Thinking about checking out WWE Network’s Royal Rumble eve live special, the Jan. 25 Worlds Collide, but haven’t been keeping up with one or both of the brand’s vying for supremacy? Curious if what happens Saturday night will just be cool matches, or if it will impact NXT, NXT UK, Raw, SmackDown, or even Sunday’s PPV?
Like Big Poppa Pump, we’re your hook up.
How can I watch?
There will be a 30 minute pre-show on all WWE’s online and social media outlets at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. One match is currently set for the pre-show.
The five match main card is available as on the award-winning WWE Network for $9.99. It starts at 7 p.m. Eastern.
What’s on the card? What do I need to know?
Undisputed ERA (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Imperium (WALTER, Alexander Wolfe, Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
The story: A showdown of the black-and-gold’s two dominant heel factions that a lot of folks thought might happen at WarGames. That got tabled so Keith Lee & Tommaso Ciampa’s issues with the ERA could continue at the Nov. 2019 TakeOver, and so WALTER could join Team NXT at Survivor Series the next night. The former was a good reason. The latter not so much.
On screen, this has mostly been set-up in two shows. Cole & company invaded TakeOver: Blackpool II a couple weeks back moments after WALTER successfully defended his NXT United Kingdom title. Imperium returned the favor on Wednesday’s NXT by costing Fish & O’Reilly a Dusty Classic match, and slapping the sole out of the NXT champ’s body.
But the groups’ reputations means not a lot of build is required. Until a couple nights ago, TUE held all NXT’s gold (they still have 3⁄4 of the belts they’re eligible for). Imperium only has one championship, but the Ring General’s hold on it so secure it’s hard to see a day he won’t carry it.
Anything besides brand supremacy on the line: Momentum.
The main thing we’re looking for here are signs either team could be slipping. They’re both coming off setbacks. Aichner & Barthel failed to win the NXT UK Tag titles at Blackpool, and were bounced out of the Dusty by Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne. Undisputed suffered two losses on Jan. 22, including Strong losing the North American championship to Lee. Cole has to deal with Ciampa in two weeks at TakeOver: Portland.
The winners will have something else to hold over the rest of their respective roster. The guys who share a locker room with the losers will smell blood.
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Toni Storm for the NXT championship
The story: They’re on different brands now, but these two Australians have a lot of history from when they were both on NXT UK. In the finals of the tournament to crown that show’s first champion, Ripley upset Storm. They rematched at the first TakeOver: Blackpool, and Toni took the prize.
Storm was only too happy to remind Rhea of that after she won NXT’s title last month. She tried to make it champion vs. champion, but wasn’t able to leave this year’s Blackpool show with the UK strap. They had a staredown on Wednesday after Ripley saved her rival from a Bianca Belair beatdown, an encounter which also included Io Shirai - and that ended with Toni standing tall.
Anything besides the title on the line: Not really, and there’s very little chance the belt’s changing hands here. But there are plenty of interesting reasons to pay attention.
Ripley (or I guess I should say the winner of this match, but that’s gonna be The Nightmare) has a date with Belair in Portland. Everyone’s been expecting Storm to move to Florida, or possibly even start traveling with Raw or SmackDown. A loss here could lead to an appearance at Minute Maid Park Sunday, and a move to Team Red or Blue.
Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) vs. #DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano)
The story: Arguably the most iconic tag teams on each brand didn’t have anything to do at this show. Gargano saved Ciampa from an Undisputed assault, Bate & Seven tweeted a challenge. They shook hands on stage after Moustache Mountain won a dark match on Wednesday.
Anything besides brand supremacy on the line: Honestly, there’s barely even that. This match should be epic. It legitimately is a dream match. But all involved will resume their singles careers on Sunday, especially the #DIY duo. Tommaso challenges Cole in Portland, and Johnny has an overdue date with the favorite in our next match...
Finn Bálor vs. Ilja Dragunov
The story: Since returning to NXT and turning heel, Finn’s been jealous of anyone getting attention on the brand(s) he feels he brought to prominence. Ilja is getting attention, largely by delivering great matches against big names.
Anything besides brand supremacy on the line: Another potential show-stealer, but one that will largely serve to give Bálor a win en route to Feb. 16’s TakeOver and continue building Dragunov’s reputation as a young gun. Other than that, there’s a chance their home show feuds (The Prince with Gargano, and The Moscovite with Imperium... and maybe Gallus) could factor in somehow.
Travis Banks vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Angel Garza (c) for the NXT Cruiserweight title
The story: Even before winning the title from Lio Rush, Garza was an extremely confident (and good looking) young man. His ego’s big enough to not be worried about his first title defense being a Fatal 4Way. He’s got a win over Swerve from the WarGames Kickoff on his resume, too.
The two UK competitors just claimed their spots with qualifier wins this week. Banks & Devlin have long had beef with one another, but neither has much history with Scott or the champ.
Anything besides the title on the line: Nah, but expect this match to be fast-paced, high-flying, and a ton of fun. I’d call it a match of the night candidate, but this is gonna be a great night for in-ring action.
Mia Yim vs. Kay Lee Ray
The story: These two interacted a bit when Ray was on Shayna Baszler’s WarGames team, and Yim was set to be on Rhea Ripley’s until she was taken out by Dakota Kai. Otherwise, Triple H & Shawn Michaels wanted another women’s match on the card, and thought the UK champ should probably be involved in it.
Anything besides brand supremacy on the line: They’ll be tasked with firing up the crowd... does that count?
There you go. It looks to mostly be about exciting wrestling, with story being somewhat secondary. If, like me, you like exciting wrestling - it should be a hell of a night.
If this convinced you to watch the show, or even if it didn’t, join us in our live results post Saturday night!