NXT TakeOver: New York will be better than WrestleMania 35.
For most wrestling fans this is common knowledge. Despite being the developmental brand, NXT has put on far superior shows to the main roster when paired up with a significant WWE pay-per-view. WrestleMania is almost eight hours, and it features everyone, regardless of whether their program is over or not. TakeOvers are simple; five matches, two and a half hours and meaningful storytelling. What could be better?
With that in mind, this TakeOver is not without its problems. Tommaso Ciampa is out for about a year as he recovers from neck surgery. Ciampa vacated the title, canceling, or possibly postponing, the two-year-long payoff between him and Johnny Gargano. Gargano and Ciampa made main roster debuts, but their future is in doubt. Rumors have suggested Gargano could go to 205 Live, but he could stay in NXT as the champion too.
Another interesting note is that this is the fifth TakeOver to take place in Brooklyn. For whatever reason, WWE has decided this time around it will be TakeOver: New York instead of TakeOver: Brooklyn V.
The show kicks off at 7 p.m. EST with an hourlong kickoff show preceding it. Both are on the WWE Network. Every match on the card is a title match, and here are our picks for each of them.
NXT TakeOver: New York Predictions
WWE UK Championship: Pete Dunne (C) vs. WALTER
About one year ago, WALTER was chopping P.C.O's chest purple at Joey Janela's Spring Break 2. Now, he's challenging Pete Dunne for the UK Championship at TakeOver: New York. Dunne has held this belt for nearly 700 days, but WALTER will take it away from him.
No prediction is easy on this card, but WALTER seems like the right guy to end Dunne's reign. Dunne will forever be associated with the championship, and WALTER winning doesn't take much away from his legacy. It does, however, establish WALTER as an absolute monster. If he beats the man, no one could beat for nearly two years, then who will beat WALTER? This is a good question for NXT U.K. fans to be asking if you're WWE.
While the scenario does seem perfectly set up for a title swap, the reality is it may not happen. The change would propel Dunne to the main roster, but WWE may want him to continue leading the U.K. brand in a series with WALTER. There's no denying a European show would produce a bigger pop and the match could main event.
All things considered, WALTER dethroning Dunne in the opening match would be a great way to kick off WWE's WrestleMania weekend.
Prediction: WALTER defeats Pete Dunne to become the WWE UK Champion
NXT Tag Team Championship: The War Raiders (C) vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet
Again, there are no easy predictions on this card, but this one seems like the closest match to a lock. With Ricochet and Aleister Black already thriving on the main roster, it's hard to see them winning the belts and staying in NXT.
It seems as if only an impossible scenario could cause Black and Ricochet to win. If the plan is to unify the women's belts in the main event of WrestleMania, then it's possible they could unify the tag belts too. With Black and Ricochet on the ‘Mania card in the SmackDown title match, winning the belts could prompt the Revival to join. This is all a bit ridiculous, indicating the lengths it would take for Black and Ricochet to emerge victorious in a way that makes sense.
Prediction: The War Raiders retain their NXT Tag Team Championship
NXT North American Championship: Velveteen Dream (C) vs. Matt Riddle
And…back to the difficult decisions. Matt Riddle has been nothing short of incredible since joining WWE, but the same can be said for Velveteen Dream. NXT creative finds themselves having to choose between two of their best young talents. Riddle is almost ten years older than Dream, but in terms of career longevity, they've both yet to reach their prime.
Dream is only 23, but he has developed so quickly many want to see him on the main roster. Riddle is also main-roster ready, but he still needs to hold the NXT Championship before he moves up. The loser of this match should be in contention for the title, and Dream has proven himself to be ready for that last step. Riddle hasn't been pinned yet either, and this isn't the match to stop that. One part of development is learning to put over another talent. Dream will get his chance on Friday.
Prediction: Matt Riddle defeats Velveteen Dream to become the NXT North American Champion
NXT Women's Championship: Shayna Baszler (C) vs. Kairi Sane vs. Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair
Shayna Baszler has faced off with Bianca Belair and Kairi Sane at past TakeOvers. She's retained her belt each time.
Baszler and Sane are ready for the main roster, and Belair has established herself as the future of the NXT women's division. But it's not her time just yet. Io Shirai is the fourth woman in this match, and she's looking to make a name for herself in WWE with this match. Shirai can be the next Asuka, or better. Crowning her now and starting a programme with Belair could be the beginning of another Asuka-Ember Moon dynamic.
It won't be surprising if Belair wins, but there's a chance for them to build something better.
Prediction: Io Shirai steals the win from Bianca Belair to claim the NXT Women's Championship
NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole (2-out-of-3 Falls)
There's no other way to say it; the loss of Tommaso Ciampa was devastating for NXT fans. This was supposed to be the big one. Gargano versus Ciampa for all the marbles. Gargano was supposed to finally defeat the greatest villain in all of WWE after years of war. And now he's facing Adam Cole.
That's not the worst backup plan as Cole is a world-class heel in his own right. Gargano and Cole will likely put on a match that's rated four Stars of David, or higher. But the downside is, with Ciampa's injury, Gargano will do the job. Instead of a feel-good babyface win for Gargano, Cole will begin his reign with the rest of Undisputed Era by his side.
It's a tough pill to swallow for Gargano and his fans, but the Ciampa injury shifted the entire direction of NXT.
Prediction: Adam Cole defeats Johnny Gargano to become the NXT Champion