Last week, NXT announced that their latest NXT Takeover special is scheduled to take place on Valentine’s Day. The otherwise nameless event is set to go down on the WWE Network at 7pm EST, with the kickoff show starting at 6:30pm. While we don’t officially know any of the matches just yet, we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of what they could be. I decided to take my best shot at predicting the card and the order in which the matches will happen. Check my predictions out to see what I think next month’s show will look like. I also give a little background info and analysis for each matchup.
NXT Kickoff Show
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar(c) vs Curt Stallion
Curt Stallion earned his title shot several weeks ago by winning a fatal-four way match on 205 Live. Since then, we’ve seen Santos Escobar defend his championship a couple of times, including against Gran Metalik at NXT’s New Year’s Evil special. It’s time that Stallion finally gets his stab at the belt. WWE loves to put cruiserweight matches on their pre-shows as a way to hype up the audience. This match makes the most sense here. Stallion is a good enough performer, but I just don’t see the same “it factor” that oozes from Santos Escobar. I know that Legado del Phantasma isn’t for everybody, but personally, I am loving what they are doing.
What’s next after this match, though? At one point, I would have said that Jake Atlas was prime candidate for a shot at the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. However, it seems like he has been taken out of that conversation for now and is wrapped up in a story with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. Hopefully, they figure out something soon. The 205-and-under division is LOADED, but in complete flux. Somebody needs to step up and stake their claim as the next legitimate contender to the title.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: Grizzled Young Veterans vs MSK
As soon as the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was announced, my first thought was that the Grizzled Young Vets had to be considered among the favorites to win it all this year. They made their debut in last year’s rendition of the tournament and have been on a roll since their return stateside. The Veterans having been stuck across the pond since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
Then the brackets were released and we were introduced to an unknown team in MSK. Immediately, the internet started buzzing that this new tandem could be the team formerly known as The Rascalz. As it turns out, we were right. Given the new names of Wes Lee and Nash Carter, the former Impact Wrestling standouts had a strong first round outing against Jake Atlas and Swerve Scott. The announce team, NXT social media accounts, and even Triple H did everything they could to get these guys over, but it didn’t take much. They certainly impressed in their debut.
Both of these teams seem destined for great things in 2021. If this turns out to be the finals matchup, which I think will be the case, the NXT Universe is most definitely in for a treat. This is a tag team bout that could actually compete for Match of the Night honors. This would be no small task considering how stacked this card has the potential to be.
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano(c) vs Kushida
NXT has been building to this match over the past few weeks. Last week, we saw Johnny Gargano and his wife, Candice LeRae forced into an impromptu mixed tag team match against Kushida and Shotzi Blackheart. Kushida and Shotzi picked up the win. We then got the brackets for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. It just so happened to pit Gargano and Austin Theory in a first round matchup with the Time Splitter and Leon Ruff.
Johnny Wrestling successfully defeated Dexter Lumis on this week’s episode of NXT, with a little help from his Dusty Classic tag team partner, Theory. Afterwards, they put the boots to Lumis as he tried to fight back against the two-on-one situation. Who came to his aide to even the odds? Kushida, of course! After clearing house, the Japanese superstar picked up the North American title and pointed to his wrist. This was to seemingly indicate to Gargano that his time as champion is running out.
With the aforementioned tag team match taking place next week, it’s obvious that this feud is far from over. Neither team is destined to win the prestigious tournament. As we can clearly see that these two competitors are on the path to a singles match at NXT Takeover for Johnny’s prized possession.
NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai vs Mercedes Martinez
Mercedes Martinez made her emphatic return to NXT television on the December 23rd episode by taking out Io Shirai, the current NXT Women’s Champion in a brutal assault. She has made a couple appearances since then. Mercedes is making her intentions clear by calling out the title holder. She wants the championship. The former Retribution member is an absolute physical specimen and has the looks of a world champion.
Io Shirai has been the champion for quite some time now. She has proven the doubters wrong every time that they think she is destined to drop her title. Io has proven to be more than worthy of carrying NXT’s women division. But is she ready for the big leagues? I could see her making the leap to Raw or Smackdown. I’ve learned to never count out the Genius of the Sky when it comes to defending the title against the best women’s division in all of professional wrestling.
But Raquel Gonzalez?
Lastly, where does Raquel Gonzalez factor into all of this? She has been on a roll the past several months. It seems like NXT has big plans for her. She was the last person to pin Io Shirai as she picked up the victory for her team in the NXT: WarGames match last year. More recently, she defeated former champion Rhea Ripley in a Last Woman Standing match at NXT New Year’s Evil. This is what is rumored to be the Nightmare’s last match on the black and gold brand.
This contest is definitely one to keep an eye on, as it could shape the future of the women’s division for the foreseeable future.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor(c) vs Pete Dunne
The groundwork for this match was laid awhile back. Even before Pete Dunne faced Kyle O’Reilly for a shot against Finn Balor at New Year’s Evil. The Bruiserweight was unsuccessful in that matchup, but proved that he was more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best that NXT has to offer. Dunne has managed to keep himself relevant since that contest. The Prince even brought his name up on an episode of WWE Network’s The Bump on the morning of New Year’s Evil. Then we saw Dunne flanked by the NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch confront Balor this past Wednesday. They also managed to take out Kyle O’Reilly in the process and did some major damage to his already injured jaw.
It’s been pretty obvious that this contest is coming our way. That doesn’t make it any less exciting. These two superstars have had similar paths. Both came from Europe and earned their way to NXT/WWE. Granted, Pete Dunne made the move at a much younger age. They both work a very stiff, brutal style mixed with insane athleticism. In my eyes, this throwdown has Match of the Year candidate written all over it. There is no better way to close out this Takeover and send the fans home happy. (Yes, I know they will already be home, but you get what I’m saying!)
So, what do you think? Would you be happy to see these matches at NXT Takeover on Valentine’s Day? Do you think we will see something else? Let me know in comments and by hitting me up on Twitter, @ShartzerJon! Of course, we will also have the official card and our predictions right here at Sports Obsessive!