NXT TakeOver: Orlando airs this Saturday, April 1, live on WWE Network. The latest NXT live special is headlined by NXT Champion Bobby Roode defending against Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka versus Ember Moon for the NXT Women’s Championship, and a triple threat elimination match for the NXT Tag Team Championship between champions the Authors Of Pain and challengers #DIY and the Revival.
Here’s the complete card, as we know it.
NXT TakeOver: Orlando card:
1. NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
3. NXT Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Elimination Match: The Authors Of Pain (c) vs. #DIY vs. the Revival
4. Aleister Black vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
5. Eight-Person Tag: Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, No Way Jose & Ruby Riot vs. SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain & Nikki Cross)
As always, we’ll be here on Saturday night with an open discussion thread, live results and reactions to the show. And, also as always, here’s what we think will happen, and what you need to know. Make sure to let us know who you think will win and why in our comments section below.
Eight-Person Tag: Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, No Way Jose & Ruby Riot vs. SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain & Nikki Cross)
What You Need To Know: Tye Dillinger has been in the crosshairs of NXT’s resident post-apocalyptic gang SAnitY for the past few months, ever since he rejected an offer to join their ranks. The Perfect 10 has received help from No Way Jose and Roderick Strong along the way, but the trio has largely been outsmarted and outnumbered. Enter Ruby Riot: The female competitor formerly known as Heidi Lovelace will make her NXT in-ring debut in this intergender tag match, and Dillinger & Co. are hoping her presence is enough to nullify SAnitY’s resident wild card, Nikki Cross.
What Should Happen: Ideally, stories should be ending at this TakeOver, so given that Eric Young and his cronies have gotten the best of Dillinger for a while now, this should finally be the time where Tye gets the victory (which will be his first in TakeOver history — he’s previously lost to Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Bobby Roode and Eric Young at the special events). Plus, the oft-fantasy-booked title match between Dillinger and Bobby Roode could finally happen at the SummerSlam-adjacent TakeOver later this year given NXT’s current drought of main event-level faces, so let’s start the Perfect 10’s build off with a well-deserved win.
Bill Hanstock — This should be a lot of fun, and it just might be the first time we get an intergender scuffling in modern WWE. (Probably not, though.) This feud feels like it’s been going on forever, so the correct end is to have the good guys win here. Unless the correct end is to have the actual faction win, and the cobbled-together band of cool people and Roderick Strong to lose, because they’re not a real team. I’m picking Tye’s team to win though, unless Roddy joins SAnitY or something.
Danielle Matheson — This haphazardly assembled Apple Dumpling Gang has a secret weapon in Ruby Riot, and any time Cross and Riot aren’t wrestling, I will be asking where are Cross and Riot and why aren’t they wrestling. I still think SAnitY (oof, that name) win, but the women will steal the spotlight.
Brandon Stroud — Ruby Riot is easily the best pro wrestler named like a Kool-Aid flavor and deserves a great showing, but I’m the guy that thinks a formal squad like SAnitY should have an advantage at full strength, 4-on-4. Classic obvious booking says Killian, like, smashes Ruby in the corner when the ref’s occupied and Nikki Cross gets the pin. Then give us Cross vs. Riot at the next TakeOver — and someone teach me how to stop typing, “Ruby Red.”
Aleister Black vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
What You Need To Know: Andrade “Cien” Almas made his NXT debut at TakeOver: The End in June, and as virtually all debuting stars coming in off a hot indie run do, he won his first match against Tye “Tyler Breeze Got Called Up So I Guess This Is My Role Now” Dillinger. Two months later, Almas’ shine had already worn off, as he laid down for Bobby Roode in his NXT debut at TakeOver: Brooklyn II. Since then, the Mexican star has gone full rudo, playing into the crowd’s initial indifference and finally garnering some strong heel responses through his series of killer matches with Oney Lorcan. Now, he’s squaring off against the debuting Aleister Black, a heavily tattooed Dutch performer formerly known as Tommy End in such indie feds as Progress, ICW and wXw, and a guy that could reasonably cosplay as Opie from Sons Of Anarchy at your local Wizard World.
What Should Happen: NXT is never more predictable than when they have a star debut at a TakeOver, and that won’t be any different this time around. Expect Aleister Black to get a decisive victory, but hopefully one that makes Almas look great in the process.
Bill Hanstock — While Tommy End has already made his WWE debut, Aleister Black hasn’t. Generally, people don’t lose their debut matches, particularly when those debuts come on a major PPV or WWE Network special. Andrade will help him have a solid debut match, but Cien will lose, and go back to his roots: feuding with Oney Lorcan.
Danielle Matheson — Black is the hot new sh-t, and Almas is … definitely a guy who still wears suspenders and no shirt. This match is as good as throwing him to the wolves, so Black should walk away with a pretty decisive victory.
Brandon Stroud — The battle of the guys named like Game Of Thrones locations! Almas is great and keeps getting better, but NXT loves its debuting darling indie guys. Tommy End rolls, but hopefully this will just be the beginning for both guys. I am a good writer!
NXT Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Elimination Match: The Authors Of Pain (c) vs. #DIY vs. the Revival
What You Need To Know: This match has been brewing since last summer, when the Revival first squared off against #DIY at TakeOver: Brooklyn II and brought the house down. Since then, the Top Guys lost the titles to #DIY at TakeOver: Toronto in an outstanding 2-out-of-3 falls match which by all accounts was the match of 2016. The two teams seemed destined to feud forever — that is, until the monsters Akam and Rezar, aka the Authors Of Pain, appeared on the scene and ran the table in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, earning themselves a shot at the gold. They only needed one shot, too, abruptly ending #DIY’s championship reign in San Antonio earlier this year. Since then, AOP have continued to steamroll everything in their path — however, they couldn’t get the better of #DIY in a championship rematch last month, only having the belts saved by DQ thanks to a run-in from none other than the Revival, who hates the idea of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano being two-time champs more than anything else. Now, the three teams are set to square off in a triple threat elimination match, meaning two different men will be pinned or will tap out before the night is over.
What Should Happen: This is the toughest pick of the night, because all three teams are on fire right now, and at the same time, all three could easily be on the docket for a post-WrestleMania call-up. If AOP loses, does that mean we’ll see them wrecking new Raw tag champs Enzo & Cass on Monday? If the Revival loses, does that mean we’ll see the Top Guys challenging the Usos on Tuesday? If #DIY loses, does that mean we’re getting cruiserweight tag belts for 205 Live? (Oh please no.) As much as I’d hate to lose any of this talent to the barren wasteland that is the main roster tag division, I’m predicting that Authors Of Pain retain here. The other two teams can either be called up or shuttled off into different feuds, but with AOP on the top of the division, it allows for some new faces to emerge and try to de-throne the beasts, whether that’s a returning TM-61, a rising Heavy Machinery or someone else entirely.
Bill Hanstock — Perhaps the toughest match of the entire weekend to call. This is going to absolutely rule, and has the potential to be a match of the year candidate. Since this is an elimination-style match, that means the Authors definitely have to be pinned or submitted, which is a tall order. I can honestly see any of these teams winning the belts, but I’m going to go on record with picking #DIY. For absolutely no reason.
Danielle Matheson — Poor wee Johnny Gargles is gonna get tossed around so much. I think this is where the Revival pull it out and take those belts and then fist stuff or whatever.
Brandon Stroud — The Revival forever, please and thank you. I want them to wait for the Authors to brutally incapacitate DIY, then swoop in, shove them out of the ring and steal the pin. I want them to be NXT Tag Team Champions for a third time, and I want it to be via being the biggest scumbags imaginable. They’re the kind of team that will only really work in NXT (thanks to the main roster’s disconnect and wanking hand motion treatment of both tag divisions), so let’s keep them down there and turn them into tag Ric Flairs. Rics Flair.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
What You Need To Know: Here is a brief overview of Asuka’s career in NXT: The Japanese superstar debuted at TakeOver: Respect on October 7, 2015, defeating Dana Brooke. Since then, she has not lost a singles match — oh, and along the way, she submitted fan favorite Bayley at TakeOver: Dallas one year ago this weekend, meaning she has held the NXT Women’s Championship for an entire year, retaining against a who’s-who of talent along the way, including Nia Jax, Mickie James and Bayley (a second time).
However, she’s gotten cocky in recent months, refusing to shake competitors’ hands, openly scoffing at potential opponents when their names are brought up, and accusing the entire women’s locker room of being unable to hang. In short: This superstar is due for some comeuppance, and there’s no better person to give it to her than Ember Moon, the only credible threat in the women’s division who has yet to square off against the Empress Of Tomorrow, and who has a devastating finishing move in the Eclipse that could possibly put Asuka down for the 1-2-3.
What Should Happen: Asuka has to lose, right? She’s been built up as more indestructible than Brock Lesnar, and if she were to defeat Ember Moon here, it pretty much completely nukes NXT’s women’s division. But putting the title on Moon refreshes the division and allows for new competitors to come in and try their hand against the established women of NXT, since Asuka’s already beaten literally everyone. That said, there is a part of me that would not be surprised if Asuka retained and appeared on Raw this Monday anyway a la Paige in 2014, resulting in William Regal stripping her of the title and creating a women’s tournament to crown a new champion. Honestly, it’s a bit of a coin flip for me, but given the way they’ve hyped up Ember Moon’s finishing move in recent weeks, it’s likely that Asuka will end up staring at the lights on Saturday night.
Bill Hanstock — All roads lead to Ember Moon winning the title here. Neither woman has lost a match in NXT, and while there seem to be no plans for Asuka to jump to the main roster any time soon, it makes sense for Ember to win the big one during WrestleMania weekend. NOTE: I will not in any way be surprised if Asuka retains to push her past the one-year mark of holding the title, but I think this is the right time for her first loss and Ember taking the title to have a true babyface fending off Peyton, Billie, Nikki and everyone else.
Danielle Matheson — Anyone who hasn’t seen any of the independent matches these two have had is going to lose their f-cking mind. I think Asuka retains, but it’s gonna be a goddamn war to do so.
Brandon Stroud — I wish the Ember/Asuka build had gotten the old-school NXT treatment where they got to build it up over several months or even years — Bayley, Sami Zayn, etc. — but it doesn’t matter. This should be the match of the show, unless something goes horribly wrong. I feel like Asuka should get bumped up after Saturday and slotted into the Smackdown Women’s Championship fracas to wreck shop, but I also feel like there’s no way they’d have dominant Women’s Champion Asuka lose and disappear. NXT ain’t about that. I’m actually going to pick Asuka to retain, but by the skin of her teeth, and hope we continue the rivalry to a match with more fanfare a little later.
NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
What You Need To Know: One year ago this weekend at TakeOver: Dallas, Bobby Roode made his first appearance in NXT, sitting in the front row — and he was completely overshadowed by Shinsuke Nakamura, who made his NXT debut in an epic match against Sami Zayn. Then, a few months later at TakeOver: Brooklyn II, Roode made his NXT debut with a victory against Andrade “Cien” Almas — and he was completely overshadowed by Nakamura winning his first-ever NXT Championship in the main event.
While Nak went on to dominate NXT’s top tier through a once-in-a-lifetime combination of charisma and in-ring skill, Roode went on to grapple with perennial loser Tye Dillinger, finally ending their multi-month feud by pinning him in a fatal four-way match to earn a shot at Nakamura’s championship at TakeOver: San Antonio. A fluke victory followed thanks to Nakamura injuring his knee and Roode being smart enough to capitalize, though now the Glorious one has to march into battle in Orlando knowing that his whole NXT career to date has been overshadowed by the King Of Strong Style — and if he doesn’t step his game up, he’ll be just another paper champion who folded after one defense, once again being overshadowed by Nakamura.
What Should Happen: Roode better step his goddamn game up, because the crowds who cram into the smaller events over WrestleMania weekend are there to see wrestling, not sports entertainment, and thus far dude has not done much to prove his worth beyond having the best theme song of 2016 (and quite possibly every other year thereafter). The average smark opinion is that Nakamura has to be getting called up after WrestleMania, because the guy’s bump card only has so many holes left to be punched on it, and he really shouldn’t be squaring off with Tino Sabatelli at an armory in Gainesville, Florida, in front of 200 people ever again. Roode must win here to both solidify him as champion and let Nak’s NXT story end before his main-roster window closes.
Bill Hanstock — One of the most anticipated parts of the weekend for me is going to be Bobby Roode’s entrance, not least because he has straight-up said he intends to have the entrance of the entire WrestleMania week. That is some high-quality boastin’, right there. I don’t believe Nakamura is long for the NXT world, and there is just way too much story to tell with Roode being champion. He might need more nefarious means to retain than he used to win the title in the first place, but he’s going to send Nak packin’.
Danielle Matheson — Putting these two on after Asuka/Ember is…some kinda choice, but here we are. I think Roode walks out still champion, and I will have already forgotten the match because I’m too busy thinking about the women’s title fight.
Brandon Stroud — If Bobby Roode immediately loses the NXT Championship back to Nakamura after beating it for him, I think it actually devalues Nakamura. It’s what happened with Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe. If you trade the title back and forth without any real build or drama, the title changes become about the booking instead of the people fighting for it. Plus, there’s no way anyone tops Bobby Roode for best entrance of WrestleMania weekend, right? Bobby Roo for life, or at least until Tye Dillinger gets one last shot at the end of the summer.