NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
Saturday, April 7
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers

  • Griffin Peltier: The new-age cruiserweight connoisseur, some call him the Mike Tenay of VOW. Griffin is super excited for this TakeOver event and you should be too. Give him a follow on the old Tweeter machine, @biggrifftwelve, and check out his awesome column pieces and show reviews!
  • Lee Malone: Voices of Wrestling’s resident Irish graps expert (now that Garrett is gone) and OTT Wrestling reviewer. If you wish to see his mild takes all WrestleMania weekend long you can find him on Twitter @Malone_713
  • Rob McCarron: Host, Shake Them Ropes. Follow on Twitter @ShakeThemRopes.

NXT North American Championship – Ladder Match
Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

Griffin Peltier: This one was certainly out of left field. WWE is introducing yet another title, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and have decided to have a huge ladder match to crown the first champion. We have Adam Cole who is pulling double duty in New Orleans looking for his first singles championship since losing the ROH World title in March of last year. We also have both Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan, the two behemoths of NXT looking for their chance to make their mark on the NXT scene. We have Velveteen Dream who is poised for greatness after that amazing feud with Aleister Black. And we also have the NXT debuts of Ricochet and EC3, two of the hottest free agent signings in recent NXT history. This match should be a ton of fun and any one of these guys could walk away with, what I presume to be, ten pounds of North America gold. Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Lee Malone: This is on paper the perfect collection of wrestlers for a WWE multiman ladder match. We have Killian Dane and Lars Sullivan as the big lads to act as bases for all the falls. We have Adam Cole who is nothing if not a great plunder match wrestler. We have EC3 and Velveteen Dream who are the perfect representation of what WWE want their superstars to be. And finally we have possibly the smoothest, possibly the greatest high flier ever in wrestling making his NXT in-ring debut, Ricochet. NXT has been screaming out for a second title for sometime and this is the perfect stage to introduce the North American Title. Any of these guys could win and to be honest I think I could make a solid case for why each guy should win. For me though the perfect guy to give this new title some instant prestige is the former Ethan Carter III  : Prediction: EC3

Rob McCarron: I’m happy to see Lars Sullivan back in the swing of things, as he has enormous potential in both NXT and WWE proper. It was a shame he had to miss the Royal Rumble weekend festivities, so here’s looking for him to break out this weekend. Breaking out of the pack may be tough, however, as this match also features the debuts in ring of Ricochet and EC3. The two NXT newcomers have all eyes on them, and I expect one of them to walk out the new North American champion. Prediction: EC3

NXT Tag Team Championship & Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Trophy
The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. The Authors of Pain vs. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne

Griffin Peltier: The 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic has sure been interesting. The makeshift duo of Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne took the spot of Moustache Mountain after Tyler Bate went down with an injury. The injury bug also bit Bobby Fish, who blew out his knee at a NXT live event. So now, much like March Madness, the brackets have been blown out of the water and the winner of this bout walks out with both the NXT Tag gold and the Dusty Classic trophy, daddeh! With Strong making the transition from NXT to 205 Live full-time and The Authors of Pain in dire need of a callup to the main show, I am going with the Undisputed ERA on this one. The NXT Tag Team division continues to feel the shock to the system, the Future Shock if you wheel, bay bay. Prediction: The Undisputed ERA

Lee Malone: Man how can you not feel for Bobby Fish right now. Of all the moments to pick up a severe injury now was not that time, so so unfortunate. In one way I am ok with Cole pulling double duty as he can lose the ladder match and still walk out as a champion alongside O’Reilly. On the other why not use this moment to have KO’R and Cole trawl the PC looking for a new member of The Undisputed Era, Donavon Dijak would be a great guy to slot in a new member. Alas, this is no time for fantasy booking. One thing that is not fantasy is that this match has four top talents and  AOP who have proven how good they can be in multiman matches. AOP are primed for a main show call up and Strong and Dunne feels like a makeshift team just to get them on the card so there seems to be no logical reason for Undisputed Era not to retain. Prediction: The Undisputed Era

Rob McCarron: Authors of Pain aren’t long for NXT (although that could have been said since November.) Strong and Dunne don’t seem like long term partners, and who even knows if Dunne will be around after the weekend until Takeover: Chicago again? So, it seems likely the future tag champs would be Cole & O’Reilly. Poor Bobby Fish. Prediction: The Undisputed Era

NXT Women’s Championship
Ember Moon © vs. Shayna Baszler

Griffin Peltier: This is a rematch from NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia where Ember Moon successfully retained her title in a lackluster match. So we’re getting it again! The story is simple, Shayna has been bullying the NXT Women’s division and Ember Moon is protecting her peers from the dangers of the bully. Could be a solid match, but I wish it was more Iconic. Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Lee Malone: I was not a fan of the first match between these two. I felt it went to long and Ember survived way to long in Shayna’s submissions. I don’t see in Ember what others do and when she does get called to the main roster I can not see her reigning atop either the Raw or Smackdown divisions. Shayna on the contrary is a star. She comes across as a badass and apart from the previous match against Ember I have loved everything they have done with her on NXT thus far. I look forward to Shayna’s reign and some fresh matchups in the NXT Women’s division post WrestleMania.  Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Rob McCarron: Moon may be a fresh face in the Raw women’s division coming up on Monday, so a title loss here to NXT’s #1 heel Shayna Baszler makes sense. Shayna can move on to breaking every other woman’s arm until a solid challenger arises. A story that could be very interesting all year in NXT. Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Unsanctioned Match (If Gargano wins, he is reinstated; if Ciampa wins, Gargano is banished forever)
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Griffin Peltier: This is undoubtedly the greatest feud on WWE programming in quite a while. Gargano and Ciampa were the most over tag team in NXT history as #DIY, but that came to an abrupt end last year in Chicago when that bald mothertrucker Ciampa ripped everybody’s chrome hearts in half by turning his back on his former best friend and leaving to go have surgery to repair his injuries. Since then, Gargano had been haunted by the thought and presence of Ciampa and it eventually cost him his job in NXT after losing to Andrade “cien” Almas in back-to-back grade A title bouts. But now the roles are reversed, Gargano is the one who is getting into the mind of Ciampa and this blood feud between these two men needs to end – for the sake of both guys’ health. It’s all or nothing for both individuals: Gargano either gets his job back through a cold dish of revenge or he’s gone forever; Ciampa finally rids NXT of the rebel heart of Johnny Wrestling or is forever known as the guy who couldn’t stop the beating heart of a man doing it himself. No matter what, this one will not be for the faint of black heart, chrome heart, or rebel heart. And I am calling it now, this match will be the Match of the Weekend. Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Lee Malone: This is the match every single NXT fan has been pining for for 11 months! On May 20th 2017 Tomasso Ciampa broke the hearts of every single NXT fan worldwide and it was a thing of fucking beauty. It was painful to watch but nobody looked away and while Tomasso was gone it affected Johnny too. He wasn’t the same man for a long time. But then he started to pick up some wins, eventually earning a shot at the NXT Title and he had the champ Andre Almas at his mercy and……BANG!!! TOMASSO CIAMPA tore his heart out again. And then did it again just because he could when Johnny’s NXT career was on the line vs Almas’s NXT Title. I am so invested in this story right from their introduction on the yellow brand through to this match. I know what result I want and I hope NXT are bold enough to do it Prediction: Tomasso Ciampa

NXT Championship
Andrade “Cien” Almas © vs. Aleister Black

Griffin Peltier: Much like the guerrillas, this match goes to show that time is a flat circle. One year ago, Aleister Black made his debut at NXT TakeOver: Orlando with an impressive victory over the floundering Andrade “Cien” Almas. One year later, Aleister Black marks his one-year anniversary on the black and yellow brand against the reinvigorated Andrade “Cien” Almas in a match for the NXT Championship. Andrade has been seeing the greatest success of his WWE career so far after forming a partnership with the savvy Zelina Vega. Andrade has gone from zero to hero and has taken on any challenger for his title. I have no doubts that this match will be a contender for Match of the Year but it all boils down to who wants it more. Who will do the things the other man couldn’t do? Will they ever be equal? Prediction: Andrade “Cien” Almas

Lee Malone: Until reading Griffin’s preview above I had totally forgotten that one year ago these two men faced off in Aleister’s NXT debut. What a difference a year makes. What a difference Zelina Vega makes. This was a really good match last year, this year it could be something special. Since aligning with Zelina Vega Almas’s has been a man reborn and his march to the NXT Championship and subsequent reign has been top notch. He was the perfect foil for Johnny Gargano while Tomasso Ciampa was on the shelf and now he has a familiar yet new type of foe in Black. I do not try and hide that I am a massive Aleister Black fan since I saw him live in OTT in late 2016. His debut year in NXT has been one of my favourite runs any wrestler has had in NXT history. I love his presentation from the entrance music, to the smoke filled stage, to the way he does promos and I especially love his in ring work. I am ready for Black to take his throne atop the NXT mountain in what will without a doubt be a match of the year contender. I will be especially happy if it leads to Aleister Black vs the Blackheart down the line….. Prediction: Aleister Black

Rob McCarron: Andrade Almas is unquestionably the NXT MVP over the last year. Now, everyone is recognizing it. Almas and Black has the potential to be one of the best matches of the weekend. Not just in NXT, not just in WWE, but any promotion running in New Orleans over WrestleMania weekend. I know the easy thing to do is try to guess who might get called up to the main roster this week (I’ve already done it with Moon earlier), so we could easily be trying to predict the winner of this match by who is more likely to get called up. Well, is Black more likely? He, the one with the mystic aura and highlight entrance. Or is Almas, a competitor in this year’s Royal Rumble match, the one more likely to get the callup with his manager Zelina Vega? Or… will Drew McIntyre make a surprise return and play a part in the winner’s next plan. I think Almas vs McIntyre has to be done. If that’s the case, Almas wins here. What does that mean for Black? Well, Smackdown obviously. Or not. Or maybe? Prediction: Andrade “Cien” Almas