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NXT preview (Dec. 16, 2020): A Nightmare Run

NXT returns tonight (Dec. 16) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards their New Year’s Evil special on Jan. 1.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a #1 contender’s match
  • Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory vs. Kushida & Leon Ruff
  • Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm
  • Karrion Kross in action

As per usual, here are our five question about NXT tonight:

1) Is Rhea Ripley about to go on a losing streak?

I think it’s possible we see some Ripley losses in our future.

Now this is going off assumption of mine that very well may be wrong. (And you know what they say about those that assume...) This assumption is that Rhea Ripley is getting called up to the main roster sooner than later. Having lost to Io Shirai quite recently, I don’t see her getting another title match any time soon. And tonight’s advertised match is actually feeding my theory about a call up.

Rhea vs. Storm feels like a big time program. And much like Ripley’s match with Io, it has has been hastily built. It was set up last week, along with some WarGames animosity, but there’s history to explore. History from NXT UK and the Mae Young Classic. It’s entirely possible tonight’s match doesn’t have a finish to build this longer program. But either way, if Storm is a big challenger for Io Shirai in the future, she needs to win against Ripley.

The same is to be said about Raquel González. The fast rising star pinned the women’s champ inside WarGames. Then she had a big time stare down with the Nightmare at the close of last week’s NXT.

If I had to guess, and really, that’s all this is, she’s going to put González over before Raquel faces Shirai. The latter part feels inevitable. And given the Texan lost her biggest match against Rhea, it’d make sense that she gets her win back prior to facing the champ.

2) Will it a triple threat?

When asking who you’d prefer Finn Bálor defend his NXT title against at New Year’s Evil, Pete Dunne or Kyle O’Reilly, the “Why not both?” gif could come to mind.

And that would be a great match. These are three fantastic workers and seeing them mix it up all at once would be very fun. However, I’m hoping we get Pete Dunne vs. Finn Bálor straight up.

This is going under yet another assumption, one that could also very well be wrong, that when Karrion Kross gets his rematch for the title, he’s going to win the gold back. And also the assumption that said rematch is sooner than later. If all of that is the case, I’d prefer to see Finn vs. Pete one on one than the triple threat match.

New Year’s Evil is less than a month away so they don’t have much time to draw this out, meaning it’s likely we get a winner tonight or they set up a triple threat tonight.

3) Is Kushida in the North American title scene?

When Kushida offered to team with Leon Ruff against Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory last week, it left me kind of disappointed.

After the Japanese superstar’s hot run the last few months, it felt like we could be building towards a match between him and Bálor. However, now that he’ll be sharing a ring with the North American championship, it’s more likely he’ll be vying for the secondary title.

Disappointment aside, this could workout well for Kushida. He’s been on a tear and a strong run with the NA title could help cement his run. Especially if the plan is for Kross to regain his gold sooner than later. This would avoid Kushida having to lose soon to Finn or lose in rough fashion to Karrion later.

4) Does Damian stand a chance?

Speaking of a possible rough loss, last week Damian Priest’s mouth wrote a check his ass isn’t going to be able to cash.

He made fun of Karrion Kross when he wasn’t in the room, addressing Scarlett instead. But Karrion answered Priest’s words with violence later in the night, tossing him onto a table from the stage.

The Archer of Infamy has been finding his groove with his babyface version of this gimmick. He’s seems like he’s nailing the right amount of cool that doesn’t seem forced. But getting run over by the former NXT champion could derail that.

Like my prior assumptions, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the former North American champion is going to lose their eventual match. The question is whether he can hold his own against the dominant force that is Karrion Kross.

5) What’s Malcolm Bivens up to?

I’ve often used to this space to ask about various managers in NXT, and one particular in Malcolm Bivens.

Bivens was on TV as manager of Indus Sher, but then one of those guys spoiled Keith Lee’s big title win, and they’ve never been seen again. But that wasn’t Malcolm’s fault. None-the-less, creative had to figure out something else for him, which obviously wasn’t a priority.

He’s finally been spotted backstage trying to strike a deal with Tyler Rust. Rust has been helping Timothy Thatcher with his Tommaso Ciampa problem, but it looks like he’s not beholden to Thatch.

Since most fans have never heard of Tyler Rust and Malcolm is trying to get him to sign on, this isn’t some big thing. Trying to get some low level to talent to sign with him isn’t going to blow the doors off anything. But at least he’ll be on TV. That is unless Tyler Rust spoils the finish to New Year’s Evil.

We’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM ET on USA Network.

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