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Brock, Nakamura, Conor: What match are we looking forward to most this weekend?

Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

With so many big matches and fights happening this weekend between ROH, Evolve, WWE, NXT, and UFC, I asked some of our writers, podcast hosts, editors, and contributors a simple question: what match or fight are you looking forward to the most this weekend?

Here are their responses.

Joseph Currier, Online Editor -- 

With two huge EVOLVE shows, a Ring of Honor pay-per-view, NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II, the 2016 Super J-Cup finals, and SummerSlam, this weekend probably even surpasses WrestleMania week as my most anticipated few days of wrestling of the year. And that’s not even considering that it includes what is probably the UFC’s biggest fight of 2016.

But even with so many options, TakeOver’s main event with NXT Champion Samoa Joe defending against Shinsuke Nakamura stands out as the clear choice for what I’m looking forward to most. The hard-hitting styles of both men should mesh well and it has the potential to be a truly classic match.

Nakamura has seamlessly blended into NXT since debuting against Sami Zayn in Dallas over WrestleMania weekend. And the role has been the perfect fit for his style. He can get by on charisma and showmanship on television and house shows while saving his body for the few big matches a year he competes in. Though it’s often been frustrating, he’s always been someone that saves himself for the right moment.

That's why I was excited when he noted that this is his first WWE PPV main event in an interview segment on Wednesday’s go-home episode of NXT TV. Even with the Zayn match being one of my favorites of the year, I’ll be disappointed if Saturday isn’t Nakamura’s most inspired performance since joining NXT.

And despite obviously being excited to see what Nakamura can do, I’m looking forward to seeing how Joe fares even more. Joe’s ROH world title run last decade firmly established him as my favorite wrestler in the world then, but I lost touch with much of his career as he spent such a big part of it in TNA. I didn’t know what to expect when Joe came to NXT, and though I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve seen of him as a character, he has yet to put on a classic match that really cements him as one of the best workers in the world again.

Some of his performances have been close. I thought he shined in a couple of the Balor matches despite the end product not being as good as I hoped. But, I think Saturday is the night where everything clicks and Joe reminds the wrestling world that he’s a hall of fame caliber worker.

Dan "PeachMachine" Velten, Online Editor --

AJ Styles vs. John Cena are my two favorites right now (other than the Ascension), and to me, this is a battle between the two biggest stars from the post Monday night wars era from the surviving companies. I love Cena because he’s the New York Yankees of wrestling. He represents "the man". He’s always had the WWE machine behind him, along with big money and big pushes. On the flipside, AJ is like the Tampa Bay Rays: an expansion team (TNA) that doesn't have the big money supporting them, but they signed Evan Longoria and all he does is hit, and come up big in the field.

So to me, it's Evan "AJ" Longoria hitting against Mariano "Cena" Rivera at SummerSlam, and that’s an awesome matchup.

Jeremy Peeples, Lucha Underground recapper -- 

I'm most excited to see Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. The personality profile hype videos they’ve done have been very good. While they haven’t done as good a job as possible introducing Balor to fans, they have at least made him seem like a main eventer right away. He's positioned as a threat and they should pull the trigger on him. Seth is already made as a top guy, and Balor should be the guy they push for the second new era of the past second months on Raw. It’s a fresh match and one that feels like it could be a building block for the future.

Bryan Rose, NJPW & CWC recapper --

While there is a ton of great wrestling action this upcoming weekend, I got to say that the Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 202 really intrigues me. You would think that with a full camp and with size on his side, Diaz has no way of losing. But McGregor still has that aura about him of being different than others, even if a lot of it was diminished when he lost the first time. Plus, given that this has been the year of the underdog with so many surprise title switches and upsets, maybe Conor can actually pull it off. I’d love to see if he can!

James Cox, WWE Superstars recapper --

I'm most excited for Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. For me, Brock is what a big WWE event is all about as his presence and charisma are unrivaled in WWE. When he re-signed in 2012, there was a short list of who you knew could go with him. Here in 2016, that list is probably just as short but Orton is still right up at the top. Orton is such a smooth performer, and on his best day, he is easily one of the best in the US. Both have exquisite timing and so I really hope this delivers. My only fear is that Lesnar is losing.

Paul Fontaine, UFC writer --

One fight that isn’t getting a lot of talk but one I'm really excited for is the FS 1 featured prelim match for UFC 202: Cody Garbrandt vs Takeya Mizugaki. Garbrandt is expected to win and he’s managed to finish every one of his pro opponents so far. Mizugaki is a tough guy to put away and if Garbrandt does it, he’ll be in position to be the next challenger for Dominick Cruz’ bantamweight title. I really think Garbrandt has that “it” factor and could potentially be a breakout UFC star and this will be a huge stage for him.

Ryan Frederick, UFC writer --

This is a great weekend of all kinds of action, but being a big MMA guy, I’m definitely looking most forward to the rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. It is an intriguing fight, maybe more intriguing than the first time they stepped inside the Octagon together in March. It is interesting to see what kinds of adjustments McGregor will have made. For all of the talk of how big he is, from watching the UFC Embedded series, I don’t get the sense that McGregor is much bigger, and that is probably for the best.

He is a fighter obsessed with perfection, and Diaz showed him he wasn’t perfect, so I expect a better McGregor in this fight. As for Diaz, he got what he wanted, and that was the money, and I’m not sure anything else motivates him these days. He clearly isn’t as obsessed with the rematch as McGregor is, and he’s getting paid more than he ever has. Where he goes from here remains to be seen, but I just don’t think he cares about the outcome as much as McGregor. There is much more less for him to lose. It is going to be an interesting night in Las Vegas. I will also add I’m very excited for the match between Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura.

Will Cooling, Columnist --

There are so many great matches this weekend that it’s almost hard to keep track. While I’m fascinated to see if Conor McGregor can correct the fatal flaws in his standup that Nate Diaz exploited and I always enjoy watching Brock Lesnar throwing somebody around, to me the big fight of the weekend is Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. That this is Nakamura’s first main event since he left New Japan is reason enough to be excited.

He’s always been a big match performer and so we should see him pull out all the stops on Saturday night. But more than that, he has the perfect opponent. To me, Joe vs. Nakamura is a genuine dream match, bringing together two strong style wrestlers who are equally adept at technical striking, intricate grappling exchanges and all-out brawling. This should be something special….and very, very stiff.

Kyle S. Johnson, Columnist --

One of the matches I am looking forward to the most is flying comfortably under the radar thanks to the stacked main event of each show, but it is every bit as likely to deliver a classic that people will be talking about on Monday. I fully expect that The Revival and Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano will go out on Saturday night with the goal of upstaging each and every blockbuster bout of the weekend; given the talent involved, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that they would.

Ciampa and Gargano have already had a pretty exceptional few weeks with their incredible match in the first round of the CWC, and with the birth of the #GloriousBomb, while Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder continue to prove themselves to be modern masters of tag team wrestling. Reports out of the house show circuit have indicated that these four men are having blow-away matches every time they lock up, and with the stakes being raised at the Barclays on Saturday, I fully expect a high-drama tag team championship match that could wind up on some match of the year shortlists.

Zach Dominello, Columnist --

Notwithstanding the fact that I 100% won’t have the time to watch any of the ridiculous amount of awesome wrestling coming up this weekend, let alone the time to finish this sentence (thanks newborn baby!), if I could watch one match, it would probably be the Samoan Joe Machine vs. The King of The Style Which Is Strong, aka Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. One of Nakamura’s reasons for coming to the US was because he’d pretty much done all there was to do and wrestled everyone worth wrestling in New Japan, so I’m excited as a Nakamura fan to see him in a big match with a big name star like Samoa Joe. It’s new, it’s different, and it’s exactly why Nakamura left Japan. Also, Dalton Castle vs. Kazuchika Okada Friday should be all kinds of great.

Chris Aiken, ROH recapper --

Seemingly overshadowed by a packed weekend of events is the Super J-Cup. Though this year’s tournament might not become as legendary as the inaugural event that debuted in 1994, this year still has a loaded card on paper with a lot of tremendous talent. The sleeper match on the card, and possibly the sleeper match of the weekend, is probably Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal. The two are excellent high flyers and Sydal is now better than ever with psychology. If given enough time, it has the makings of being a helluva match and a true work of art. The weekend has many great events, but wrestlers on the card in Tokyo are sure to remind everyone that the Super J-Cup cannot be overlooked.

Mike DellaCamera, Columnist --

In an absolutely stacked NXT card, the match I'm most looking forward to this weekend is The Revival vs Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. The Revival have been having absolutely great matches, and one could argue they work their characters as good as anyone in the company. "Johnny Wrestling" and "The Psycho Killer" stole the show during their one-on-one match in the Cruiserweight Classic, and with this being the first TakeOver for each of them, look for the two long time indie standouts to try to be the newcomers who come out and steal the show.

Gary Mehaffy, Interviewer --

Man, this is a tough one. There are a lot of good matches set for this weekend, and it’s a toss of a coin for me between Joe vs. Nakamura and Orton vs. Lesnar, both for different reasons. Will Joe lose and be brought up to the main roster? Will they have him win but lose it at the tapings next week? Will Vince wake up and decide that Brock needs to be taught a lesson? Will he stick with the program and keep Brock strong? I’m going with Orton vs. Lesnar. No, wait, change that: Joe vs. Nakamura.

Josh Nason, Sandwich Artist --

For me, this weekend is all about what's next. Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins all have potentially interesting paths ahead depending on what happens in the next 48 hours with who wins and loses telling us a lot about WWE's direction over the rest of the year. If Balor wins, will WWE really get behind him? How long is Nakamura staying in NXT anyway? Could a win actually revive Orton to the point we care about seeing him in top programs?

But there's one match in which a company can't dictate the outcome and that's Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II at UFC 202 Saturday night. When this fight was first made, I wasn't that jazzed because of how the first fight went down. The past few months haven't done much to fuel my interest, but there's so much on the line for McGregor with a loss that I can't help but be intrigued. The business could change a lot again Saturday night -- either for the better or the worse.

As I said on my show this week, we need to be snapped out of our post-UFC 200 malaise and perhaps UFC 202 is the show to do it.