NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day @Capitol Wrestling Centre, February 14, 2021

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Like good wrestling? Then NXT is for you… Whether Valentine’s Day is your idea of heaven or hell, the perfect escape/supplement to the traditional roses and chocolates comes your way in the shape of NXT Takeover. Andy Spoors, as always, is on hand to preview a night of heavy action… in the ring.

It’s been a strange few months for Rushonrock’s favourite wrestling brand. Despite being the only show WWE offers with real life fans in attendance, the online consensus on social media channels has been that the black and gold brand has become “formulaic” and “flat”.

Let’s start this quick preview by addressing those particular viewpoints. As stated in our review of Takeover: WarGames, NXT has the best women’s division in the world. Sure, the focus had been lacking a little in other areas and some of the bigger names the brand has to offer were kicking their heels instead of embroiled in meaningful rivalries.

But dig a little deeper and the foundations were being set for the longer term instead of constantly living in the present product. It is the gift and curse NXT must live by. Build a Superstar up only for Raw or SmackDown to inevitably come calling… and showcase that talent in front of bigger audiences.

New faces have slowly been drip-fed into the roster from power houses to European talent. Factions with established names to fresh and exciting tag teams. And it is the latter that the focus has shifted to since the turn of the year.

Rewind a few short years ago and NXT was a bustling hub for tag team action. Takeovers were headlined by the likes of DIY, Authors of Pain, Sanity and American Alpha. One by one the teams moved on or broke up leaving Undisputed Era to carry the legacy with them. The division within the wider WWE umbrella has in truth, never really recovered from its golden decades in the 80s and 90s (save for a few memorable teams).

That being said, a new emphasis and some new blood seem to have rejuvenated the underutilized form of wrestling. It may be due to the physiological aspects of tag wrestling combined with the lack of crowds to react to that all important hot tag, but the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic has found a welcome home in the CWC this year.

For the first time in history, both a men’s and women’s tournament have featured for the past few weeks.

For the second year in a row, British team Grizzled Young Veterans find themselves in the final of the tournament, this time looking to go one better and claim the trophy and future shot at the NXT Tag Team Championships. They face off against new signings MSK in a true clash of styles.

In the women’s finals, long time term team mates Dakota Kia and Raquel González face off against makeshift team Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart for the honour of being called the first ever female winners of the tournament.

An explosive triple threat match for the NXT Women’s Championship stacks the deck against current holder Io Shirai. A less than desirable set of results against Toni Strom would be enough cause for concern but the wildcard of a hungry Mercedes Martinez compounds the misery for the Japanese Superstar.

On any other night Johnny Gargano vs Kushida would be a sure-fired match of the night. Some sterling heel work by Gargano combined with the world-renowned talent of Kushida, is tantalising, but one more mouth-watering bout sits a top of a stacked card.

As two of the brightest stars in European wrestling history, Finn Balor and Pete Dunne have done wonders representing our continent over in the States. At Vengeance Day, the pair clash for the NXT Championship with both arguably in the best shape of their lives. At least in WWE, the two have never had a one-on-one match, so the hype around this match has slowly built throughout both their careers.

Balor himself has admitted the match could go one of two ways due to the similar technical and hard-hitting styles both men share. Either the similarities provide a stalemate, or the WWE Universe is in for a one hell of a show. Let’s hope for the latter…

NXT LOUD Theme: Obey – Bring Me The Horizon feat. YUNGBLUD

Full Match card and Rushonrock Predictions:

NXT Champion Finn Bálor vs. Pete Dunne

Andy: Balor

NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez (Triple Threat Match)

Andy: Toni Storm

NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano vs. Kushida

Andy: Gargano

Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Raquel González & Dakota Kai (Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals)

Andy: Moon & Blackheart

MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals)

Andy: Grizzled Young Veterans