Tonight’s show finds us in Los Angeles’ Staples Center and the San José State University Events Center (spoilers from which are here) for the “aftermath” of TakeOver: WarGames 2.
Here’s what to expect, and some thoughts on the overall landscape of the black-and-yellow brand.
Last we saw Lars Sullivan, he hit Velveteen Dream with a Freak Accident in a scene which oftentimes would set up a Triple Threat - seeing as Dream was distracted by, and about to challenge NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa. Despite earning a win that bolstered his claim to being worthy of a title shot, that didn’t happen. Dream went on to give Ciampa a heck of a fight at WarGames 2 - expect to see the already released fallout videos of the Blackheart giving Velveteen props and the young challenger being too frustrated to talk to Queen Cathy. Sullivan, on the other hand, got promoted.
That’s what the vignette which aired during Survivor Series told us, anyway. Versions of the same spot aired with Raw and SmackDown logos aired Monday and Tuesday nights, and he’s advertised for tonight’s show as well. Hell, even WWE.com’s official preview sounds confused:
“Judging by the vignette shown during Survivor Series, The Freak appears to be broadening his horizons beyond NXT. Yet, Sullivan’s appetite for destruction in the black-and-gold brand remains insatiable. Who’s next on his menu?”
There’s money to be made with the Loquacious Leviathan, for sure. Enough to turn him into a triple-branded free agent, though? That seems unlikely. As does the notion this is the kind of “soft” call-up we’ve seen with people like Sami Zayn or Andrade “Cien” Almas, because if he were just going to make a few surprise appearances, they wouldn’t herald his coming with hype videos.
Most likely, the call was made to bring Sullivan up without much of a plan for how he’ll be used. For all we know, those vignettes could play all the way to Royal Rumble while Lars works a whole ‘nother program on Wednesday nights.
We should start to get an idea tonight.
The Title Scene
For their part of the win in last Saturday’s main event, War Raiders likely earned themselves another shot at tag champs Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong. Meanwhile, you have to think everyone in the ERA fell down General Manager William Regal’s list of challengers for Ricochet’s North American championship (and Johnny Saint’s ranking of potential opponents for United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne).
It wasn’t exactly clean as a whistle, but Shayna Baszler not only kept the Women’s title when she won her two-out-three falls showdown with Kairi Sane last Saturday, she now leads their overall series, three-to-two. What’s next? Seeing as Io Shirai & Dakota Kai came to Sane’s side during TakeOver to serve as equalizers against Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir, we’re hoping for a joshi supersquad against MMA Horsewomen six-person tag at some point.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- In addition to Sullivan, we’ve been informed we’ll get to bask in Keith Lee’s glory on this episode. Will the Limitless One try to knock out Kassius Ohno faster than his best bro Matt Riddle did on Saturday?
- The one confirmed match set for this week is Candice LeRae vs. Nikki Cross. LeRae didn’t like Cross snitching on her husband for attacking Aleister Black, and Nikki proved again she’s always down to “play” when she took on The Man in Manchester a few weeks back. Is this finally the Twisted Sister’s NXT swan song? And how much of the version of Candice who took part in bloody intergender wars on the indies will we see now that she seems to be following her husband into the darkness?
- Speaking of Johnny Wrestling, cutting corners and playing games like his former tag partner didn’t result in a win when he battled Aleister Black at TakeOver. Where does that leave Gargano? That should also clear the way for Black to get his rematch against Ciampa. With the pre-Rumble TakeOver: Phoenix only a couple months away, will that title fight happen in Arizona?
NOTE: Spoilers are out there for these pre-taped broadcasts (including some 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!