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WWE NXT preview (Aug. 31, 2021): No spoiler warning required

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NXT returns tonight (Aug. 24) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. This week’s episode was taped last week as the CWC is remodeled as part of the ongoing NXT rebrand.

Advertised for the show:

  • Ilja Dragunov rolls back into NXT
  • Johnny Gargano vs. LA Knight
  • Ridge Holland vs. Tommaso Ciampa
  • Kyle O’Reilly vs. Duke Hudson
  • Roderick Strong vs. Ikemen Jiro

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

1) Did this week and next Tuesday’s episodes merit a “spoiler ban”?

Tonight’s show, like the Aug. 24 edition and next week’s episode, was taped in the days after TakeOver 36. WWE is giving the CWC a makeover, reportedly to lighten the place, and mark NXT’s new direction as someplace that focuses on training future Superstars rather than showcasing people who were signed from the independent wrestling world.

Unlike last Tuesday’s show, there aren’t readily available spoiler reports for tonight or next week. That largely seems to be due to the person who provided the Aug. 24 spoilers (’s Trent Osborne) getting kicked out of the CWC before the second taping, and the message that sent to others who might post about what was filmed.

It seems a curious decision. Before moving to live broadcasts in 2019, NXT taped en masse and spoilers were the norm. The availability of information about last Tuesday’s show didn’t hurt the television numbers. WWE probably wouldn’t burn a big reveal before the new look version of the brand kicks off on Sept. 14. As far as we know right now, there aren’t plans to move away from a live broadcast on a regular basis, so there wouldn’t seem to be a need to establish a new policy.

The move certainly didn’t dominate the online wrestling conversation for very long, so while it’s somewhat fan-unfriendly, it probably doesn’t mean much in the long run. Still, it’s a flex by WWE. And I selfishly just hope they were trying to keep a cool surprise under wraps.

2) Who will step to the new NXT United Kingdom champion?

Last Tuesday saw the line form for new NXT champ Samoa Joe’s next challenger, starting with Pete Dunne, LA Knight, Johnny Gargano. Some of the same guys would make interesting choices for Ilja Dragunov, who will be on NXT prime for the first time since his show-stealing win over WALTER at TakeOver 36.

Dunne actually picked up a win over Dragunov in the build to TakeOver. The Mad Russian was distracted by the arrival of his Austrian nemesis. It would make sense for him to want to run that back. Knight and Gargano will square off tonight in a match that will probably serve to hype Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis’ wedding in two weeks, but I’ll watch Ilja vs. Papa John however they choose to set it up.

If Dragunov is just stopping by to remind us to watch NXT UK on Peacock, hopefully they’ll plant seeds for a big champion vs. champion match down the road. The wrestling world deserves to see him and Joe throw down.

3) Is B-Fab vs. Elektra Lopez the next front in the Hit Row/Legado Del Fantasma war?

Santos Escobar’s fourth revealed herself last week, taking out the Hit Row harmonist and helping LDF pick up a big win over Swerve Scott’s side. At some point we’ll get a singles match between Escobar and Scott for the latter’s North American title, but we could also be about to see more wrestling from B-Fab. Fab definitely made it clear she’s looking for payback after Kris Statlander’s one-time Brooklyn Belles partner hit her in the bread basket with a steel pipe.

Hit Row vs. Legado Del Fantasma could also be a candidate for this year’s War Games match. There’s really no way to apply WWE mixed tag rules to that concept, and they’re not going to give us a hardcore intergender match. But it’s fun to think about how Fab & Lopez could play a role in War Games if NXT goes that route.

4) Which champion will Breakout Tournament winner Carmelo Hayes choose?

Not picking the top guy seems dumb, and would probably cause the Breakout gimmick to lose a little of whatever luster it has. But since they’re going to drag his decision out at least a little bit, we have to ask.

Samoa Joe would be an interesting clash of styles. A showdown with Swerve would be dope, but with his North American title central to the LDF/Hit Row beef, that’s probably not the direction. Hayes is established in the cruiserweight scene, and if building that up is still something the new NXT cares about, I could see him choosing to the belt he failed to capture when he faced Kushida back in June.

We also don’t really know what’s going on with Kushida, so they could turn the shot fka Christian Casanova won into a bout with Roderick Strong for a vacated Cruiserweight championship.

Again, I’d hate to see him pick anything but the main NXT title. But any of the options are exciting given what we’ve seen of Hayes thus far... and I haven’t even mentioned the out of the box one where he goes after Dragunov’s NXT UK strap.

5) Has NXT done enough with Franky Monet to make her a viable challenger?

Since she arrived in WWE, we’ve mostly seen Monet execute a takeover of the comically inept Robert Stone Brand. So it was a bit jarring to see her announce her intention to go after Raquel González’s Women’s championship.

Not that it will be a bad match. In fact, the wrestler formerly known as Taya Valkyrie vs. Big Mami Cool is a slobberknocker waiting to happen. It’s also pretty clearly a stop gap before Kay Lee Ray takes her shot at Raquel. I just wish they’d done more to show us what a bad ass Franky is before we got to it.

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.