2015 has been an amazing year for NXT. The little brand that could got hit first with the injury bug to Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami, but also saw eight talents called up to the main WWE roster. While you can argue the successes of Kevin Owens, Neville, Tyler Breeze, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and the Lucha Dragons in WWE, they left quite the hole in NXT.
When WWE lost John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro all in a few weeks of each other, they replied by changing very little other than Sheamus winning the World title for a little over a month. By comparision, look at NXT. When they lost the Lucha Dragons, they responded by pushing Dash & Dawson, Blake & Murphy, and Jordan & Gable. When NXT lost Sasha, Becky, and Charlotte, they began pushing Asuka, Nia Jax and yes, even Eva Marie. When Owens got super over in his feud with Cena, NXT started the slow burn to Samoa Joe's heel turn to replace him. When Neville and his cool moves went to Raw, we got Apollo Crews and his cool moves. When Itami got injured, Finn Balor not only got Itami's title shot, he got his entire title reign.
So with that, we come to NXT TakeOver: London, the second Takeover outside of Full Sail and the first outside of the United States. What can the average WWE fan look forward to on this show?
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship
The winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic explode! Joe had asked Balor for a title shot after they won the Dusty Classic. While Balor had said yes, he stood by and allowed William Regal to make a battle royal for the title shot. Joe, feeling betrayed, turned his back on Balor and laid him out, turning on his friend and occasional tag team partner.
This match is going to have every opportunity in the world to be the classic bout that happens at every TakeOver as both men can be counted on to come through in the clutch. If he wins the championship, Joe will become the first man to win a title in both TNA and NXT. Both men have numerous challengers in 2016 regardless of who wins as Crews has told Balor that they still have unfinished business. Plus, you have Baron Corbin and a returning Sami Zayn waiting in the wings.
Prediction: Finn Balor retains here and in a rematch in January
Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin has come a long way since he started being pushed in September 2014. At first, the fans loved him for winning every match in 30 seconds and then turned on him when his matches went two minutes with Corbin not allowing them to count how long his matches go.
Crews already has the storyline where he has unfinished business with Balor, and Corbin is at least six months away from being ready for main events. Corbin has had excellent TakeOver matches with both Rhyno and Samoa Joe this year and this should be no exception. With each successive match, Corbin is showing more and more and has developed into a pretty good worker.
Prediction: Apollo Crews wins
Bayley vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Women's Championship
This match WILL NOT BE A 5 STAR CLASSIC! With Charlotte, Becky and Sasha now on the main roster, NXT has to restock itself on women's wrestlers, so we have Alexa Bliss, Carmella and a half dozen brand new girls most people don't remember the names of. Bayley is the hero to the masses, coming off back to back ****+ matches with Banks and a shockingly acceptable match with Eva Marie, she is now going to battle Nia Jax. Jax, a cousin of The Rock, debuted on TV the week after TakeOver: Respect and immediately became a force in the division. This match will be so different than every other women's title match that chances are most people will hate it.
Just remember, it could be Eva Marie getting the title.
Prediction: Nia Jax wins the title to set up the next title feud.
Asuka vs. Emma
Speaking of the next women's title feud, Asuka debuted shortly after TakeOver: Brooklyn and began a long rivalry with Dana Brooke and Emma. Dana got her head knocked from here to Port St. Lucie in her debut so now, in complete denial, here comes Emma. This is arguably Emma's biggest opportunity since returning to NXT after her failed call-up last year. The story is that the #DivasRevolution that everyone is enjoying in WWE started with her on NXT. Can Emma prove that she still belongs in the top tier of women's wrestlers? This is her chance to prove it as long as Asuka doesn't send her head into the back row.
Prediction: Asuka wins and moves onto Nia Jax.
Dash & Dawson vs Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady for the NXT tag team titles
This is a weird situation. Back in October, Enzo & Colin defeated Dash & Dawson to become the new no. 1 contenders. However, Dash & Dawson injured the Jersey Duo, took their title shot and took the championship. Enzo and Cass came back from their injury angle and cut a serious promo, all but guaranteeing they would win the belts. They have been teaming for almost 3 years and have never won the titles, despite being close to winning them earlier this year.
Two problems with the titles changing hands:
1) Dash & Dawson just won the belts last month. With the exception of title changes being caused by injuries, the shortest title reign was Sami Zayn's nine-week long NXT title reign. Most title reigns last a minimum of three months, and these two just started getting a serious push after a year of being jobbers.
2) Jason Jordan & Chad Gable are the new, hot babyface team. They already have the angle that they are beating as many former NXT Tag Team Champions as possible, so they are probably next in line for the belts.
Prediction: Dash & Dawson retain.
Only one guaranteed great match out of five this time makes this the weakest NXT TakeOver card on paper. However, you have two more matches that be very good and the other two should at least have very interesting results. It has become a running joke that NXT has constantly had their shows around the same time as a bad, poorly built WWE PPV. However, this time they are coming after a pretty good (but poorly built) WWE PPV and have to top it with a weaker card than usual.
If history has taught us anything, it is to not take the guys and girls from NXT for granted. We should believe that the show has a chance to be great given the fact that they have consistently delivered. However this time, they have their work cut out for them.