To counteract the superstars missing from NXT TakeOver: WarGames, let’s flip the script and talk about the lucky few who will not only perform, but likely steal the show in some capacity?
Whether it’s in a scripted or non-kayfabe sense by factoring in everything from wins and losses, how much of an emphasis they’re given on the show, their momentum for the next TV episode, match performances and everything between, here’s my shortlist for who I think will be stealing the show at NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
Kairi Sane has the Mae Young Classic victory, which granted her immediate access into this match. Winning that tournament is more than good enough to keep her in good spirits without having to also give her the title, and although this may sound harsh, I don’t think WWE wants to follow Asuka’s title reign up with Kairi Sane’s since it would seem like they’re trying to replace The Empress of Tomorrow and not letting Sane do her own thing.
Ember Moon was the best possible option to break Asuka’s winning streak, but she failed to do so and has come up short in all attempts to get the strap. If she wins it here, part of me won’t be surprised at all, but part of me will think it was a little too easy now that Asuka’s gone.
Nikki Cross has been hovering over that title for many months and never stood a chance to win it with Asuka there, but now that she’s been breaking out more on her own instead of hanging with SAnitY and nothing more, Nikki Cross has been making great progress.
However…since all of these women have a rightful means to win the championship, I can’t help but feel that Peyton Royce is going to pull out the victory with some help from Billie Kay.
This allows a heel champion dynamic to be something different, she has plenty of babyfaces to go up against in singles competition over the next few months (Kairi Sane, Ember Moon and Nikki Cross just being three, but Ruby Riot and others joining in the fray as well) and Billie Kay can always be used as a sacrificial lamb to lose to the challengers while also being the secret weapon who allows Peyton Royce to keep retaining her title.
This one is kind of tough, as part of me really, really wants to say that The Velveteen Dream is going to hand Aleister Black a surprising loss, but with the way the latter’s been booked since his debut, it’s hard to go against the trend.
I do think TVD is going to make an impact even in his loss, and there’s an argument to be made that win or lose, he’s the driving force of this story and will steal the spotlight away from Aleister Black because of his antics, but given a choice between which one will come out looking better in the end than the opponent, I have to make the easier call by saying TVD will make a splash and Aleister Black will still get the victory.
This isn’t setting up a win and a push for Kassius Ohno, this is setting up a win and a continued push for Lars Sullivan.
To be fair, I don’t think this really counts because I doubt anybody will remember this match by the end of the night, so Lars Sullivan won’t really be someone who will be a top star of the card, but I figured everyone would be curious where this was in the mix and I might as well just throw my random prediction out there, regardless of how little impact it will have on the list, since this isn’t in any order or ranking.
Credit to Andrade “Cien” Almas for getting a title opportunity and shout out to Drew McIntyre for the fact that he’ll be winning this match and retaining his championship, but the true star of this feud has been Zelina Vega, who single-handedly has been selling the entire storyline.
Thea Trinidad is killing it in her managerial role and has quickly shot up to the top tier of my list of best managers of the year in WWE, finally giving Andrade Almas the extra bit of character he needed to take the next step forward in his career and somehow also finding a way to steal just the proper amount of spotlight for herself without overshadowing her guy.
She’ll no doubt be a factor in this match as she’ll be watching ringside, and even though she’ll be unable to help Andrade Almas win the title, I think she’ll make a lasting impression that will get people talking even more about her.
Shared Glory: WarGames Match Participants
If I had to pick one person that could potentially stand out, it would be Roderick Strong, but I actually feel like this is going to be one of those scenarios where the match is so good and has such good rhythm that every single cog in the wheel ends up sharing responsibility for putting out such an awesome product.
Yes, that’s a bit of a cop out answer, and if you’re looking for a straight-up prediction of who will win, I think it will be The Undisputed Era, but I think the bigger story here isn’t going to be the specifics of the win/loss, but rather the overall scope of the match itself, similar to the triple threat we saw between #DIY, The Revival and The Authors of Pain.
Bottom line, this is a match where you’re not likely to be thinking to yourself that Alexander Wolfe is crazy talented or Bobby Fish deserves a big push by the end of it rather than just looking at the overall scope of the talent involved and being happy you got to see them all clash.