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NXT preview (Jan. 9, 2019): Lame Duck Challenge

NXT is back tonight at 8 PM with their first episode of the final set of tapings prior to TakeOver: Phoenix.

Here’s what’s advertised for tonight:

  • EC3 vs. Adam Cole
  • Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair
  • Johnny Gargano speaks out
  • The European Union in action

1) How does NXT add a little mystery to matches with pretty obvious outcomes?

The two main matches announced for tonight contain wrestlers already announced for the main roster. That leaves the outcomes lacking mystery.

Not that the outcome of Belair vs. Cross would have had too much doubt even if we didn’t know the Twisted Sister is headed to the main roster. The undefeated title challenger was unlikely to lose prior to facing Shayna Baszler in Phoenix anyway.

EC3 vs. Cole would have been an unknown, but with EC3 “leaving the territory,” it’s likely he goes out on his back. It’s not guaranteed, however. Lars Sullivan won his final match against Keith Lee.

Not that it matters that much. Matches can definitely be enjoyable if you have a strong idea of the outcome. You just bite less on those late nearfalls.

2) Is #DarkDIY a thing?

Last we saw the men of the former #DIY, they were working together to put down Aleister Black in a cage. Tommaso Ciampa’s assistance to Johnny Gargano was quite shocking given their history.

This time last year, these two were just reigniting a blood feud. But that feud took Johnny Gargano down a dark path that landed him on the same side of the heel/face alignment as his arch enemy. Now that they’re in the heel spectrum, are they OK with each other?

I would find it hard to believe Johnny would suddenly be cool with the man who tortured him for a year. But at the same time, Gargano is all messed up in the head and seems rather delusional.

Whether or not they’re on the same page may tie in to the next question...

3) What belt does Johnny Wrestling challenge for?

#DarkDIY’s team up the other week led to a Johnny Gargano victory in a steel cage over Aleister Black. That is the same Black who is challenging NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: Phoenix. Logic would dictate that Gargano gets added to that match. And we were promised a triple threat awhile ago that Black’s injury denied us.

Tommaso Ciampa doesn’t see it that way. In fact, last week Tommaso cut a backstage promo suggesting that his old buddy deserves a title match and suggested he challenge North American champion Ricochet.

We’ll hear from Johnny tonight and his gold intents will likely be known after that.

4) How much cross over will we see from NXT UK in the future?

We’ll see Fabian Eichner and Marcel Barthel, collectively known as the European Union, in action tonight. They are a NXT UK team that will get some showcase on NXT Prime tonight. This is likely to help promote this Saturday’s TakeOver: Blackpool card. (This team doesn’t look to be on that card.)

We’ve seen Mustache Mountain get some legit time in NXT. UK Champion Pete Dunne has been a staple. But that was before the launch of the weekly show. While we’ll surely see the British wrestlers show up here and there, will it be less now that they have their own hour on the WWE Network?

With dueling taping schedules with their own stories to work around, it will likely be tougher to have crossover stories. Can Pete Dunne work this NXT taping if he can possibly lose the title this Sunday with past taped episodes still to come? See, it can get confusing.

5) Will EC3 vs. Adam Cole see a ton of interference?

While we spoke about the outcome having some less doubt of the winner, the amount of interference is still up for grabs.

A member of the Undisputed ERA rarely travels alone. It’d be pretty surprising to not see Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, and Roderick Strong in Cole’s corner. And when stuff gets crazy with those guys, War Raiders aren’t far behind to even the score.

The ERA are lacking a tag title match in Phoenix, and the Raiders are overdue for a chance to take titles from the douchey duo.

We’ll see if we get answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM.

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.

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