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WWE NXT preview (January 28, 2015): A Vince McMahon-free zone

Sami Zayn and the Zayniacs by Punk
Sami Zayn and the Zayniacs by Punk
@_VintageRollins on Twitter

Last Week

William Regal had a really good night.  I mean, it was a strong performance all around from the General Manager.

Fired up for a live event that was only three weeks away, Regal announced a tournament to determine who would face Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship.  A fired up champ made quick and unsportsmanlike work of Tye Dillinger in their scheduled bout, and then demanded a word with Kevin Owens - his old friend who has done nothing but attack the champ since debuting at the last live event in December.

KO did not answer Sami's call, but Regal did.  And he reasonably explained that he can't reward Owens with a title shot, or every hot young heel would just start assaulting his roster for a chance at the belt.  The two compromised on a non-title match for the next Takeover...Zayn can have his shot at revenge, but the GM's matchmaking process remains beyond reproach.

Gosh, it's refreshing to have a non-heel authority figure.

He wasn't done there, either, though.  When Sasha Banks' second shot at Charlotte's Women's title brokedown with The Boss bickering with her Team B.A.E. partner Becky Lynch and the champ Hugplexed by her little buddy Bayley, Regal booked all four into an every woman for themselves bout on February 11th.  And after Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy upset The Vaudevillains in tag action, the old Villain granted the upstarts request for a shot at Lucha Dragons and their straps.

Our first two tournament clashes were doozies, too.  Finn Bálor gave his finisher a name (Coup de Grâce) and then stomped it through a game Curtis Axel to advance.  And it looks like he'll be facing his recent tag partner, Hideo Itami, who need his best performance as a WWE-contracted wrestler to take out Tyler Breeze in a great main event.

Not as great as their post-match Twitter war, though (of which this is only a sample):

This Week

CONTRACT SIGNING!  I mean, who doesn't love a contract signing, right?  If anyone can make one of those old dogs hunt, it'll be NXT.  And this otherwise surprise-free commercial drops a nugget from GM Regal that I don't believe we heard on last week's show...that physical contact between Sami and KO will result in their match being canceled.  Verbal haymakers only, fellas.

We'll get the final two opening round matches in the #1 contender tournament.  Bull Dempsey didn't last very long the first time he got in the ring with Baron Corbin.  He promises that this time he won't be looking for a speed record, and that will equate to a win.  The other bracket gives us a bit of a dream match, as Tyson Kidd goes one-on-one with Adrian Neville.  Pants optional but discouraged for that one.

Kalisto & Sin Cara will defend their championship, and try to make me care about the NXT tag division, when they battle Blake & Murphy.  As much as we all miss Ole Blue Pants, the top four workers in the women's ranks are all in the title picture now, and will likely get the bulk of the time for the next couple of weeks.  But that doesn't mean Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady couldn't return...

He crept closer to Prince Pretty before last week's main event - is this the week Marcus Louis strikes?  We hope so, because everyone needs more #MmmGorgeous in their lives!

(Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - we strictly avoid NXT spoilers here at Cageside central. If releases or the performers tweet more information on anything that's officially going to take place on tonight's show, that'll be updated here.  If anyone wants to put a match listing in the comments, please use spoiler tags.)

For whatever reason, we only have two shows until the next Takeover.  That makes it hectic for NXT Creative, but super-enjoyable for all of us!

Enjoy along with your fellow Cagesiders tonight at 8PM Eastern, and find out how much yours truly was entertained in the reactions which will follow a bit later in the evening.

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