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WWE NXT preview (Jan. 31, 2018): Between the scenes

Tonight’s show was filmed prior to the WWE Network live broadcast of TakeOver: Philadelphia in Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Here's what to expect.

The Headliner(s)

Amidst a sea of highlights, fallout interviews and probably a few new segments designed to set things up for tomorrow night’s taping in Atlanta, the United Kingdom championship takes center stage (pun semi-intended) this week. Pete Dunne won’t be in action himself, but his next challenger will be determined when Roderick Strong and the first ever UK champ, Tyler Bate, go one-on-one.

After getting a spot in the main event of the November TakeOver, it looked like Roddy might get another spot on the card of a live special when he called out Lars Sullivan after brawling with the big man in a qualifier in the series of matches General Manager William Regal set-up to determine the #1 contender for Andrade “Cien” Almas’ strap. But that plotline is either dropped or on hold, along with Sullivan’s request for a match against SAnitY’s Killian Dain.

Strong’s opponent needs no introduction to fans of WWE’s nomadic UK scene, or to the division’s champ. In addition to their match in the final of the tournament to determine who’d be the first man to hold that title, Bate and Dunne had two other classic matches in 2017... including one that was just voted NXT Match of the Year. Problem for Young Master Tyler is, he lost that, and the rematch.

Will he get a third try, or could we finally see WWE integrate The Bruiserweight’s belt more into the black-and-yellow brand by giving The Messiah of The Backbreaker a chance to win it?

The Title Scene

Zelina Vega’s business associate had a great weekend. Not only did Almas defend his NXT title, helping to crush Johnny Gargano’s dream in the process, he lasted a half an hour in the Royal Rumble during his main roster debut the following night. Expect some gloating.

When it comes to Women’s champion Ember Moon, she’s probably less in the mood to gloat and more in revenge mode. Moon didn’t have quite as much success in her Rumble run as Cien, it was nothing to be embarrassed about. And Ember had the excuse of only being able to use one arm. That injury, and the post-match choke hold she got on Saturday, came courtesy of Shayna Baszler. The Queen of Spades may want to talk to her old pal Ronda Rousey about moving to the main roster with her, cause Moon is gonna be looking for payback.

They didn’t make it into The Rumble, but their boy Adam Cole did. Tag team champs Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly celebrated a crafty win over Authors of Pain by watching their leader tear it up in Sunday’s battle royal despite injuries of his own from his brutal loss to Aleister Black the night before. Undisputed ERA’s old rivals from SAnitY got mixed up in that one, too, so Fish and O’Reilly better watch out for Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Dain... oh yeah, and Akam and Rezar, too.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Two other matches from before TakeOver come our way this week. The one with some build features the long-awaited return of Nikki Cross. The Bannockburn Banshee did try to attack Undisputed ERA, and seemed to get involved in the Women’s title picture by helping Ember deal with The Iconic Duo before that, but still missed Saturday’s broadcast. Now she’ll try to get Lacey Deville to keep her name out of her mouth, and to stop implying non-white American wrestlers are trash.

- After a couple weeks worth of videos recapping their history, TM61 finally returns. Shane Thorne’s knee injury has kept the Australian duo off our screens for a long time. They’ll be trying to re-enter the tag title picture as soon as possible.

- EC3 joined the black-and-yellow brand on Saturday, Candice LeRae mixed it up with Vega during her husbands match (and shielded him from Tommaso Ciampa), and we saw War Machine and Ricochet in the crowd. A new era (not to be confused with ERA) is coming... will we get much of it tonight, or is that going to be saved for tomorrow’s taping?

NOTE: Spoilers are out there for these pre-taped broadcasts, 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!