significant win for The Perfect Ten would be nice. When everyone seems to leave NXT by losing, sending him off with a win and momentum would be fantastic. On the other hand, besides entering the Rumble at number 10, what is he going to do on the main roster? Especially in Wrestlemania season? I see him going the Tyler Breeze route. Actually, him going Breeze and Fandango would not be that bad…and they could all be henchmen for The Miz (Holy cow I just stream of conscious booked main roster Dillinger and saved Fandango).

Eric Young and Sanity in general are my dark horse candidates to have an excellent 2017. While not particularly impressive so far, I think they can go far in the new year. Sawyer Fulton’s injury is unfortunate, but replacing him with Big Damo catapults this group to the top. NXT has been missing a stable like this for some time, and having a dominate group take on the undefeatable babyfaces that populate NXT is a good idea. I don’t’ see Eric Young as NXT champ, but I see the group having plenty of gold in the near future. Tye gets a sneaky win, only for Sanity to beat down the guy immediately afterwards so that Tommy End or Chris Hero can come in and make the save.

Team DIY (c) vs. Authors of Pain (NXT Tag Team Championship match)

Team DIY (refuse to use the hashtag) have been the show-stealers for the second half of 2016, but now they face the massive but green Authors of Pain. I think the Authors of Pain are better than people give them credit for, but they really need to have Paul Ellering cut more promos and get involved. Perhaps one of the biggest things going for this match is that Team DIY (especially Johnny Gargano) are masters of selling, so the big men should look like a million bucks as they beat up the champs. I think DIY deserve a good run with the belts, and while Authors of Pain seem to be on the up and up they will get humbled here. The champs retain while the specter of The Revival looms over this match.

Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

This is the type of match that gives me pause that Asuka may get her first loss here. Much like Charlotte losing her title in a fatal four way with the rest of the Four Horsewomen, this is a way for Asuka to lose while not getting pinned. However, I still have doubts. Here is how it breaks down for me, from least likely to most likely to win:

  1. Peyton Royce: When you are the second Australian in the match and the default henchmen in the match, you ain’t winning. Not to say that she is bad, but the “Venus Flytrap of NXT” just reeks of failure. Maybe she will prove something here, but really I think she is here to eat a pin.
  1. Billie Kay: Has going into a multi-man match ever worked out for anybody? Has anyone successfully planned out having someone win in advance? Really, the smart move would have one person pin another as soon as the bell rings. Anyway, Kay actually has a character and is the only other person besides the champ to work a singles match on a Takeover Special, so at least she has that. Kay can be a worthy wrestler, but she needs a chance to shine one on one like Becky Lynch did to really show her stuff.
  1. Nikki Cross: The wildcard of the whole match. Cross has not had a chance to show how good a wrestler she is, but NXT has perfectly established her character and shown her to be the crazy wild women in the match. I really hope NXT takes advantage of the No-DQ rules inherent in Fatal Four Ways to have her go nuts on the other women. Considering she keeps losing matches because she gets herself disqualified, have her bite and claw her competition to make things interesting. I think she and Asuka take themselves out at some point leading to some close near falls from the Aussies. However….
  1. Asuka: The NXT Women’s Champion is winning this. While there are enough variables to make me sincerely doubt the outcome, as champ I give her 51% of winning. The rumors always swirl around her taking on Ember Moon, and really she is the only one who can walk in and take on the champ that the hardcore fans of NXT will accept as a worthy contender. With WrestleMania coming up, it seems like the logical step. Throw in the serious doubt that Asuka makes the main roster before ‘Mania, and I think she is keeping the belt.

Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)

Shinsuke has nothing left to prove as champ, and the extremely abbreviated feud with Samoa Joe (noticeably in his absence on this Takeover) on the international circuit has me thinking he may jump to the main roster in 2017. He is a two time champ, he has beaten everyone noteworthy in the past year, and he needs to move on. Give him the Sami Zayn route where he loses here, faces the hot new wrestler in NXT (Kassius Ohno), then leave for the main roster. Roode is one of the few people who can take on his mantle, and he can spend several weeks on NXT TV hyping his feuds and save his wrestling for when it matters. Hell, he sold this match in one promo for me, and has one of my roommates hating him like my Grandma hated Ric Flair. Roode grabs a handful of tights, becomes champ and NXT gets glorious.

Manopera! Episode 23: SummerSlam 2016 Spectacular Part 1 – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2

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Chris and Spaceman Frank sound off on the “glorious” NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II in part 1 of their SummerSlam 2016 Spectacular.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2 Predictions

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It’s that time of the year where the weather is hot and the wrestling action is hotter (that’s right, I went there). The wrestling world has been abuzz after the WWE’s brand split and SummerSlam, the first Pay-Per-View of this new era.

Meanwhile, things continue to chug along on NXT. Despite losing some top talent (along with Mojo Rawley and the now suspended Eva Marie) in the Brand Split,  buzz is high for the company’s return to the Barclays Center. Spaceman Frank is here to hopefully follow up on his perfect predictions for NXT TakeOver: The End with predictions for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2.

Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay

Do I even need to say who will win this? I have been waiting for Ember Moon (formerly Athena on the independent circuit) to debut for some time, and am subsequently predicting big things for her. Kay seems to be the frontrunner of the new crop of unheralded women the WWE has debuted on NXT, but there is no way she’s coming up the winner here. At least Kay can take comfort in the fact that she has some sort of personality a.k.a. she is allowed to talk on air.

No Way Jose vs. Austin Aries

While some may see this as a demotion for Aries (having faced the number one contender Nakamura at TakeOver: The End), NXT has played this feud fairly well. Aries finally initiated his heel turn to give Jose something meaningful. I had the feeling that if NXT did not give Jose something to sink his teeth into the fans would have turned on him, but giving him The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived prevents that.

Jose could have been a joke, but showing fire and initiative against the veteran has helped him develop what could have been a one-note character. That being said, Aries is going to win this one to humble the newcomer and help keep himself in line for title contendership.

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Bobby Roode

Roode has been killing it on the microphone, and has already made chicken salad out of chicken shit considering he alone built this feud with an opponent who’s apparently not allowed to talk in one week. Almas has quickly transitioned from the hot newcomer to just another guy in NXT, and now he’ll be the one jobbing to the next big newcomer. I have a feeling that the WWE sees money in Roode, and one day I hope to see him face off against Triple H. Until then perhaps an NXT title run is in store? Possibly even a quick call up?

The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)

After getting some sneaky wins over the champs, the longtime tag team finally get a shot at being them on a TakeOver program. The champions have been doing their thing for a while now, and this matchup seems natural considering there are few face tag teams in NXT these days. Many have been calling for Ciampa to turn on Johnny Wrestling after losing to him in the Cruiserweight Classic, which will likely happen at some point. I don’t see it happening at TakeOver, but instead on NXT TV (like Aries’ heel turn after The End). The Revival just got their titles back, and I don’t seem them losing them so soon after making history as the first-ever two time champs.

Asuka vs. Bayley (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

One of the most hyped matches of this TakeOver sees Bayley trying to recapture the magic of her previous NXT: Brooklyn match against the mighty Asuka. Asuka still remains undefeated, and I don’t see that changing in Booklyn. Bayley is well overdue for a callup, and her tease at Battleground hints that it’s coming sooner rather than later (like the night after SummerSlam, maybe?).

Asuka needs more time to adjust and fine tune her character to become either a face or heel, as right now it seems as though audiences don’t know whether to cheer or boo her. This may be because she is going after the top babyface in NXT’s history, but it makes more sense that Asuka wins and gives Bayley her big curtain call.

Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)

Joe has been on fire since winning the title, and he’s played against Nakamura’s swagger and craziness well. In particular, his reaction to the “got your nose” segment had me on the floor then praying Nakamura makes it out of Brooklyn with all his limbs. It’s tempting to say that Joe will keep his belt here to build to a rematch. It’s also likely the red-hot Nakamura wins the championship triumphantly to help Joe get to the main roster sooner as he continues to work on his English speaking skills. When push comes to shove, I believe Nakamura will win here after a brutal match that makes me wince several times in sympathy agony  (great band name).

Manopera! Episode 19: NXT TakeOver – The End (Sort of)

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Chris and Spaceman Frank discuss NXT TakeOver: The End, Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet and the bizarre TNA Slammiversary angle between Matt and Jeff Hardy.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: The End Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

Despite the ominous title, the newest NXT TakeOver live event special is not the end of the highly praised series – but it does have some finality hanging over it.

With many of the top NXT talent already on the main roster and several more possibly leaving NXT for Raw or SmackDown! when the brand split occurs in July, this may be the last TakeOver event with some of the classic NXT talents people first latched onto when WWE first began having live specials for the developmental brand.

Here are Spaceman Frank’s predictions for NXT Takeover: The End.

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger

Poor Tye Dillinger. Despite having lots of crowd support and a marketable gimmick, the poor guy lives just to put over new talent. With so many of the old NXT guard on the main roster, would a push for “The Perfect Ten” be too much to ask?

His opponent, the former La Sombra, has been working NXT live events (as well as a dark match at NXT Takeover: Dallas) and has received rave reviews from live audiences. Random side note: I like that Andrade has “Cien” as a nickname instead of being “Cien Almas. ” As much fun as No Way Jose is, it’s hard to take him seriously with no real name. In addition, it’s rumored that Almas is going to be heavily featured in the Cruiserweight Classic this summer, so it’s pretty clear that he’s going to beat Dillinger.

America Alpha (C) vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championships match)

This matchup is a big toss-up. For one, champs American Alpha are super over with the crowd and have routinely handled The Revival at live events. However, the champions are frequently discussed as the next tag team to jump to the main roster, so they could easily lose the titles and then move on. The Revival are a better version of the now broken up Blake and Murphy and shine as the talented yet generic heel tag team that make good diabolical champs. It’s time for a two time champion in NXT and The Revival will reclaim their belts so Jordan and Gable can make their leap forward.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries

The big new dream match for The End sees the two men who debuted at NXT Takeover: Dallas clash and have an unofficial number one contenders match for the NXT Championship.

Nakamura can do no wrong at Full Sail as the crowd pops big time whenever his theme song hits. Meanwhile, Aries has the crowd begging for his heel turn; as A Double would be the perfect bad guy to slide into the main event picture. The big question here is if Aries turns on the live special or if he saves it for NXT’s weekly programming. I’m predicting Nakamura wins clean here, causing Aries to descend into madness later – making Swagsuke look good while the cameras are live.

Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

First teased at Takeover: London, this match is brimming with potential.

Asuka was able to take down Bayley, but can she handle a motivated Jax who’s been taking down every other woman on the NXT roster? Conspicuous in her absence is former champ Bayley, who (kayfabe) was injured by Jax and thus unable to get her rematch. It seems blasphemous to leave Bayley out of a TakeOver, as NXT could have easily added more drama or intrigue by having this be a triple threat or having Bayley be the guest referee. By having her out it seems plain as day that Asuka hangs on to her title so the two can have their big rematch in front of the much larger NXT Takeover: Brooklyn crowd while Jax gets valuable reps so she can be NXT’s next big heel.

Samoa Joe (C) vs Finn Balor (Steel Cage Match for the NXT Championship)

The fourth and (probably) final match  between these former friends is sure to be memorable. When it was assumed this feud was played out, NXT pulled a shocker when Joe won the NXT Championship at an untelevised show. Instead of having Balor immediately jump to the main roster to join his mates in The Club, he’s been showing more fire than ever in trying to reclaim the gold.

Joe has been perfect on the microphone as champ and I’m sure WWE wishes they could give their main roster champion Roman Reign’s half the ability this Samoan has. Throw in not only a rare stipulation but the first-ever NXT cage match at Full Sail and this could be a classic feud finisher that has been sorely lacking in this age of 50/50 WWE booking.

Both men deserve to make it to the main roster ASAP, but I see Joe retaining so WWE can begin hyping Balor coming to the main roster and Joe can lay down the groundwork for a match with Nakamura that will be so heavy Iron Maiden will write a concept album about it.