WWE kicks off the new year for their NXT brand on Saturday evening at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Arizona with their NXT TakeOver: Phoenix event. It will mark the first “TakeOver” special of 2019 for the NXT brand, and will be the 33rd overall show in the NXT TakeOver chronology.
The show will air live on the WWE Network as part of WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Weekend featuring a five-match card, with four world championships up for grabs. Headlining the card will be Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black for the NXT World Championship, while Shayna Baszler will defend the NXT Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair in the co-main event.
Also on Saturday’s card will be Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno, Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship and The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) vs. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) for the NXT Tag-Team Championships.
SEScoops.com writers Andrew Ravens, Ian Carey and Jeff Moss have prepared their predictions for each of the matches scheduled for Saturday’s big event. Without further adieu, here are the SEScoops.com staff predictions for NXT TakeOver: Phoenix 2019.
Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno
Andrew Ravens: Yes, WWE is booking another match between these two stars and I can’t say that I’m complaining about. Obviously, it would be nice to see Riddle move onto his next program and work with someone else. It appears that WWE management sees something bigger for him in terms of long term storytelling and not just rushing him to the NXT Title right away. Riddle wins with ease. (Prediction: Matt Riddle)
Ian Carey: Last Takeover, Riddle defeated Ohno in an unadvertised match in mere seconds. Ohno should fair a little better this time out but it still seems likely Riddle walks away with his second straight victory on a Takeover show…bro. It’s just too early to book Riddle to lose. (Prediction: Matt Riddle)
Jeff Moss: “What? Why are we doing this again?” – Me, every time a Kassius Ohno match begins. Look, I get it; Ohno exists at this point to get new talent accustomed to the NXT way, a spot previously held by Tyler Breeze (who I’d much rather see back in NXT doing just that, to be honest). I keep hearing about how Matt Riddle is this amazing MMA performer turned wrestler, and what I’ve seen of him has been pretty good (minus his laughable entrance music) so he should probably be able to put the Ghost of Ohno behind him pretty quickly, no? All I can say beyond that is I hope this is the last time these guys square off for a while, Bro. (Prediction: Matt Riddle)
CONSENSUS: 3-0 (Bro), MATT RIDDLE
Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT North American Title)
Andrew: Unless they have something bigger in place, Gargano shouldn’t win the title here. In fact, it helps to keep the title on the champion as he’s not going to be in the NXT Title picture so why not give him a secondary title until that time comes. Personally, seeing a pairing as heels with Tommaso Ciampa and Gargano would be a lot of fun whether WWE officials end up doing so. Either way, this should be a stellar match that could be a candidate for match of the night. (Prediction: Ricochet)
Ian: This will be the match where Johnny Gargano really shows how dark he can go. For Gargano to solidify his spot as “Johnny Takeover”, he’ll need to show fans what his heel persona is all about in this match. With that being said, I believe Ricochet is going to take the win here. Gargano may have to demonstrate how vicious he can be after the match is over. (Prediction: Ricochet)
Jeff: Match of the night? Yeah, match of the night. Both of these guys are destined to be superstars, so I’m pretty hyped to see them going head to head. The North American Title needs a bit of a boost and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Gargano having it would be that boost. Presuming Ciampa retains his NXT Title, this could be the beginning of building Heel #DIY as a threat to the Undisputed Era’s status as the dominant faction in NXT. Riccochet’s in a great spot as he could have a match with a broom handle at this point and earn 5 stars. He can be a main-event player without a title. (Prediction: Johnny Gargano)
CONSENSUS: 2-1, RICOCHET
The Undisputed ERA vs. War Raiders (NXT Tag Titles)
Andrew: This one is going to be a lot of fun as they have a lot of dynamics that can be used to tell a story that is sure to be very entertaining and one that I’m personally looking forward to seeing. I’m actually taking The War Raiders to go over here as I see it being the only title change on this card and one that makes sense. Undisputed Era has held the titles for long enough, and some could even say that it’s time for them to move on from NXT to the main roster although I wouldn’t have confidence in how they would be booked on RAW or SmackDown Live. (Prediction: War Raiders)
Ian: The War Raiders should leave Phoenix with the NXT tag titles. They have been built up as unstoppable on NXT programming and it seems too soon to have them come up short, even if the Undisputed Era pulls out their usual tricks and chicanery. (Prediction: War Raiders)
Jeff: In my mind I’m weaving an elaborate fantasy booking that includes the NXT, North American and yes Tag Championships all being used to unseat the Undisputed Era as the top faction in NXT. For that to work, the War Raiders need to get the belts here. Yes, my prediction is entirely based on my own head canon. I’m excited to see the match, I love smaller, technical guys going up against monsters, but I’d like to see some more fluidity in the Tag scene in NXT. While it’s better than RAW’s (what isn’t?) Division, it could use some new blood and some new challengers and champions. Especially heading into WrestleMania Season. (Prediction: War Raiders)
CONSENSUS: 3-0, WAR RAIDERS
Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair (NXT Women’s Title)
Andrew: As much fun as Belair has been on WWE NXT TV as of late, I don’t see how it’s her time to be champion or even why they would book a title change here as Baszler is one of the more interesting characters that NXT has to offer right now. Unless they plan to call her up to the main roster in the near future, WWE should keep the title on the champion.(Prediction: Shayna Baszler)
Ian: Either Baszler is losing the NXT Women’s Championship Saturday night or Bianca Belair is going to pick up her first loss in NXT. This match might come down to how quickly WWE wants one or both of these Superstars on the main roster after WrestleMania. I just don’t see Baszler losing the title again so soon after regaining it, however, so I’m picking her in this tilt. (Prediction: Shayna Baszler)
Jeff: Look, I like Bianca Belair. She’s my favorite hair—based wrestler right now for sure. She’s had a dominant run in NXT, but she’s not at Shayna Baszler’s level or able to combat her particular brand of assholery. Baszler is the best heel in the company, non Ciampa Division and while I’d expect this to be competitive, the champion will retain and make a star out of Belair. Unless WWE has plans to pull the Horsewomen trigger soon (note to WWE: DO NOT DO THIS) Baszler’s position as Champion is secure and I can only see this match end with Belair being de(clap)fea(clap)ted(clap), but it will be a great match. (Prediction: Shayna Baszler)
CONSENSUS: 3-0, SHAYNA BASZLER
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black (NXT World Title)
Andrew: I thoroughly enjoyed Black’s reign as champion but the job that Ciampa has done for the last several months on TV as a heel has been one of the impactful runs in quite some time. I believe that WWE plans to keep the title on Ciampa for bit more time and in fact, think that Matt Riddle will be the one to dethrone him as the top champion in NXT. Until that time, don’t fix something that isn’t broken. (Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa)
Ian: Tommaso Ciampa has been arguably the most unique NXT Champion in history but I’m predicting his reign comes to an end Saturday night. Aleister Black will win the belt for a second time, leading both Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano to wonder what led to both of them picking up losses. Perhaps they need to combine their efforts and take over the whole brand. (Prediction: Aleister Black)
Jeff: Even though I’m glad we live in the “no Rematch Clause” era of WWE, if there’s one pairing that I’ll never get tired of it’s these two. Both are ring psychologists as well as heavy-hitting fans of pure violence. Guys like Ciampa and Black are the reason I started watching wrestling in the first place and I’m always excited to see them lock up. That said, this should be the last confrontation between these two. Let Black ascend to the main roster in the Rumble and create an opening for what we really need to see: Ciampa Vs Velveteen Dream II at the Wrestlemania-adjacent Takeover. (Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa)
CONSENSUS: 2-1, TOMMASO CIAMPA
For more news heading into NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, check out the Triple H’s complete pre-show media call. What do you think of the above NXT TakeOver: Phoenix predictions? Let us know by sounding off in the Comments section below, and make sure to join us here at SEScoops.com on Saturday for live play-by-play results coverage of the show!