NXT TakeOver XXV, the 25th major two-hour special for WWE’s developmental brand, is this coming Saturday.
The card features five matches with four championships on the line in the first TakeOver special since WrestleMania 35 weekend.
A combination of fresh match-ups and old feuds make up the bulk of the scheduled bouts. And there will be the requisite spine-crushing action that come with the territory in NXT.
New directions also look to be in store for the black-and-gold brand, as the show promises to be a turning point for one of its most popular groups, the Undisputed Era.
Here’s how we think the events of NXT TakeOver XXV will shake out.
Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong
Matt Riddle is very quickly becoming the face of NXT.
He’s the most over babyface on the brand, and the cheers from crowds at Full Sail and TakeOver events alike point to him ascending to the main roster pretty quickly.
This match was spurred by a backstage attack by Strong that temporarily injured Riddle.
Inserting the Original Bro into a feud with the Undisputed Era is smart booking. The Undisputed Era has a knack for attacking on all sides, even though recent storylines point to dissension in those ranks.
My guess is that botched interference from the Undisputed Era will cost Strong this match and, in turn, will have major implications in the main event for NXT TakeOver XXV.
Winner – Matt Riddle
NXT Tag Team Championship Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match – Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era vs. The Forgotten Sons vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
However this goes, there are going to be lots of spines meeting lots of ladders.
The Street Profits are on fire with the crowds right now, and they’re easily the most over guys in NXT’s tag team division. Having said that, NXT just had a long run with another super over babyface team, the War Raiders. Shut up, I don’t care what they’re calling them on Monday Night Raw, they’re the freakin’ War Raiders.
And while I want to say that the Undisputed Era’s team of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish are old hat, if this show and the storylines that follow it are really going to be built around the group, someone has to be left standing with a win, some gold, and some credibility.
That sucks, because the Forgotten Sons have been … well, forgotten, and Lorcan and Burch are both great workers. But the story has to take front and center. I’m picking the Undisputed Era here, and they’ll drop the belts to the Street Profits in Toronto at the next TakeOver.
Winners – Undisputed Era
NXT Women’s Championship Match – Shayna Baszler (C) vs. Io Shirai
NXT has teased us before with a challenger getting a surprise win over Baszler in non-title action, but I think this time it might actually mean something.
Baszler, the only two-time NXT Women’s Champion in history, has had a long, solid run. But it’s time for it to be over and for her to make her way to the main roster.
Io lost a triple threat match for the title at NXT TakeOver: New York against her BFF, Kairi Sane, and Baszler. Then, just a few weeks later, she lost Sane to the main roster. Sane is now a gigantic superstar, teaming with the undefeated Asuka as part of the best-named and most heavily-promoted tag team in the highly-competitive women’s tag team division.
I’ve been working out my sarcasm muscles.
My point is, there are so many losses a babyface can take and still retain credibility. If Io loses this match, it does no favors either for her own credibility or Baszler’s.
Unlike the apes with typewriters up on the main roster, NXT’s bookers seem like they’re smarter than that.
Winner – Io Shirai
NXT North American Championship Match – Velveteen Dream (C) vs. Tyler Breeze
Fair warning: I’m a big Velveteen Dream mark.
Dream has been on a roll for well over a year. He holds a win over the current NXT Champion, Johnny Gargano (who he defeated to win the North American title) as well as a victory over Riddle at NXT TakeOver: New York.
Breeze works a pretty similar style to Dream, and his status as a well-liked and well-remembered NXT alum makes him a perfect opponent for the Purple Rainmaker.
A move to the main roster for Dream has been teased a couple of times, but I don’t think he’s ready just yet. And I think even Vince realizes he wouldn’t quite know what to do with him.
Tyler Breeze will give him a good match and a decent taste of the main roster style, but I still think that Velveteen Dream walks out of NXT TakeOver XXV with the North American strap.
Winner – Velveteen Dream
NXT Championship Match – Johnny Gargano (C) vs. Adam Cole (Bay-Bay)
Johnny Gargano has his share of nicknames. There’s Johnny Wrestling, Johnny TakeOver, and now Johnny Champion. Gargano defeated Cole in a two-out-of-three falls match for the NXT title at NXT TakeOver: New York in April.
Cole claims he’s the uncrowned champion of NXT, as he won the first fall of that match. It’ll unquestionably be a solid match at NXT TakeOver XXV, as both Gargano and Cole are at the top of their respective games.
But there’s an element of intrigue to this match that wasn’t there in New York. Cole and the rest of the Undisputed Era have been at each others’ throats since New York. And with Matt Riddle interjecting himself into the feud, the story just gets more complicated.
Gargano picks up the win here, as I see a swerve and three very unhappy stable mates in Adam Cole’s future.
And while a title defense is good for Gargano, I can’t help but feel like he’s always the background player in his own matches. His title win at NXT TakeOver: New York came in the shadow of Tommaso Ciampa’s forced abandonment of the title. And here at NXT TakeOver XXV, he’s a stepping stone to the larger story with the Undisputed Era.
All of this points to Gargano being a transitional champion while the white-hot Riddle continues to pick up steam.
Winner – Johnny Gargano
NXT TakeOver XXV looks to be a turning point for stories that will carry the brand through the summer. It should be a blast to follow.
We’ll be covering the results of the special this weekend. NXT TakeOver XXV streams live from Bridgeport, Connecticut, on the WWE Network Saturday, June 1, starting at 7 p.m. ET.
All images courtesy of WWE.