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NXT TakeOver XXX: Pre-Match Analysis and Predictions

NXT TakeOver has become, in my eyes, the premier WWE special. With each installation of the beloved event, more and more incredible matches are etched into the history books. Matches such as Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn and #DIY vs. The Revival are now seen as classics. TakeOver is the perfect showcase for up-and-coming talent to show the world how incredibly skilled they are. Today marks the thirtieth NXT TakeOver. With a card sure to impress and satisfy viewers of all ages and types, it’s time to take a look at all six matches and lay out my thoughts and predictions.

Legado del Fantasma vs. Breezango vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (Number 1 contender match for the NXT Tag Team Championship)

Ideally, Legado del Fantasma would be my choice to win here. They’ve been built up as a true force in NXT as of late, and with their leader, Santos Escobar, being the reigning NXT Cruiserweight Champion, giving Legado del Fantasma the win would be the smartest decision. However, momentum is one thing, and a heel-vs.-heel dynamic is another. Pitting Legado del Fantasma up against Imperium would be ill-advised, as there quite simply isn’t enough of a story to tell.

Breezango would be a poor choice to win, as they’re currently involved in a mini feud with Legado del Fantasma, so I foresee a continuation of that feud within the match itself. That leaves the duo of Lorcan and Burch, who have been stuck in relative limbo as a tag team for quite some time. Winning the match would return them to their prior high status within the tag team division, and with a lack of real high-profile teams in NXT, I’m going with Lorcan and Burch here to win it all.

Prediction: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch win.

Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher

This is my dark horse pick for match of the night, and for good reason: it features two of the best technical wrestlers NXT has to offer. This feud has been brewing the last few weeks, with Thatcher costing Balor’s shot at the North American Title being a breaking point. The two are now set to collide tonight at TakeOver XXX. If anything, I believe Thatcher has the most to prove here, and Balor can afford a loss. Thatcher is my pick to win.

Prediction: Timothy Thatcher wins, elevating Thatcher and leading to an eventual grudge match down the road.

Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee

It’s McAfee Mania, baybay! The most accomplished wrestler in NXT history taking on a former NFL punter and podcast host is a strange storyline, but when you look deeper, it’s absolutely brilliant for a multitude of reasons. For starters, McAfee has played his heel role perfectly, dropping a scathing promo this past week on NXT TV. In addition, the storyline is the perfect way to turn Adam Cole babyface—but with one caveat. Cole cannot win here.

While I think McAfee pulling off a clean win would be the absolute wrong way to go here, I still believe he wins, with some assistance from an unlikely ally: Cole’s stablemate Kyle O’Reilly. Tonight could sow the seeds for the demise of the most beloved stable in NXT history, but without the fracturing of the Undisputed Era, Cole has no reason to stay in NXT any further.

Prediction: Pat McAfee wins with outside interference, likely from a sadistic Kyle O’Reilly.

Damian Priest vs. Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream (Ladder Match for the NXT North American Championship)

This is probably the hardest match on the card to predict, for the sole purpose of the unknown factor. Two of the five participants of the match haven’t even had a TakeOver match yet! With that being said, the only way to predict who wins here is through the process of elimination.

Johnny Gargano doesn’t need the win, and while his heel character has been nothing short of wonderful, I think he’s here to elevate the match as a whole with his star power. Velveteen Dream, quite simply, shouldn’t be in the match, nor on NXT TV whatsoever, as he’s a PR disaster waiting to happen. Putting the belt on Dream would be potentially the worst decision not just of the night but of the entire weekend for the company.

With Bronson Reed and Damian Priest looking to feud at some point in the future, I wonder if tonight we see them take each other out. That leaves Cameron Grimes, whose gimmick as of late has been cutting hilarious promos and killing it in the ring. With a lack of goofy champions within NXT at the moment, I think Grimes is the perfect choice to win the belt, as he can easily lose it to Priest or Reed down the road and all three individuals can be elevated as a result. The smart choice here would be Priest, but I’m sticking to my gut here and picking Grimes.

Prediction: Cameron Grimes wins the NXT North American Championship.

Dakota Kai vs. Io Shirai (NXT Women’s Championship)

This match is sure to be phenomenal. Kai and Shirai’s styles will mesh well, and expect there to be some outside interference from Raquel Gonzalez. However, I think the cards have been set for an eventual Rhea Ripley – Io Shirai showdown, which is why I think Shirai wins here and has a staredown of sorts with Ripley.

Prediction: Io Shirai retains after Rhea Ripley demolishes Raquel Gonzalez at ringside.

Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee (NXT Championship)

There is no good decision to be made here. Kross losing here would demolish his unstoppable push. At the same time, it’s far too early for Keith Lee’s reign to end. Someone is getting their momentum screwed over in this match, and it’s almost upsetting to see this match happen so soon. Regardless, this match is sure to be absolutely amazing, and Kross’ ruthlessness and Lee’s pure strength and athleticism should be fun to watch.

Look for the potential of outside interference on behalf of Scarlett or a vengeful Dominik Dijakovic. I think that this is the first match in a long-term feud between Kross and Lee, which is why I’m going with Lee to retain the title, either through outside interference, count-out, or disqualification. This won’t be a clean finish.

Prediction: Lee retains the NXT Championship due to interference from Dominik Dijakovic.

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