Posted January 26th, 2019 by 1Wrestling News Team


By Don “The Predictor” Murphy (Twitter: @DonThePredictor)

A belated Happy New Year to the entire 1wrestling.com universe!  Well, it’s that time of year once again where all eyes are focused on the “Road to WrestleMania.” We’ll have a lot of great stops along the way, beginning with Saturday night’s NXT Takeover: Phoenix, emanating from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona (Side Note: Where do they come up with some of the names for these venues?). It’s funny – at the end of every Takeover, we say the same thing: “I’d like to see them top that!” Yet, time after time, they deliver a card that has the potential to do just that. And the most amazing part is – there’s a ton of key NXT players that aren’t even on the show. They’ve found a winning formula with NXT – roster depth combined with one hour of television each week, limiting talent being overexposed. In any case, another great lineup slated for Saturday night. Let’s run down the card!

NXT Championship Match: Tommaso Ciampa defends the NXT Championship against Aleister Black

Topline Thoughts: OK, I’ll come clean. I wasn’t on the “Aleister Black Bandwagon” from the very beginning.  Sure, his character was intriguing, with the limited mic time and him sitting quietly in the ring.  I just wasn’t buying into the in-ring product. Over time, he’s won me over in some of his longer form programs and added some depth to his character. Ciampa, on the other hand, is pure gold.  Up until recently when the “new” Daniel Bryan emerged, one could make a sound argument that Ciampa was the best all-around heel in the entire WWE. This program has a few miles on it, so I was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to get us back to the point where there was anticipation for this match. But, they did indeed! The match itself should be sensational, with the lurking backstory of a heel DIY reunion.  In the end, I see Ciampa holding on to the title and then it will be fun to see who gets elevated to the top of the card to challenge him.

The Predictor Predicts: Tommaso Ciampa retains the NXT Championship

NXT North American Championship Match: Ricochet defends the NXT North American Championship against Johnny Gargano

Topline Thoughts: This will likely be the match we’ll be talking about tomorrow. This is what you get when you combine great performers with a well-told story. Yes, the rivalry itself is fairly new, but both performers have taken us on compelling journeys over the past year. Ricochet continues to defy the odds when he was told he didn’t belong. Gargano, who’s just been sensational, is coming full-circle, devolving from the lovable, relatable “Johnny Wrestling” character, into the dark side that he fought so long to overcome.  All of that results in a spectacle for the audience, one in which I see Gargano fully embracing the heel side and coming away with the title.

The Predictor Predicts: Johnny Gargano wins the NXT North American Championship

NXT Women’s Championship Match: Shayna Bayszler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair

Topline Thoughts: Over the past several months, they seem to have gotten away from portraying Bayszler as a monster by having her rely on Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir to help her keep the title. I think she needs a “statement” victory, without outside interference, to get her back to that monster status, heading into WrestleMania season. Belair is a good opponent to get her there, as they’ve quickly managed to position her nicely as the top contender. It’s not her time to shine just yet, as her act needs some polish and depth, but she will give Baysler a good exhibition to remind the audience how she got to the top spot to begin with. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cameo by Kairi Sane and Io Shirai, running off Duke and Shafir, so that the match can be one-on-one.

The Predictor Predicts: Shayna Bayszler retains the NXT Women’s Championship

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against The War Raiders (Hanson and Rowe)

Topline Thoughts: This is another case of a top act being defined down as of late. After losing “War Games,” the Undisputed Era is in rebuilding mode to get them back into the main event picture, as we head toward Mania. While still the tag team champions, O’Reilly and Strong haven’t had that showcase win in a while. I think they’ll get it here in what should be another great contest. Some would argue that they’ve had the belts for a while and it’s time to elevate the War Raiders. In my opinion, while they’ll certainly get their time, it’s not now because frankly, if you look at the tag team division, there wouldn’t be much for them to work with as new champions.  With O’Reilly and Strong, you can go back to older programs with Olney Lorcan and Danny Burch, or even Moustache Mountain over the next several months.

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

Singles Match: Matt Riddle meets Kassius Ohno

Topline Thoughts: This definitely won’t be a ten second affair like the last time. Riddle has the potential to be the next main event act on the brand and working with a veteran like Ohno has only helped his game. As an aside, I like that they’ve found a regular role with Ohno as a heel, resenting any new talent that comes through the door. In this spot, he gives the newer talent a chance to shine, while keeping himself relevant.  He will need some wins from time to time to avoid total jobber status, but I’ll let the creative team worry about that.

The Predictor Predicts: Matt Riddle defeats Kassius Ohno

Category: Wrestling.

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