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411’s NXT Takeover: 31 Preview

October 4, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
NXT Takeover

Hello 411 readers! Welcome to 411’s NXT Takeover: 31 preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas as usual, and we’re breaking down the card for Sunday’s Takeover event. NXT is hoping to deliver in a few changes to the status quo such as a reported move to the WWE Performance Center, but do they have the card to do it? There’s some rebuilding that they’ve been needing to do after losing two of their main event players in Keith Lee to Raw and Karrion Kross to injury. That brings us to this PPV, which is trying to elevate some new talent and give us enough good matches that we forgive them for not having a ton of phenomenal feud builds here. I have hopes for good wrestling at least and for an event like Takeover, that’s all I ask for. Anyway, without further ado…let’s do this.

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

Here’s what I mean by what is likely to be a good match despite the build being less than sterling. There’s been a bit of story here of course, but this rivalry hasn’t been setting things on fire for me. That said, Dream and Kushida can both obviously go in the ring so it could make a strong match wherever on the card it’s placed. Kushida deserves more momentum than he has right now, and Velveteen Dream has a lot of things that perhaps are not the best to give him considering the backlash over the sexual misconduct allegations. No matter ho many times they say there wasn’t anything to be found there, the perception (fair or not) is that WWE is turning a blind eye. That may work to get Dream on the card, but it seems like it would be a bad idea to have Dream go over in this match, espcially when Kushida is right there.

WINNER: Kushida

NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match
Santos Escobar vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

The rivalry between Swerve and Santos Escobar has been a little bit better. It’s pretty simple, which is often the best idea; the babyface won cleanly a while ago, then the heel cheated to win. The rubber match has the title on the line. Listen, the tried and true formats work because they are tried and true. There’s a lot of ways this could go and I could 100% see Swerve picking up the win to capture his first NXT gold. However, the potential for interference from Legado del Fantasma or other such shenanigans suggests otherwise to me. It’s certainly possible that Scott could beat those odds but honestly, Escobar still has a ways he should probably go before he loses the title. Either way, this should be a good, exciting match and I’m looking forward to it.

WINNER: Santos Escobar

NXT North American Championship Match
Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano

The next two matches are the hardest to predict, because they could easily go either way. On one hand, Gargano deserves a decent run with this title and now would seem like a good time to do it. On the other, Priest only won the title 40-something days ago. With as much as Triple H seems to like Priest, it would be too early to cut his title reign off even to a guy like Gargano. The match should be fine here, but the fact that Gargano still feels like the cornerstone of the brand without titles makes me think that at this juncture, WWE will want to keep the NA Championship on Priest.

WINNER: Damian Priest (STILL NXT North American Champion)

NXT Women’s Championship Match
Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae

Much like the NXT North American Championship match, this could absolutely go with either result. Shirai has had a decent run with the NXT Women’s Title, and there seems to be no need to move her out of the title picture one way or thge other. On the other hand, LeRae feels like she’s in a position to win the title. Fortunately, we have a Gargano to get involved. This prediction is my least confident of the card, but I’m going to lean into LeRae getting the win after Johnny Gargano gets involved and costs Shirai the match and title. That’ll set up a nice continuation of the feud, which I’m certainly not going to say no to.

WINNER: Candice LeRae (NEW NXT Women’s Champion)

NXT Championship Match
Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly

I’m ecstatic to see Kyle O’Reilly get a solo run, much less one with a potential title reign. O’Reilly’s been an underrated talent during his time in WWE and the Undisputed Era, and giving him his chance to shine here seems to be a smart call. O’Reilly is a guy that you could see potentially beating Balor, so it’s not impossible. That said, it has to be seen as exceedingly unlikely at best. O’Reilly deserves the opportunity for a match like this, and he and Balor will deliver in the ring in a big way. But while he deserves the match, it’s too early to just shove him into being the top singles champion on the brand. There are a lot of ways they could go with this one, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that this match will be fantastic from a workrate perspective. It just also happens to the be match where I’m most confident in my prediction.

WINNER: Finn Balor (STILL NXT Champion)

And that’s all we have for NXT Takeover: 31! It’s frankly not one of the most exciting Takeovers we’ve had in recent memory on paper, but there are enough potentially very good matches that it’s still worth checking out. Besides, WWE has been pretty good as of late at delivering with PPVs that didn’t have incredibly high expectations (hello, Payback and Clash of Champions).

Anyway, thanks once again for reading, and remember that we will have live coverage of WWE Payback right here on 411mania.com. Time to say good night…

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NXT Takeover 31, Jeremy Thomas