The Freeman Coliseum will be packed on Saturday night in anticipation of a solid card as NXT presents its 13th TakeOver event in San Antonio. Despite what has shaped up to be an intriguing Royal Rumble on Sunday, TakeOver: San Antonio certainly has the potential to outshine its older brother. It has done it before.
NXT Championship -- Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Bobby Roode
The event will be highlighted by the NXT Championship match featuring champion Shinsuke Nakamura defending his title against Bobby Roode. After an entertaining contract signing last week, the stage is set for an electric showdown on Saturday night.
I've mentioned it on multiple occasions, but there hasn't been much of a build heading into the championship match, which leads me to believe this is just the beginning of a long rivalry -- as it should be. Nakamura and Roode are, by far, the two most popular performers in NXT. As much as we'd all like to see both guys transition to the main roster and succeed, this needs to be an extended program that headlines a number of events. It cannot be a one-off. There's too much untapped potential for an all-time great NXT feud here.
The first chapter promises to be a memorable one.
NXT Women's Championship -- Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce vs. Billie Kay
From one championship to another, Asuka will put her NXT Women's Championship on the line in a fatal four-way encounter against SAnitY's Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay.
We were treated to a fantastic prelude to the championship match on Wednesday as NXT Commissioner William Regal did his best to put on a civil interview segment. Obviously, that didn't go as planned (do they ever?), and the chaos that ensued was the perfect lead-in heading into TakeOver.
From the arrogance shown by Royce and Kay, to the enraged rebel that is Nikki Cross, to the angry Asuka out for revenge, the segment shined in all of its uncontrolled glory. After Asuka and Cross cleared the ring of Royce and Kay, they turned to each other, but before anything could manifest, security rushed the ring.
Most of the time, the segment would have come to an end right there. Not on this night. Asuka and Cross proceeded to beat down members of security, eventually leading to Cross taking flight off the top rope to the outside of the ring onto both Asuka and the security crew. All the while, Royce and Kay watched in horror.
We should be in for something special come Saturday.
NXT Tag Team Championship -- #DIY (c) vs. The Authors of Pain
The third championship on the line this weekend features NXT Tag Team Champions #DIY taking on The Authors of Pain. Unfortunately, for the second straight week, neither team appeared on NXT TV. This was a missed opportunity given the potential this feud has, but the match itself should be a good one.
We've seen #DIY do some special things with the likes of The Revival and TM-61, but it will be an interesting dynamic seeing the lightweight tag champs paired up against monster heavyweights Akam and Rezar. Even though they currently hold the straps, Gargano and Ciampa will undoubtedly be presented as the underdogs looking to stave off the imposing challengers in the potential show stealer.
Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger
SAnitY leader Young did appear on Wednesday's show to promote his bout with Dillinger. After a quick and commanding victory over Chris Atkins, Young exclaimed that Dillinger made the wrong choice when electing not to become a member of the barbaric stable. Damo -- the 300-pound newcomer now going by Killian Dain -- made his presence felt after Young's match, nailing Atkins with a vicious running senton splash.
Dain could be the wild card in the Young/Dillinger match on Saturday night. Not only has he been causing destruction on SAnitY's behalf, but he made a serious impact last week when Dillinger declined the offer -- or rather, the demand -- to join the group. He's been consistently bringing the pain. Will he do the same at TakeOver?
Roderick Strong vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas
Despite seemingly being thrown together last minute, the Strong and Almas collision should serve as a fine undercard match, keeping the excitement level in San Antonio elevated as both men are known for their outstanding, crisp in-ring work.
They did their best to create a little bit of prematch fireworks on Wednesday night through a backstage promo that saw Almas gain the upper hand, attacking Strong in fierce fashion.
As far as Strong is concerned, last week he declared his NXT Championship aspirations. While it might be a while before we see his rise to that level, there's no doubting his talent and he -- as well as Almas for that matter -- should continue to be a fixture on big shows.
Hits & Misses
Bewilderingly, the great Ember Moon is not currently penciled in for NXT TakeOver: San Antonio. That's a shame. She was in action on Wednesday night, though, as she took to the ring to battle fellow babyface Liv Morgan. While there was nothing wrong with the match -- in fact, it was quite good -- it felt like the sole purpose was to get both women some work in the ring, potentially missing the boat on something more significant. There wasn't much animosity between the two heading into the match, and no story points developed afterward as the two shook hands. A Liv Morgan heel turn would be good for her career. Right now, she's kind of floating around without much direction. This was the perfect spot to at least hint at a character change. Hopefully something will evolve down the road.
The fun act that is No Way Jose put forth a solid effort with youngster Kona Reeves snagging the win using a modified version of his knockout punch finisher. Following the match, an impending rivalry appeared to form as "The Drifter" Elias Samson interrupted Jose during a postmatch interview. Amusingly, he did so with a depressing song built around Jose's gimmick. It was a perfect heat generator. There hasn't been any indication, but if a sixth match were to be added to the TakeOver card, this would be a likely candidate.
It's going to be strange not seeing The Revival on a TakeOver show. The last time they missed one was in August of 2015 at the first TakeOver: Brooklyn show.
Shane Thorne's knee injury and surgery were finally acknowledged on television. He suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus tear and is looking at a lengthy absence. It's a crushing blow to a team that was firing on all cylinders.