Here's what to expect with the final (for real this time) show from the Friday, Jan. 22 taping at University of Central Florida's CFE Arena in Orlando (spoilers for which are here).
Since this was before he hurt his ankle and after he returned from said ankle injury, and because they had a three hour show on the Friday before Royal Rumble where the champ had yet to appear, General Manager William Regal booked a match for Finn Bálor.
As of tonight's show, Finn will have been the brand's champion for 242 days, which puts two men ahead of him on the list of longest NXT title reigns. Since the guy in second place is currently a #SocialOutcast, Regal reached out to the guy with the record for a marquee match-up.
So we're getting Bálor vs. Neville.
They've faced each other before, both before and after signing with WWE. Most important for background right now is probably the finals of a #1 contenders tournament at last Spring's TakeOver: Rival, where the Irishman beat the Geordie as then-Adrian was on his way to the main roster.
Can they live up to that critically acclaimed bout? Can the longest reigning NXT champ in history get his win back by taking down the current king?
The Title Scene
Bálor is busy with his second straight televised non-title match this week, so for forward progress in the NXT championship division, we'll have to look to next week. The GM's other announcement last week was that Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn would look to finish their current rivalry with a two-out-of-three falls match which will give us a #1 contender.
American Alpha are on a meteoric rise in the tag scene, but they will have to wait for a shot at tag titleholders Dash & Dawson. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady swore they weren't done with the Revival - and that's even more true now that the champs jumped them in the parking lot last week. Expect some foreward momentum from this one tonight via backstage segments.
Her team came up short in pairs action last week, but the Women's belt is still around Bayley's waist. But Eva Marie & Nia Jax can now point to that tag victory over the Hugster and Carmella. And Asuka has made her intentions clear - a declaration which clearly unnerved the champ.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Regal's other, other announcement involved introducing a hot free agent signing to us tonight. Since Shinsuke Nakamura isn't debuting until TakeOver: Dallas (and NXT spoiled this guy's arrival back when this show taped in January, and is already selling his merchandise on WWE Shop), we know it's not him.
- Then there's Baron Corbin's promise to repay Regal using the old "eye for an eye" principle. Hopefully he doesn't mean that literally, but does mean it a little more than Apollo Crews did when he promised an "all new Apollo Crews" a few weeks back.
- Elias Sampson wasn't on last week, which probably means he drifts onto our screens tonight for another squash.
- She's been idle for a while, with her partner in crime rehabbing an injury and all, but Emma did get promo time recently and should show us to remind us what a bad ass she is soon.
- Former tag champs the Vaudevillains are bad, bad men (again), as we know from repeated silent movie vignettes with sinister tunes.
NOTE: Spoilers are out there for these pre-taped broadcast (like here), but many Cagesiders don't partake. If you are going to post or discuss spoilers for this show before they happen, or results of future shows, please use the spoiler bar in your comment.