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NXT TakeOver: XXV Preview

Photo Credit: WWE.com

Five years ago, NXT changed the course of the sports entertainment/ pro wrestling industry. After a successful live event in February, NXT launched the TakeOver branding of its live event specials. This Saturday’s TakeOver event marks the 25th in history. Looking back at the card for the first TakeOver event on May 29, 2014, the signature match was the NXT Women’s Championship match between Charlotte Flair and Natalya. Flair won her first Championship that night and since claimed the match helped her gain the confidence to become one of the most dominate Champions in history.

This Saturday, the lineage of TakeOver continues from the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. The event features a five match card. All four NXT Championships will be on the line, including the vacant NXT Tag Team Championship. Here is our look at NXT TakeOver: XXV.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong

Riddle suffered his first pinfall loss at NXT TakeOver: New York. Since then, he has suffered the ire of Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong). Era targeted Riddle as he came to the aid of Johnny Gargano. A series of miscommunications in Riddle’s matches against Era caused a rift between Cole and Strong. With Undisputed Era appearing to be in disarray, Strong suddenly and viciously attacked Riddle in the parking lot during an episode of NXT TV. He brought back one of Riddle’s signature flip flops splattered in blood, handed it to Cole and reassumed his spot in Undisputed Era. Riddle is out for revenge.

Prediction- Riddle’s been nearly untouchable since his debut. Strong brings out the best in his opponents. Riddle will be out for payback. This should be a dominating victory for the Original Bro.

Pick- Matt Riddle

NXT North American Championship:

Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Tyler Breeze

After a surprising victory in his Title defense at NXT TakeOver: New York, Velveteen Dream’s ego began to grow. He defended against former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy a couple weeks after WrestleMania. The ego continued to grow. He created his own version of the Star Spangled Banner. The ego was out of control. The Velveteen Dream Experience engulfed NXT….

Look everyone! It’s Tyler!

With that, the NXT Universe exploded into celebration! The return of Prince Pretty to NXT! Tyler Breeze wasted little time in his reintroduction, attacking the North American Champion after a selfie request from the Champ. Breeze wants Championship gold. Dream responded back calling Breeze a “Great Value Velveteen Dream.” This will be Breeze’s first match back on the NXT roster full-time.

Prediction- While it would be awesome to throw back to the start of NXT with a Breeze win, this is a great opportunity to solidify the reign of Dream. Breeze is the only person on the card at TakeOver: XXV who competed on the first TakeOver. He won in a great match over Sami Zayn that night five years ago. He looks to recapture the magic which helped him make it to the main roster with a “Dream” match.

Pick- Velveteen Dream

NXT Tag Team Championship- Ladder Match:

Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Undisputed Era vs. Street Profits vs. Forgotten Sons

War Raiders opened NXT TakeOver: New York successful in their Title defense. One week later, they would be renamed twice (The Viking Experience and now, Viking Raiders) and be called up to the main roster. Two weeks ago on NXT TV, the Viking Raiders laid the Titles on the mat after another Title defense, this time over Street Profits. Without Champions, NXT General Manager William Regal decided to give the top four teams an opportunity at the gold. He upped the ante by making this a Ladder match. Only Undisputed Era (O’Reilly and Fish) have previously held the Title. Forgotten Sons were finalists in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Burch and Lorcan had a match of the year candidate with the Era at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II last year. Street Profits nearly defeated the Raiders in two separate matches. All four teams ended the final NXT TV before TakeOver in a brawl. The Era posed on a ladder on the stage to close the show.

Prediction- This is going to be exciting. After a lackluster ending to the last Ladder match on WWE Network, this match is going to steal the show. The ending of the last two NXT TVs seem to set up a win for Undisputed Era. Forgotten Sons have found success this year and could be the dark horses to win it. Street Profits have not fared well recently, struggling against the Viking Raiders. Oney Lorcan is finding his way on 205 Live. His tag team partner Danny Burch is spending more of his time in NXT UK. This would be a good time to reinforce the power of the Undisputed Era. At least one of the two Era matches should end in Championship glory.

Pick- Undisputed Era

NXT Women’s Championship:

Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Io Shirai

Baszler continues to wreak havoc on the Women’s division. She forced Kairi Sane into a bad situation. Sane was granted a Title match on NXT TV, but if she lost she would never be able to challenge for the Women’s Title again. Baszler threatened the health of Sane during the match, forcing Sane’s friend Io Shirai to attack Baszler and cause a DQ. With Sane out of the picture, Baszler continued to target Shirai. Baszler enlisted the assistance of her friends Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke to attack Shirai and leave her laying. As a result, GM Regal granted Shirai this Title match. Shirai responded by assaulting Duke, Shafir and Baszler with a kendo stick. On NXT TV on Wednesday, Shirai gained an important ally in Candice LeRae.

Prediction- The reign of terror by Baszler is at an end. There’s not much left for Baszler in NXT and Shirai looks like a badass wielding that kendo stick. The addition of LeRae helps level the playing field a bit. Keep an eye out for Kacy Catanzaro as she’s had past issues with Baszler and could make an impact. Let’s hear it for The Genius of the Sky, Io Shirai!

Pick- Io Shirai

NXT Championship:

Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Adam Cole

TakeOver is home to some of the greatest matches of the year. The event launched an endless list of superstars and ushered in a new era in the industry. NXT Champion Johnny Gargano holds the record for most TakeOver events competed at with 14. This will be his eighth consecutive TakeOver competed at. With his victory at TakeOver: New York, Gargano became the first ever Triple Crown Champion in NXT history. Accolades follow Gargano through his time in NXT.

Adam Cole looks for redemption. He won the first fall in the Two Out of Three Falls match at TakeOver: New York, but lost the next two falls by submission. In a normal match, Cole would have won the Title. Instead, he is holding his head on the fact he pinned Gargano in New York. Cole spent the last month trying to use the Undisputed Era to soften up Gargano.

Prediction- As much as I would love to see Cleveland’s own Johnny Gargano retain the Title, it feels like this will be the end of an Era. There’s nothing left for Gargano to do in NXT. The Gargano story is complete. Unfortunately, that means Adam Cole is going to take the Title from Gargano. Cole is a great choice to succeed Gargano and he’ll instantly be ready to defend against Matt Riddle. Should make for an exciting summer in NXT.

Pick- Adam Cole

My Double Play CLE co-host Justin feels like this will be a big night for Undisputed Era. He mentioned Adam Cole's proclamation that Undisputed Era would be "dripping in gold." This could be the night that comes out fruition. He says to keep an eye on Roderick Strong. He's the only Era member not in a Title match. But that could always change.

For many fans, myself included, NXT reinvigorated our love of pro wrestling. It started as a small ripple in the ocean. It grew into an underground revolution. Now, it is selling out arenas across the world. Five years and 25 TakeOvers later, the best is still to come from the black and gold brand! Congratulations to every superstar to step foot in an NXT ring and help create the revolution.