Final Picks for Balor vs. Kross and Entire WWE NXT Stand & Deliver Match Card

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Final Picks for Balor vs. Kross and Entire WWE NXT Stand & Deliver Match Card

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    For the first time, NXT will follow WrestleMania's lead and span two nights with its NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver event on Wednesday and Thursday.

    The opening night will be shown on USA Network, while Night 2 will be a traditional special event on WWE Network on Peacock.

    Both nights feature championships on the line, special-attraction matches, an unsanctioned match, a gauntlet contest and more. It has the potential to be one of the best NXT events of all time.

    Let's take a look at what's in store at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver and try to predict which Superstars will walk away victorious.

Pete Dunne vs. Kushida

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    This may be a misinterpretation of WWE's intended hype, but when Pete Dunne promoted himself as the best technical wrestler and put out a challenge for someone to prove him wrong, it felt like a bigger deal than just a match against Kushida.

    Perhaps the company was forced into a late change and slotted in Kushida as a replacement.

    That's not to knock Kushida. He's extremely talented and will give The Bruiserweight a run for his money. This will surely be a great match, even if it's ultimately just filler.

    However, the fact that this could have been on any episode of NXT means it will be shocking if it ends with a Kushida win. There's a much higher chance Dunne wins and continues to promote himself as the best until a more prominent Superstar takes up the challenge.

    Prediction: Dunne wins.

NXT Women's Tag Team Championship Match

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    It was a surprise when Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were awarded the brand-new NXT Women's Tag Team Championship titles on March 10, but it was an even bigger shock when they dropped them later the same night to Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart.

    In retrospect, though, knowing WWE planned to put Gonzalez against Io Shirai, this seems like less of a strange tale. Gonzalez couldn't hold both the tag titles and the NXT Women's Championship.

    Giving the belts to Blackheart and Moon was less about making them champions and more about making sure Gonzalez wasn't still holding that second belt, meaning The Way has a good shot at winning these titles on Thursday night.

    Candice LeRae has gone far too long without a championship, and if WWE isn't willing to give her the main women's title, she should at least win this with Indi Hartwell.

    Prediction: The Way wins.

NXT UK Championship Match: WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa

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    WALTER has had one of the longest title reigns in WWE history after holding the United Kingdom Championship for well over 700 days.

    Tommaso Ciampa should have been one of his toughest challenges yet, but WWE has already spoiled the outcome of this match. We know the titleholder has to retain because he has another defense lined up the next day.

    NXT UK: Prelude has WALTER against Rampage Brown on the card and that is set to air Thursday before the second half of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.

    The match against Brown has already been recorded so he could travel to the United States for the fight against Ciampa, but the outcome of this match has still been spoilt.

    If The Ring General drops the belt this week, it will be to Brown, not The Blackheart.

    Prediction: WALTER retains.

NXT Women's Championship Match: Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez

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    After overcoming challengers such as Toni Storm, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Rhea Ripley, it seems Io Shirai's reign is about to come to an end.

    It was a good run that lasted nearly a year, but the stars are aligning for Raquel Gonzalez to capture the belt.

    The Genius of the Sky has more experience and agility, but Gonzalez has the advantage in size and strength. More pertinently, WWE has protected the second-generation star for months, clearly building her up for something. If it isn't this, what else was it for?

    As the main event of Night 1 on Wednesday, a title change is the best possible ending. It will create buzz and reset the division with a new woman on top.

    Prediction: Gonzalez wins.

NXT Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match

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    We may never know what the original plan was for Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan as tag team champions, after the former's injury caused them to vacate the titles. However, the crowning of new titleholders will produce a phenomenal match.

    MSK have impressed greatly in a short time frame and have the most momentum after winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament on February 14.

    Grizzled Young Veterans are former NXT UK tag team champions and the Dusty Cup runners-up this year, so they've proved they're more than capable of holding the gold, too.

    While Legado Del Fantasma hasn't had as much success, they're one of the best tag teams in NXT today and worthy of their time in the spotlight.

    Ultimately, though, the edge is with MSK. Prior to Burch's injury, it's likely the match would have been MSK fighting for the tag team titles without the other two teams involved, so it may have been the plan all along for Wes Lee and Nash Carter to be champions leaving TakeOver.

    Prediction: MSK win.

Gauntlet Eliminator and NXT North American Championship Match

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    Johnny Gargano may be upset that he doesn't know who he'll face on Night 2 of TakeOver, but at least his opponent will have gone through a lot to get there.

    A Battle Royal with 11 Superstars determined the six participants who will fight it out in a Gauntlet Eliminator to decide who gets a shot for the North American Championship on the following night.

    As Leon Ruff and Isaiah "Swerve" Scott will enter first, they stand the least likely chances to win. That would have been the case even if they were last, though, as neither seems poised for a title challenge right now.

    The same could be said for Cameron Grimes and LA Knight. Both are heels, so it wouldn't make much sense for either to face Gargano, who is already a villain.

    All of which means it's down to Bronson Reed or Dexter Lumis. The former may have the edge in size, but he's entering third and the latter has already built up a feud against Gargano that hasn't been fully extinguished. Given those circumstances, Lumis is the favorite to become the No. 1 contender.

    However, that doesn't mean he'll win the title. Quite the contrary. He never cuts promos, so it's difficult to build stories around him.

    Someone like Gargano is better suited as champion and could retain through interference or help from Austin Theory.

    Prediction: Lumis wins the Gauntlet Eliminator but loses to Gargano in the title match.

NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder Match

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    One of the supposed secrets of success is that the key to everything is "location, location, location." And such is the case with the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.

    Prior to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic being felt a year ago, Jordan Devlin held the title. Once everything went into lockdown and travel across the Atlantic became almost impossible, the championship was in limbo and WWE felt the need to find a replacement.

    However, instead of stripping The Irish Ace and crowning a new titleholder, a tournament was held to determine an interim champion, which Santos Escobar won.

    Over the past few months, both men have defended the titles and claimed to be the true champion, so this ladder match will settle that debate by unifying the titles.

    Since it took nearly 12 months for Devlin to return American soil, it's hard to imagine WWE will keep the title on him and ship it back across the pond.

    Legado Del Fantasma could interfere and cost Devlin the ability to climb the ladder, allowing Escobar to pull down both belts and effectively steal the championship he's already won.

    Devlin can then move on to challenge for the NXT UK Heritage Cup, which didn't exist when he originally won this belt.

    Prediction: Escobar wins.

Unsanctioned Match: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly

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    During the NXT TakeOver 31 media conference call, Triple H said the push for Kyle O'Reilly against Finn Balor was something that had been talked about for a while and the pandemic forced the company to speed up the process by a bit.

    With the way The Undisputed Era crumbled coming out of that storyline, it can be assumed it was always the plan to build toward O'Reilly against Adam Cole for one of the big TakeOver events.

    While this contest may not be for a title, it does have stakes. O'Reilly has made this about getting his soul back after doing so many bad things in service of Cole. For a proper conclusion, the babyface has to win and get some revenge and closure.

    This is an unsanctioned match, which means anything goes. There is a chance Cole manages to cheat to win and they have another fight down the line, but an O'Reilly win wouldn't be as satisfying on a smaller stage than this.

    Prediction: O'Reilly wins.

NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross

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    Last year, it seemed as though the NXT Championship was cursed, both in kayfabe and behind the scenes.

    After getting through the troubles of Velveteen Dream challenging for the belt, Adam Cole's historic reign came to an end when Keith Lee dethroned him at The Great American Bash in July 2020.

    Lee then vacated the NXT North American title and dropped the NXT Championship in August to Karrion Kross, who suffered an injury during the title contest and had to vacate it, too.

    Finn Balor captured the belt next and eventually suffered his own injuries, as did his opponent, O'Reilly, and one of his potential future opponents, Ridge Holland.

    Ignoring all that, though, this has an obvious end. Kross was meant to be champion for far more than a single night and Balor has had a lengthy reign.

    Expect The Herald of Doomsday to reset the clock and restart the run he was meant to have last year.

    Prediction: Kross wins.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.


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