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WWE NXT preview (Mar. 7, 2018): Can’t lose

Tonight’s show finds us in back in NXT’s new home away from home, Atlanta’s Center Stage, for the second episode from the second night of taping (spoilers from which are here) building toward TakeOver: New Orleans.

Here's what to expect.

The Headliner(s)

The third (sort of) annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicks off tonight with a rematch of the 2016 finals. As if that was enough, both reigning winners Authors of Pain and TM61 have been positioned on NXT to where its got to be the titles or bust - so with a shot at tag team champs Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly of Undisputed ERA (more on them in a sec), this one will have major implications for the winners and the losers.

Fans and observers have been wondering why Akam and Rezar are still on the black-and-yellow brand for months. A possible call-up started being fantasy booked after the dropped the belts in Brooklyn, and got louder after WarGames. They still have plenty of motivation to get their hands on the champs, and probably wouldn’t mind inflicting a little more damage on Eric Young and company, either. If they don’t end up facing both those teams between now and New Orleans... we REALLY won’t be sure why they’re here any more.

The Aussie duo were just received the big “video history” push for their return to our screens after Shane Thorne’s injury. He and Nick Miller are teasing having more of an edge in their second run on NXT, and are all but officially calling themselves by their old name, The Mighty Don’t Kneel. Finally getting past Paul Ellering’s charges would be a big statement on their way to the top... or a crushing defeat when their resurgence was just getting started.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep our eyes on tonight’s taping back at Full Sail to see if the knee injury Fish suffered at a house show this past Sunday will force changes to the plans for to WrestleMania weekend - and this tournament. Should O’Reilly’s partner be out for a while, likely options include letting the ERA’s Adam Cole sub in for Bobby, or moving the Dusty finals to TakeOver: New Orleans and giving the vacated belts to the winner.

Either way, it’s exciting times in NXT’s tag division before the first match of the tourney even airs!

The Title Scene

It’s not officially a #1 contender’s match, but this episode’s other big match might as well be. After all, both Aleister Black and Killian Dain were in the running to challenge NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas in Philadelphia, and their standoff last week was enough to send Almas and Zelina Vega heading for the hills after they celebrated their latest win over Johnny Gargano. The Beast of Belfast stood tall last Wednesday. Now Aleister will try to make SAnitY’s big man fade to black en route to a title shot.

After Kairi Sane became the latest victim of Shayna Baszler, what stands in the way of the Queen of Spades and another opportunity to take the Women’s title from Ember Moon? The champ is probably still banged up from her last run-in with Shayna, but Baszler called her out after putting down the Mae Young winner last Wednesday, and Ember doesn’t like to back down from a fight...

The United Kingdom championship scene has been quiet since Pete Dunne fended off a challenge from 205 Live’s Roderick Strong. And with his nemesis Tyler Bate recovering from another setback to Velveteen Dream, who knows where his next one will come from.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Johnny Wrestling’s long goodbye continued over the weekend. While house show video and tweets are great, some on-screen follow-up with new reactions from Candice LeRae, William Regal and old Blackheart himself, Tommaso Ciampa, seem overdue.

- Everybody from Dream to DRAKE MAVERICK knows Ricochet is here, so when will we see him on this show?

- That same question, except about everyone from signees we haven’t seen yet like Donovan Dijak to folks we haven’t seen in a while like The Iconic Duo.

- In addition to clues about the future of the tag champs and the two teams wrestling tonight, any announcements about when we’ll be getting the other Dusty Classic first round matches should give us a better idea about the overall tourney schedule.

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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