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NXT preview (April 20, 2021): Bright futures

NXT returns tonight (April 20) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida.

Advertised for the show:

  • Dexter Lumis vs. LA Knight
  • Kyle O’Reilly returns
  • Sarray debuts
  • New Cruiserweight champion Kushida celebrates

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

1) Is the Warrior of the Sun entering as the Genius of the Sky leaves?

Raquel González couldn’t even get through her first promo as NXT Women’s champion before the line formed for a title shot. We saw the debuting Franky Monet, Mercedes Martinez and Zoey Stark all tout their credentials. Those last two look headed to a feud themselves, while Le Wera Loca dogs González’s heels (see what I did there?).

One person who didn’t show up was former champ Io Shirai. Raquel shouted her out, which might be a sign the face turn Big Mami Cool flashed during her & Dakota Kai’s WWE Women’s Tag title match will stick this time. But combined with WWE promoting the “thank you” chant for Shirai after the Women’s title bout at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, it’s also could be a sign the Genius of the Sky is getting ready to fly to Raw or SmackDown.

Which makes sense, as there’s not a ton left for Io to do on the black-and-gold brand. NXT’s also seemed to have a “one joshi at a time” policy since Asuka’s arrival in 2015. And tonight, we’ll see the arrival of WWE’s latest big signing from the Japanese women’s scene, Sarray.

The 25 year old formerly known as Sareee has been signed since early last year, but is just now making her way to the States thanks to the pandemic. She’ll make her debut tonight, and we’ll get to see how WWE packages the former World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana star for a global audience.

Will we also see Io? She doesn’t have history with Sarray, so a Sky Pirates-esque team-up seems unlikely. If Shirai isn’t going to be paired with the newcomer like she was with Kairi Sane, that would mean NXT would just have to (gasp) have two Japanese women on the roster at the same time. If they really do hope to launch a branch in Japan in the not-too-distant future, that would probably be a good idea.

Or, the two could work a program. If Io is going to put someone else over on her way out the door, why not the Warrior of the Sun?

2) Is this what Kushida had planned for his U.S. excursion?

Don’t get me wrong, Kushida’s NXT run has been a success by almost any measure. It’s hasn’t been Shinsuke Nakamura, but it’s a damn sight better than Hideo Itami.

But I was under the - entirely possibly incorrect - impression that one of the reasons he left New Japan was because they wouldn’t push him out side the junior heavyweight division. Now he’s in WWE, atop... their version of the junior heavyweight division.

Leading up to his shot at Johnny Gargano and the North American title, it seemed Kushida might be headed to the main event scene. After winning the Cruiserweight title from Santos Escobar last week, is he headed to 205 Live instead? And is that what he envisioned when shaking hands with William Regal in 2019?

On the other hand, it could be that the Cruiserweight championship is now seen as a stepping stone to bigger (no pun intended) things. NXT’s been hinting they have plans for Escobar since he feuded with Karrion Kross while holding the purple belt. Could that be the plan for the Time Splitter who took it from him?

3) Where’s Roderick Strong going?

With Kyle O’Reilly’s return to the CWC tonight, we should get a sense of what’s next for him... even if that’s more of the Adam Cole feud.

But what about the uninjured Undisputed ERA brother they both turned their backs on? With his wife Marina Shafir by his side, Roderick Strong handed in his resignation to General Manager Regal last Wednesday. Roddy’s been despondent since O’Reilly rejected his offer to help go after Cole.

Strong is one of the best wrestlers on the planet, and has been for a long time. He’s also under 6’ tall and struggled to find his voice before joining the ERA, so it’s hard to imagine his main roster prospects will be much better than, say, Drew Gulak’s.

Perhaps that’s the plan, though? A player/coach like Gulak... just lighter on the comedy, if only because Roddy’s not as good at as the Powerpoint master. This multi-week angle seems like a lot to do just to transition to that, but I’m not going to mad at NXT for explaining something.

4) Do we ship InDex?

You bet your ass we do.

5) Should we talk about NXT’s new logo?

It’s a lot. But it does differentiate the brand from Raw and SmackDown. It’s also VERY Triple H.


Give us your questions and answers in the comments below. Then join us in our live blog and we’ll see what Qs and As tonight’s show gives us.

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