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WWE NXT preview (April 4, 2018): One last piece

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Tonight’s show finds us in back in NXT’s home base of Full Sail Live for the third and final episode from the taping (spoilers from which are here) which will take us all the way to TakeOver: New Orleans.

Here's what to expect.

The Headliner(s)

Now that the cat is out of the kayfabe bag regarding Bobby Fish’s knee injury, and during an interview with Sporting News Adam Cole more or less spoiled the fact he’ll be replacing him in Undisputed ERA’s Tag Team Title defense in addition to the other match he’ll be taking part in on Saturday night at Smoothie King Center (more on that in a second), we can get down to the business of figuring out who Cole and Kyle O’Reilly will face at TakeOver.

That final piece of the puzzle for New Orleans should be decided on this episode, as Authors of Pain try to get their hands on the team that beat them in Philly by winning their second consecutive Dusty Rhodes Classic. To do so, they’ll need to get past their old WarGames partner Roderick Strong and his latest ally, United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne.

AoP is lined up for what feels like the fourth live Network special in a row where we’re all thinking it will be their last NXT appearance before they’re called up to the main roster. Roddy and The Bruiserweight are clicking as a team, but they’re still a thrown together duo whose future is as singles stars. Are either of them likely to unseat the ERA, even with Bobby on the shelf?

There is the Dusty Cup at stake, and that means something. But the big mystery involves filling out the TakeOver: New Orleans card. Hard to imagine either of the final two teams being left off the show, but there is a weekend full of Axxess - even if neither Akam and Rezer or Dunne and Strong are among the teams in the tag tournament taking place there this weekend.

It’s hard to tell without clicking on those spoiler links. That’s a good thing, right?

The Title Scene

NXT Champ Andrade “Cien” Almas got revenge against Aleister Black for the #1 contender clowning his business associate Zelina Vega by kicking his ass all around Full Sail last week. It sent a mesage, but that message may have been that Black beat Almas and Vega at their own game when he rattled the champion by disrespecting him.

Brawls were the name of the game last Wednesday, as the black-and-yellow ramped up tensions in the already tense battle for the Women’s Title with a quick scene of Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler in a pull-apart at the Perfromance Center. Still surprised this one hasn’t been made no-disqualification, but we already have some other big stipulations on the card like...

A ladder match to determine the first ever North American Champion. General Manager William Regal was barely done telling us it existed when EC3 debuted by crashing the announcement. Fitting, since he’ll be in the ladder match on Saturday night with Cole, Lars Sullivan, Velveteen Dream, Killian Dain and another recent signee, Ricochet. Sullivan and SAnitY’s Dain will get a chance to settle issues that go back to last year when they go one-on-one tonight. Surely the other four men will let them settle them without getting into a ‘go home’ show melee, right?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Johnny Gargano’s plan of stalking Tommaso Ciampa worked. Blackheart asked Mr. Regal to give him a shot to his end his old tag partner once and for all, so the GM is letting Johnny Wrestling back for a match in New Orleans with his career again on the line. Ciampa vs. Gargano is unsanctioned, which means anything goes, but Johnny’s still fired until/if he wins on Saturday night, so not sure whether we should expect anything outside the video package treatment for this one.

- Video packages may be the name of the game on April 4. Getting a couple bouts with ramifications for TakeOver are a nice treat, but ‘go homes’ are usually pretty much pre-shows for the black-and-yellow brand.

- There is supposed to be a Kairi Sane match, probably to remind us she exists since she’ll likely be the next challenger for whoever survives Moon vs. Baszler III.

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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