Posted January 27th, 2018 by Bill Apter


By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

Welcome to the first “Prediction” article of 2018, and it’s only fitting that we kick things off on one of the busiest wrestling weekends of the year – Royal Rumble weekend, which officially starts the build to WrestleMania in New Orleans this coming April. Before we get to Sunday’s big event, we begin the weekend with the NXT brand, as they present another Takeover special – this one emanating from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have to say that I’m intrigued by just about every match on this card, as there’s an opportunity for established talent to take their skills to the next level, while also giving a platform for newer talent to emerge. The thing I like about NXT, more so than the main roster, is that they keep things simple. To me, that’s always been the recipe for a successful wrestling show. Keep it simple, write stories that are logical without trying to do too much. And, NXT seems to get that right time in and time out, making for a very exciting product. Let’s run down the card!

NXT Championship Match: Andrade “Cien” Almas defends the NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano

Topline Thoughts: I’ve immensely enjoyed the new lease on life they’ve given the Almas character. He came into NXT with a babyface character that initially fell flat, before turning heel. From there, he became a utility performer, often being used as a stepping stone by debuting talent. I’m glad they finally saw what they had in him and gave him the ball to run with. Zelina Vega has been such an upgrade to his act, giving him needed credibility as a champion. And with Gargano, you have the classic underdog story, which always works so well. I particularly liked how they had him lose some matches immediately after the breakup with Tommaso Ciampa, before they slowly built him up. For this, I see a match that will build to a dramatic close and wouldn’t be surprised if we see a returning Ciampa cost his former partner the match.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Andrade “Cien” Almas retains the NXT Championship

NXT Women’s Championship Match: Ember Moon defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler

Topline Thoughts: In addition to keeping things simple, NXT does a stellar job in hiding areas of needed development, while focusing on a talent’s strength. It’s no secret that Baszler has a way to go in the ring, since transitioning over from MMA fighting. But what she lacks in wrestling acumen, she makes up for in presence, from the facial expressions to the superb booking that positions her as a monster. While Moon isn’t exactly the prototypical lovable babyface champion, she’s solid enough in the ring where she’ll give Baszler some much needed experience. From what I’ve seen, I’m led to believe that they’re going all in on Baszler as the monster heel champion, putting the other female talent in chase mode.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shayna Baszler wins the NXT Women’s Championship

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against the Authors of Pain

Topline Thoughts: I think this match is designed to further establish Fish and O’Reilly as the top team we all know they are, while giving the Authors one final platform to establish the next big tag team before moving to the main roster. It used to be that the Authors needed teams to carry them in matches, but I think they’ve evolved to the point where they can carry themselves just fine. Look for Fish and O’Reilly to retain, while we wait to see if the Authors show up on Monday or Tuesday nights.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Undisputed Era retains the NXT Tag Team Championship

Singles Match: Adam Cole meets Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules Match

Topline Thoughts: This is a “pick-em” match, as the company is high on both. It was tough for me to assign a winner here and I’m a bit confused by the need for the “Extreme Rules” stipulation, but I’m gathering that it’s there to protect whoever loses. This should be a sold match and my hope is that, despite the use of weapons, both can rely on the wrestling skill we know they have. I’m going with Cole coming out on top, due to legal interference from Fish and O’Reilly.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Adam Cole defeats Aleister Black

Singles Match: Kassius Ohno meets the Velveteen Dream

Topline Thoughts: The Dream has been a pleasant surprise and his match with Aleister Black back in November still has people talking. This will give him the platform to get his win back against the always credible Ohno. Watch for these two to steal the show in a highly competitive match and look for the Dream to become a main event player in the coming year.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Velveteen Dream defeats Kassius Ohno

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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