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WWE NXT preview (Jan. 18, 2022): Femme fatale

NXT 2.0 returns tonight (Jan. 18) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando!

Advertised for the show:

  • WALTER vs. Roderick Strong
  • Tony D’Angelo’s memorial service for Pete Dunne
  • The Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic begins

As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:

1) Who’s the star of Legado Del Fantasma?

Santos Escobar picked up a win over Xyon Quinn last Tuesday, but even while doing that, he still wasn’t the focal point of the angle. The feud was happening because of Elektra Lopez, and Elektra Lopez ensured her familia’s leader got his hand raised at the end of it.

The whole story felt a tad outdated, but Lopez being the one pulling the strings gave it an update. Her playing Quinn — and maybe playing Santos? — by leading them to believe they were fighting for her allegiance was a clever inversion of an old pro wrestling trope, and kept it from going full Macho Man/Ms. Elizabeth.

So even as Escobar sets his sights on NXT champion Bron Breakker, and Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza fight to get their name on the Dusty Cup, it’s worth asking who WWE is pushing when they push Legado Del Fantasma. The commercial for tonight’s show probably gives us the answer:

It’s certainly a choice that fits with the sex appeal makeover WWE’s tried to give NXT 2.0, and with someone who isn’t a standard Johnny Ace “Diva Search” type. Elektra definitely has the verbal skills & wrestling-level acting chops required for a spot on Raw or SmackDown, and what little we’ve seen of her in the ring has been fine. She’s green, but shows some natural ability as a wrestler.

This probably doesn’t bode well for the rest of Legado. All three men are super-talented, but also feel like remnants of the Triple H era. Wilder & Mendoza could get a “why not?” run at the next level because of WWE’s lack of emphasis on tag wrestling. As much as I love his work (King Cuerno 4 Life!), it’s hard to see where Escobar fits in the current model. Putting over Breakker could be his last act.

2) Will Joe Gacy & Harland really accept losing their Dusty Classic spot?

Speaking of Wilde & Mendoza, their opponents in the first round are there because Harland broke free of Gacy’s control in a qualifying match that The Inclusive One volunteered for. Aside from a disqualification win being a lackluster way for Malik Blade & Edris Enofe to get into the tournament, do we really think Joe & his monster are going to take their loss and sit on the sidelines? The better question is how will Gacy rationalize/justify whatever they do next.

3) What is the best storylines in the men’s Dusty?

There’s some great first round matches. Provided it happens without incident, Legado vs. Blade & Enofe should join MSK vs. Jacket Time as wild sprints. The Creeds vs. Brooks & Jensen is an intriguing clash of grappling skill and power between two teams that could have bright future. If we’re looking for favorites though, we need to look at the angles.

Wes Lee & Nash Carter have gotten a lot of television time in their quest to regain the NXT Tag belts from Imperium. Zack Gibson & James Drake of Grizzled Young Veterans have made it to the finals of the last two Dusty Classics and are striving to get over the hump, and Wilde & Mendoza have been in/around the title picture for a long time with nothing to show for it. The Diamond Mine duo or the county boys could become made men with a win.

Based on everything, I’d probably bet on MSK making it two in a row. But maybe I’m sleeping on Bodhi Hayward. Sleeping? Say that reminds me...

4) Can Wendy Choo’s gimmick be a sleeper hit?

(sorry)

2.0 has focused on a few things other than S-E-X, and one of those is high concept gimmicks. The former Mei Ying got one of those with her slumber party narcoleptic/what if Orange Cassidy was a teen girl character. And in her debut last week with Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta, I thought it was pretty fun. Am I in the Choo Crew?

Are you?

5) Who’s Von Wagner’s mysterious benefactor?

Grayson Waller’s ascent hit a snag last week when AJ Styles beat him and LA Knight beat him down. So how is they other guy who ran an NXT 1.0 star off doing?

Since sending Kyle O’Reilly off to rejoin Adam Cole’s soap opera, Von Wagner’s lost one, won one, and been real mad. That anger led him to a suspension and a fine at New Year’s Evil, but someone paid his tab.

Robert Stone’s been hanging around the big man, and is a talented performer in need of something to do. Here’s hoping the answer to this question is the obvious one, and that Suit Man Stone is he missing ingredient in making something interesting happen out of Wagner.


Give us your questions and answers in the comments below. Then join us in our live blog, and we’ll see what Qs and As tonight’s show gives us.