NXT Takeover: San Antonio Primer
While many are pumped and prepared for the Royal Rumble, I continue to find myself more excited by the prospects of yet another NXT Takeover, this time taking place in San Antonio, Texas.
Each and every Takeover event has prospered and exceeded expectations, providing fans in attendance and those watching on the WWE Network with a fine-tuned two hours of professional wrestling that you won’t find done much better elsewhere.
The NXT roster has gone through a multitude of changes in the past few months, with main roster call-ups and new faces all changing the NXT landscape. If you’re looking for a refresher course on the who, what, and why of Takeover: San Antonio or are just looking for some hot takes on NXT you’ll find it all here in this handy guide to the first major NXT event of 2017.
Let’s run down the card, the players, and why Takeover: San Antonio looks to continue the tradition of fantastic professional wrestling.
Roderick Strong vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
Both competitors are relative newcomers looking to make their mark in NXT but come from strong backgrounds in the independent wrestling scene. Roderick Strong is most well known for his time in Ring of Honor, where he was the promotion’s second-ever Triple Crown Champion, which included a stint as tag team champions with Austin Aries and a single run as ROH World Champion.
Almas is better known to indie fans as La Sombra, wrestling for Mexican promotion CMLL as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling and helped begin the stable Los Ingobernables. Almas signed with NXT in late 2015 and first premiered the June 2016 event NXT Takeover: The End.
Strong has few matches under his belt in NXT and Almas, fresh off a heel turn, is looking to finally get on track and turn in the performances that everyone has been expecting from the former luchador.
This could very well end up being the work-rate match of the card, with Strong’s bruising, brawling style with a side of technical flair matching well with Almas’ speed and cunning. Both guys are looking to have their first outstanding NXT moment, and this could be the match where it happens.
Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young
A match created this past week on NXT, Dillinger is looking to gain back momentum lost from a string of matches in the past months that seemingly has killed the fan favorite’s progress. His opponent will be the leader of Sanity and former TNA standout Eric Young, who looks to punish Dillinger for turning down Sanity’s invitation of induction into the group.
Young and Sanity have looked strong since their debut and are finally at full strength with former ICW Champion Damo joining their ranks. That said, I’m not sure what you do with Dillinger at this point: To the outside observer he appears to be ready for the main roster move, but would that lead to disaster along the lines of the Vaudevillains and Tyler Breeze? Nobody wants to see Tye succeed more than me, so squeaking out a win against Young only to be beaten down by Sanity seems to be the (I’m sorry) sane call here.
That said, the eternal optimist in me isn’t going to count out Dillinger popping up in the 10 spot at the Royal Rumble. I gotta believe.
NXT Tag Team Champions #DIY vs. The Authors of Pain
DIY are comprised of former indie darlings Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, who recently won the tag titles in a series of fantastic and brutal matches with former two-time champions The Revival. The Authors of Pain, led by 80s managerial luminary Paul Ellering of Demolition fame, have torn through the entire division with a booking that would make the Ultimate Warrior jealous.
NXT has a history of hot-shotting the tag titles to their hot, new team so I wouldn’t be surprised to see AoP win in dominating fashion. This may also be the chance for NXT to capitalize on a teased Gargano/Ciampa feud from months back when an injury Gargano suffered in the Cruiserweight Classic and against The Revival cost DIY the titles.
With T.M.-61 out for awhile due to injury, the plan may change to having the face champions hold onto the titles a bit longer. That said, the Authors will inevitably win the titles, sooner rather than later.
NXT Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce (Fatal 4-Way Match)
The NXT women’s division has seen a number of changes and turnover in the past year, losing the likes of Bayley, Emma, Dana Brooke, and Nia Jax. That said, the future of the division is bright and shows a real diversity that should be the envy of any promotion.
This match looks to be the greatest challenge to Asuka’s undefeated streak, with a real challenge in Sanity’s Nikki Cross and…. Look, I don’t know why Kay and Royce are here. I understand that at the moment there is a severe lack of personalities in the women’s division, but Kay and Royce aren’t the answer.
In light of the great heel work, Emma and Dana Brooke were doing less than a year ago it really just feels like Royce and Kay and doing a watered-down version of the formerly mentioned duo.
If ever there was a scenario to get the women’s belt off Asuka without having her take the direct loss then it’s the tried and true four-way stipulation. If Asuka is to remain in NXT for a while longer, then she’s more compelling while chasing the title, a wronged Empress who never truly lost his throne. Cross is more than able to carry the load as champion in that regard, as she has shown a ton of potential and intrigue as perhaps the most unstable member of Sanity.
I don’t care what Kay and Royce do, but they’re here as nothing more than a distraction… I hope.
NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode
Former TNA standout Roode gained the opportunity for this title match through winning a four-way, number one contender match. Nakamura is hot off a series of overseas matches against the sure to be departing Samoa Joe, gaining the NXT title back after losing the belt at the last Takeover event.
This is a fresh matchup for wrestling fans everywhere, which is the real broad appeal of Roode versus Nakamura. Bobby has gained a strong following since joining NXT, with his theme and throwback heel persona making him a heelish favorite. Nakamura continues to be the measuring stick for the NXT title division and looks to continue in this role as he holds the title through WrestleMania.
I hesitate to call this a filler title defense, but taking the title off Nakamura so soon after losing and gaining the belt in the past few months would only serve to weaken the belt’s stature. Roode is a strongly booked competitor who can keep up with Nakamura, which should serve as a hard-hitting and exciting main event.
NXT Takeover: San Antonio takes place January 28th on the WWE Network. Look for my review of the event that weekend, as well as live thoughts and the hottest of takes on my Twitter page @DoubleUHarrison. Be sure to join us then while taking in what is sure to be another stellar NXT Takeover event.