Halloween Havoc is back under the black and gold banner, airing the Wednesday before our favorite holiday. As such, NXT has planned a TakeOver-level show for this week’s television episode, with four matches currently slated. It’s amazing we’ve got this much to look forward to, given the string of injuries that have befallen several superstars, including Kyle O’Reilly, Ridge Holland, and even NXT Champion Finn Balor, who may have to surrender his title if his recovery doesn’t go as planned.
Snakebit as the festivities may be, here are my thoughts on what we can expect when hell comes home to NXT.
Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis in a Haunted House of Terror Match
I know, I know. What the hell is a Haunted House of Terror match? I’d be lying if I said I knew, but given the oddities of this year, I’m assuming this will be some sort of cinematic match, and if anyone is suited for that level of menace, it’s Dexter Lumis. After he was forced to abdicate his spot in the NXT North American title ladder match at TakeOver XXX, Lumis needs to get some heat back, and something like this could be the answer. Ideally, this is done not to make Lumis a diet Bray Wyatt or Undertaker, but an entirely different monster altogether. Alternatively, this could be used to elevate Grimes back into the North American title picture, though I’d argue that Lumis needs the win more.
Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzales
Much like the previous match, I feel like Rhea Ripley needs this win more, though a statement victory could send Gonzales into the stratosphere and title contention. This match isn’t likely to top the Battle of the Badasses Steel Cage match between Ripley and Gonzales’ partner Mercedes Martinez, but it’s the women’s equivalent of a big hoss fight, and I’m here for it.
NXT North American Champion Damien Priest vs. Johnny Gargano (Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal)
For the first of the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal matches, we have a North American title encounter, and while I have no doubt that this will be a sleeper hit, if not the show-stealer, Johnny Gargano does not need this win. Priest’s run as champion has been a solid one thus far, and as much as I too want to see the Garganos hold the gold, I think that Mrs. Gargano has a better chance of winning her title match than her mister does (whoops, spoilers for my own predictions). The real draw of this match will be what stipulation we end up with, and if I may put on my fantasy booking cap, I kinda want to see a Falls Count Anywhere match, or something that calls back to Gargano’s game-changing feud with Tommaso Ciampa.
Speaking of Ciampa… he’s the Sicilian Psychopath. Why the hell isn’t he properly booked on this show?
NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae (Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal)
As great as the evolution of Io Shirai from Genius of the Sky to Villain of the Sky has been, something has to give with Candice LeRae. After winning a Street Fight against Mia Yim (or whatever the hell her RETRIBUTION name is now), Candice went on to lose her bid for the belt at TakeOver 31. I know we just had a steel cage match in NXT, not to mention three Hell in a Cell matches this weekend, but I kinda want to see that, or at least an equivalent, for this showdown, if only because an Asai Moonsault from the top of a cage would be just the exclamation mark this contest needs.
NXT Halloween Havoc airs live on USA Network beginning at 8pm on Wednesday, October 28th, and will be available on-demand via the WWE Network the next day. Stay tuned for coverage of the event.