Quick Takes: Undisputed Era's Breakup, Moxley vs. Omega, Crews Turns Heel, More
NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day marked the end of an era when Adam Cole blasted best friend Kyle O'Reilly with a superkick to the face.
Although the writing had been on the wall for Undisputed Era for a while, it didn't make the moment any less heartbreaking for longtime fans of the decorated group. What the future holds for them remains to be seen, but after what went down on the Wednesday's edition of NXT, it looks like the chances of them patching things up and moving forward as a cohesive unit are slim to none.
That same night saw Kenny Omega announce that a rematch with Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship at AEW's Revolution pay-per-view on March 7 will be an Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. The stipulation was used in Japan throughout the 1990s and is sure to get fans talking coming out of the event.
Before then, WWE will host its Elimination Chamber pay-per-view Sunday on WWE Network. Two Chamber matches with major WrestleMania implications will be held, and although nothing too newsworthy is expected to happen, a surprise appearance or victory from someone such as Bobby Lashley or Brock Lesnar would shake up the Road to WrestleMania—for better or for worse.
This installment of Quick Takes will tackle potential Elimination Chamber shockers, Moxley vs. Omega at Revolution and why Undisputed Era's breakup was exactly what NXT needed. Apollo Crews' recent heel turn and the expanding WWE Women's Tag Team Championship picture will also be discussed.
Could WWE Be Setting Up for a Major Shocker at Elimination Chamber?
On paper, there isn't anything extraordinary about Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Only five matches have been announced as of this writing, with two being contested inside the Elimination Chamber. Cesaro is virtually guaranteed to emerge victorious in the SmackDown Chamber match—as he should—but the possibilities for who could win the WWE Championship contest aren't exciting.
Drew McIntyre holding on to the gold might be the best-case scenario, but champions retaining their title inside the Chamber has been done to death over the past decade. Sheamus winning would be the next best bet, but that would not generate a ton of buzz heading into WrestleMania 37.
There's always the option of swapping someone for another Superstar. It happened at No Way Out 2009, when Edge ambushed and replaced Kofi Kingston. And it could easily happen again Sunday to make matters more unpredictable.
If Ali and the rest of Retribution attack Kingston beforehand as retaliation for Kingston taking his spot two years ago, three former WWE champions who could replace him include Brock Lesnar, Jinder Mahal and Bray Wyatt. Mahal has been cleared to compete for some time, Lesnar could reappear at any moment and Wyatt is due back sooner rather than later.
Mahal and Lesnar have history with McIntyre, but Bobby Lashley would be a far more interesting choice even though he's never held the WWE title. He's on the biggest roll of his career, and if he drops the United States Championship to either Keith Lee or Riddle earlier in the evening, look for him to make his presence felt inside the Chamber and potentially win the whole thing.
WWE Has Finally Figured Out How to Utilize Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has largely been sitting on the sidelines for the past five years of his main-roster career, and he's finally about to break out as a heel on SmackDown.
Outside of a three-month run as United States champion on Raw last year, WWE never quite knew what to do with Crews. He floundered in the tag team division alongside Titus O'Neil at one point and was typically used as a stepping stone for other Superstars on SmackDown and Raw.
His recent rivalry with Big E over the Intercontinental Championship has brought out the best in him and has allowed him to showcase a whole new side to his character. He's gotten increasingly more aggressive with each loss he's endured, and on Friday he reached his breaking point.
Although he's done nothing to earn another opportunity at the intercontinental title from a storyline standpoint, Big E is bound to return from his injury and agree to put the belt on the line to get a shot at him. Crews winning it, if only for a brief period, would be a great way to keep his momentum going.
It was better late than never for Crews to get his due, and he's making the most of it. If he can continue trending upward, he could be wearing gold around his waist again in the not-too-distant future.
Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch Should Be AEW's Last Hardcore War for a While
AEW hasn't been shy to try out new stipulations since its inception, which is commendable. The Casino Battle Royales and the Mimosa Mayhem match between Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy at All Out 2020 are prime examples of that.
The company has also hosted its fair share of unsanctioned matches, with most of them featuring hardcore wrestling expert Jon Moxley. His Lights Out match against Kenny Omega from Full Gear 2019 in particular polarized fans, and they are about to run it back in the form of an Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch at Revolution.
The bout is meant to be a nod to the Japanese death matches of the 1990s, and if there are any two people in AEW who can make it work, it's Moxley and Omega. That said, their longstanding feud has lacked that one special standard singles match, and this won't be that because of what it will entail.
Moxley has fallen victim to the numbers game every time he's gone up against Omega as a result of his alliance with The Good Brothers. This violent affair would allow them to interfere and make the Omega's title retention that much more predictable.
A Triple Threat also involving Lance Archer, who has been hot on the heels of Omega lately, may have been a better option, but at least this death match will put their rivalry to rest. AEW has had no shortage of hardcore bouts since 2019 and should keep them special by doing them less often after Revolution.
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Being Defended Everywhere Is the Right Call
Wednesday marked the two-year anniversary of when the inaugural WWE Women's Tag Team champions were crowned. That night also marked the first appearance of the women's tag champs in NXT since the summer.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez earned an opportunity to contend for the championship when they won the women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic at NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day. They will get their shot on the March 3 edition of NXT, though it's not set in stone that Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax will be their opponents.
That's because Jax and Baszler will be putting the titles on the line at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view against the newly formed duo of Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. Also waiting in the wings are Naomi and Lana, who became the No. 1 contenders one night removed from the Royal Rumble.
In other words, the champions will be busy across all three brands in the coming weeks, and it's refreshing to see. The women's tag titles haven't been this sought-after since their inception, and it was about time that WWE started to take them more seriously.
Ultimately, the belts belong in NXT ,where they can be defended regularly among an outstanding crop of talent in the women's division. The brand has more teams than Raw and SmackDown combined and would ensure that the belts would be more than an afterthought.
Undisputed Era's Breakup Provides NXT with the Spark It Has Desperately Needed
AEW Dynamite is far from a perfect show, but most weeks, it feels more must-see than NXT on Wednesday nights. The black-and-gold brand is often a solid show that lacks any sense of urgency or unpredictability.
However, TakeOver: Vengeance Day was a significant step in the right direction. Most of the matches delivered, but more importantly, the event ended on a cliffhanger, with Adam Cole turning on Kyle O'Reilly and hinting at an Undisputed Era breakup.
The follow-up on Wednesday's edition of NXT was well-executed, with O'Reilly teaming up with Finn Balor and Roderick Strong in an attempt to smooth things over, only to be brutally attacked by Cole yet again. There was no update on whether Undisputed Era remains intact, but the latest development will force fans to keep tuning in to find out.
LA Knight, formerly known as Eli Drake in Impact and NWA, is another huge signing for NXT and will add some much-needed new blood to the brand. Although he has yet to formally debut, he's bound to be a featured act on the show in no time.
The coming weeks should be interesting as far as what's next in the Undisputed Era saga. As devastating as it was for fans of the faction, it will prove to be a big positive for NXT in the long run.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.