clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NXT preview (April 13, 2021): Break from the pack

NXT returns tonight (April 13) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida.

Advertised for the show:

  • New NXT champ Karrion Kross kicks off the show
  • New NXT Women’s champion Raquel González speaks
  • Undisputed Cruiserweight champion Santos Escobar issues an open challenge
  • Tag champs MSK defend against Killian Dain & Drake Maverick
  • What happened after Kyle O’Reilly won his unsanctioned war with Adam Cole?
  • Franky Monet arrives
  • Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
  • Dexter Lumis & Bronson Reed team with Women’s Tag champs Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon for an eight-person mixed tag with The Way
  • More fallout from last week’s two-night TakeOver: Stand & Deliver

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

1) How compelling a champ is Karrion Kross?

He re-claimed the top spot last Thursday, beating Finn Bálor to take back the belt he never lost. We’ve seen that part of Kross & Scarlett’s story. Now for the hard part, the part we were denied when Karrion suffered a separated shoulder while beating Keith Lee for the NXT title last summer... what next?

I’ll be honest. And I say this as someone who’s enjoyed Kross’ work on Lucha Underground & Impact, in Mexico, and thought WWE did a great job with his initial 2020 rollout. I’m not feeling it this time. On paper, his return’s been smartly booked. Sent Damian Priest packing, had a quick, entertaining beef with Legado Del Fantasma, and re-entered the title scene. He’s still never been pinned or submitted in NXT, and with Scarlett by his side, their presentation stands out from other acts on the show.

But dominant champs aren’t unusual on the black-and-gold brand, or at any level of WWE these days. Especially after seeing Kross on the same event with someone like WALTER last week, I know who I was more in awe of (hint: he’s from the same country as WWE Hall of Famer Arnold Schwarzenegger).

The good thing for NXT and its new champ is this roster presents a ton of potential feuds for Kross, all of them interesting in their own way. First up?

We won’t have to wait long to find out. Kross & Scarlett kick off NXT tonight.

2) Who gets fed to Big Mami Cool first?

We’ve all seen the reign of Raquel’s coming since WarGames. It started after González pinned Io Shirai in a great main event at Stand & Deliver Night One. But this is a show that never ends, so... now what?

Unlike with her men’s counterpart, I’m sold on the new Women’s champ’s presence. Unlike Kross, I don’t think she has as many great dance partners lined up - at least not immediately. It’s not the NXT is stocked with great women’s wrestlers. It’s that not a lot of them are currently playing babyfaces, or free to get into (or positioned for) a singles title program.

If Io isn’t sticking around - and it’s hard to imagine she will for very long, but who knows, since we said the same thing about Rhea Ripley after she dropped the brand’s belt and the Nightmare stayed in NXT for the rest of last year - the other faces are all in tag teams. That includes the current champs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart, and the recently destroyed by Tian Sha duo of Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter.

Could it be Zoey Stark? Raquel already has a singles and a tag win over the newcomer, but Stark’s been getting a ton of screen time. She also just beat former Mae Young Classic winner and NXT UK Women’s champ Toni Storm on one of last week’s pre-shows.

Could it be the debuting Franky Monet? An early read on Taya’s WWE gimmick would seem to be heel, but it’s hard to boo a dog. It’s somewhat surprising she’s not going straight to Raw with her husband (John Morrison), so getting inserted immediately into a championship feud wouldn’t be too surprising.

Eventually, you have to figure they’ll split González from Dakota Kai and do that as a high profile feud. But until then, or Tegan Nox returns, or they turn someone else, or decide to push Shotzi & Ember as singles, or... they’re gonna need to fill some time for their new hoss champ.

3) An eight-person mixed tag? Sure. Why not?

Bronson Reed, Dexter Lumis, Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart all have issues with The Way. Reed just lost his North American title shot at Johnny Gargano, thanks in part to a distraction from Austin Theory. Theory’s relationship with his former kidnapper Lumis is... complicated. Indi Hartwell has a big, possibly unhealthy crush on the Tortured Artist, and she & Candice LeRae just failed to take the Women’s Tag belts from Blackheart & Moon.

But Reed and Lumis were also just clubbering on one another in the Eliminator Gauntlet last Wednesday, and the whole four-on-four intergender thing just seems even more messy that Hartwell’s Dexy thirst.

If anybody can make it work though, it’s Johnny’s combination of over-the-top dumb comedy and lights out wrestling skill. We’ll see what happens (and secretly keep hoping LeRae wins a title soon)

4) Where’s Timothy Thatcher?

Nobody wanted Tommaso Ciampa’s battle with WALTER to finish with a schmoz or anything, but it’s surprising there wasn’t even a mention of the Imperium angle. Ciampa’s tag partner Timothy Thatcher’s been missing for almost a month, and before that he was being courted by his old Ringkampf mates to join the NXT UK version of their stable. That we’ve seemed to gloss over that whole element of the story leads us to be a bit concerned about Toothless Timmy. Here’s hoping he’s alright, mostly because we don’t want anyone to be sick or hurt, but also because a transatlantic Imperium could be badass.

5) What are this week’s ratings going to look like?

Especially coming off a very enjoyable week of wrestling, and the feel good ending of Broken Skull Sessions, we hate to do anything to stoke partisan flames. But if you’re consuming wrestling #content on the interwebs, you’re probably at least a little interested in the business side of things. And how NXT and AEW Dynamite do without direct competition from one another will be a key data point in decisions both companies make going forward.

Will USA get a bump from promoting two wrestling shows on back-to-back nights? Will either Dynamite or NXT’s numbers resemble what the combined audience was on Wednesdays? If they didn’t get noticeably bigger pretty quickly, what does that say about each product?

The War may be over, but the aftermath could be even more impactful.

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

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats