NXT 2.0 returns tonight (Oct. 5) live from the newly remodeled WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
Advertised for the show:
- LA Knight vs. Odyssey Jones
- MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) and Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) and Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams
- Tony D’Angelo debuts
- Cora Jade in action
As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) Are Io Shirai and Pete Dunne NXT lifers?
It feels like we’ve been predicting an Io Shirai call-up for almost her entire WWE career. The idea Pete Dunne could move to Raw or SmackDown was a popular one in pre-Draft conversation. But with the bulk of this year’s talent shuffling seemingly behind us after last night, both are still working Tuesday nights out of Orlando.
Obviously, there are still plans for them in NXT. Shirai is a reigning Women’s Tag Team champ, and Dunne is part of the main men’s title picture. Neither is past their prime, and at 27 years old the Bruiserweight may not even be in his yet. Not having their name called in the Draft doesn’t mean they’ll never get moved to the main roster.
But looking at who did get the call makes you wonder, at least a bit. The guys who did get tabbed for promotion - including Dunne’s current sidekick on NXT, Ridge Holland - look like the men now being pushed on 2.0. In Vince McMahon’s current vision for his product, what’s the ceiling for a 5’ 10” 200 pound dude? Pete’s one of the most talented wrestlers in the world, but does that matter if he doesn’t fit the boss’ mold?
Io’s more of a head-scratcher. Why don’t they want a talented, attractive woman who can work with anyone on Raw or SmackDown? And how much longer is Shirai going to want to live in a foreign country so she can wrestle on WWE’s developmental show?
No matter the answers, it seems they’re NXT Superstars for the next year or so. Whether they join Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, and Kyle O’Reilly as permanent fixtures of the brand remains to be seen.
2) What about veterans like LA Knight and Franky Monet who didn’t get the call?
Hired when WWE had different plans for NXT, the former Impact stars were also mentioned in many a Draft predictions post. Monet put over NXT Women’s champion Raquel González last Tuesday. Knight did the job for Bron Breakker a few weeks back, and figures to do the same for Breakout Tournament runner-up Odyssey Jones tonight. The could have easily been moved up to Raw or SmackDown. But they weren’t.
There is a place for experienced hands in a developmental program - an important one. Is being an on-the-job trainer in the midcard what the former Eli Drake and Taya Valkyrie signed up for? Because right now, it looks like that’s their role.
3) How will the loss of those who were drafted affect NXT 2.0?
Some of the call-ups were at a place where they can naturally transition to their new show. Xia Li hasn’t been around for a while. Ditto Aliyah. Austin Theory only returned for the InDex wedding.
Ridge Holland lost to Kyle O’Reilly last week, but O’Reilly also teamed up with Von Wagner to deal with Dunne & Holland. The Brits also dumped Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch not long ago, which now looks like a bad decision on the Bruiserweight’s part.
It’s also worth watching how Hit Row transitions off Tuesday nights. Elektra Lopez’s win over B-FAB last Tuesday can serve as part one of the blow-off of their feud with Legado Del Fantasma. But it stands to reason Swerve Scott will drop the North American championship to someone before the new rosters go into effect on Oct. 22. Will that be Santos Escobar?
4) Are Toxic Attraction the new Undisputed ERA?
Obviously, Mandy Rose’s quest for gold didn’t get off to a great start when Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne failed to capture the tag titles last week. But they sent a statement to close the show, and (outside of Bron Breakker) seem to be the focal point of NXT 2.0’s marketing campaign. How long before they’re running the women’s division like Adam Cole’s old crew ran the men’s side?
Speaking of NXT 2.0’s marketing campaign...
5) Catch the vibe?