A little pressed for time this week, and struggling a bit with the Preview format again - especially for the show that I also recap. But I don't want to bore the 60 or 70 of you reading this with my problems...it's the 'go home' show for TakeOver: London! We've got a bonkers main event!
Let's talk NXT!
Tomorrow's main event has "FEROCITY" written all over it... #WeAreNXTPosted by WWE NXT on Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Gonna draw the ire of the Irish, and more importantly my main man Brigade, here, but put me down with Stone Cold in being a little worried about the current NXT champ.
My concern takes two forms, and neither of them have to do with his "not having a character":
1) It is weird how little he's on the weekly show. Yes, it's true that NXT protects their top guy in a way that almost no other promotion in the world does right now, but going back to Bo Dallas, the men's titleholder has always been a bigger presence on episodes than Finn Bálor.
Neville worked matches just about every other week, and cut promos with all the buttons buttoned on his polos about how Sami couldn't win the big one. Mr. Zayn would go to Saudi Arabia and they'd still have him pre-record interviews from the streets of Montreal to fill time until he got back. Kevin Owens was a regular on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights during much of his reign.
He is around, so maybe I just don't remember his scenes? He hasn't had a great rival (and his feud with KO was almost suspense-free based on how well Owens' main roster was unfolding right before our eyes). He's had the misfortune of holding the men's belt at a time when the women's division was the hottest thing going.
Probably it's nothing. But it doesn't seem like the best way to get over the real issues that exist with his mic skills. And then there's...
2) The feud that will culminate in a championship bout next week in London has been pretty awesome. And almost entirely Samoa Joe.
Not in terms of screen time, because Finn's actually cut some of his best promos in response to Joe's betrayal. But he has been owned at nearly every turn in this program. And not like "the heel got away", but like "the champ is drooling on the mat".
One of the main things I'll be watching for tonight is how their interaction goes during the tag team main event, and any other camera time the Dusty Classic winners get. The Samoan Submission Machine has been screwed out of a clean, one-on-one title shot, but he's been booked like a beast since showing up in WWE. This is not an out-of-nowhere #1 contender that required a big build.
Is it all headed toward a big win from underneath from Bálor next week? Will he stand tall tonight, really confusing the prognosticators?
These are my concerns. But they're also part of why I'm pumped for London, even a bit more than for the average TakeOver. I could see every match announced so far going either way.
Other stuff I'm keeping an eye on:
- Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin will likely play second fiddle in tonight's tag main and on the live show next Wednesday, and the winner of their match might just depend on who walks out with the belt. Joe will need a babyface to feud with - meaning Crews. Whereas the Lone Wolf would make more sense as #1 contender to the Demon. But, of course, Corbin and Joe have history and NXT loves to mess with us without cheating, so...
- Only one women's match is official (and I kind of hope they leave Asuka vs. Emma as is following the Aussie's vicious win over Liv Morgan and her rival's note perfect big screen response), but methinks the Face Who Runs the Place, Full Sail division, won't leave this alone:
.@NiaJaxWWE just issued a challenge to @ItsBayleyWWE in the most painful way possible! #WWENXT @WWEDivas pic.twitter.com/ZXXkbcBaf9— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) December 3, 2015
- Happy belated birthday to the Smacktalker Skywalker, or as the tag champs call him, one half of the "catchphrase kids", Enzo Amore. He and Big Cass were absent last week when their latest title shot was announced. Will they try to make a statement to indicate that London will be different from the other times they almost won the tag belts?
- Previous champs the Vaudevillains might be living up to their name, if their unchivalrous response to their latest loss is any indication. Will their heel turn continue against Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, and will it make it onto the live show next Wednesday?
- He's definitely back, and I like it! What will Sami be doing in the United Kingdom? It's doubtful we'll get them tonight, but any hints would be greatly appreciated, NXT.
Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - we strictly avoid NXT spoilers here at Cageside central (except when we don't, like right here). If WWE.com 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.