A number of the matches previously scheduled for NXT TakeOver: Tampa Bay are now set to air in the month of April on the USA Network, Sports Illustrated has learned.
Beginning Wednesday, April 1, NXT will add some additional excitement to its weekly TV programming by airing the matches planned for TakeOver on a weekly basis. Paul “Triple H” Levesque is expected to be on this week’s edition of NXT as part of the announcement.
WWE’s plans for WrestleMania weekend in Tampa were thrown into disarray by the coronavirus outbreak. WrestleMania 36 was moved from Raymond James Stadium to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, where it will take place with only essential personnel present. TakeOver, scheduled for April 4 at the Amalie Arena, and the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony were canceled.
The only TakeOver match made official was the ladder match to determine the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. Chelsea Green, Mia Yim, and Tegan Nox have already secured spots in the bout, with the remaining competitors yet to be announced. NXT has some of the best women’s wrestlers in the world, and it will be interesting to see who wins this match, especially with open spots potentially going to Candice LaRae and Bianca Belair. It would be especially exciting to see the final spot go to more of a surprise, like a returning Io Shirai.
The latest chapter in the epic rivalry between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was intended to be a featured part of TakeOver. On TV, the match could extend beyond 40 minutes—or, if Ciampa and Gargano are up for the challenge, an hour. The two have met before on the TakeOver stage in Chicago, New Orleans and Brooklyn, but this meeting will be unique because Ciampa is the babyface and Gargano is the villain. The winner of this match belongs in the world title program.
Another unconfirmed-but-probable match is NXT Champion Adam Cole defending his title against Velveteen Dream. Cole just passed Finn Balor’s 292-day record for the longest-ever reign as NXT champ. Whether Dream is ready for a run with the title remains a question, but he is dripping with charisma. It would be very interesting if Dream dethroned Cole, especially considering his journey from the WWE reality show Tough Enough all the way to the top of the card, and the story is ripe since he shares so much history battling The Undisputed Era. We know who Cole is as champion, but it would be very interesting to see Dream with the NXT title.
North American champ Keith Lee is on a meteoric rise, and NXT is rightfully presenting him as a fighting champion. This is another opportunity for Lee, who was given a spotlight at the Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble, to shine. While Finn Balor would seem like the obvious opponent, it would not surprise me to see Damian Priest or Dominik Dijakovic in this spot.
NXT was dealt a tough blow by losing its signature TakeOver event during WrestleMania weekend, but adding some of those matches to its Wednesday night programming makes the absolute best of the situation.