NXT TakeOver: Portland airs this Sunday, February 16, live on WWE Network. The latest edition of TakeOver features a performance by Poppy. (Also, there’s a stacked card that includes four championship matches, a street fight, and more.) Come back to UPROXX on Sunday night for TakeOver results, an open discussion thread, and our excited, all-caps typing.
NXT TakeOver: Portland Card
1. NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
2. NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
3. NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Undisputed Era (c) vs. The Broserweights
4. NXT North American Championship Match: Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic
5. Finn Bálor vs. Johnny Gargano
6. Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
As always, we’ve got your complete rundown of the card and analysis below, featuring predictions for all six (!) matches. Make sure to drop a comment and let us know who you think’s winning, and be here on Sunday night to see if you’re correct.
Here’s what we think will go down at NXT TakeOver: Portland.
Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
What You Need To Know: Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox were best friends. When it came time to pick War Games teams, Rhea Ripley chose Nox but not Kai, which for a woman who’d been struggling in her career for a while was the straw that broke the camel’s back. At War Games, Mia Yim was “mysteriously injured” by Kai, who then flipped out on Nox and re-injured a surgically repaired knee that’d already gone out on Nox twice. They’ve been going at it in one form or another ever since, and have decided to settle the score, for better or worse, in a street fight.
What Will Happen: I prefer Kai as a wrestler and a character and can justify that what she did to Nox totally made sense — Nox really should’ve stuck up for her supposed best friend when everyone was bagging on her, instead of just standing around in the background to enable a system that was benefiting her — but WWE seems all-in on Nox as their next big female star. I’m expecting Nox to pull off the win in dramatic fashion here, presumably with a knee brace-assisted Shiniest Wizard, but I hope it pulls a Gargano/Ciampa and goes to a more emotionally developed place of regret and forgiveness. Although Ciampa ruined that with an attempted knee brace shot of his own, so you can figure out where that’d go.
Emily Pratt – I’m torn on this one! In a division with a lot of tweener-to-heels, I’d like to see a straight-up babyface like Tegan get the win, but I like the idea of Dakota being able to win more now that she’s evil. But ultimately, Nox was out for so long with a real knee injury that I’m rooting for her to get revenge for her fake knee injury, and I think she will. Also, my fingers are crossed for the unlikely possibility that someone bleeds in this.
Raj Prashad – Their showdown on NXT a few weeks ago left much to be desired. I’d imagine when Kai and Nox brawl with no rules, we’ll get the level of violence expected as retribution from Kai’s heel turn from WarGames. After Nox picked up the win on television, I’ve got Kai taking this one.
Elle Collins – I just noticed that the WWEPC YouTube channel is doing a whole multi-part series of videos about Tegan Nox to coincide with Takeover Portland. That tells me that NXT is really invested in establishing Nox as someone who matters. And that tells me she’s winning this match.
Scott Heisel – It’s weird to see this feud re-started after Tegan pinned Dakota clean in, like, two minutes on an episode of NXT a few weeks ago. The stipulation certainly lends itself to shenanigans, however, and we all know that shenanigans benefit the heel, so I say Dakota takes it after a healthy dose of knee brace to the face.
Finn Bálor vs. Johnny Gargano
What You Need To Know: Finn Bálor is a former NXT Champion who returned to the yellow brand to reassert his authority and dominance after years of slumming on the main roster it in, as Johnny Gargano phrased it, 17 Bobby Lashley matches on a row. Gargano considers himself the current heart and soul of NXT, wants to prove that he’s the icon of the brand, and wants revenge for Finn putting him in the hospital with an overhead kick to the brains. It’s essentially The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan on a much smaller scale, both figuratively and literally, and without the attempted semi-truck murders.
What Will Happen: Us to Finn Bálor about 30 seconds into this:
I’m sticking by my theory that the show has six matches instead of the usual five because Bálor is gonna shock the world and absolutely steamroll Gargano here. Johnny having another competitive match isn’t going to do him any favors from a character point of view, win or lose. He needs his world shaken up again, and Mr. Kick-outs getting emasculated in a rout with zero kick-outs could be the way to do it.
Emily Pratt – Balor and Gargano are both small men with the muscles of very ripped men 1.5 times their size compressed to fit onto their bodies. The fact that they have not bonded over this is yet another example of nonsensical WWE booking. However, I have faith in NXT’s storytelling abilities, so I pretend this match ends in a non-contest when Balor and Gargano’s abs touch and they fuse together into the next face of NXT, a super cruiserweight named Finngano Ultra.
Raj Prashad – After a lengthy rivalry, I’ve got Bálor rolling right on through Gargano as he builds as one of the ultimate villains of NXT.
Elle Collins – This could go either way, but I’m picking Finn to win. Then he can be cocky, and Gargano can be anguished, and they each get to embody their favorite emotions.
Scott Heisel – It is absolutely wild to me how misused Johnny Gargano has been since NXT’s move to USA. Dude has been a complete non-factor in NXT weekly programming, which is even stranger given that they made *such* a huge deal of Gargano being NXT for life. I realize there was an injury in the middle of that time, but still — you can’t use the dude on guest commentary? Have him record comeback videos? *Something*? It just seems like a colossal waste of a hot talent. All of this is to say that Finn is going to absolutely destroy Johnny here, because there’s no point to this otherwise, and I refuse to believe NXT doesn’t have a point (Worlds Collide not withstanding).
NXT North American Championship Match: Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic
What You Need To Know: These two big motherfuckers love wrestling each other and now they’re gonna do it for a championship.
What Will Happen: We’ve been waiting for this on a TakeOver since the series started, and they’ve missed a lot of big opportunities, so reinforce the ring and let them have as much time and creative freedom as they want to do whatever they want. That includes Spanish Flies, dives, moonsaults, karate fight exchanges, and general tom-hossery. Honestly, the Keith Lee homer in me wants Lee to lose here, so he can immediately rocket up the card in time for Tampa Bay and take Adam Cole to the woodshed there. I want to see if Lee can throw all four members of Undisputed Era at the same time.
Emily Pratt – It’s this match again! Both guys will do crazy things! Lee will retain!
Raj Prashad – After Lee’s impressive showing in recent months, it’s hard to imagine he drops the belt here. Going with Lee, and expecting another instant classic.
Elle Collins – I had just been thinking I’d like to finally see a match between these two guys! In all seriousness, this should be a culmination and it’s bound to be a great match. And Keith Lee is definitely winning, because he’s too over and it’s too early in his run for him to lose.
Scott Heisel – The only way I would accept a Keith Lee loss at this point in his championship reign is if Brock Lesnar himself showed up, ate Dominik Dijakovic whole and took the challenger’s spot instead. And even *then* I’d still be kinda salty about it. Still, I’m looking forward to watching Godzilla and King Kong destroy Tokyo for a good 15 minutes.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Undisputed Era (c) vs. The Broserweights
What You Need To Know: Back in 2018, Roderick Strong betrayed his new tag team partner Pete Dunne in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and joined The Undisputed Era. This year, Dunne made it to the finals of the tournament with a new tag team partner again, only this time he won it all, because he teamed up with a well-meaning MMA stoner who wants to drive around in a golf cart and go on road trips with him. At TakeOver Portland, Dunne will finally prove that true friendship always defeats opportunistic evil in the end.
What Will Happen: The going theory when Dunne and Riddle started teaming is that they were just a team so they could break up and feud. But then somewhere along the line we realized they had insane chemistry in the ring, hilarious chemistry outside of it, and charismatic enough banter to anchor a series of delightful stoner road trip vignettes on NXT TV. So now it would be ignorant as hell to break them up, and they should win the championship here and, in a perfect world, keep it and remain best friends forever. BroSerweights for life.
Emily Pratt – It seems like the options here are that the Broserweights either win the titles and help bring UE’s reign over NXT to an end or the Broserweights lose and start feuding with each other. Their act is going so well and it seems like the titles are due to come off UE, so I’ll predict Dunne and Riddle win and their breakup feud headlines TakeOver: Boston.
Raj Prashad – Which would be more shocking: the Broserweights collapse with a heel turn, or they continue their odd couple run to win the tag belts? Personally, I feel like the latter, which is why I’m going there. The narrative has been Dunne getting turned on the last time he was in this sort of pairing, and it could make for a neat spot for them to tease some dissension. Ultimately, I’ve got Riddle and Dunne knocking off Undisputed Era.
Elle Collins – Since Roddy Strong lost the North American belt, the gold plating on the Undisputed Era seems to be chipping away. And considering how much fun Riddle and Dunne are together, I won’t be shocked if these titles change hands. I’m not completely confident that’s what happens, because champs retaining is never all that unlikely at a TakeOver, but I’m going to go ahead and predict the Broserweights to win.
Scott Heisel – I’m ready for this era of NXT to be over with. O’Reilly and Fish have held the straps for nearly two years straight, and it’s time for them to move on. Broserweights for the win, and some fresh blood at the top of the card. See ya on Raw, ReDRagon!
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
What You Need To Know: Bianca Belair earned a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship, but current champion Rhea Ripley is preoccupied with showing up on Raw and making WrestleMania challenges to a woman who don’t even go here. So now Rhea Ripley’s accidentally found herself between a rock (Charlotte Flair showing up and interfering) and a hard place (Bianca Belair having tons of momentum and righteous indignation at being ignored).
What Will Happen: Charlotte’s interference seems like a given, doesn’t it? As much as I like Rhea Ripley and think she’s the perfect crossover star to be your NXT Women’s Champion, all I want is for Bianca Belair to find a way onto the WrestleMania card. Whether that means being NXT Women’s Champion or being part of a non-finish to set up a triple threat remains to be seen. Just get her there. Charlotte needs to hit her moonsault from the top to the floor onto two outstretched arms instead of one, anyway.
Emily Pratt – I adore both these women and I’m very here for Ripley vs. Flair at WrestleMania, but I would love to see Belair make everyone regret overlooking her and this match, win the title, and go on to defend it against the woman who doesn’t even go here. I’ll predict that Ripley retains though.
Raj Prashad – As good as Belair looked in the Rumble, I just can’t imagine anyone knocking Ripley off her hot streak. Maybe WWE is looking for a ‘Mania spot for her and Belair wins the belt in a swerve to set up a triple-threat match, but I’ve got Ripley earning the win here.
Elle Collins – As a Knoxvillian, I have that special degree of affection for Bianca Belair that you can only have for a great wrestler who represents your hometown and does you proud. There’s nothing I’d love more than to see Bianca Belair as NXT Women’s Champion, and then eventually Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion, and on up until she defeats Brock Lesnar to become WWE Champion. But we all know Charlotte Flair is building a match with Rhea Ripley for Mania. I don’t think that match happens without the belt on the line, and I don’t think it happens without Rhea Ripley. Best case scenario, maybe Charlotte messes with this match in a way that sets Bianca up to join that Mania match and make it a threeway. But if it’s not that, I’m pretty sure Ripley just wins. And I can live with that. As much as I love Bianca, Rhea’s great too, and her run’s just getting started.
Scott Heisel – I’m gonna go out on a limb and and say we get the first schmozz in TakeOver history (at least as far as I can recall) when Charlotte shows up and beats down both women, leading to a triple threat at WrestleMania for the NXT Women’s Championship. They already gave Rhea the rub at Survivor Series and Bianca the rub at Royal Rumble. They’re ready for the Show Of Shows. Let’s do this, Haitch!
NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
What You Need To Know: Tommaso Ciampa gave up his beloved, anthropomorphic NXT Championship due to a career-threatening injury. During his time away, the championship went to his former best friend turned lifelong blood rival turned kind of friend Johnny Gargano, who pretty much immediately lost it to Adam Cole, the biggest jerk on the roster. Now Ciampa’s back, and he wants what’s his. He also might try to have sex with it? That part’s unclear.
What Will Happen: Part of me thinks now’s the time to put the belt on Ciampa again, so he can finish his original championship run while he’s still healthy. We get CIAMPA MIGHT BE INJURED AGAIN news after every show these days, it seems like. There’s also the issue of Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era’s time at the top of NXT coming to an end soon, because we’re still trained to assume everyone who does well in NXT is going to leave us for the Raws and Smackdowns after WrestleMania. But things are supposed to be different now, right? It’s a hard call, but I think Cole’s retaining. TakeOver Tampa Bay is happening too soon to build a bunch of new programs worthy of a Mania weekend NXT card, so I think he’ll find a horrible way to hang onto it for at least another month and a half.
p.s. KEITH LEE, he rieterated.
Emily Pratt – It seems like this PPV could be the end of the Undisputed Era prophecy and they come out of this with zero belts, but it also seems like Ciampa should face some kind of consequences for causing me to watch a venue full of adult men call him “daddy” with seemingly no underlying perversion. Cole must retain here for pervert rights. And because “Goldie” should only be a name for golden retrievers with uncreative owners!
Raj Prashad – Cole has been on a tear since winning the belt and his showdown with Ciampa should be a war. But I’ve got the man who never lost his belt bringing “Goldie” back home. Going with Undisputed Era to lose all their belts in one night.
Elle Collins – As much as I’d like to see Tommaso Ciampa get Goldy back, I feel like Adam Cole is probably keeping the belt at least until Mania weekend, because otherwise what does he get to do? So I’m picking Cole to win.
Scott Heisel – There are a number of stories at work here: Can Ciampa stay healthy long enough to get his way back to the top of the card is the obvious one, but the story I’m more interested in the slow burn of the Undisputed Era losing it all after being on top for so long. Roderick Strong is already out of the North American title picture, and Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly should see their tag reign come to an end in Portland too. But I think this whole story will culminate in Tampa Bay in April, meaning I *don’t* think Adam Cole will lose in Stumptown. Unfortunately for Ciampa, that means he’s gonna have to wait a little longer to get his hands (or his blood) back on Goldie. But on the plus side, look at the TakeOver: Tampa card: Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa in some ridiculous stipulation match! Roderick Strong vs. the Velveteen Dream in a grudge match! Fish and O’Reilly vs. the Broserweights in a rematch! And the Undisputed Era will lose all three matches and get called up to Raw the following Monday! It’s enough to make a grown man cry.
Poppy will perform at NXT TakeOver Portland, and if there is a God, she’ll finally run into the Velveteen Dream and fulfill the With Spandex prophecy. In this essay, I will –
Sorry, sorry. That’s what we think will happen in Portland on Sunday. Agree with our picks? Think Adam Cole’s going to retain only to be confronted by NXT’s newest star, John Cena? Drop down into the comments section and let us know about it. And make sure you’re here on Sunday for all the festivities, as we share an open discussion thread, post some results, and try not to be surprised when Lee and Dijak start breaking out moves you only thought possible in Def Jam: Vendetta. See you this weekend!