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WWE NXT preview (Jan. 24, 2018): Final touches

Tonight’s show finds us in NXT’s new home away from home, Atlanta’s Center Stage, for the third episode from a taping (spoilers from which are here) which takes us all the way to TakeOver: Philadelphia.

Here's what to expect.

The Headliner(s)

Since at least TakeOver: Chicago, Johnny Gargano’s been dealing with doubts. Now that’s he’s finally on a win streak and headed into one of the biggest matches of his career against Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT title, he’s on a mission to erase all doubt about whether or not he deserves this opportunity.

So when Velveteen Dream (correctly) pointed out Gargano wasn’t even slated to be in the field of possible #1 contenders until he got injured, and then twisted the knife a little more by claiming he would have beaten Kassius Ohno and won the Fatal 4Way against Aleister Black, Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain with ease when Johnny took advantage of things like Undisputed ERA’s run-in, well...

And when Almas’ business associate Zelina Vega supported those claims in lobbying General Manager William Regal to give Gargano a pre-Philadelphia match against Dream, then Regal said something other than a definitive “Johnny is our #1 contender”, well...

Johnny Wrestling put the spot on the line himself. Tonight we’ll see if he can back up the babyface fire he was spitting in his promo last week when he faces VD with his title shot up for grabs.

The Title Scene

Another fighting face, Women’s champion Ember Moon, pushed for a TakeOver defense the GM wasn’t in favor of after watching Shayna Baszler bully another member of the roster. Now, Moon will look to establish her reign by taking down The Queen of Spades on Saturday night.

With a dominating win over Street Profits last Wednesday, Authors of Pain made a statement they’re not done with NXT and its pairs division. Tag team champs Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly of Undisputed ERA claim they’re not concerned, but even a pair with their pedigree has to be a little concerned about running into a pissed off Akam and Rezar.

The United Kingdom championship is working the indie circuit and taking this TakeOver cycle off, but we’ll keep this spot for it cause we’re afraid Pete Dunne would kick our butts if we didn’t.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- No Way Jose dances back into our lives with a match against Cezar Bononi, a Brazilian Superstar WWE officials are reportedly very high on, and someone who has a win against the current NXT champ on his resume.

- With his stable-mates focused on Akam and Rezar, Adam Cole will prep for an Extreme Rules clash with Black. But we only have four matches set for TakeOver, and no real hint of what dark matches might make up next Wednesday’s show. Expect something to come out this episode to tell us about a few more things to watch for on Saturday.

- TM61 are getting the video history treatement for their reintroduction. Last week’s part one, chronicling their Australian roots, training with Harley Race, and success in Japan was a good start. We’ll get part two tonight.

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!

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