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Early Card Predictions for NXT TakeOver: Phoenix PPV Match Lineup

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The final TakeOver of the year, NXT TakeOver: WarGames II, may be the best one yet, but the machine doesn’t stop too long to reflect on things before we start looking ahead to the future and the next show, which will be NXT TakeOver: Phoenix.

It will hit us Saturday, January 26, 2019 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix (duh), Arizona, one night before the Royal Rumble, and there’s no telling what we’re necessarily in store for, but we can take a shot, right?

The first set of tapings that will lead into plans for the build to this event have taken place and while they don’t give us much to work with, part of the fun of super early predictions is the blind guessing, so I invite everyone else to take part in the process by leaving their predictions in the comments below, too.

With that being said, when I look into my crystal ball, this is what I can see going down at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix…

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

NXT Championship Match

Tommaso Ciampa is intrinsically tied to Johnny Gargano, who is feuding with Aleister Black, while there’s also Velveteen Dream somewhere in the mix.

It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if we had a Fatal 4-Way, but I’m thinking more so that we’re getting Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano in a Triple Threat before WrestleMania, rather than having Velveteen Dream involved. And yet, his lack of involvement is something that makes me doubt my opinions about this.

My gut was telling me Aleister Black beat Johnny Gargano, so he gets a title shot, but we know that already happened at the tapings, with Tommaso Ciampa retaining the championship. After that, Velveteen Dream attacked Tommaso Ciampa, and earlier in the night, Velveteen Dream defeated Johnny Gargano.

So unless the game plan is to do two matches on NXT and then simply repeat them on NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, with Tommaso Ciampa/Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano/Velveteen Dream, I’m assuming we’re getting that Fatal 4-Way and there’s some other plan in mind for April 6th that doesn’t involve these guys, like Tommaso Ciampa defending against Matt Riddle or something.

Very, very curious…

NXT Women’s Championship Match

We know Shayna Baszler’s going in as champion. That’s a guarantee, barring any kind of scandal or injury. She wouldn’t have won the title back at Evolution and retained it at NXT TakeOver: WarGames II if they didn’t want her holding that belt into WrestleMania season.

The real question is who she’ll be up against, as the babyface side of things isn’t exactly painting a strong picture right now.

I think we can rule out Candice LeRae. She’s not been pushed all that much, as she’s been in Johnny Gargano’s shadow. I think we can also eliminate Deonna Purrazzo from the mix as she’s still on the outskirts and will likely have the same sort of build-up phase that someone like Mia Yim is going through (even though Mia Yim does stand a chance and is my #2 option).

Had Dakota Kai not already had a mini-feud with Shayna Baszler, I would think she’d be the one to take a shot at the title here, but I think that’s dead, too. She’ll probably be someone Shayna Baszler can beat along the way while teaming up with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, as those two defeat Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane on one of the upcoming episodes, based on the tapings.

That leaves Io Shirai. She was the third person to balance out the equation, she’s yet to feud with Shayna Baszler, she was second place in the Mae Young Classic and the two of them can have a very good match.

And for anyone wondering, no, I don’t think Lacey Evans or Bianca Belair will be turned babyface to fight Shayna Baszler….at least, not yet. Talk to me about Bianca Belair come New York.

NXT Tag Team Championship Match

Going back a while now, it has seemed as though The Undisputed Era were destined to lose the titles to War Raiders, but it keeps not happening. When NXT TakeOver: WarGames II happened and the babyface team was victorious, I felt like that sealed the deal for the titles to be on borrowed time with Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly.

Then, they apparently have already had the title match and it ended in a disqualification, further dragging this out…and now, I’m starting to question it.

Occam’s razor. Why did they do this? Because they wanted fans in San Jose to think the title change was happening there, have the DQ stall the switch, but since Hanson and Rowe won, they’re entitled to a rematch. Somewhere down the line, William Regal will say he’s had enough of the shenanigans and book The Undisputed Era against War Raiders in something like a Last Man Standing match and THEN, the belts will have new homes.

The Street Profits are holding the Evolve tag titles. Heavy Machinery aren’t taking the top priority spot. The Forgotten Sons and The Mighty are heels. Moustache Mountain are aiming for the NXT UK Tag Team Championship and they’ve already done that feud, and as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any other tag teams ready to get signed or pushed. It’s not like Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude are going to surpass War Raiders, right?

North American Championship Match

Ricochet and Pete Dunne definitely have something going on, but we’ve seen them do a title for title match, and I can’t imagine WWE would actually have a dual champion. They’ve also had a Triple Threat with Adam Cole, and if I think we’re getting a Fatal 4-Way, I don’t think they’ll add a three-way on top of that. Adam Cole has fought Ricochet. Adam Cole has fought Pete Dunne. And I think Pete Dunne will defend the United Kingdom Championship on an NXT UK event coming sometime in 2019 that they’ll announce at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, as Triple H said a big announcement was coming in the first quarter.

So…what do they do with the North American Championship?

Well, on the tapings, EC3 beats Marcel Barthel and then calls out Bobby Fish. They’re feuding, but that doesn’t factor in Ricochet. Unless, maybe, it does.

Maybe, while Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong are busy with Hanson and Rowe, we get Bobby Fish and Adam Cole against EC3 and Ricochet, and this whole thing with Pete Dunne is just a tease for something that isn’t happening, or at least, isn’t happening now. And then, maybe Ricochet and EC3 end up at odds with each other and facing off for the title at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix.

It’s as good a guess as any, and I’m fresh out of other ideas, as they still have another set of tapings happening on the 28th that can potentially clarify all of this by going in a completely different direction like introducing the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic or something that would swallow this card up and prevent the North American title from being defended.

Match #5

Matt Riddle has to do something, right? And since he’s a babyface, he needs to be paired up with someone other than Kassius Ohno, since he made him look like a fool and there’s no reason to keep that going anymore.

Well, there aren’t any heels to really pick from, because Lars Sullivan is going up to the main roster and I can’t for the life of me imagine Wesley Blake in this spot, which only really leaves Kona Reeves, and that is much better suited for a regular episode of NXT and not an NXT TakeOver match.

So, since Matt Riddle and Keith Lee have been shown together, maybe they’re given a tag team match. Maybe those two draw the ire of two guys like The Mighty. Or, maybe Kona Reeves brings Dan Matha into the mix to counterbalance the numbers game and that’s what we go with.

I have no idea, and I like that, for now. Surprise me.

PROJECTED CARD:

NXT Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Aleister Black
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Io Shirai
NXT Tag Team Championship [Some Kind of Gimmick] Match: The Undisputed Era (c) vs. War Raiders
Ricochet vs. EC3 or Adam Cole
Matt Riddle and Keith Lee vs. some heel tag team of sorts