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WWE NXT preview (December 23, 2015): Friendly Fire

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Didn't get to talk too much about NXT's latest live event, TakeOver: London, with you all last week.

Well, I talked about it (somewhat controversially) on Cageside Live. So I guess I should say, I didn't get to write about (a million thanks to friend-o Dave Walsh for covering for mefollow him on Twitter, and consider reading his novel on Amazon if you like smart sci-fi).

So, quickly...I really dug it.

But here in previews we try not to dwell on the past, but look to the future. Especially a show like tonight's episode, which likely won't deal much with fallout from TakeOver except to maybe show us Fallout videos that were only available online and not part of last week's broadcast.

That's because tonight's edition of NXT will largely consist of matches and segment filmed before the event that aired live last Wednesday. Similar to the model Triple H and company went with for the only other time they held a TakeOver outside of Full Sail Live - August's Brooklyn show - the promotion will bridge the gap to their next taping with the rest of what the live crowd in Wembley saw a week ago.

Given that their next taping isn't scheduled until two weeks from tomorrow, I'm guessing we'll get a best of 2015 clip show next week, or maybe even the NXT-specific Slammys that many fans were clamoring for when the main roster version that aired on Raw earlier this week left out, for example, the four match of the year candidates Sasha Banks had in "Developmental" during the year.

What can we look forward to tonight? Three things that I know of, one of which has been hyped by WWE for the past month. That one is definitely spoiler-free, and I don't think the other two I'll highlight for you are going to ruin anyone's enjoyment of the show...

Sami Zayn returns!

The moment for which we've all been waiting! I know I have.

Former NXT champ Zayn immediately makes the top of the card more interesting. Given his character and the success Creative had telling a story of Sami climbing a path to the title, I wouldn't expect to see him in the main event immediately. In fact, while there's a decent chance he could become the first two-time holder of a singles belt in brand history, there's an equal chance he's not long for NXT.

Both men he was working with at the time he was hurt are on the main roster, and with one of them, the storyline by which everything else he does in his career will be compared. The Likeable One will say all the right things (in fact, you can watch him say many of them right now) about being an NXT guy, but he and many others will probably be disappointed if he doesn't get a chance to take the next step soon, and chase Kevin Owens to the main roster.

Eight men, four teams

These multi-man affairs look like they'll be a staple of road TakeOver pre-shows, and that's okay by me. There are several things worth watching when Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, Hype Bros, Blake & Murphy and The Vaudevillains jump on the apron and grab tag ropes.

Both of the teams in this fourway who have held NXT tag gold before are up for some changes. Aiden English & Simon Gotch have been showing increased signs of a return to the dark side during their recent matches and promos. Alexa Bliss' boys look like they might be on the verge of a breakup...or at least the fireplug manager and her Australian boy toy might be leaving the other one to fend for himself.

Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder are refining their gimmick, and have been invited for house shows with the main roster to do it, so even as they gel and get over, their future might be more on Raw (or Superstars) than it is on NXT.

And then there's the recently turned amateur standouts. You may have heard they're pretty big in England. And fans around the world are ready, willing say it (sick) to cheer them on against Dash & Dawson for the belts.

The Drifter

Don't know if Elias Sampson is a heel or a face. He's got a pretty good signing voice, and his first ditty about previous NXT champs was pretty clever. Subsequent songs have pushed him closer to Baron Corbin squash and Nia Jax vignette heat, however. As long as he shows his face and comes to the ring, I'll be more into whatever he does on this show than his last several week's worth of air time.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

Strangely enough, WWE will be sort of competing against itself tonight with Tribute to the Troops airing at the same time as NXT's initial run on WWE Network. But, the glory of an over-the-top service is you can watch this show whenever you want.

But even with alumni like Rusev, Owens and Big E likely to make it onto USA Network with the show that was taped earlier this month in Jacksonville, Florida...somehow I think most NXT fans will be logged in and enjoying one of the main reasons Vince McMahon and his shareholders get their $9.99 each month.

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 in the results thread.  If anyone wants to put a match listing in the comments, please use spoiler tags.

See you tonight for NXT and/or Tribute to the Troops, Cagesiders!

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