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WWE NXT Halloween Havoc preview: Jump scares

NXT is bringing their fall classic back this year, and for the first time in its brief history, their version of Halloween Havoc will be a standalone PLE.

This Premium Live Event comes our way tonight (Sat., Oct 22) at 8pm ET, live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, and streaming on Peacock. There’s also a free Kickoff show that airs 30 minutes earlier on all WWE’s online outlets, including right here at Cageside Seats.

We’ve got six matches on the card, with three titles up for grabs, all kinds of spooky stipulations, and who knows how many costume changes from hosts Shotzi & Quincy Elliott. You’ll find our predictions for Halloween Havoc here. Now let’s get you up to speed on the each of Saturday night’s contests, and our big question for each one.

Bron Breakker (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. JD McDonagh for the NXT championship

In a nutshell

The champ’s been making a habit of defending against the best from NXT UK. This will be Breakker’s third straight defense against wrestlers from the now-defunct brand, and his second against McDonagh. JD earned another go-round with the second generation Superstar by beating Tyler Bate, who Bron defeated at Worlds Collide to unify the NXT & NXT UK titles. But his plans were ruined when his old foe Dragunov showed up in Florida.

The Russian never lost the NXT UK belt he took from WALTER GUNTHER; he was forced to vacate it due to injury, leading to a tournament won by Bate shortly before Worlds Collide. Ilja was also responsible for sending the Irish Ace to America when he won their loser leaves NXT UK match with McDonagh earlier this year. And neither man’s shown signs of being too intimidated by Breakker in the build up to this one.

As if that wasn’t enough, on the go home episode, WWE threw us a curveball. In addition to the Triple Threat aspect, Austin Theory and his Money in the Bank briefcase are also now looming over this one...

The big question

Along with the question that gets asked about almost every big NXT match (“is so-and-so getting called up to the main roster?!?!”), and the one we hear anytime a cash-in is possible (“will they use their contract here?!?!”), this one also causes us to wonder if Bron’s ego has written a check he can’t cash. The last time he signed up for a Triple Threat title defense, he dropped the belt to Dolph Ziggler at “Roadblock”. Will he suffer the same fate here, or will his foes cancel each other out — and set the stage for a singles showdown with Dragunov?

Mandy Rose vs. Alba Fyre for the NXT Women’s titles

In a nutshell

The longest reigning NXT UK Women’s champion has had her sights set on Rose for a while, and as the leader of Toxic Attraction approaches the one year mark on her own reign, Fyre will get it. The wrestler formerly known as Kay Lee Ray earned the shot in part by kidnapping the champ (in a move that allowed Mandy to take time off after the death of her brother). But Rose made peace with an old friend, and Sonya Deville came to NXT and made the Scot’s life miserable... including by putting her through the announce table.

The big question

We’ve got two, actually. In story, will Alba have a plan to deal with the possibility of Deville, Gigi Dolin and/or Jacy Jayne getting involved? Since arriving on our shores, she’s aided some babyfaces against Toxic Attraction, but she’s not anyone’s teammate. Fyre might regret that here tonight.

Our bonus is more shoot-y. Does Shawn Michaels want to use this show to signal NXT’s new, post-2.0 era? The changes have been subtle thus far, but knocking off either Breakker or Rose — who were champs for most of the brand’s paint splatter days — would be a loud one.

Carmelo Hayes vs. Wes Lee vs. Oro Mensah vs. Von Wagner vs. Nathan Frazer in a Ladder Match for the vacant NXT North American championship

In a nutshell

After helping Roman Reigns retain in his main roster debut at Clash at the Castle, Solo Sikoa returned from SmackDown to prove to his Tribal Chief he could win a title. Turns out showing up unannounced after then-North American champ Hayes & his right-hand man Trick Williams took out scheduled challenger Lee is against the rules, though. So Sikoa had to vacate, setting up this likely showstealer.

All five men earned their spot by winning a qualifier (or in Frazer’s case, a best-two-out-of-three series with Axiom). Through those, Lee and Hayes’ beef continues, with Mensah occasionally at Lee’s side. But it will be every man for himself tonight.

The big question

Got a bonus one for you again, since the main query is a variation on “is so-and-so getting called up to the main roster?!?!” That’s: “is Hayes FINALLY moving into the main title picture?” Booker-man HBK is a huge Hayes fan, and Melo vs. Bron is the biggest match he can make without bringing in someone for the red or blue brands. Will they do it before either gets moved up? If the A-champ gets this belt back tonight, he probably won’t go after Breakker’s any time soon.

The other one is... how many times will we collectively say “HOLY SHIT” during this match.

Apollo Crews vs. Grayson Waller (Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal)

In a nutshell

This feud didn’t wait for October to get supernatural. Since arriving back in NXT, former Intercontinental & United States champion Crews has been a cross between Robert McCall, and John Constantine, seeing prophecies of vengeance and what have you. Lately, those have dealt with Waller. And after ones featuring bloody eyes and wheels came true, we got a Halloween Havoc match!

The big question

Where will the wheel land for Apollo & Grayson’s “Spin the Wheel. Make the Deal” match? Ladder, ambulance & weapons matches are already taken. Given the possessed doll’s previous involvement in the feud (not to mention the marketing crossover with his USA Network show), it’ll likely be a “Chucky’s Choice”. But will will always hold out hope for “Coal Miner’s Glove on A Pole”.

Cora Jade vs. Roxanne Perez in a Weapons Wild match

In a nutshell

Jade broke bad while she & Perez were holding the NXT Women’s Tag titles, and professional jealousy led to a showdown between the former friends at “Heatwave”. There, Roxanne wouldn’t use a kendo stick on her rival and it cost her the match. But since their spin of the wheel landed on “Weapons Wild”, Perez can swing for the fences this time and it will perfectly legal.

The big question

Can these wrestlers deliver the great match that will turn their feud into the classic NXT’s clearly wants it to be? Their first singles matches wasn’t much to write home about, and we’ve heard less talk about this being a Bayley/Sasha or even Asuka/Ember-level program since. Maybe with the lights dimmed a bit, Perez & Jade will be able to really show what they’re capable of.

Julius Creed vs. Damon Kemp in Ambulance Match

In a nutshell

The Diamond Mine break-up’s been going on for a looong time. The Creeds were sure Roderick Strong was working against the group he founded, but then Roddy was taken out in an off-camera attack, and Kemp revealed he was the traitor when he costed Julius & Brutus their NXT Tag titles. Now Strong says he feels bad for ever bringing Gable Steveson’s brother onto the team, and Julius is gunning for revenge in an Ambulance match. But in order to get Damon to take the match, he had to agree the his brother would leave NXT if he can’t win!

The big question

Do we trust Roderick Strong? Initially I did, but then I saw a lot of suspicion from my fellow wrestling fans. Now I’m not so sure. If Strong does reveal himself as being in league with Kemp and it costs Julius the match, the so-and-sos in “is so-and-so getting called up to the main roster?!?!” will be The Creeds.

Join us in our live blog and we’ll see what answers we get.

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