This coming Wednesday, 2/12/15, live on the WWE Network is NXT: Rival. It is the latest live special to air from Full Sail University and quite honestly, if the last special R:Evolution was any indication, it will be a kick ass wrestling show and bar setter for the rest of the year. This time around we get five big matches that I am going to attempt to predict right here.
Match 001 - "The Big Bad Wolf" Baron Corbin vs "The Last of a Dying Breed" Bull Dempsey
Baron Corbin is currently undefeated in NXT. Bull Dempsey has only two losses, both to Baron Corbin. Dempsey is being pushed as a throwback to a simpler time. An old school ass kicker who wants to beat people up because it's fun. He's like a more agile King Kong Bundy. Corbin on the other hand is being pushed as a big time star. He hasn't lost a match, has a super cool entrance, and was just in the semi-finals of the championship tournament. I fully expect Corbin to go over again here as booking him to lose to Dempsey now would tarnish some of the mystique being built around him. (Bonus prediction - one of the commentators, probably Alex Riley, will talk about how hard it is to beat the same guy three times.)
Match 002 - Number 1 contender's match - "The Man that Gravity Forgot" Adrian Neville vs Finn Balor
This is a potential "Match of the Year" candidate. Neville, the former NXT Champion, is about as ready as anyone could be for a main roster call up. The guy is going to be a major star on Raw and neither this win or another run with the NXT title would make him any more ready. I expect him to be on Raw the night after Wrestlemania in March. Finn Balor though, while having all of the necessary tools to be a huge star, has not been in NXT very long and a match for the title or a title run would have a big impact on his legitimacy as a future, main roster, title contender (IC, US, World, etc) with fans not familiar with his time in New Japan. My prediction is Balor over Neville in the best match of the night.
Match 003 - Tag Team Championship - (C) Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy vs The Lucha Dragons, Kalisto & Sin Cara
Newly crowned champions Blake and Murphy put their titles on the line against former champs The Lucha Dragons. WWE is pushing Blake and Murphy hard and it's easy to see why. These guys have a ton of potential and a decent run with the belts will help their careers big time. The Lucha Dragons don't really need the belts any longer and could be on the way up to the main roster soon (Sin Cara is already there but Kalisto has yet to debut). Kalisto is the heir apparent to Rey Mysterio so letting him again focus on singles competition seems the right way to go. He has easily the biggest future of these four and I expect him to get the call as soon as Rey is released or retires. All of that adds up to Blake and Murphy going over and keeping the belts for a decent little run.
Match 004 - Women's Championship Fatal 4way - (C) Charlotte vs Bayley vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks
I am really excited for this match. All four of these women can go in the ring. Charlotte, who is Ric Flair's daughter, has improved so much in a short amount of time and has been an awesome champion. Bayley is over huge, with little kids especially, and is ready to have a run with the belt. Becky Lynch is relatively new to NXT but has been around on the independent circuit for a long time. Sasha Banks has been an NXT mainstay and is probably the most complete female wrestler not on the main roster. These four work really well together and the match itself should provide some really entertaining spots. This is the one match on the card though where I have absolutely no idea where to go. All four could use the belt to take them up to the next level. But, since I have to make a prediction, I will say Sasha Banks gets the win after Bayley causes Charlotte to lose through some sort of accident leading to a feud between them.
Match 005 - NXT Championship - (C) Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Zayn vs Owens. El Generico vs Kevin Steen. If you are a fan of independent wrestling then you have seen these two go at it before. They have been friends outside of wrestling for a long time, they broke in together. They have had some epic matches in the past and this match should be no different. Zayn, the new NXT Champion, is the most over guy in NXT. He has been one of the most popular players on the roster in every promotion he has worked in. He is incredibly talented and, like most of the NXT roster, should be a big star on the main roster. Kevin Owens has been in NXT for two months and already has a title shot. That should tell you everything you need to know about how the WWE views his future. He is another guy with a big time future on the main roster and doesn't really need much work down in NXT. With that though is the fact that while these two are ready, there really isn't a spot for them just yet. My guess is they will be down in NXT for another six months or so before getting the call up (hopefully as a tag team first so we can go through the whole betrayal story again; seriously, they are so good at it it's a big money story). This match is another match of the year candidate and should be an instant classic. This match is also where I make perhaps my most bold pic of the night, Kevin Owens goes over and becomes the new NXT Champion. From there, you can naturally extend the feud with bigger matches and stipulations, like a ladder match, and have Zayn go over and regain the belt at the next special. It would be old school wrestling booking and make for a really fun few months.
So there you have it. My predictions for NXT Rival. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know.
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