Only a week away from TakeOver: Respect, NXT looks to put the finishing touches on the build to their second big live show in a less than two months.
How will they do that? Mostly by giving us the last of the final four for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and selling us a little bit more on a match that no one watching probably needs to be sold on at this point.
What else might they do?
After cheating his way past Bull Dempsey - because, let's face it, Tyler Breeze has never had much interest in actually working a match with him...he wouldn't want to spend any more time than he has to pressed up against that uggo - Prince Pretty learned that he will be working October 7 at Full Sail. Rather than an international legend like when he faced Jushin "Thunder" Liger, this time General Manager William Regal has paired Breeze up with a rising star in Apollo Crews.
The former Sesugh Uhaa faced his stiffest test in WWE yet when he battled a newly agressive Solomon Crowe a few weeks back. With the news of his second live show appearance in two opportunityes, Crews flashed his trademark enthusiasm, as well as introducing a willingness to playfully intimidate, in a hallway encounter with the King of Cuteville.
Trick: I was taken to task a bit in my Reactions to last week's episode for feeling pessimistic about Tyler's place in the NXT pecking order. It still bums me out that he's been slotted as a comedy heel on this show - possibly because the powers-that-be at the Performance Center agree with many Cagesiders in thinking that that's what he'd be on the main roster, so...
What we love about NXT, however, has always been that guys and gals aren't pigeon-holed like that. And even if they aren't deemed future champions or main event material, they're still respected as characters. How else do you explain they time devoted to resuscitating Dempsey as a loveable babyface? Or, as much as I'm not a fan, the way Eva Marie has been given a chance to sink or swim as a wrestler?
Breeze hasn't been "buried" or any other exaggerated or mis/over-used term we sometimes throw around the internet. But he's the most prominent example of a growing number of mid-carders who debut a new schtick and then disappear, or who bounce from one losing effort to another, or who just tread water squashing jobbers for too long.
These men, and someday soon women, who are useful on this show but for whom Vince McMahon has no use should be easier to book longer term stories for than the main eventers, too. Triple H never knows when the phone will ring from Stamford with a plan to debut Finn Bálor on Raw. Prince Pretty, Crowe, Tye Dillinger, etc. are exactly the kind of guys we should safely assume will be featured in lengthy tales with satisfying resolutions.
Tip: Maybe I'm just a salty mark because my guy isn't getting a title shot. But there's a story here that I hope they're working toward in Breeze vs. Regal (possibly as a retirement match for the Old Villain in his native country come December and their United Kingdom tour). If they are, they should keep it front and center - and not only because their banter is epic and chemistry off the charts.
NXT should know their fanbase is largely jaded smarks like me. They're willing to use that to subvert our expectations from time to time, but they should also serve us some comfort food, too. Make sure we know you haven't forgotten the little guys like Raw and SmackDown do, and we'll love you even more.
And the same advice holds for someone we all think is headed to the main roster sooner rather than later like Apollo, too. It hasn't even been two months yet, but they need to keep adding things like the edge he had last week with Breeze. Hopefully, next week isn't a one-off match to give each man something to do, but a way to remind us that every player on this show is important.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Dana Brooke & Emma literally better keep an eye on Asuka, because she has an (evil) eye on them after the stunt they pulled last week by interrupting her contract signing.
- Her boys Enzo & Cass have a big showdown with NXT champ Bálor & Samoa Joe tonight for one of the four semi-final spots next week in the Dusty, but Carmella has unfinished business with All Red Everything her own self after the Total Divas star dumped her on her head and then celebrated like she was one step closer to a title match.
- Speaking of title matches, WWE production will put together one of their always stellar video packages to get us ready for next week's Iron Man match where Sasha Banks will try to reclaim the Women's title from Bayley.
- Looking down the road in the championship picture, Joe and Finn both seem to be keeping the Irishman's NXT belt in mind as they try to move forward in the tournament. The Realest Guys would like to get over the hump, and maybe move closer to another shot at the tag titles The Vaudevillains retained last week.
- The other quarterfinal happened over the weekend at a house show, and we'll officially learn the outcome of Chad Gable & Jason Jordan vs. Hype Bros tonight, too.
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.