Tag Archives: nxt takeover

Spaceman Franks NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 Predictions

by Frank Lucci

The summer is coming to a close, which means WWE is about to take over New York CIty. This weekend will feature the usual cornucopia of wrestling hijiinks and the various high and low points WWE fans are accustomed to at this point. First up we have the fourth NXT Takeover event to emanate from Brooklyn, which seems crazy to write.

I never thought the NXT brand would still be going as strong as it was four years later, and barring some poorly timed injuries this was shaping up to be the usual barnburner for the developmental brand. It will still be the bee’s knees, but some of the originality found on the card was robbed when the planned card fell through. I guess we will have to settle for some exciting if unoriginal rematches. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 predictions!

Velveteen Dream vs. EC3

The battle of the incredibly handsome man is the only non title match on the Takeover card. EC3 made the terrible mistake of debuting in the same match as Ricochet, so he has mostly fallen flat for me. I think he could be an excellent Bobby Roode clone in the current NXT environment, but for whatever reason he is presented as a good guy. A rich, arrogant, and handsome good guy.

Dream has continued to be the Dream, but while he had a natural rival in Ricochet athletically this feud has mostly been two grown men in tight clothes proclaiming how great they are. Definitely an excuse to get these two on the card, but entirely nonessential. Both men have had little success on TakeOvers, but I think Velveteen gets the win here to give him a bit of momentum.

The Undisputed Era (C) vs. Moustache Mountain (NXT Tag Team Title Match)

What I assume is the rubber match between the two teams after some epic back and forth between the squads. There is no doubting how popular Undisputed is, and they are the best bet for a modern NWO squad/rival to Bullet Club WWE has. There is plenty of potential in the group, and I think NXT would be smart to keep the belts on Roddy and Kyle for some time.

Mt. Stache got their names in the record books and will probably anchor the NXT UK scene when the time comes. Then when Bobby Fish gets healed up he can take over tag team duties, Roddy wins the North American belt and Adam Cole gets the NXT belt to run wild in 2019.

Shayna Baszler (C) vs. Kairi Sane (NXT Women’s Championship)

Hayner Declaymer seeks revenge on one of the few women to claim a victory over her in the form of Sane. Kairi has not exactly set the world on fire the way I thought she would after winning the first Mae Young Classic, so hopefully this gets her back on track. The champ has been getting better and better, but I still are not terribly impressed with her. I think she has potential as a character, but I’ve yet to see the match that tells me she is championship caliber.

That being said, I am guessing WWE is banking on the image of her and fellow horsewomen Ronda Rousey holding belts side by side so she is going to retain at least until October.

Adam Cole (C) vs. Ricochet (NXT North American Championship Match)

The One and Only faces the leader of Undisputed in what would be a hell of a match. Sure the build has boiled down to “really good wrestler wants a belt from slimy heel” but the crowd was going to be hot for this one either way. Expect lots of dueling chants and high flying moves as Ricochet tries to make up for the numbers disadvantage.

Adam Cole is destined for bigger and better things soon as I hinted at with the tag team match, and the same could be said of Ricochet. This very well could be a preview of a future NXT title match, or dare I say IC title match? I think this could be a toss up, but I think Cole is going to get the nod for the win since Triple H has singled him out as someone who is an MVP of NXT.

Tomasso Ciampa (C) vs. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing Match for NXT Championship)

I was very much looking forward to the triple threat match between these two and former champ Aleister Black, and it’s a shame Old Dutch Ale is out just long enough to miss the event. So with about two weeks notice the rivalry of the year is back on, and NXT has done a good job making a bunch of video packages driving the hype up.

However, I was really into Johnny Gargano’s evolution from heart of gold pure babyface to shades of grey and even, dare I say, a bit of a dick?! But now we can forget all that cause he is back to trying to murder his foe, unless of course he was the one who attacked Black. Re-watching their Chicago Street Fight I do not know how they will top that without actual murder, but I have faith they will. As for who wins, Ciampa has not had enough time with the belt, so Johann Wrasslin will regain his conscious just in time to mess up and let Ciampa win.

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Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago 2 Predictions

by Frank Lucci

Here comes NXT to save the day once again. After the repeated hits on the head from WWE in terms of PPV’s it is time for fans to remind us once again that WWE can put on quality programming when they want to. That being said the build for this event has been muted. The matchups feature some repeats and odd combinations, which while being put together in entertaining ways still may not be what fans were necessarily looking forward to. Sure it may not be up to the standard of “ZOMG BEST MATCH EVER” (real Dave Meltzer quote) set by New Japan’s Dominion event, but at this point i’ll take a watchable WWE show. It may not be the NXT event we wanted, but it will be the WWE event we need. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my NXT Takeover: Chicago 2 Predictions!

The Undisputed Era (C) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch (NXT Tag Team Title Match)

It’s the battle of the technically gifted versus the hard hitting. While the team of Fiesty and Bald Men (copyright pending) have not been treated like a treat for 90 percent of their run, the build for this makes sense at least. Oney and Burch have always been people I wish NXT would do more with besides have them do the job to people, so seeing them both get a chance to work the big stage is a win in my book. Meanwhile Undisputed prove their worth each and every show, and little things such as getting people’s names wrong on purpose makes my inner Slytherin chuckle. There are other, more established teams out their, but in terms of a match I expect to have a lot of fun watching, this is a solid pairing. But despite this being a fun match I do not doubt for a second Undisputed is going to win. Simply put, they are too good as heels and with Adam Cole not having a match he can save the match for his boys no problem. Now a serious Heavy Machinery push for my boy Otis.

Shayna Baszler (C) vs. Nikki Cross (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

Fans have been waiting for awhile now for Cross to get a serious push or, like, just a Takeover match period, and now the wait is over. She is facing Kraina Quazner, who is nothing like Ronda Rousey or Sonya Deville. Nope, nothing like them at all. She is an OK wrestler, but she does not stand out much compared to a mega star like Ronda. Her theme song is pretty cool though. On the other hand Cross has been a long standing favorite of it mine. I was upset she did not get a call up with the rest of Sanity, but if it means we actually get to see her wrestle and say things in the most Scottish way possible I’m all for it. Can she win the big one? Probably soon, but not now. They build Vanier Killmayzer up for so long I cannot see her as a one and done champion in NXT. Maybe next year during the Women’s Royal Rumble.

Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

This has been all about peacocking and showboating, and you could cut the sexual tension between the two with a cake server. These two tried to kill each other in the North American Championship match at Takeover: New Orleans, so I am ready to see what they do in a regular match. Both these guys are the future of NXT and WWE in general, and it would be nice to see the winner of this match go after the NXT Championship after this event. Dream has frequently come up short in big matches, yet has failed upwards towards more and more meaningful programs. Ricochet is exciting his honeymoon phrase with fans and this seems like a little bit of a detour considering how hot off the gate they initially positioned him. I think he will win against the Dream since the former Patrick Clark has years to get even better and can take the loss and spin it into gold later on. Ricochet needs the win more to say near the top until they pull the trigger on him as champ.

Aleister Black (C) vs. Lars Sullivan (NXT Championship Match)

Poor Dutch Ale has been in the backseat to everyone else since winning the big one, which is a shame considering is has been a consist performer in NXT. He has the look and skill set of a main eventer, but he is pushed to the back in favor of others with more developed personalities. The dark and brooding guy does very little week to week, and when he does appear it is most to remind us he can be dark and brooding. His opponent Lars Sullivan is getting the Cien Almas award for sudden ascension to the main event, and while I find him enjoyable enough I haven’t seen enough to think of him as a contender. Maybe with more seasoning, but besides his mean mug he screams generic monster man. Also, the piano part of his theme sounds like it is played on a child’s xylophone. A good but forgettable match see’s Big Champ Ale retain and go back to his emo corner.

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Chicago Street Fight)

The obvious main event of the evening promises to get ugly fast. What is the difference between and unsanctioned match and a street fight? NOBODY CARES NERDS!! Considering their first match featured several spots that made me legitimately wince and gasp I do not know what they are going to cook up here. But it is going to be brutal and hard to watch at times. Gargano got his big victory last time, and since then he has lost his wife due to inadvertent pushing (you think as a trained wrestler she would be able to take a bump better). Ciampa has been a killer on the mic and draws heat like no one else, and this will be a hot one with plenty of carnage happening. Hell, Ciampa got busted open during the build in pretty gruesome fashion before they brought toys into the picture. I think Ciampa is going to get the win here after taking advantage of some Gargano hubris and then sets his sights on a championship opportunity.

Manopera! Episode 57: WrestleMania 34 Weekend Review

Chris and Spaceman Frank review WrestleMania 34 weekend and speculate the Superstar shakeup and the state of the main roster.

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

SSEP – Episode 39: WrestleMania 34 / NXT TakeOver: New Orleans

by Jon Schorr

Ya boy Jon and the Jewharaja review NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and WrestleMania 34!

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

SSEP – Episode 38: WrestleMania 34 / NXT TakeOver: New Orleans Preview

by Jon Schorr

Ya boy Jon and Matt preview Wrestlemania 34 and NXT TakeOver: New Orleans!

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

NXT Arrival Retro Review

by Frank Lucci

In Preparation for the inevitable crowning of Roman Reigns as Universal Champion, Spaceman Frank has taken it upon himself to go back and look at some events that happened around the same time WWE tried Brock vs. Roman. He will look back at the last WrestleMania to take place in New Orleans, WrestleMania 30, as well as WrestleMania 31 and the first encounter between the two men. But first The Spaceman will check out the very first live wrestling event ever streamed on the WWE Network, NXT Arrival!

Nowadays it is taken for granted that TakeOver shows will be the better show going into big event weekends. But in the early days of the WWE Network heading into WrestleMania 30 there was no such hype. As a slightly younger Spaceman still in the infancy of my superfandom I watched the weekly NXT shows and while they were fun they were far from must watch television. Honestly I think the biggest draw for me was that they were just one hour long and they featured characters that you would never see on Raw or SmackDown. But with the launch of the Network it seemed the developmental brand was poised to take off, and when they announced a live special weeks before Mania it was hard to not get at least mildly excited. But how does this experimental and primordial TakeOver feel four years later? Let’s find out.

Now to get it out of the way, yes there was some technical bugs that plagued NXT Arrival. I was one of the many people who were stuck watching Tyler Breeze posing on the turnbuckle as the stream froze. WWE later apologized for the interruption to this “special episode” (as Wikipedia describes Arrival as if the roster would host an intervention for Mojo Rawley over his caffeine pills), but I was nervous that, if a lowly NXT event could get messed up, how would WrestleMania fare? In addition WWE overbooked Full Sail University, leaving about 200 people who bought tickets in a lurch and unable to watch the show. All in all, not the best showing for NXT and WWE. I watched this program live (until being forced to watch Breeze over and over again), and while I have fun it just felt like something to do on a Saturday night rather than something equal or surpassing a PPV. At just under two hours this should be an easy watch, so let’s dive right into it.

The intro to the show jumps right into the darkened arena as Triple H hypes the crowd. He does his standard “the future is now blah blah blah” stuff before we get the regular NXT into video. Our announce team is Tom “check out my bulge” Phillips, Byron Saxton, and William Regal (JBL is GM at the time, which is something I completely forgot about). Considering two of these guys are black holes of charisma the commentary throughout is not great. No special video package and two minutes in Sami Zayn’s music hits. Kind of a lame opener, but again I do not think Triple H was thinking to himself “these kids are gonna sell out Brooklyn three years in a row.” Speaking of Sami…

Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro

Sami won an epic 2 out of 3 falls match against a moonlighting from the main roster Cesaro, which lead to this match. I wish WWE would occasionally bring in ringers again for NXT, if only to give some floundering people some touch ups or a chance to try a new character. Sami is out first to his weird and super generic first theme song. It sounds like music from a menu screen for a Street Fighter clone on the PS2. We the People Era Cesaro is out with his garter belts on his thighs and Tea Party track jacket out. Crowd is hot for both these guys, and we get “match of the year” chants before the bell rings. Lockup and Cesaro smacks Sami in the back of the head, which is something all heels should do 100% of the time. Immediately shows your the bad guy and works for wrestling machines like Cesaro. Commentary seems to hint that big things are going to be happening for Cesaro which, um, may happen still. Much of the early portion of the match is Cesaro using his efficient Swiss engineered strength to counter Zayn’s high flying offense. The big highlight is Cesaro turning a crossbody into a tilt a whirl backbreaker. Nice.

Things slowwwwww down as Cesaro constantly throws Sami to the outside and bounces him off the guardrail. Epic uppercut counter to the diving corner DDT and we slow things down again. This was probably more exciting at the time, but now this feels like a Raw match. Cesaro works the leg as Regal provides insight into the little things that make Cesaro into a world class wrestler. Sami almost gets his comeback until his “bounce off the ropes backworks plancha” (which he needs to bring back and find a better nickname for) is caught and turned into a massive titing slam on the ramp. Awesome spot. Zayn sells like his leg is broken but crawls back into the ring to deliver his exploder suplex that everyone has stolen from him at this point.

Sami starts his classic comeback moves of Blue Thunder Bomb and Koji  clutch but Cesaro powers out into a stretch muffler, which IMO is one of the most underrated submission moves in wrestling. Someone in WWE pull this move back out instead of everyone using the Rings of Saturn nowadays. Zayn reacts to the Cesaro Swing like my roommate’s cat stuck in her pop up cat fort which made me laugh so hard my chest hurt. Swiss Superman repeatedly tries to give Sami CTE with strikes until an attempted top rope powerbomb is turned into a hurricanrana. Helluva Kick isn’t enough and at this point Cesaro starts to feel bad…but not enough to stop giving Sami uppercuts and trying to get the win via TKO. Sami sells head injuries like no one else, and a final rally by Sami leads to hockey punches being thrown into the “pop up reversed code red powerbomb” thing that only these two guys seem to be able to do. Great spot, but literally I think these two are capable of doing that move. It is not enough to get the win for Sami, who eats a pop up uppercut and kicks out at one. This freaks Cesaro right the eff out, who hits a running uppercut into the Neutralizer (such a great name) for the win. They hug it out for fans of sportsmanship/ WWE shippers.

Overall: The longest match of the night was pretty good. Crowd proclaims it match of the year, and it has its moments especially at the end. But the middle section is pretty bland and features lots of walk and brawl. Sami does a lot of moves he never does anymore, which retroactively reminds me of what a great babyface he was in NXT and how poorly he was booked on the main roster. Cesaro meanwhile looks like the boss he always has been, and I am still waiting for a main event Cesaro run. Nowadays Sami is the Martin Prince to Kevin Owen’s Nelson, and Cesaro is with the admittedly awesome The Bar. Cesaro would win the first Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale at Mania 30, but that is a tale for another time…AKA part two.

Mojo Rawley vs. CJ Parker

We get a literal hype package for Mojo before the match, and it is pretty hilarious how much faith WWE had in the guy this early on. CJ Parker is out first, who dances and spins around in what probably was Dusty Rhodes’ best guess as to what hippies were like back in the day. Mojo comes out already peaking on a combination of preworkout powder/ Molly as what appears to be his entire family in custom made Mojo shirts cheers him on. It’s pretty adorable. Crowd for some reason chants for Mojo instead of praying for Mojo. Big dirty squash match to show off Rawley’s “explosiveness” AKA the four moves Triple H knows he can’t mess up as Regal talks about his SUV. Mojo wins with the Hyper Drive (a move I personally cannot stand even when done by guys like Yokozuna) in about three and a half minutes. “We just saw a star being born tonight!” proclaims Regal in a call that made me grab a beer.

Overall: I forgot this match happened to be honest. Mojo would fart around in NXT before farting around on the main roster. He did win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (just like Cesaro!) and then feud with Zack Ryder, so you know his family probably regrets those shirts. Meanwhile CJ Parker was doomed from the start with the hippie gimmick, especially because Daniel Bryan was the hottest guy in wrestling at the moment and was actually a God Damn hippie. He would ask for his release and now has a fairly prominent spot in NJPW, which makes him the real winner here.

Hype package for Emma before her title match with Paige. I miss bubble popping fun Emma and it is hard to not fall in love with her. Of course Bayley would perfect the goofy but super talented female wrestler, but I think Bubble Emma should have gotten a better shot. We then get a package for The Ascension who have the tag titles and the next match on the card. They face a mystery team which turns out to be a Florida Swamp person and his parole officer. Oh wait it is just Too Cool.

The Ascension (C) vs. Too Cool (NXT Tag Team Championship)

Weird to see the crowd make noise for The Ascension. Scotty 2 Hotty looks pretty good considering he is 40 here. Meanwhile Grandmaster Sexay is…himself. Once I found out he was Jerry Lawler’s son it is hard not to unsee it and shower afterwards. Ascension work the vets using locks of head/chin locks and occasional power moves. Hot tag to Scotty who admittedly has some great strikes. He does not do much else until it is time to tease the worm, which Heavy Machinery’s Otis has now perfected. Konnor decides enough is enough, flattens Scotty, and they hit the Fall of Man for the win.

Overall: The Ascension were as hot as they ever were going to be here, but it is telling they have them work with the jobber team for a bygone era instead of another tag team in NXT. They would eventually lose the titles to the Lucha Dragons later in the year. 2014 was a strange, magical time. Scotty would turn this performance into a job at the Performance Center and is a firefighter/EMT so good for him. Sexay meanwhile probably retreated back into the Florida swamps, only occasionally appearing to be drunk in public or add further shame to the Lawler name.

Hype video for Paige who is in the middle of her run as the first NXT Women’s Championship. Cut to Ric Flair and proto-Charlotte in the crowd. It’s weird how Charlotte having darker dirty blond hair makes her almost unrecognizable.

Paige (C) vs. Emma (NXT Women’s Championship)

Ah, the old school NXT Women’s belt complete with glittering pink jewels and My Little Pony style sound effects for the logo animation. Thank God WWE treats women more seriously now. Stephanie Mcmahon the inventor of women is here to take credit for the success of this show, gender equality, and the universe in general. Crowd chants “you still got it” at her and she replies “ I never lost it!” Ya better still have it Steph you got Rousey coming up! Emma is out first as Steph and Regal imitate the bubble popping dance like lizard people attempting to act humans. Paige is out and she is OVER. She gets a loud sustained pop despite being the heel.

Match starts with Paige trying to physically intimidate Emma, who responds by getting the jump on the Brit. They start hot as Paige goes for the Paige Turner early and Emma tries for her setup to her finisher as well. Pure fire to start with some stiff kicks and even their headlock rest spot is more entertaining than usual as Emma flails trying to escape and Paige yells and constantly adjusts the hold. Fast pace to start as Emma tries to get the Emma Lock and Paige does her best to wear down the Aussie with kicks and strikes. Regal claims to have been married 17 times in the meantime. What the hell? where did that come from??!!

Emma in control with a bow and arrow which looks vicious when she plants a boot on the back of Paige’s head and starts cranking her arms. Paige is crying and looking like the good guy here as we see a glimpse of Dark Emma. Emma stomps away and I am pretty sure she may be possessed by the Phoenix Force. Top rope powerbomb from Emma only gets a two and I LOL when Paige makes sure to get her hair out from in front of her face before the spot hits. Paige starts her comeback with kicks leading to a superkick to Emma’s womb before hitting the Paige Turner for a two count. She debuts her quickly abandoned PTO submission to get the win.

Overall: Paige has always been one of those people (especially after this latest injury) who I debated if she was as good as advertised or someone who just looked good because her competition was not up to par. Here at least she looks phenomenal, as does Emma. WWE made a big mistake releasing Emma, and hopefully she does some good starting up Ring of Honor’s women’s division. It blows my mind when WWE looks to cut corners they start at the women’s division like they did with Emma and recent releases Abbey Laith and Sage Beckett when they need every talented women they can get their hands on right now. The fact that they did a Royal Rumble match with only 18 women available on the main roster says it all about the shallowness of the division. Anyway this probably was my favorite match of the night as it closely follows the pace and style modern WWE matches now use and both women bring it with little breaks. There is some definite hints of “THEY ARE HITTING REAL MOVES! LIKE REAL PEOPLE!” from the commentary team, but if you tune them out it is not particularly aggravating.

Video for Neville which makes me sad. Please come back Neville. We Need you. I need you. Dusty and Pat Patterson are in the crowd which makes me even sadder. Angel Grove/Somebody Call my Momma theme song Xavier Woods come out for a match. Woods really overcame some bottom of the barrell booking when he first debuted on Raw. Tyler Breeze is out with his wordless original them which still works for him. Can they bring back the selfie video thing again? At this point this is where my original watching of the show in 2014 froze up. This match lasts half a minute before (Alexander) Rusev and Lana show up and he murders the men in the ring. It is crazy to think how over and beloved all three of these guys would become years later, but here they are just here to kill some time and get over Rusev as a killer.

Bo Dallas is seen resting his head some lockers before a Bo montage begins. God, Dallas was such a great character in NXT. His face is just so punchable. It is a real shame how butchered his character became on the main roster, and you would think a guy who made a name for himself on the mic would get more chances to talk. I blame his white trunks. Seriously, White/grey trunks are one of my most hated things in wrestling. It looks like you are wearing a diaper and grey trucks show off your swamp ass pretty well. Larry Zbyszko and Steve Keirn are in the crowd as we get the second video package in three minutes explaining the build to the championship match. Long story short they both are ready for their first ladder match, which Triple H made because something something HISTORY. HBK shows up first to ramble through a promo and plug his DVD. Woo?

Finally after all the stalling Neville comes out first. Dallas is out second to some generic rock music instead of the instrumental music he had during his Bo-leve days. Bo’s hair is already dripping wet, which is gross as hell. Neville starts off strong with some explosive offense until Bo takes control and slows things down with forearms every 30 seconds. Neville gets caught in the ropes and Bo causally gets a ladder instead of sprinting to get one and win the match. Not sure why everyone does not try hog tying their opponents during ladder matches. Almost as if they want to fall off ladders repeatedly. Neville tries to take control with a baseball slide and plancha, but Dallas counters with some generic offense. Pretty sure Bo has the same moveset as a default create a wrestler. Back and forth spots of people trying to climb the ladder only to be knocked off. Bo takes perhaps the safest fall of the ladder possible as he jumps off and lands on his feet. Shows the difference between a guy like Dallas and a guy like Neville who has flown repeatedly off the ladder and taken a few hits from one as well.

The action begins to pick up finally as Neville hits an awesome tornado DDT off a ladder wedged in a corner that Dallas sells like a champion. Neville loses control again and takes an inadvertent ladder shot when it falls on his head. Look like it was the most painful bump so far. More generic ladder spots until Dallas shoves Neville off the ring post and he hits his back again the ring apron. Bo is about to climb the ladder the ladder but Neille leapfrogs him. Its all for naught as Neville takes a buckle bomb on the wedged ladder. Dallas finally takes a serious bump with a slam onto the ladder and then the Red Arrow on the ladder. The Red Arrow is just as spectacular as I remember. This is enough to put Dallas down long enough for the Englishman to grab the ladder and win the belt. Dry ice shoots down as Neville celebrates on the ladder, the ring, and a golf clap from John Cena as the broadcast ends.

Overall: Decent match. Not a whole lot of crazy ladder spots due to the smaller size of the arena if I had to guess as to why. Neville is a way better wrestler than Bo and it showed here. As much as I liked Dallas’ character he was always a C+ wrestler in the ring. Putting the belt on Neville started the template of NXT champs who were the best wrestler in the company over cartoon characters like Bo. This title run has been the highlight of Dallas’ career as soon after his main roster debut he was treated like a jobber. R-Truth of all people snapped his winning streak. Neville meanwhile would be a reliable workhorse for the company until they decided to have him lose to Enzo Amore. Considering how terrible that decision has proven to be it is easy to see why Neville walked out of the company. Hopefully we see him return to a WWE ring eventually,as his King of the Cruiserweight run was a highlight of 2017.

Final Thoughts: When I watched this event live it really blew me away. Now with the main roster filled with high quality workers this feels like a typical episode of NXT. The opening match and the women’s match were highlights and the NXT championship match was ok in places. The rest was a bunch of filler. NXT did not really become the hottest brand in WWE until Sami Zayn’s chase for the title, and this very much felt like the first attempt to start taking the brand more seriously. At just shy of two hours this was an easy watch, and even the slow portions of the event were not bad. I watched this in two chunks and the matches flew by for the most part. I’d say this is a solid B, with the big matches worth a watch and everything else being skippable.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia Predictions

by Frank Lucci

It is time for the Road to Wrestlemania, which also means we are taking the footpath to Takeover: New Orleans as well.

Currently NXT is the bastion of sanity in a WWE Universe full of shock releases, hot debut rumors, and disappointing 25th anniversary shows. With WWE having plenty of open spots for both the men and women rumble matches, this could be a last glimpse of NXT in its current form. Every random match featuring the likes of Lacey Evans or Bianca Belair makes me wonder if these folks will soon be stepping into more prominent roles. But Shayna Baszler looms over all the women as the hot newcomer who is way better than expected in her role.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side there is plenty of rumors of who may be jumping up to the main roster via the Rumble, and each men’s match could see a participant leave NXT once the event is done. I’m SPaceman Frank and here are my NXT: Takeover Philadelphia predictions!

Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream

Despite hyping a potential Killian Dain or Roderick Strong vs Lars Sullivan NXT decided to throw this match together because reasons. Not that I am necessarily disappointed by seeing this match, but they spent several weeks building someone challenging Lars and now we got nothing. Ohno seems to settled into his role of opening TakeOvers and losing to the next big talent, and Dream is going from trying to be number one contender to jerking the curtain in less than a week.

Still, this should be fun, and I hope Velveteen throws Ohno a pair of shorts to cover his cellulite (sorry for body shaming but please Kassius stop with the tights). I really want Kassius to get a victory on a Takeover, but Velveteen Dream has some momentum going in and he is the future so he will win here.

The Undisputed Era vs. Authors of Pain (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)

This match has the feeling of a swan song for the Authors of Pain. Sure, they could grab the belts again and hold the fort down, but there would not be any point in it. They have been floating around since losing the belts, and while War Games was nice it didn’t mean much to the team’s status. Meanwhile Undisputed Era have been establishing that they are plotting the run the show going forward.

Really, I see Adam Cole potentially challenging for the belt around ‘Mania time if they don’t go for the other obvious choice for Mania time (more on that later). Kyle and Bobby have done pretty well as a team, but I see this being their true coming out as a team without Cole. The Era wins and AOP show up and start wrecking main roster teams and eat Heath Slater or Kurt Hawkins.

Aleister Black vs. Adam Cole (Extreme Rules Match)

A rare stipulation match sees Old Dutch Al (New nickname pending) taking on Michael Cole’s troubled stepson in an extreme rules match because Philly. I like how they firmly established why this match is happening, and the escalating violence really sold this as a blood feud to watch. It is tempting to give Aleister an advantage here, but really Undisputed Era can just pile on the numbers and help their man win this match.

I think the Undisputed Era are going to be NXT’s big thing in 2018, and a win here would solidify that feeling for me. Meanwhile Black could show up in the Rumble and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Cole wins after some shenanigans.

Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship)

When they first started building to this I was very skeptical. I do not like the shoot to the top immediately push for “legit” athletes, and nothing in the Mae Young Classic told me Shayna would be a star within a year. But she is doing really well with her character work, particularly with her sit down interview with Percy “My head looks like a turtle” Watson and Ember Moon.

Meanwhile, since winning the belt I have seen the same old Ember as before, and I feel like I have seen the limits to her character and ring work. She is good, but not quite attention grabbing enough to carry a division. She is a prime candidate for a call up, where she will do fine…but just fine. With Ember being in the main event scene for over a year in NXT I am ready for here to get gone and let the hot newcomer take over. Lazer Blazer wins and gets the Brock treatment while she learns to actually wrestle.

Andrade “Cien” Almas v.s Johnny Gargano (NXT Championship Match)

Did anyone think this would headline a TakeOver event? Sure, their first TakeOver match was great, but who could have predicted this would be the headliner before the Rumble? Cien has been ok, but Zelina Vega is the real star here and everyone knows it.

Meanwhile, Johann Von Wrestling has been milking his steady rise for all it’s worth and it truly feels like he earned this spot. There is plenty of options on the table here. One is a returning Tomasso Ciampa costing Johnny Wrasslin’ a victory, but does anyone see Cien Almas as the headliner going into Mania season? Wouldn’t Team DIY exploding make much more sense for the biggest TakeOver of them all?

If Almas wins I see him moving on to Adam Cole, but again would Jonathan Grapples vs. Cole match more sense? I think the outcome is Johnny wins for the feel-good moment leading to Ciampa showing up to stare down or attacking his former partner.

 

Spaceman Frank’s NXT Takeover: Chicago Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

NXT has snuck in a TakeOver event several weeks after WrestleMania, and the general reaction I’ve seen from people talking about this event is “There’s a TakeOver going on that week?”

It seems very random that WWE would pick Backlash of all Pay-Per-Views to piggyback a Takeover event onto, but when you consider that waiting until SummerSlam would be far too long for a TakeOver and the fact that Chicago is consistently one of the best crowds for wrestling, it makes a little bit more sense.

NXT has had a good run of television since ‘Mania and I dare say after a bit of a lull, the developmental brand has reemerged as the best weekly program WWE has going. Chicago promises to be a weird blend of established NXT talent with some new people thrown in to replace departed stars, which should be an explosive mix to watch. However, there are several notable people missing from the card (Kassius Ohno, Alister Black, Cien Almas, etc), and with only five matches announced as of this writing I expect a last minute match added just to screw with me. That said, I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my NXT Takeover: Chicago predictions!

Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young (with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain)

The only (as of this writing) non-title match sees The Messiah of the Backbreaker taking on Tye Dillinger’s role as the thorn in Sanity’s side as he gets a one on one match with their leader Eric Young.

Strong has had a hell of a time in NXT since ‘Mania as he went from generically handsome dude who does not talk into someone I generally want to succeed. Part of this is the excellent vignettes NXT produced that addressed the gaping void where his personality should be. Another large part was his supremely enjoyable number one contender’s match with Hideo Itami that sold me on him being someone who can have main event matches. Finally, during his amazing vignette he wore an Every Time I Die “Hot Damn” album cover t-shirt, which is a golden ticket into Spaceman Frank’s heart.

Strong has all the momentum here, but since Young has the number’s game here I think he will get the win. He has a solid TakeOver record thus far, and I think this feud has legs so Young will draw first blood for Sanity.

Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne (WWE UK Championship Match)

The title match with the least build, mostly because WWE shot the UK show tapings out of order so we knew Dunne was getting a rematch before we actually saw him win the privilege of facing Bate.

Bate was excellent during the UK tournament, but I can see Dunne on the main roster now and immediately becoming a player in the main event scene a la Samoa Joe. I’d go as as far as to say Triple H needs to make Evolution 2.0 (EV 2.0?? Oh wait…) with Joe, Dunne, Triple H (as Ric Flair) and Brock Lesnar where the group feud over who is Brock’s number one contender by proxy while The Beast Incarnate is off strangling Emu’s or whatever he does on his farm.

Anyway, Bate wins here because I feel like if they make the switch it will be on the new UK show to build interest in that rather than prop up a TakeOver special.

Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

Ember Moon’s injury and subsequent withdrawal from this match has really deflated the hype surrounding it.

Moon vs. Asuka still feels like the endgame for the women’s division, though Asuka vs. Cross has me much more hyped than any other potential matchup. That leaves Ruby Riot to take the pin, and with Asuka oh so very close to breaking Goldberg’s record for longest undefeated streak there is no reason for her to lose. As of late, we have seen WWE make sure to break every possible record they can, and Goldberg’s will be next. Cross and Riot keep brawling with the Empress of Tomorrow avoiding them until she can kick Riot in the head and keep her title.

The Authors of Pain (c) (with Paul Ellering) vs. Team DIY (NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match)

I want to see the big boys known as the Authors of Pain fall of a ladder.

I am ready to see this match, and it is far and away the match I am most looking forward to. Team DIY constantly have the best match during TakeOvers, and even though they are tasked to carry the massive dudes in AOP in a match best fit for smaller guys, I’m all in. I see bodies flying, amazing feats of strength, and above all else, people tumbling off of ladders. NXT only does a handful of gimmick matches during the year, so it is telling how much DIY has management’s faith if they get the nod for a Ladder Match. With rumors swirling that Ciampa is getting a new theme and confirmation that Gargano’s new theme is in the works, people think DIY will split soon. Not sure about that leap in logic, but I think AOP gets the win here.

Author’s note: With the news that Ciampa has suffered some sort of leg injury, it seems even more in doubt that Team DIY will win the belts back. Triple H has gone on the record to say that the guy has turned an ankle and should be good to go, but reiterated the fact that it is up to the medical staff to make the final call. This gives AOP even more of an excuse to beat up Johnny Wrestling for 15 minutes as Ciampa recovers outside the ring for extended periods of time.

Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami (NXT Championship Match)

Hideo is finally back (for real this time), and immediately punched his ticket to the title scene by beating Roderick Strong. It makes sense that he would face Roode, as he is a holdout of a class of WWE signees that, for the most part, have vacated NXT. It also makes sense that he goes right back to the main event scene since that’s where he was suppose to be this entire time if not for injuries.

However, plenty of time has passed, and now many of the attributes that made Itami stand out in 2015 are par for the course in WWE. Honestly, I can see him getting hot-shotted to the main roster, but only as a Cruiserweight on 205 Live. Roode is an engaging as ever, and he is a prime candidate for a callup in the summer. For now, I predict he keeps his championship and the sudden influx of main event caliber guys in NXT leads him to losing it in a multi-man match down the road.

Manopera! Episode 38: WrestleMania 33 Part 1 – NXT TakeOver Orlando

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For the first half of our WrestleMania 33 coverage, we begin with NXT TakeOver: Orlando. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on Amy Schumer and her recent swimsuit cover controversy.

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: Orlando Predictions

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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.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!