Booking the Ultimate NXT TakeOver Card from All-Time Roster Members | Smark Out Moment

Booking the Ultimate NXT TakeOver Card from All-Time Roster Members

Posted by Callum Wiggins Saturday, July 7, 2018
It might be WWE's developmental territory, but NXT has stolen its fair share of spotlight from Raw and SmackDown in its short but significant history. It's reputation for logical booking, engaging characters and outstanding matches has captured the imagination of many WWE fans, with many suggesting NXT delivers far more consistently than its main roster counterparts when given far less time.

NXT TakeOver WWE Ultimate Show

The greatest testaments to this argument are the NXT TakeOver shows. Since the original back in 2014, there has never been a "bad" TakeOver. Some have been better than others, but none have ever lurked into "Backlash 2018" territory.

Some of the greatest matches, moments and debuts in recent WWE history have taken place at NXT TakeOvers. Very rarely do these shows leave fans disappointed, and more than often they outperform the WWE PPVs that take place the night afterwards.

So, as we're on the road to NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, the yellow brand's marquee event of the year, I've given myself the near impossible task of putting together the ultimate NXT TakeOver card. Wish me luck…

Now the parameters, because everyone loves rules! Everyone who has ever competed at an NXT TakeOver event is eligible to be selected for this card. However, this does not include NXT Arrival, the brand's first special event, which means names like Paige, Cesaro and Bo Dallas will not feature.

Furthermore, while NXT TakeOver cards are typically limited to five matches, there's no way I could limit myself to that number. That way, it still comes in shorter than WrestleMania 34 (and on paper should be twice as good!)

Finally, there is no restriction regarding whether a former TakeOver competitor is retired (like Tyson Kidd) or no longer with WWE (like Austin Aries), but they will have the same character as they did in NXT. For instance, you can't choose a CJ Parker but say you want him to be Juice Robinson instead, because that isn't who he was in NXT (thank God in that case).

Now, I know this is entirely subjective and I'm opening myself up to a lot of boisterous feedback regardless of who I pick, but this is just my personal preference. I'd love to hear what matches you'd book on your card in the comments below.

Andrade Cien Almas & Bobby Roode (w/ Zelina Vega) vs Tye Dillinger & Ricochet

Admittedly, this doesn't sound like the strongest start, but hear me out.

Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger is a battle of the chants. While both aren't the most enthralling wrestlers, particularly when compared to other NXT alumni, both have character in abundance. Roode playing the classic confident heel and Dillinger as the babyface in peril plays perfectly into the characters they portrayed in NXT.

But they are simply the setup guys for the workhorses of this contest: Andrade Cien Almas vs Ricochet is a match I am sad we missed out on in NXT, as Ricochet emerged on the scene at the same time Almas was departing for the main roster. But they are unquestionably two of the best wrestlers to have ever graced WWE's developmental brand.

I think this tag team encounter would be a great way to kick off the ultimate TakeOver event, encouraging the crowd to immediately start chanting and wow them with incredible wrestling.

Undisputed Era vs Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate & Drew McIntyre

If there is a six-man tag team match that's always guaranteed to deliver, it's Undisputed Era against British Strong Style. The trio of Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong has oozed charisma throughout 2018, and cemented themselves as three of NXT's most important superstars.

On the other side, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate are two of the most outstanding young wrestlers in the world, and deliver as much as partners as they do as opponents.

But there is a snag, as their British Strong Style partner Trent Severn is yet to appear at a TakeOver show. So a replacement is required, and there is no more fitting competitor than the destructive Drew McIntyre.

Not only is McIntyre also British, he has history with the Undisputed Era, as their debut tarnished the Scot's NXT Championship victory. With McIntyre's power mixed with Bate's technique and Dunne's brutality, they would be a terrifying trio to battle against the cunning Undisputed Era.

Finn Balor vs Velveteen Dream

Again, this is a match most wouldn't think of immediately, but one I would personally love to see. I'm a huge fan of Velveteen Dream - his character work is exceptional, his storytelling exceeds many on WWE's main roster, and he is rapidly improving in the ring. With his potential, Dream could become the most successful Tough Enough competitor in history.

Opposite him we have Finn Balor, the longest reigning NXT Champion in history. While his run on the WWE roster has been a little lacking in my opinion, his work balancing both his own character and the Demon in NXT was exceptional, resulting in a strong reign and the main event of several TakeOver events.

This match makes sense to me for two reasons. Firstly, while Velveteen Dream has an immense amount of personality (something Finn Balor is conveniently lacking in), he still needs to be working with an excellent wrestler in order to have great matches. He's not yet in a position to carry a match, and needs the guidance of a veteran.

Secondly, it would be amazing to see Dream take on aspects of the Demon character in the build and presentation of this match, and see how the true Demon Balor reacts to that behavior. The match would undoubtedly be stylish, sleek and memorable.

Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs Asuka & Ember Moon

The Women's Evolution that has consumed a lot of WWE PR in recent years has its foundations in NXT, and I do genuinely feel bad that I only include two women's matches on this TakeOver card. I originally had this as two singles matches, but in order to keep things limited to nine matches, I compromised to make this a tag team encounter.

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch have been great friends for years, and both are members of the fabled Four Horsewomen, while Asuka and Ember Moon have a friendship built on the respect of their heated rivalries for the NXT Women's Championship. Both tandems have the wrestling pedigree and storytelling ability to make this match special.

We've already seen with Flair and Asuka can do together, and I'd like to see more of it. Mix in the highly underrated Lynch and the phenomenally talented Moon, and you have a recipe for an excellent tag team match, with maybe some subtle hints of underlying tension between both sets of partners.

Adrian Neville vs Aleister Black vs Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura

An ode to NXT's second-ever TakeOver special, we needed a Fatal Four Way match on this card. So, why not a battle for supremacy between four former NXT Champions? All four headlined numerous TakeOver events and held the prestigious championship for multiple months, and have a knack for being involved in show-stealing matches.

It's felt like an eternity since we last saw Neville in WWE, but he still holds a strong place in the celebrated history of NXT and its premier championship. Aleister Black, the current champion, is holding the title with esteem, and has one of the most compelling finishing blows that has ever been seen in NXT. Black Mass vs Red Arrow anyone?

Add Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, who shared a blood feud over the NXT Championship in late 2016 and provide the dangerous striking and power to offset the technical prowess of both Neville and Black, and you have the makings of an all-action Fatal Four Way that keeps the crowd engaged from start to finish.

Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn

They're great on the same side of the ring, but they're even better on opposite ends. I believe in NXT we only scratched the surface of what Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn could accomplish as enemies, due to Zayn's unfortunate injury in the middle of 2015 and Owens' rapid rise to the WWE main roster following his feud with John Cena.

But for a few months, this seemed like it would be the feud that brought NXT to the next level. After years of destroying each other in Ring of Honor and other independent promotions, the Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn feud caught fire immediately at TakeOver: R Evolution, resulting in an NXT Championship feud that proceeded over the following two events.

Sadly, we never got to see "the match" between the pair that NXT seemed to be promising due to challenging circumstances, and we had to wait until the pair were together on the main roster for that to take place. But, even though it was short-lived, this fiery feud would be a welcome addition on the perfect NXT TakeOver event.

Plus, who can get enough of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn pummelling the hell out of each other? I know I can't.

The Revival vs American Alpha

One area where NXT has consistently produced excellence is through their tag team division. Whether it's dominant tandems like Authors of Pain and The Ascension, colorful characters like Enzo & Cass or beloved babyfaces like #DIY, NXT has developed numerous varied teams capable of putting on incredible matches.

But two teams in particular stand out as complete NXT products and masters of tag team wrestling. The Revival in my opinion is one of the best tag teams of the 21st century - they blend old school heel tag team actions with modern athleticism, and during their championship runs there wasn't a team that could match them.

Well, apart from their frequent opponents, American Alpha. Originally an odd couple tag team, the natural chemistry and friendship between Jason Jordan and Chad Gable quickly made the pair one of NXT's all-time favorite double-acts. With Gable's all-around awesomeness both in the ring and on the microphone, blended with Jordan's power and the ferociousness of his hot tag, they were the perfect babyface counterpart to The Revival.

So the ultimate TakeOver card would be incomplete without renewing this storied rivalry and seeing what magic they can weave once more. I certainly would love to see two of NXT's three greatest tag teams (more on the third team later) demonstrate one last time why there is nothing as exciting as tag team wrestling in its purest form.

Sasha Banks vs Bayley

It was an easy decision as to what would be the premier women's match on the ultimate TakeOver card. While these events have presented some of the greatest women's wrestlers and matches in WWE history, nothing matches the raw emotion, storytelling and excitement that was the feud between Sasha Banks and Bayley.

If you ignore essentially everything that has happened to both since they arrived on the main roster, particularly they're current feud which has been one of the worst booked storylines in 2018, back in 2015 this was the match that showed how awesome Sasha Banks was as a ring general and left Bayley heralded as the biggest babyface in all of WWE.

NXT captured true magic in their feud - initially grounded in Bayley as a lovable underdog who many felt didn't have the killer instinct required to be champion, she raised her game and overcame every other woman on the roster to earn her shot against an overwhelmingly confident and utterly vicious Sasha Banks. You had clearly defined characters and an emotionally driven rivalry.

At TakeOver: Brooklyn, Banks and Bayley stole the show and set a new standard for women's wrestling in WWE, a bar that arguably hasn't been exceeded since. They're follow-up Iron Woman Match was just as spectacular as they participated in the first (and so far only) women's match to main event a TakeOver, a position they thoroughly deserved. It was in many ways a flawless feud and completely befitting this card.

Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa

Finally, I couldn't possibly ignore the crown jewel in the current legacy of NXT. A story over three years in the making, fans witnessed the gradual rise of a new tag team and the birth of a beautiful friendship, saw them reach the pinnacle together before being suddenly knocked off, and the cruel, vicious break that launched the most personal, heated and spectacular feud in NXT's history.

The tale of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa has been the narrative of NXT for close to half the promotion's existence. While others took the spotlight in the early stages, this story would consistently evolve, and when it was time that the focus shifted to their rivalry, there was no looking back. Gargano and Ciampa were made for each other, both as partners and as opponents.

In the same way I described Sasha Banks and Bayley setting a new benchmark for women's wrestling, the two matches between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa have broken the boundaries of what a WWE match can be. The vividness of their hatred, the long-term booking, the disdain the fans show Ciampa, the love they give to Gargano, the quality of their matches from start to finish - this story has been pretty much faultless.

There is no more fitting a way to close the ultimate NXT TakeOver than with the rivalry that has underlined the brand for years at this point. The Gargano/Ciampa feud perfectly illustrates the peaks that NXT can reach through their own style of storytelling. It is their magnum opus, and demonstrates why NXT TakeOvers are always some of the most anticipated events on the calendar year in and year out.

There are my thoughts on what I consider the ultimate NXT TakeOver card. I'm not going to lie - I'm pretty happy with it.

But I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What matches would you make? Would you use other notable talent I left off of my card like SAnitY, EC3, Shayna Baszler, Tyler Breeze and more?


Callum Wiggins hails from Essex in the United Kingdom. He recently graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and has been a fan of professional wrestling since 2002. Outside of wrestling, he is also a fan of Arsenal FC and enjoys video games, darts, and Formula One. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter.


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