NXT TakeOver 31 takes place on Sunday evening, representing a fairly quick turnaround between TakeOver events with TakeOver XXX having just gone down at the end of August. The event should, as is the case with all TakeOver cards, be filled with plenty of high-octane action and some memorable matches with four of five planned bouts being contested for a title.
In the main event, NXT champion Finn Balor is set to defend his belt against Kyle O'Reilly in a match that could rank among the best NXT bouts of 2020. Also, women's champ Io Shirai will also defend her title at the event when she faces off with challenger Candice LeRae.
The action is set to stream Sunday beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET with a kickoff show on WWE Network. The main card will go down starting at 7 p.m. as WWE has moved NXT from Full Sail University back to the WWE Performance Center with a venue setup now known as the Capitol Wrestling Center.
NXT TakeOver 31 card, predictions
NXT Championship -- Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle O'Reilly: This should be a tremendous match bell-to-bell, but it doesn't come with much drama in terms of who is going to walk out of the event as NXT champion. Balor is still young in his reign and O'Reilly is the ultimate steady hand, but not the guy you hitch your promotion to given how he has been presented over his time in NXT. Lack of drama on a winner aside, this should live up to the legacy of great NXT championship matches at TakeOvers past. Pick: Finn Balor retains the title.
NXT Women's Championship -- Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae: LeRae could well leave TakeOver with the NXT women's title, but this result feels directly tied to the result of the NXT North American title match. Can Gargano and LeRae walk out of TakeOver 31 as champions? All that said, I don't see Priest dropping the title (more on that in a moment) and that feels like it takes a chunk out of LeRae's odds of winning the belt here. Pick: Io Shirai retains the title.
NXT North American Championship -- Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano: Gargano is always a threat to capture a title in NXT, but it simply doesn't make sense to move the belt off Priest yet. Priest won the title in August, so taking it off him so early into his reign would seem to do more harm than good for someone on which the promotion seems high. Gargano is bulletproof in NXT. He could go on a 200-match losing skid and would still feel important and relevant given all he's done for the brand. Pick: Damian Priest retains the title.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship -- Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott: Had Scott and Breezango not picked up a win over Legado Del Fantasma in a street fight the week before TakeOver, I would be going with a title change here. That momentum swing changes things, however, by feeling like it gave the babyface the visible, meaningful win that you normally give with the PPV title change. Now, it feels like it's Escobar's turn to pick up a cheap win and see if they can stretch out this feud a little bit longer, or simply to move along to a feud with Kushida. Pick: Santos Escobar retains the title
Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream: The hope here is that Dream's refusal to move on from his issues with Kushida is simply to get Kushida a nice, high-profile win on TakeOver to position him for a run at the cruiserweight title. They could, of course, make a mistake and have Dream come out with the win, but I'll bank on the correct decision being made. Pick: Kushida wins.