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NXT preview (Jan. 22, 2020): While the iron’s hot

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NXT returns tonight (Jan. 22) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. It is the last episode prior Worlds Collide, and they’re also working towards TakeOver: Portland on Feb. 16.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Keith Lee vs. Roderick Strong (c) for the North American title
  • Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. the Grizzled Young Veterans (Dusty Classic semi-final)
  • The Broserweights vs. Imperium (Dusty Classic semi-final)
  • How will tensions rise ahead of Worlds Collide?

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

1) Is there any reason to wait?

Keith Lee has a chance to win his first title in WWE/NXT tonight. And I think they should just pull the trigger.

Keith Lee is very hot right now, and it may be best to put the North American title on him now. There’s no reason to wait. He’s not as hot as he was in November, which serves as a reminder that a wrestler may never be hotter than they are at this moment, but he’s still very hot.

So while an argument could be made extending the feud till Portland to set up a night that Undisputed could lose all the titles, it’s probably time to put some gold on the Limitless One right now.

If they don’t, it’ll be very interesting to see how they book it not to make Lee weaker in the process.

2) Are we getting an Imperium/ERA Dusty finals? Or will it be free of both of them?

Imperium and Undisputed ERA are on a collision course to meet at Worlds Collide this Saturday. But will they also be meeting in the Dusty finals?

If they both win today, they will. But both teams are gunning for each other and it’s possible that beef will bleed into their two matches, possibly costing both of them. All four members of each time are on hand tonight. No doubt there will be a brawl. It’s just a matter of when.

We don’t know when the Finals are set to take place. Probably not Worlds Collide, which is already a full card. Plus with these teams going four on four, that means those two teams lose tonight or the final match will take place another time. (Unless they decide to make the four on four the Dusty Final, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility.)

Either way, I expect an NXT vs. UK finals so it’s either both teams or neither. So if it’s not Imperium vs. ERA, it’ll be the Broserweights vs. the Grizzled Young Vets. Speaking of...

3) Were the Time Splitters a one time thing?

A fallout video after Alex Shelley & Kushida lost last week featured the Time Splitters claiming they’d fight anyone anywhere. But my impression reading Shelley’s twitter is that it may have just been that one time thing. (He’s booked for Joey Janela’s spring break, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t also work some NXT.)

While I didn’t expect him to sign with WWE, that fallout video, and the fact that they lost their only televised match, had me thinking they were going to work together a little longer.

If that’s not the case, that makes last week’s loss retrospectively more disappointing. It’d be one thing to give the Grizzled Young Vets a win and then have the Splitters pick up a win in front of the fans one time against a different team. But if that doesn’t happen, last week’s loss will have been a big bummer.

4) Is Mercedes a part of the division already?

Last week saw Mercedes Martinez have a strong showing in the #1 contenders battle royal. She threw down with her old friend Shayna Baszler, though was unfortunately eliminated.

Martinez is a talented veteran and could be a major part of the division immediately if need be. She obviously doesn’t need time at the PC. But it’s possible they want to take some time to come up with a plan for her character and a story to start. If that’s the case, the battle royal last night was just to get her some action prior to taking a month or so to come up with a new plan. And there’s merit in keeping her off TV until they have a plan for her.

Though if that is the case, I hope they don’t take too long. I’d love to see Mercedes match up with Rhea Ripley. And Bianca Belair. And Io Shiari. And Candice LeRae. And...

5) Was last week meant to be Shotzi’s big moment?

One of the big moments in last week’s battle royal was Shotzi Blackheart eliminating Shayna Baszler from the match. It was an NXT newcomer knocking off the biggest threat in the field. And it got quite the reaction.

Was this meant to be the start of something big for Shotzi? Are they going to take this and roll with her, featuring her more after a big elimination?

Only time will tell, but even if she is only going to be on TV sporadically for a bit longer as they mold her character and come up with her story, fans will remember her a bit more this week now that she dumped the former champ.

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

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