I don't know whether or not this article will be out in time, because like maybe of you, I forgot there was an NXT TakeOver this weekend. I made plans with my family. I schedule podcast recordings. All forgetting about what is happening this Sunday. What's worse about it all is that I've actually been watching NXT almost every week. I've been watching the matches' build and certainly seen the advertising for this Sunday's TakeOver, but instead it was an afterthought. I think that I knew was coming but simply didn't care about it.
Sadly, this is really indicative of what NXT has become. An afterthought. In NXT's pursuit to become the third brand, it lost its "stars of the future" charm and small show into a ratings tactic that is consistently losing. Of course to WWE, just existing on Wednesday nights means they are doing what they want, but this means that it doesn't matter what is happening on NXT because its purpose is to just distract from AEW, but I digress.
Despite what NXT Has become, NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is here, and honestly, there has been a lot of solid build to these matches. It is not like the card is coming from out of nowhere but everything on it has made sense and it has a lot of interesting potentials. So without further ado, let's get into it.
Johnny Gargano vs. Kushia for the NXT North American Championship
After trying everything to get out of this match, Johnny Gargano must defend his NXT North American Championship against Kushida. If you know me, I was/am(?) a huge Kushida fan. I think has a great look. I think his moves are a fantastic mix of flash and substance. He's the perfect mid-size guy. So I would love to put the title on him here and get fresh no matchups across the board.
However, Johnny Gargano's character here is a cowardly heel with a group of people behind him. Meaning this match will have loads of The Way interference. Whether it is from Austin Theory or Candice LeRae of Indi "Wrestling" Hartwell, The Way will be involved in what could just be a great match. But no, we need interference because it makes sense to the story being told.
Kushida's best chance of winning the NXT North American Championship is having an army in his corner, and it's growing with Leon Ruff and Dexter Lumis. This match won't be about who's the better wrestler, but rather who has the bigger army, and it wrestling that could be an interesting story. The problem is that this is a trope in WWE as a whole and it's a go-to move across the board. You're telling me this match wouldn't be better if these two just had a match with 0 interference? I don't know. It's just frustrating is all when you look at some much potential about to be wasted. But I guess let's wait and see.
PREDICTION: Johnny Gargano retains the NXT North American Championship
Dakota Kai & Raquel González vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart - Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals
For the first time ever, NXT will crown two women as the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic winners. And this is an exciting match to start. On one side, you have Blackheart and Moon, a team that, prior to this, I never thought of before but it the ring, they are making it work. The pairing of the two could easily be a solid tag team moving forward. They just need a name. BlackMoon? Emzi? Mad Maxines? Tank Girls? These are all bad and not my job.
In the other corner, there's a long-standing team of Dakota Kai and Raquel González. As a team, they have way more experience. As tournament participants, I would argue they had a much easier path. The concern for why they won't win however is that they seemed to be getting separated with González getting a slight singles push with her feud with Ripley and Kai getting well, ok, she's not really getting anything but you get the idea. NXT can either double down and have Kai & González be a reputable team and challenge for the Women's Tag Team Championships or they can disband and go after singles gold. I guess it all depends on the Women's Championship.
PREDICTION: Dakota Kai & Raquel González win
MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans - Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals
In the Men's Dusty Rhodes Classic finals, two wildly different teams face-off to see who is the better tag team. That sentence means that this match is my match to watch. There *should* be no BS, no cowardly nonsense. This match is simply two clash of styles meeting together for the very first time and I am here for it. MSK has shown nonstop speed and excitement and has even seemed to improve since coming to NXT. In a way, they have settled down a bit but this makes them come across better to me on the screen. Last year, GYV made it to the finals and lost to the short-lived BroserWeights, but this time, they have the experience, they have been waiting for a year and this is their shot. It's incredibly hard for me to pick a winner here because it is anybody's game. Both of these teams are outstanding and this has all the makings of a great, great match.
PREDICTION: Grizzled Young Veterans win.
Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez for the NXT Women's Championship
A very intriguing match indeed. Since returning to the states, Toni Storm has been a monster and has amazing momentum. Since returning from the main roster, Mercedes Martinez is looking to make a statement. And for Io Shirai, she's been champion for almost a full year, can she keep it going? Despite all of this, I'm not feeling this match. These are 3 competitors that I love and think all deserve the title, but this match doesn't excite me for some reason. It's not clicking. Part of it has been the lack of Io Shirai since the last two weeks or so. I have never been a fan of champions not being involved fully in the build. And yes, the pandemic could easily be involved here, but I want the champion to be in the story, even if it's in interviews on potential challengers or something. Anything! Maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe I'm grasping at straws.
Either way, I would put the title on Toni Storm. If Shirai wants to be with family or move to the main roster, then Toni Storm should have the title. Martinez hasn't been in NXT long enough to seemingly earn the title and a loss here won't hurt her. But I simply don't see any of this in the cards on Valentine's Day.
PREDICTION: Io Shirai retains the NXT Women's Championship.
Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT Championship
Oh boy, if anyone deserves to be on the NXT Championship lineage, Pete Dunne does. He has come a long way from the UK Tournament to now. He is easily a future star ready to break into the main roster. That being said, I don't expect Dunne to win here. Finn Balor is starting to get into the prime of his reign and cutting it off now is not the way to go. But I do expect this match to be amazing. Think Balor/O'Reilly 1. Hard, strong style action where someone is walking away with blood on their hands and jaws on the floor. Specifically Finn's. For this match, I'm less excited about the result, because I think they can easily transition into a Champion vs. Champion with Balor and Walter, but rather I just want to see the match. Get pumped people!
PREDICTION: Finn Balor retains the NXT Championship.
You can watch WWE's NXT TakeOver: Vengence Day PPV on Feb. 14, 2021 on the WWE Network at 7pm EST.