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NXT preview (Jan. 13, 2021): Next in line

NXT returns tonight (Jan. 13) from the Capitol Wrestling Center in Orlando, Florida. This is the fallout from last week’s New Year’s Evil. They are working towards their next TakeOver on Feb. 14.

Advertised for this week:

  • Adam Cole & Roderick Strong vs. Breezango (Dusty Classic)
  • Grizzled Young Vets vs. Ever-Rise (Dusty Classic)

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

1) Is Kross next in line?

With Karrion Kross and Finn Bálor both winning their matches last week, it feels like their collision is not far off.

Karrion Kross is going to get a title match eventually. He had to relinquish the gold right after winning it due to a shoulder injury and then worked his ass off to come back quickly. NXT’s February TakeOver is probably the best spot for his title shot.

There’s no one waiting in the wings that needs to face Finn prior to Kross. There isn’t much work they need to do to build it. If I were a betting man, I’d say that’s our Valentine’s Day main event. Kross needs his title match. Whether he should win it is a different story.

2) Should Kross be the next champion?

This has nothing to do with tonight’s episode. We don’t even know if Kross really is next in line for Finn Bálor’s championship. But since we spoke about that, may as well speculate further.

Should he be champion is obviously a different question than will he. I think if he matches up against Bálor, he will win the belt and pick up where he left off earlier this summer. They had a plan for him as the top guy, and that very well may be the plan still. But would he be the better choice as the man on top over Finn Bálor?

My answer is no.

Don’t get me wrong. In general, I like Kross. His character work as the living embodiment of doomsday is very entertaining. They way NXT uses Scarlett in his presentation really helps the character. On the other hand, he’s never had a match in NXT I really enjoyed. There have been some squash matches that were more character displays than anything else and those have worked. But when he’s been tasked to have a competitive match with a more equal member of the roster, it’s never landed.

I’m not all about high work rate. In fact, I think some of NXT’s main event TakeOver matches have been too much over-the-top action and not enough selling. But strong main events like we saw last week are a staple of NXT, and that is going to be lacking with Kross as champion.

When he won the title initially, it was the right time. Keith Lee got called up to the main roster so they used Lee’s star within the promotion to help put over Kross. There was no one else that made sense. But right now, they have a man who is doing excellent character work and excellent ring work in Finn Bálor. While beating a man the status of Finn would elevate Kross, I’m not sure if it’s what’s best for the promotion right now.

3) What’s next for Kyle O’Reilly?

Kyle O’Reilly lost his second attempt to defeat Finn Bálor for the NXT title in last week’s main event. It was another strong match between the men, again showing that Kyle is main event material. But that’s trying to take a bright spot from a loss, and in the end, it’s still a loss. O’Reilly failed twice to win the NXT title. There will need to be some hard work to be done in order to get that opportunity again.

So now what?

The last few months went a long way to make Kyle a main event guy. But now he’s out of the main event. With Adam Cole & Roderick Strong the tag act for Undisputed ERA, O’Reilly is free to enter a different singles program. It should be a feud against an established act, and he needs to win it.

Perhaps he’ll get the winner of the eventual FIGHT PIT between Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. He could focus on the North American title and Johnny Gargano, though after a killer feud for the NXT title, I wouldn’t go there right away because it feels like too much of a drop.

It’ll also be curious to see where his confidence is after last week because he seemed to take that tough lost pretty hard.

4) What are the details about the women’s Dusty Classic?

While the men’s Dusty Classic gets underway this week, I’m more curious about the women’s side of it.

This was just announced last week without many details. We don’t know any teams officially. (Dakota Kai threw her and Raquel González’s name in the hat on Twitter.) We don’t know if there’s a prize outside the trophy. Do they get a shot at the Women’s tag team titles from Asuka & Charlotte or whoever else is champion when the tournament concludes?

In general, I’m excited for this. NXT’s women’s division is my favorite part of the show. I’ll take anything means I get to watch them more. This will get even more women involved and likely be the start of some new storylines.

5) Will Austin Theory get hit in the balls again?

Austin Theory got nailed in the nuts twice last week. Once he took a shot from Shotzi Blackheart’s cannon fire right in the beanbags. Later, Johnny Gargano was tripped up and headbutted his student right between the uprights.

I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Theory take a few more shots below the belt as a part of a comedy act. It feels like someone in the Way should be the person who gets got all the time and Austin Theory is the perfect choice for that.

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

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