NXT returns tonight (Feb. 3) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards their next TakeOver on Feb. 14.
Advertised for tonight:
- Finn Bálor & Pete Dunne face-to-face
- Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Gizzled Young Veterans in a Men’s Dusty Classic semifinal
- MSK vs. Legado Del Fantasma in a Men’s Dusty Classic semifinal
- Indi Hartwell & Candice LeRae square off with Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon in a Women’s Dusty Classic semi-final
- Austin Theory vs. Kushida
- Karrion Kross & Scarlett live
- Xia Li (with Tian Sha) in action
- Cameron Grimes return
As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) Can great matches make tag wrestling a draw?
Last week’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic quarterfinal main event kicked ass. Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa’s win over Undisputed ERA’s Adam Cole & Roderick Strong was thrilling, hard-hitting drama. It fed right into a tense staredown between the victors and their opponents tonight, Zack Gibson & James Drake of Grizzled Young Veterans.
It was the second of three good tag matches on the show, each presenting a little different flavor of what tag wrestling can be. The other men’s quarterfinal was a celebration of lucha libre, as Legado Del Fantasma defeated Lucha House Party. The women’s Dusty Cup match was a great showcase for two future stars in Raquel González and Kacy Catanzaro.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like people are tuning in to see these matches, though. They weren’t the talk of the wrestle web... perhaps understandably given the New Japan news from their Wednesday night rival, but still. It’s not just this year, either. The Dusty Classics weren’t a ratings hit the last time around, either.
Perhaps main roster WWE’s done such a thorough job of teaching fans tag wrestling is a midcard attraction that it never will be a draw again (if it ever was). For all AEW’s talk of increasing its profile, their tag belts aren’t main eventing PPVs, either.
If good wrestling is part of the process of re-educating the audience to value the pairs division, tonight an important lesson. The women’s semi is loaded with legendary talents like Candice LeRae & Ember Moon, and future stars in Shotzi Blackheart & Indi Hartwell. MSK’s Wes Lee & Nash Carter facing off with LDF’s Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde should be frenetic fun. The GYV vs. Thatcher & Ciampa bout could top last week’s main event.
However good the wrestling is, these acts may need more time to establish a connection with the audience for any of this to move the needle though. LeRae and Blackheart are the only stars who bring a storyline into tonight’s action. Speaking of which...
2) Do we know what the Women’s Dusty winner gets?
The assumption seems to be a WWE Women’s Tag title shot, but it’s been a while since the ladies wearing those belts have made an appearance on a Wednesday night. Maybe it’s time for NXT to get their own Women’s Tag Team championship? Or should both winners earn a match for the brand’s singles strap?
It’d be nice if they let us know before Sunday.
3) Is anyone expecting a title change Sunday at TakeOver: Vengeance Day?
There’s a crazy amount of talent in the Women’s title Triple Threat this weekend. The NXT championship match is fantasy booking made real. But it doesn’t seem to me like there’s much suspense about the outcome of either.
Not that Toni Storm or Mercedes Martinez and Pete Dunne wouldn’t make believable champs. But between NXT’s history of long reigns and the threats to Io Shirai and Finn Bálor who aren’t in these matches (namely González and Karrion Kross), it seems like if we get a change on Feb. 14, it’ll be Kushida taking the North American title from Johnny Gargano, not one of the top belts.
4) How quickly are they going to dole out information about Tian Sha?
If you’re like me, some part of your brain has been preoccupied with NXT’s Shaw Brothers-inspired origin story for Tian Sha since it first aired last week. My nerd mind might have moved on to other things, but then I read that WWE is attempting to trademark “Mei Ying”, the name of the princess who sold her soul to a dragon thousands of years ago so she could learn how to defeat her evil brother, becoming the corrupted Tian Sha in the process... and, well, it got me thinking again.
Will Karen Q play both characters? Will she wrestle as both characters? Are Xia Li and Boa descendants of Mei Ying? Is he as lethal an ass-kicking machine as we’ve seen her be since their training began? How far will Triple H & company go to sell their supernatural training? Are championships in their future? Will the long game involve Tian Sha’s soldiers attempting to save her soul bring back Mei Ying?
This is fairly new ground for the black-and-gold brand, and I’m really interested to see how they present a fantastical concept as a serious threat. But they’ve been very stingy about dishing out details, so it may be a while before we get answers to those questions and make any judgements about the success or failure of the gimmick.
5) Will Cameron Grimes be a babyface?
He’s been a heel since his WWE debut in 2019’s Breakout Tournament. But he’s been such an entertaining one, it wouldn’t surprise me if they used his return after a couple months off to turn him. Face announcer Beth Phoenix sounded excited for Grimey’s return when it was announced last week. WWE.com’s official preview for tonight is non-committal, but isn’t the way you’d welcome a villain back:
The cocksure Grimes has been equal parts impressive and agitating since his arrival in NXT. But exactly what is the next step in the cosmic career of the man determined to go TO THE MOON?
I mean, I’m gonna smile when I hear that catchphrase in his North Carolina drawl. We’ll see if NXT leans into that or not.
Join us in our live blog and we’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight.