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NXT preview (Apr. 1, 2020): While we still can

NXT returns tonight (Apr. 1) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. It is the first night of spreading out their TakeOver: Tampa matches.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Keith Lee (c) vs. Damian Priest vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the North American title
  • Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish
  • Last Chance ladder match qualifying gauntlet match

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

1) How long will we have weekly NXT?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, both WWE, including NXT, and AEW are trying to tape as much content possible to prepare for the inevitable time when they can no long tape content. And with stay at home orders increasing around the country, that time isn’t far away.

To the benefit of both promotions, Florida has been very slow to enact a statewide order that would keep people outside essential businesses at home. (As of writing this, there is no statewide order, but news moves so fast nowadays.) However Orange Country, which houses Orlando, does have a state-at-home order through April 9. And of course Orlando is the home of the WWE Performance Center.

But April 9 is likely not the end and there’s a very good chance this extends at least weeks longer. The mayor is pushing for it. NXT has a few weeks of episodes taped. But after that, we may be dipping into some reruns and best of episodes because they won’t be able to tape.

Meaning enjoy NXT, even in this weird, no fan format while you can. Because while it will eventually be back, we will most likely get to a point where they are out of new content. And that point may not be that far away.

2) Is that heel turn coming?

Every time Dominik Dijakovic gets another shot at Keith Lee, I wonder if he’s going to turn heel. Because there’s only so many times you can fail to win a title and then ask for another chance before you’re no longer a good guy.

And I think they’ll eventually get there. But I actually don’t think tonight’s the night.

With Damian Priest in the mix to play the role of the heel and the spoiler, he can effectively be the reason Dijakovic does not win tonight. That could spin a feud between those two as Keith goes on to something else. It also gives Dominik enough of an excuse for failing to win that asking against after dealing with the Archer of Infamy isn’t unreasonable.

I still think it’s happening eventually though.

3) Who gets the nod?

Six women get the opportunity to vie for the final spot in the #1 contenders ladder match. These are all women who failed to win their way in already. They include Dakota Kai, Xia Li (the only woman who didn’t lose a match but instead was taken out by injury), Aliyah, Shotzi Blackheart, Deonna Purrazzo, & Kayden Carter.

The smart money has to be on Dakota. This isn’t a battle royal so if she doesn’t get the spot, she has to lose at match somehow. Now, it shouldn’t be too surprising if that happens given they’re unable to book her as a consistently strong heel. But her victory has to be the odds on favorite.

I don’t think Xia or Aliyah get the nod because they’re probably going to use this to further their feud with each other. But they could use the spot to give a newcomer to NXT a rub. Out of those three left, it feels like Carter is the one they’d give that nod to.

4) When are we getting Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole?

Adam Cole wasn’t in the building last week. His celebration was a quick pool side selfie video. It’s possible they just opted to go that way. But it’s also possible that he’s just not available right now.

Either way, it looks like the plan is for Velveteen Dream to defeat all the members of the Undisputed ERA one on one. He defeated Roderick Strong (though then purposely lost a cage match to him in order to target Adam Cole). Tonight he takes on Bobby Fish. He’ll likely have to beat Kyle O’Reilly before getting Cole.

Next week’s big match is Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. They don’t need any title match next week. So it’s possible they’ll book that two weeks from tonight if the match is doable right now.

5) Who are Malcolm’s new boys?

Malcolm Bivens debuted last week with a new tag team - one we really don’t know anything about.

WWE released a tweet that tagged both men in there so we know their names. one is Rinku Rajput (formerly Rinku Singh, who actually had a stint as a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system). The other is Saurav Gurjar, who I couldn’t find anything about.

We don’t know their team name or the story of them as a duo. But I kind of like that. These two are a total mystery, which adds to their allure. Though Malcolm should tell us a bit more about them next time.

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

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