With NXT TakeOver: Portland on February 16th, Valentine’s Day Weekend has become that much more interesting. While the weekend in question will undoubtedly be full of love and adoration, it will also serve as the catalyst for a number of feuds to come to ahead. TakeOver events have not only made their way across the country but overseas. This time, however, it becomes the first to not only be held in Portland, Oregon but also on a Sunday. Clear your calendars because, as with TakeOvers prior, this will be a show not to miss.
Not unlike previous TakeOver events, Portland will feature a collection of five matches. Within those five matches, three will be contested for championships. In this preview, we will run down all the matches, discuss how they came into existence, and offer predictions regarding victors. Without any further ado, let’s dive deep into the card for NXT TakeOver: Portland!
Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor
When Finn Balor returned to NXT this past October, fans were excited. Balor made a major impression in years past, even becoming the longest-reigning NXT Champion at 292 days. However, when he turned to the dark side, he made an impact by attacking the heart of NXT. Balor laid out Johnny Gargano on the ramp, showing a more villainous side in the process. Not one to declare defeat, Gargano fired back, their feud approaching a fever pitch. When The Prince clashes with the Rebel Heart, one thing is for certain: respect will be thrown out the window.
Prediction: One can make the argument that Gargano and Balor will produce a dream match. Keep in mind that these are two of the most popular stars NXT has featured in its history. Thus, their match will be highly anticipated, regardless of the lack of respect mentioned earlier. In terms of who will emerge victorious, I will give the nod to Balor. He has been on a hot streak since showing his new edge, and whether he dons the demon paint or not, I believe that he will get the better of Johnny TakeOver on this night.
Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai
Speaking of bad blood, there have been few feuds in NXT as heated as Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai. As longtime friends, Team Kick was beloved by the NXT Universe and many declared that they should be Women’s Tag Team Champions. This changed this past November, however, at TakeOver: WarGames. Kai turned on Team Ripley, specifically focusing on Nox as she attacked her leg in brutal fashion. Nox fired back, showing that she was not going to back down from her former friend. At NXT TakeOver: Portland, rules will be absent. If there was any feud that necessitated a Street Fight, this would be it.
Prediction: For as vicious as Dakota Kai has been since her heel turn, she has been on the back foot quite a bit. It would seem that her turn has led to a sense of cowardice, backing away from everything ranging from Candice LeRae to Rhea Ripley. One can argue that she needs a huge win, and while Tegan Nox has been nothing short of sympathetic, I see Kai coming away the victor. The Street Fight stipulation lends itself to anarchy, as the past has shown us, and Kai will undoubtedly go to every possible length to secure a victory over her former friend.
NXT Tag Team Championship
The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. The BroserWeights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne)
To say that Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne formed an unlikely partnership would be an understatement. Nonetheless, they have not only been a highlight of the recent Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic but trumped multiple teams to secure the trophy. With this win, they have punched their ticket to NXT TakeOver: Portland for an NXT Tag Team Championship match. With Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly being an established tag team in their own right, winning the gold will be no easy feat. Ready to fight at a moment’s notice, however, it goes without saying that The BroserWeights will be up for the challenge.
Prediction: To say that the popularity of Riddle and Dunne, as a team, was unexpected would be an understatement. For as different of styles as they have, they work well together. They have also proven their comedic chops. However, at TakeOver: Portland, they will have to put their game faces on when they face Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. The multi-time tag team champions will be a sizable challenge, but what’s even more of a certainty is that they will put on a great match. On this night, though, I see the prophecy continuing to fall apart. See Riddle and Dunne come away with the gold.
NXT Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair has been on something of a hot streak the past month or so. From her strong showing in the Women’s Royal Rumble, eliminating 8 competitors total, to her status as the current number one contender, The EST continues to rise to the occasion. Enter Rhea Ripley, who has been dominant in her own right as the NXT Women’s Champion. Belair has competed for the title on multiple occasions, falling short each time, so one must wonder if NXT TakeOver: Portland will be the trick. The added weight of Charlotte Flair on Ripley’s mind may factor into the result.
Prediction: Despite the aforementioned impact of Flair on Ripley’s mind, I cannot see the champion losing. Keep in mind that Flair has a guaranteed championship match at WrestleMania following her Rumble victory. Across the landscape of WWE, there is no match that seems to stir as much excitement as the one against Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship. Meanwhile, Belair seems set for the main roster, as evidenced by her Rumble performance mentioned earlier. Expect to see NXT’s Nightmare remain at TakeOver: Portland.
Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Championship)
When Tommaso Ciampa returned from injury this past fall, he had one mission: to bring “Goldie” home. Though his conquest was sidetracked with the Men’s WarGames, The Psycho Killer resumed his quest for the NXT Championship he relinquished due to injury. Meanwhile, Adam Cole has become increasingly more aggressive with each passing week. One can argue that Roderick Strong’s North American Championship loss to Keith Lee contributed to this. Nonetheless, Cole seems focused on maintaining the prophecy of The Undisputed Era. Against a game Ciampa, however, this will be easier said than done.
Prediction: Though Ciampa is firmly a babyface, expect to see him resort to anything to become the NXT Champion once more. One of the most remarkable aspects of Ciampa’s face run is that, despite his turn, he has retained his sinister edge. This may come in handy at TakeOver: Portland. For this reason, as well as others, I believe Ciampa will win back the title he never truly lost. Cole has been an excellent NXT Champion, holding the title and representing the brand in the process. However, by the end of NXT TakeOver: Portland, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the aforementioned prophecy come to an end.
NXT TakeOver: Portland will air this Sunday, February 16th, on the WWE Network.