Tonight’s show finds us at Full Sail, for the second episode from a taping (spoilers from which are here) which starts us on the road to TakeOver: Philadelphia.
It’s also the first episode of NXT to premiere on USA Network. This week’s edition will still air on WWE Network at 8PM Eastern, but it comes our way on television an hour earlier as part of “WWE Holiday Week” first.
Here's what to expect.
A week ago, we learned the first two men who will compete in a Fatal 4Way to earn a title shot in Philly, when qualifying action saw Killian Dain defeated Trent Seven and Johnny Gargano replaced the injured Velveteen Dream to beat Kassius Ohno.
We’re being treated to the most star-studded qualifier this time around. Fresh off victories at TakeOver: WarGames, the undefeated Aleister Black goes one-on-one with the leade of the faction which won the WarGames match itself, Adam Cole of Undisputed ERA.
It’s a bout worthy of a live special, which is probably why we’re getting it on an episode WWE hopes will hook some new subscribers checking NXT out on USA. Is that boost worth ending Black’s win streak, or pinning a high profile loss on someone they obviously have big plans for in Cole?
Knowing Triple H and his team, expect something that skirts those questions while building to something bigger down the road, and still doesn’t feel like a total cheat.
The Title Scene
While he waits for his first challenger, NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas is keeping busy. After celebrating his win (and Drew McIntyre’s injury) with his associate Zelina Vega, El Ídolo gets back to doing what he does best. The belt isn’t on the line, but his showdown with cruiserweight powerhouse Fabian Aichner should be a great showcase match for both the new champ and a rising star who’s impressed in each of his outings to date.
Though its also not a title match, new Women’s titleholder Ember Moon is also looking to establish her cred as a fighting champ tonight. The Iconic Duo interrupted Moon’s chat with media last week to complain about how Peyton Royce wasn’t pinned in the 4Way TakeOver match where Ember won the belt. The champ cut off their act to offer a match, and after a little discussion, Billie Kay agreed Royce could have the opportunity.
Two (or should I say three) belts aren’t on the line this week, but expect segments hyping the matches where they will be next Wednesday. Tag champs SAnitY have been beefing with Undisputed ERA for a while without officially having a match, including the WarGames loss in Houston last month. Next week, they’ll put the belts on the line against Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish - and change their luck against Cole’s boys in the process.
Another long rivalry flares up on Dec. 20, but this one has featured two noteworthy battles for the United Kingdom championship. After Tyler Bate pinned Pete Dunne in tag action a few weeks back, the first man to ever wear that belt will try to win it back from The Bruiserweight - and in the process, the pair will try to top their match of the year candidate from Chicago.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Everyone keeps waiting for their call-up to the main roster, or for their unfettered rematch for the tag titles, but Authors of Pain are still here. Akam and Rezar will hoss it up with the fan favorite pair of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch tonight.
- Lars Sullivan is already promising to take Roderick Strong apart in their final qualifier. How will the Messiah of the Backbreaker prepare to face NXT’s monster?
- Will we learn any more about the silhouetted spade-themed Superstar debuting “SOON”?
NOTE: Spoilers are out there for these pre-taped broadcasts (including here), but many Cagesiders don't partake. If you are going to post or discuss spoilers for this show before they happen, or results of future shows, please use the spoiler bar in your comment.
See you tonight for NXT, Cagesiders!