NXT TakeOver 31 Preview and Predictions

Could the most unbearable couple you've ever met both take home the gold?

Logically, I know Kyle O’Reilly has slim chances of becoming NXT Champion, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to manifest it with every fiber of my being. We deserve a mean, lean, air guitar machine repping the black and gold brand. If I’ve ever done anything good, please give me this, Trips. Here’s a look at a card that features the same number of women’s matches as matches including accused child predators:

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Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (c) vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

The cruiserweight title is being defended for the first time on a TakeOver, over a year after officially being absorbed by NXT, which definitely speaks volumes about the respect and honor WWE has for it. Scott is going to have another shot at Santos Escobar, after pinning the champ in a tag match a few weeks ago. Escobar has two mean best friends and a lot of tricks up his sleeve, so it’ll be a hard fight for the babyface.

Prediction: I think Scott’s gonna get this one. Their feud has been long enough that it feels due, and Legado del Fantasma still have a presence without the big purple belt.

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Kushida vs Velveteen Dream

NXT continues to push Dream despite literally months of backlash, but who’s surprised. This is bad and Kushida deserves better. Remember his baby Kushida entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 13? Let’s watch that instead. It was super creepy, but in a great way. Hope he’s having a nice day.

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NXT North American Championship: Damien Priest (c) vs Johnny Gargano

Priest won the North American title at the previous TakeOver, and then celebrated by getting the belt and his best leather pants full of chlorinated water. I’d say let’s hope Gargano has a better strategy if he becomes a two-time champ, but taking the title to Disney feels just as gross right now. This’ll be your thing if you like flips vs big boy spots.

Prediction: Priest retains. Gargano’s been so solid for so long that he’s really in a place where he can eat a few (or several) losses and still be Johnny Wrestling. But evil.

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NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs Candice LeRae

LeRae won a great woman’s battle royal to become #1 contender, but she’s got a tall task ahead of her when she faces the champ. Shirai has bested every challenger since June, and it doesn’t seem like she’s letting go of the title anytime soon. This should be match of the night, but I can’t escape the lingering fear that we’ll get some Gargano interference from NXT’s #1 wife guy.

Prediction: Shirai, even if we get some Johnny shenanigans. Candice has more than earned her spot, but Io is surely destined for a lengthy title reign.

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NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly

Two NJPW legends meet at in WWE at last. O’Reilly won a gauntlet match to challenge for his first singles gold in NXT. Primarily known as a tag wrestler, we haven’t seen much of O’Reilly without Fish or Strong backing him up. This should be a good showing for him, and could set him up for big things outside the tag division- if they ever pull the trigger on disbanding Undisputed Era.

Prediction: As must as I may wish otherwise, it’ll be Balor for sure. He’s too big a star to lose to O’Reilly, but this should be a great match regardless.

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