In the shadow of SummerSlam and over THIRTEEN WEEKS since Samoa Joe debuted at the conclusion of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn's NXT Championship no contest at Takeover:Unstoppable, it's finally time for another NXT Takeover! With over 13,000 tickets sold, the first Takeover to emanate from outside of the Full Sail Arena is set to be the biggest one yet, but what exactly do we have to look forward to? Let's have a look.
Finn Balor and Kevin Owens picked up our Match of the Month award for July with their terrific bout from Live in Tokyo: Beast in the East, so to say that I'm a little bit excited about seeing a rematch is a bit of an understatement! Then simply because they can, they made it a Ladder match, because why the fuck not? Anyone who followed Owens' career on the independents will know the kind of matches he is capable of putting on when there's a ladder involved, and those that didn't are about to find out. Balor has shown he's one of the most creative wrestlers on WWE's roster since his début in January, so I'm expecting these two to put on something special in Brooklyn.
All the signs would seem to point to Balor retaining here, with Owens now a permanent feature on Monday Night RAW and Thursday Night Smackdown thanks to his blistering feud with John Cena. However, Owens having a match the very next night with former NXT favourite Cesaro makes things a little more interesting. Could we see Cesaro involved in the match to further the issue between the two? It's possible, but certainly not desirable in such a big match for the developmental promotion. But we may well see a finish that allows Owens to shine, to allow him to stay strong going into his match at SummerSlam.
Prediction - Balor retains the NXT Championship
How good is it to see a women's match promoted as a co-main event on a WWE produced show? Could anyone have imagined such a thing a few years ago, when Michael Cole was taking the piss out off everyone on the all female series of the original NXT concept? Sasha and Bayley more than deserve this spot after working their arses off this year, with both their in-ring performance and character work seeing a marked improvement. I expect the crowd could be red-hot for this one, as the likeable Bayley challenges the cocky and confident BOSS for the silver belt.
Sasha is another performer who's working both Takeover: Brooklyn and SummerSlam this weekend, as she features in a big Three Way Nine Woman Elimination Tag bout on Sunday night, so that very well could play into this match as well. Hopefully we'll see Bayley and Sasha get to tell a story between just the two of them, rather than any of Team B.A.D getting all involved, as there just isn't really any need to overbook things here. I'm expecting Bayley to finally get her hands on the title after numerous attempts in a hard fought battle and a BIG reaction from the Brooklyn crowd.
Prediction - Bayley wins her 1st NXT Women's Championship
The main question heading into this one is who The Vaudevillains will have in their corner to counter the presence of Blake and Murphy's valet Alexa Bliss, as has been teased over the last few weeks of NXT. It could easily be a debuting performer as WWE has a few fresh female faces waiting in the wings at the Performance Centre, but with the way it's been built on television I'm expecting it to be something a little more special. The match itself is a real opportunity for these four guys to make a mark on NXT and make a case for why they deserve to be stepping up above to the main roster. The Tag Team division is certainly the weakest division in NXT at the moment, so it's time for these boys to change that tonight.
Prediction - Blake and Murphy retain.
Still can't quite get my head around Jushin Thunder Liger being on a WWE show in 2015...it's going to be very surreal when Liger walks out for his match with Tyler Breeze. Prince Pretty is the perfect NXT opponent for Liger in my opinion, as his character should gel well with the 11 time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and, as we've seen in matches with Sami Zayn and Finn Balor, Breeze is more than capable of putting on a quality bout. It would make sense for the Lance Storm-trained star to pick up the win here and head towards an NXT Title shot at the next show, but I still expect this to be a hard fought battle, with a focus on allowing Breeze to shine.
Prediction - Breeze wins.
I've made it known before that I am not a fan of Bourbon Corbin with him still to show any signs that he's been in WWE developmental for FOUR YEARS! Samoa Joe is also yet to have a standout match since making the jump to NXT, so I can't say I'm holding out much hope for this one. Both men need a win here badly, so I'm at least interesting to see who is given the nod and get's the continued push in the brand. I do wish that I cared at least a little bit about this one, but I just can't do it.
Prediction - Joe wins.
We also have the long awaited debut of Apollo Crews (formerly Uhaa Nation in Dragon Gate and elsewhere). If you've never seen Crews before you're certainly in for a treat when he walks into the Barclay's Center.
It's a big weekend for WWE and I expect that they'll kick it off in style here. With the exception of Joe vs. Corbin, there's something that I'm looking forward to in every match on the show, and this one has potential to be one of the greatest events in the short history of NXT. All the best to all the performers and production team on the show and I'll see you back here tomorrow for our review, as well as a preview of SummerSlam!