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NXT preview (Mar. 25, 2020): Extended TakeOver

NXT returns tonight (Mar. 25) from the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards the next TakeOver, which will take place of the next few weeks on Wednesdays.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Triple H addresses NXT TakeOver
  • What’s the fallout of the Gargano/Ciampa brawl?
  • Candice LeRae vs. Kayden Carter in a ladder match qualifier
  • Aliyah vs. Xia Li in a ladder match qualifier

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

1) Why the extended TakeOver?

Unlike WrestleMania, which is still running as an event unto itself, NXT is going to feature their TakeOver matches over a few weeks, starting next week.

That pretty much removes the actual TakeOver event and instead pads their weekly episodes with TakeOver caliber matches. The reason for that is likely two fold.

The wrestling world’s future is uncertain as we don’t know how long social distancing restrictions for the novel coronavirus will last. So it makes sense to try to stretch what they have for as many weeks as they can while they can. Most of these matches are going to be taped prior to their airing. Extending TakeOver over a month instead of showing all of it in one night buys them more time.

The other side is obviously ratings. Last week, they were creamed in the ratings when everyone knew it was just going to be a well produced clip show. If they want to compete, why not put on their big matches? It’ll entice fans to tune in more than a two hour retrospective will.

2) How will they present their matches?

We’ve seen how main roster WWE has presented their matches. They’ve started leaning on more guest commenters for noise and reactions during the match to take the place of the fans who cannot be there. AEW had wrestlings watching in the crowd to bring the match to life. So that’s Vince’s and Tony’s solution. How about Hunter?

Most likely, Triple H is going to go the same route as main roster WWE. Hell, he was at the first closed set SmackDown and was likely on hand for all the other shows. But it would be nice to see NXT add their own wrinkle to be unique to them.

Honestly, I don’t know what the wrinkle would be because there’s only so many ways you can make up for the lack of crowd. But with NXT’s style of match that’s designed to get big reactions from big spots, it’ll be interesting to see if they structure the matches differently or if they find their way to supplement the matches.

Luckily, Mauro Ranallo is already over the top (something I find endearing but others understandably do not) so his voice can help lessen the long stretches of ambient noise. That is if he’s available to call the show.

3) Does Gargano vs. Ciampa get a stip?

After the knockdown, drag-out fight Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa had a couple weeks back, it feels like their match needs to be more than just a standard one on one match.

Now to be fair, they’ve run the gamut of gimmick matches. In their feud, they’ve already had an unsanctioned match, a street fight, and a last man standing match. But this is different because there’s not going to be any audience for TakeOver.

Because of that, they should follow up their huge brawl, which was very well done, with a fight that can match it. Plus, it could be a fight that they tape prior, that uses different environments, and it won’t be live so they can plan everything to a tee.

A standard one on one match will probably be in the cards one day, but right now, a gimmick bout that matches the type of brawl they had a couple weeks back may be the way to go. William Regal will make that call tonight.

4) Why no Mercedes?

The original ladder qualifying match was advertised as Candice LeRae vs. Mercedes Martinez.

That would have been a fantastic match between two veterans who combined have well over 30 years of wrestling experience. However, at the same time, maybe that’s not a match to run right now. That feels like a match that they could build a little to.

And maybe that’s the reason why Mercedes was replaced with Kayden Carter. Maybe she will have her own qualifying match later and they can both be in the ladder match.

Or maybe given everything that is going on with COVID, she just couldn’t travel to be there. If that’s the case, it’s unfortunate, but that match will always be there down the road when things settle down.

5) Will the other women play into their animosity?

Aliyah vs. Xia Li feels like a throwaway match between two women who are climbing the ranks in NXT. (Though Aliyah has been there for a years and it’s possible this is just her station there.)

However, months back they had a match where Li kicked Aliyah in the face to where her nose was gushing blood. There was speculation whether that was legit or a work to write Aliyah off TV for other reasons. Either way, that didn’t stop Aliyah’s bodyguard Vanessa Borne for calling Li “sloppy” though.

While it’s not a program that needs to be heated back up in the feud microwave, it’s likely something that the announcers will mention tonight. NXT doesn’t forget continuity. Well outside “Who attacked Hideo Itami?”

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

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