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NXT preview (Jan. 23, 2019): TakeOver bound

NXT is back tonight (Jan. 23) with its final show prior to Saturday’s TakeOver: Phoenix.

Here’s what’s advertised for tonight:

  • Will Ciampa respond to Black’s challenge?
  • Ricochet and Johnny Gargano go face to face
  • Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan vs. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel
  • What does the Velveteen Dream Experience have in mind for 2019?

As per usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:

1) Do all feuds get ring time tonight?

TakeOver: Phoenix has five matches on the card to represent in an hour’s time. While that’s certainly possible, it’s not likely each match is going to get a spotlight.

Surely the NXT title match between Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black will get time. And they’ve advertised Johnny Gargano’s face to face with North American champion Ricochet ahead of their match in Phoenix.

The women’s title match got a significant spotlight last week with the face to face between Bianca Belair and champ Shayna Baszler. I don’t expect much more this week. Perhaps a backstage interview or video package, but I can’t see them adding anything significant after last week. And that’s OK. Last week was a strong go-home angle. With an hour show they can only do so much so they just got the spot last week instead.

The same goes for the Matt Riddle/Kassius Ohno match, which was added after Ohno cheated his way to a win over Riddle buddy Keith Lee in the main event. Again, probably a backstage interview from each of the participants but I can’t imagine much more.

Finally, there’s the tag team title match, which got the video promo treatment last week. Because of that, and because NXT is always better when the Undisputed ERA is on TV, I bet the War Raiders and Undisputed ERA are all in front of the Full Sail crowd to hype everyone for Sunday.

2) Do the two title matches cross paths again?

Two weeks ago, NXT presented us the stories for both the NXT title match and the North American title match in one killer segment. This made sense since these stories are intertwined. After all, Gargano challenged for the North American title after Ciampa suggested it. And Gargano recently pinned the #1 contender in a cage match.

Because of that, it’s very possible they mesh these builds together one last time. And it’s better that way. It adds a bit of complexity to these stories.

While I don’t think we’ll see the reluctant #DIY match I was hoping for last week, I would not at all be surprised if they are all in the same ring as they build to Arizona.

3) What are the TakeOver preshow matches going to be?

Normally, NXT will represent the stories not big enough to make the main card in front of the TakeOver crowd prior to the show itself. And then we all get to see them next week. Who could that be?

One story in the tag team division we could see represented is the Street Profits against the Forgotten Sons. However, that attack just happened last week, there’s probably more build before we get there. Maybe one of those teams are in action and the other makes their presence known.

Io Shirai and Kairi Sane aren’t on the main show. I could see some tag action as a possibility or a single’s match to showcase Shirai.

Then there’s Velveteen Dream if his segment tonight ends in a confrontation, but it’d be very surprising to see Dream go from popular TakeOver experience to opening act.

4) Where does Velveteen go from here?

I kind of asked this question last week, but given we’re going to find out what he has to say tonight, I’m revisiting it.

But this is less of a “Who is feuding with Dream next?” and more thinking about his overall arc in NXT.

Dream has had spotlight feuds and he’s had a title match, where he was unsuccessful defeating Ciampa. It’s tough to find a spot after losing a title match because the only place to really go from there is down.

Luckily, Velveteen is so charismatic, any feud he ends up in will be a spotlight feud. (I’m still hoping for a feud against Adam Cole/Undisputed ERA and one against Riddle.) Then does he eventually earn another title shot when Ciampa/Gargano/Black feud has finally come to a close? Or does he become one of those acts in NXT that are always good but never holds the gold?

5) How many European uppercuts will we see in tonight’s tag match?

BritAm Brawlers vs. European Union should be quite the slug fest tonight. Expect a lot of strikes and uppercuts as these teams put on a match that should be quite good for such a quick build.

I’m putting the over/under of European uppercuts at 25.

We’ll see if we get answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM.

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