It’s been a long time since I’ve done this. Welcome to a predictions column. Let’s take a look at tonight’s NXT event and guess who will win. Stay tuned tomorrow for Royal Rumble predictions.

Matt Riddle vs. Kassisus Ohno.

I was a big fan of the former Chris Hero. Saw him many a time on independent wrestling shows. He is in a great role in NXT and that role needs a name. Player coach. Go out there and wrestle, but really you’re not out there to win. You are out there to run a training school that just happens to have a live crowd. Riddle is new to NXT and needs to have someone help him out and help him look good. Ohno is perfect in this role, but that role does not involve wins.

Winner: Matt Riddle.

Ricochet (North American champion) vs. Johnny Gargano.

I have thoughts about where this storyline will go next, but it also involves the main event. For now I’ll say…

Winner and new champion: Gargano.

The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong)(NXT Tag Team Champions) vs. War Raiders (Hanson and Rowe)

The rest of Undisputed Era, Adam Cole and Bobby Fish, are not on the card. Which makes me think the faction has done all they will do in NXT. Have them lose the titles, some sort of rematch the NXT before WrestleMania, and Undisputed Era get called up to Raw or Smackdown in that coveted post WrestleMania spot.

Winners and new champions: War Raiders.

Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Champion) vs. Bianca Belair

I don’t think Belair is ready for the spotlight yet. There’s more stories to tell with her suffering her first loss than with her winning. Plus if Baszler wins she’s already a two time champion. Where else is there to go in NXT? Bringing her up to the main roster now though throws a wrench into Ronda’s story heading into WrestleMania. Best to wait until after for her call up. Thus keep her champion for now and have a newly focused and determined Belair win the rematch.

Winner and still champion: Baszler.

Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Champion) vs. Aleister Black.

A lot of speculation already, but I think Black is the number one call up NXT has. He could debut at the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, the next night, or any points in between. The WWE Universe is ready for him to be in a bigger spotlight. What I, and many other fans, are not ready for is an end to the years long roller coaster story that is Gargano and Ciampa. This has been incredible.  Competitive friends, tag team, injury, betrayal, revenge, titles, turns. And it’s not over yet. Just this past week’s episode of NXT adds a new wrinkle to this epic.

I see Ciampa keeping the title. Gargano wins the North American title by dastardly means he learned from Ciampa. Gargano keeps falling into darkness. He is not only tempted to once again be with his former best friend, but the success his new evil self attains can’t be denied. They could win the tag titles again as heels. They could dominate NXT. Gargano could reject the darkness like Luke Skywalker. He could go too far and Ciampa shocks us all by becoming a good guy again. The possibilities in NXT’s greatest storyline are still endless. I don’t expect either to leave NXT in the next year at least because the story is far from over.

Winner and still champion: Ciampa.

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