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NXT preview (Feb. 3, 2021): Changing fortunes

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:

  • Edge!
  • Undisputed ERA’s Adam Cole & Roderick Strong vs. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher in a Men’s Dusty Classic quarterfinal
  • Lucha House Party vs. Legado Del Fantasma in a Men’s Dusty Classic quarterfinal
  • Dakota Kai & Raquel González square off with Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro in a Women’s Dusty Classic semi-final
  • Santos Escobar (c) vs. Curt Stallion for the NXT Cruiserweight championship

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

1) Is Karrion Kross going to target the cruiserweights, or just their champ?

After taking out #1 contender Curt Stallion (again) and giving us the perfect example of how d-bag heels should react to their angry boss...

... Cruiserweight champion Santos Escobar found a tarot card in his gear. Just like the rest of us who’ve watched Scarlett deal out a deck of those in videos for her man Karrion Kross, the leader of Legado Del Fantasma knows exactly what the card means. But, like a great d-bag heel, he’s laughing it off...

Probably not a good idea to laugh at General Manager William Regal behind his back. Really not a good idea to laugh at former NXT champion Kross behind his back. REALLY not a good idea to tweet about either to make sure they see it. But who am I tell to the Phantom’s son how to do his business?

While there’s pretty much no chance the supremely talented former El Hijo Del Fantasma will win a feud with the Tick Tock man, I’m excited that holding his own (with the help of Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) against Kross could be the way WWE moves him out of the cruiserweight division and into the heavyweight one. Keeping Scarlett’s beau busy until it’s time to crown him again - or just move him up - is a bonus.

2) Who’s getting speared?

The black-and-gold brand’s entire timeline is filled with members of the roster who are just begging to get lit up by the Royal Rumble winner, who will be here to visit his wife, color commentator and Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix. And probably also to steal some eyeballs from Beach Break. But sure, let’s go with the “visiting his wife” thing.

My money’s on Johnny Gargano. But I’d also take a flier on Ever-Rise. Those guys rule.

3) Are Undisputed ERA and Tommaso Ciampa swapping positions on the card?

Aside from getting drafted to work the former champions 4way Iron Man match after Kross got hurt, Ciampa’s spent much of the past year or so in a midcard gatekeeper role for NXT. But having put over his current partner Timothy Thatcher in the Fight Pit, maybe he’ll move up the ranks - at least in the tag division.

The ERA had a lengthy run holding various titles, and got the high profile Pat McAfee feud that mostly wrapped up at WarGames. Perhaps they’ll be doing more of what Tommaso’s been doing while he gets some time in bigger spots now?

In the past, both acts would have been moved to Raw or SmackDown by now. But for various reasons, Adam Cole, Roderick Strong & team, the Blackheart, and Gargano could be NXT lifers. How they way they’re used evolves as a result should be interesting to watch.

4) They’re not really turning Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter heel, are they?

This rumor sounds dumb and bad, but Trips has a habit of asking natural babyfaces to break bad - and it usually works (see: Kai, Dakota and LeRae, Candice). So I’ll withhold judgement on whether or not the high flying American Ninja Warrior and the Filipina Phenom will be good villains. But I do wonder if that will leave the women’s division with a shortage of heroes. Especially when you consider Io Shirai is more a popular mercenary, turns for Carter & Catanzaro would leave Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon as NXT’s only prominent faces. Because...

5) That was a call-up for Rhea Ripley at Royal Rumble, right?

Her Last Woman Standing loss to Raquel González was a logical endpoint for her NXT run. If her WrestleMania 36 match didn’t, being the last woman eliminated on Sunday further proves she’s ready for the next level. But The Nightmare wasn’t on Raw, which is where most of us figured she was headed based on need. Will she be on SmackDown? Or is she sticking around as a big fish in Wednesday’s pond?

Join us in our live blog and we’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight.

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