Posted April 6th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

Happy WrestleMania weekend to the entire 1wrestling.com universe. It amazes me, year after year, how big WrestleMania weekend has become. What started out as a “one show weekend” has now become a weekend-long celebration, featuring every promotion imaginable convening in the host city to run shows. There’s a little something for everyone and it’s truly the best weekend of the year if you’re a fan. I’ll have more to say about the WrestleMania weekend phenomenon in my official WrestleMania preview, but before we get to the big show, we can’t forget NXT’s latest Takeover special, taking place Saturday night from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. I can’t pinpoint a Takeover card in recent memory that has had a more stacked lineup than this show. From top-to-bottom, every match has been laid out so well from a story-telling standpoint and aside from Mania itself, I’d argue that two or three of the matches on this show could contend as the best match of the weekend. Now, as always, the shows around Mania always feature NXT talent graduating to the main roster, so it will be interesting to see who gets the call, and who’s left to continue to drive the promotion. The nice thing about NXT at this stage is that there is a wealth of talent, which is never a bad problem to have. With all of that being said, let’s run down the card!

Main Event/NXT Championship Match: Andrade “Cien” Almas defends the NXT Championship against Aleister Black

Topline Thoughts: Do you remember when Andrade Almas was opening Takeover shows to serve as a stepping stone to the latest debuting star? Times have certainly changed and it’s incredible how he’s managed to re-package himself to become a main event player. You can point to three things – Almas’ hard work, his pairing with Zelina Vega, and the creative team for not giving up on him. In fact, his match with Johnny Gargano in January is an early contender for “Match of the Year,” which is a testament to him and to everyone that believed in his ability. He’s THAT good. And, he’s being paired against someone who has been booked equally well in Aleister Black. Now, if I’m playing devil’s advocate, I’m curious to see how Black can put together a longer-form match that leads to an exciting finish. I have no doubt that this will be the case, but I’m interested to see how they get there. In the end, I think the time is right to give Black the title, while Almas graduates to the main roster, hopefully Smackdown, where he can continue to evolve.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Aleister Black wins the NXT Championship

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

Topline Thoughts: Baszler is a classic case of how great booking, storytelling and creativity can hide any performance flaws. She still has some work to do in the ring, but you’d never know it the way she’s been presented. Despite the fact that this is the second match between these two, they’ve managed to build it to where it’s even more anticipated than their first meeting. And like Aleister Black, I think it’s time for Baszler to have a title run, which can further tell the story of the other contenders lining up to dethrone her. I’m not sure that Moon is quite main roster-ready yet, so I suspect we will see a rubber match between the two over the next couple of months.

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

NXT Tag Team Championship Match/Dusty Rhodes Classic Finals: The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly) defends the NXT Tag Team Championship against the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong/Pete Dunne

Topline Thoughts: The one flaw here is that they’re advertising that the winners of the match will also win the Dusty Classic, though the Undisputed Era didn’t actually participate. Nevertheless, this will be a highlight of the night, as all of the participants have been known to put on big-match performances. I will say that I like Pete Dunne as a heel, but his chemistry with Strong has been a pleasant surprise. I don’t see a title change here and I think this will be the swan song for the Authors of Pain in NXT, as they seem to be ready for that next move. Finally, I will say that if anyone can work double duty and have consistently great performances, it’s Adam Cole, so be on the lookout for that

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

The Inaugural NXT North American Championship Ladder Match Featuring: Ethan Carter III, Ricochet, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain, Adam Cole and the Velveteen Dream

Topline Thoughts: There’s so much talent is this match that I’m hoping creative kind find a way to spotlight everyone. It seems to me that they’ll put the title on one of the two debuting stars. This, of course, begs the question of how they earned a title shot on their first night, but I digress. Adam Cole will be the workhorse, especially since he’s pulling double duty. Sullivan and Dain have such great potential. It’s still developing, but they get better each time and this match will be no exception. EC3 will have his first opportunity to work in front of a larger crowd, while Ricochet enters with a lot of praise on his New Japan work. Last but not least, we have Velveteen Dream, the most improved talent in such a short period of time. The match is tough to predict, but the options are what makes it great.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Ethan Carter III is crowned the first NXT North American Champion

Non-Sanctioned Match: Tommaso Ciampa meets Johnny Gargano

*If Johnny Gargano loses, he must leave NXT forever*

Topline Thoughts: Aside from Kenny Omega vs. Cody, this is the most anticipated match of the weekend. Gargano as a babyface has the potential to print money, while Ciampa has been an artist in creating his heel persona. Go back and watch his appearances these last few weeks. He says nothing in his promos, but his facial expressions and body language have been enough to get the fans into a rage. This will be a classic, with Gargano narrowly escaping defeat, while receiving a beatdown to continue the feud through the summer months.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Johnny Gargano defeats Tommaso Ciampa

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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