Welcome back for another peak at Wednesday nights in the Orlando, Florida-area, WWE Network style!
Mid-card Monster Mash
One guy got a splashier, more ballyhoo-ed entrance into the company, but Samoa Joe and Rhyno both embody Triple H's "Developmental my ass" philosophy on the future of NXT.
The thinking when both former TNA stars was brought in was that they would help sell tickets to house shows at larger venues, and they could work with newer stars. The thinking on the latter was assumed to be that they would put the guys with longer, brighter futures over - and they did. The Man-Beast has lost feuds to Baron Corbin and current NXT champ Finn Bálor, while Joe battled & lost to Kevin Owens while he was holding the main belt.
Tonight: With a promo and video that aired last week, they've been placed in each other's path. The story we've been given is that this is a step toward reaching the goal each had when they signed to the company - becoming NXT champion.
The trick: Two veterans duking it out to recapture their mojo is a great angle, but what does that say for the loser? Whoever wins is a useful feud for either the top dog or anyone they need to position as #1 contender, but who do you book it so that the guy who comes up short tonight still has maximum value - at the gate and to Creative - moving forward?
Road to Redemption - all Red, with Hugs
You may not have heard, but the main roster is experiencing a #DivasRevolution. That meant that three of NXT's Four Horsewomen, champion Sasha Banks, Charlotte & Becky Lynch, got called up to Raw in one fell swoop. Bayley, nursing an arm injury, did not get the call - at least not yet.
That hasn't meant that the Team B.A.D. and Submission Sorority members are gone from Full Sail for good. The Nature Girl unsuccessfully tried to reclaim the Women's title from Banks, and dealt with a long-running beef by pinning Dana Brooke just last week. "The Total Diva" has yet to prove that The Dirtiest Diva in the Game doesn't deserve the opportunities she gets, but she may have to justify her own - since Eva Marie has a win under her belt, some fan support and designs on being a major player in the division herself.
Meanwhile, The Hugster polished off Brooke's running buddy, Emma, a couple of episodes back, and then called out one of the road blocks she's continually dealt with in her quest for respect, Charlotte.
Tonight: A rivalry that goes back to Ric Flair's daugther's first appearances on the show gets a prominent spot, as Bayley squares off with Charlotte one more time, with each woman trying to earn another shot at the NXT Women's championship.
The trick: Keeping things suspenseful, since from the moment The Boss, BEX & Char showed up on Monday nights, it's been taken as a foregone conclusion that Bayley's consolation prize for not being brought up with her cohort would be a run with the belt.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- After more than half-a-year of struggling to give The Vaudevillains a clear alignment, they were masterfully established as babyfaces last week when they were defeated by BAMF and mocked by Alexa Bliss. Suddenly, what seemed like a playholder feud is a hot one.
- One of NXT's most popular acts, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, can't stop falling for dirty tricks in order to put some wins together and earn another shot at Blake & Murphy's crowns. They may have to deal with a fresh act making waves at Full Sail, since Chad Gable & Jason Jordan included them in a list of teams that don't impress the newly paired amateur stand-outs.
- The Baron Corbin squashes will continue until morale improves. Or someone stands up to him. Or something.
- Unable to get the frown off his face when his lollipop broke in the package, and when General Manager William Regal yelled at him, Bull Dempsey has turned to Tim & Eric-style anti-comedy to lose weight and find purpose.
- Regal is guarding the horribly kept secret of who Tyler Breeze will face at TakeOver: Brooklyn later his month, but as long as that means the segments with Prince Pretty bugging the GM in his office keep going, I'm fine with that.
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 - you can find one of those instances 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 here. If anyone wants to put a match listing in the comments, please use spoiler tags.
What tips would you offer NXT tonight?
Let us know, and be sure to come by tonight for the open thread and Reactions!