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WWE NXT preview (February 18, 2015): A hacking we can all enjoy

Sasha Banks on Twitter

Last Week

Oh nothing much - just a two hour live show with two title changes and an attempted (?) murder.

Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze pretty much straight up robbed the undercard with their show opening performance.  In fact, the biggest booking error of TakeOver: Rival was probably that these guys got short shrift.  Itami got some momentum back after losing in the #1 contender semi-finals to his tag partner, but both men need something into which they can channel their considerable skills.

They didn't have a ton of competition on the first half of the show.  Responses varied about whether Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy retaining their tag titles against Lucha Dragons or Baron Corbin's latest win over Bull Dempsey in a No DQ match during which nothing occurred that would get anyone disqualified was the worst bout of the night.  That strong arguments could be made for either doesn't help any of the participants, unfortunately.

Business picked up considerably when Finn Bálor showed up covered in grease paint in a blast of smoke.  The Irishman's battle with Adrian Neville to determine who would next challenge for the NXT title wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but no one was denying that the two pulled out all the stops for an exciting finish - and no one is complaining about the prospect of seeing Bálor go head-to-head with the winner of Rival's main event.

Before we got to that, however, the women once again proved that they should eventually main event one of these things.  Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte went all out for ten-plus minutes in one of the better choreographed Fatal 4Ways I've ever seen.  In addition to the overall quality of the work, it was noteworthy for the way in which The Boss took the Nature Girl's Women's championship from her...with a clean pin in the middle of the ring, without any interference from either of the other two competitors.

Then, it was time for the latest chapter in the long running blood feud between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.  Though it was the first time they've squared off under those names in this company, their backstory from the indies was referenced early and often.  And after Owens finished off his scheme to win Sami's title just two months (to the day) after his NXT debut by beating the Likeable One until the referee was forced to stop the match, we all knew that the WWE portion of their rivalry had just begun.

This Week

With Sami away (in reality, he was in the U.A.E. for the first set of tapings; in story, he's in a hospital somewhere trying to figure out what day it is following smacking his head on a Tope Con Hilo and then being Powerbombed repeatedly by KO), the main focus will be on new champ Owens and his first challenger, The Demon Finn.

There's also the matter of Solomon Crowe, who's broken into the broadcast feed and the production truck to build suspense for his debut.  It was originally hyped for last week, but that show needed every second of its runtime for in-ring action, so the new gimmick for Dean Ambrose's old indy partner was shuffled to this week.

We don't know what's planned for Crowe's introductory feud, but we do know that Neville and Itami are currently unencumbered.  Prince Pretty is also free, but he has a couple of angles in waiting with Marcus Louis (who he shamed right out of Full Sail) and Mojo Rawley (who he kayfabe sent to the operating table).

Charlotte undoubtedly has a rematch clause for the title she just lost, and new Women's Champ Banks will have issues with both of the other 4Way participants, her Team B.A.E. running buddy Lynch and the increasingly aggro Hugster.  And, who know, maybe a tag team will get a personality - or at least they could bring back The Vaudevillains.

Meanwhile, if the reports I read about her entrance are true, I'll be hoping that we get the return of Blue Pants sooner rather than later...

(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.)

What will NXT do to make the main roster jealous tonight?

Find out along with your fellow Cagesiders tonight at 8PM Eastern, and stick around for more discussion a couple of hours later when we bust out our reactions to the show.

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