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NXT preview (Mar. 31, 2021): End of the line

NXT returns tonight (Mar. 31) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida.

Advertised for the show:

  • Dexter Lumis, Austin Theory, Bronson Reed, Leon Ruff, Roderick Strong, LA Knight, Pete Dunne, Roderick Strong, Tyler Rust, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Jake Atlas, and Cameron Grimes in a Battle Royal to qualify for the Gauntlet Eliminator at April 7’s TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, the winner of which challenges Johnny Gargano for the North American title on April 8.
  • Cameron Grimes vs. Roderick Strong
  • Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter come face-to-face with Tian Sha
  • The final push to next week’s TakeOver

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

1) A Battle Royal with stakes?

Okay, that’s not really a question. Sue me.

But, while NXT’s plan for the North American title at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver is convoluted, they’ve ensure that all three matches they’ve booked matter.

You have to get to the final six of tonight’s Battle Royal to qualify for night one’s Gauntlet Match. The order of elimination will determine your position in the Gauntlet Eliminator (e.g. the seventh and eighth guys tossed tonight start on April 7, the last man in the ring only has to face one opponent that night to earn a title shot on April 8).

Johnny Gargano may hate it...

...but it’s great for the rest of us. There are so many possible outcomes, and ways for the guys who don’t make the cut for next week to start or continue their feuds.

So, yeah, not a question. But some very clever booking that’s worth shouting out.

2) Will Mei Ying (Karen Q) make her in-ring debut tonight?

The Tian Sha/Catanzaro & Carter encounter hasn’t specifically been labeled a match. But with talk of a “showdown”, it certainly sounds like this will be the first time Mei Ying rises from her throne and does more than gesture for more from her charges Xia Li and Boa to inflict more punishment.

Reports are it’s former indie and ROH star Karen Q under that white make-up. She signed with WWE in 2019, but has spent most of her tenure with the company dealing with a leg injury that required multiple surgeries. Karen’s been on the comeback trail for a while now:

Getting physical would not only be a big step for her, but for the Tian Sha gimmick all around. It probably won’t be good news for Kacy & Kayden, though.

3) How will Roderick Strong fare without Undisputed ERA?

After being rebuffed by Kyle O’Reilly when he tried to get the babyface portion of the band back together, Roddy’s pulling double duty tonight. How he’s booked should give us an indication about his post-ERA future.

He’s not the guy who’s facing the most daunting road ahead as a singles act (that would Bobby Fish, when he gets healthy, and if he can stay that way). But the 37 year old probably isn’t headed to the main event. Will he get a chance to develop his character on his own and stick around in the upper midcard? Is he headed toward 205 Live, or something like Kassius Ohno’s old player/coach position?

Since job one looks to be a program with Cameron Grimes, my guess is he’ll be a main event gatekeeper for now. But we’ll see. I wouldn’t complain if he ended up challenging Gargano for the N.A. belt next Thursday. Then again, I’m not sure I’ve ever complained about getting to see Strong work. He’ll always have that going for him, whatever his future holds.

4) Are we going to talk about how Adam Cole SMASHED THE GENERAL MANAGER WITH A FOREARM after last week’s show?

This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing William Regal will just let go.

The man keeps his old brass knuckles on a suede platter in his office, for crying out loud!

5) Did Robert Stone come up with the money to pay Mercedes Martinez?

When Jessi Kamea got injured, Suit Man Stone was in a real bind. Needing a tag partner for Aliyah, he turned to his old associate Martinez... who held him over a barrel and demanded double the payment he was offering.

Then they lost, and Bob doesn’t have the funds. Mercedes will probably have an issue with that.

And while she’s taking care of that, maybe we can make it official that Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell get a shot at Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon’s NXT Women’s Tag titles?

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

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