NXT 2.0 returns tonight (Jan. 4) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando for New Year’s Evil!
Advertised for the show:
- Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT championship
- Raquel González vs. Cora Jade vs. Mandy Rose (c) for the NXT Women’s title
- North American champ Carmelo Hayes vs. Cruiserweight champ Roderick Strong in a title unification match
- MSK & Riddle vs. Imperium
- AJ Styles confronts Grayson Waller
As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) What will Tommaso Ciampa have to do to survive another challenge from Bron Breakker?
Tommaso Ciampa’s experience gave him the edge in their Halloween Havoc match-up, but Bron Breakker picked up a pin on the champ while leading Team New School to victory in WarGames. Ciampa insists that was just one battle in their larger war, but he’s struggled to maintain his psychological edge on the second generation star ever since.
That’s the kayfabe story. The behind-the-scenes one is that Bron’s been positioned as 2.0’s biggest star from the first episode of the rebranding. Having him lose his first title shot made sense. You might be able to justify a second, especially if Ciampa’s desperation brings out more of the heel from his Blackheart. But Breakker’s winning at some point. Is it worth risking his losing momentum to stretch the program out to the next live special... whenever that might be?
2) Does the women’s division still revolve around Toxic Attraction?
Mandy Rose’s stable has been the other big focus of NXT 2.0, but while Breakker’s story has to end with winning the big one, her’s should conclude with a loss. She could drop the Women’s championship tonight without getting pinned, but is WWE ready to crown Cora Jade or go back to Raquel González?
The other thing New Year’s Evil’s stipulation allows for is interference by Toxic Attraction’s Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne. Jayne took the fall when the good gals won WarGames, and could get a measure of revenge here by helping Rose retain. On the other hand, Jacy & Gigi are still Women’s Tag champs, so even if Rose loses her belt the group still has something to brag about.
It still seems like most of the division’s many potential challengers (in addition to Jade & González, Lay Lee Ray and Io Shirai should be in line for title shots — if they aren’t moved to Raw or SmackDown) will work better against a big bad like Mandy. So I’m inclined to think this belt doesn’t change hands... we’ll see what WWE thinks.
3) How much will Imperium vs. Riddle & MSK rule?
No disrespect to Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel, Wes Lee and Nash Carter. I’m sure their contributions to New Year’s Evil’s trios match will also rule, and that whenever Lee & Carter try to get their NXT Tag belts back from Aichner & Barthel, that match will rule too.
If WWE’s smart, they also won’t give us much of WALTER vs. Riddle tonight. We’ll probably just get enough to whet our appetites for a longer singles match somewhere down the line. But if whatever we do get is as good as their 2017 matches in Evolve, Progress & WXW? We’ll have the munchies for more Bro vs. Ring General.
4) Will you miss the Cruiserweight title?
We’ve been speculating on how WWE would get rid of the purple belt (and pretty much hoping they’d hurry up and put it out of its misery) for a while now. With WWE.com’s official preview for New Year’s Evil saying the winner of tonight’s match between North American champ Carmelo Hayes and Cruiserweight titleholder Roderick Strong with leave with the NA belt, it seems like this is it.
Given Hayes’ quest to make the strap he holds the “‘A Championship’ of NXT”, and he & Trick Williams being positioned as future stars while Roddy seems like a player-coach holdover from 1.0, there may not be much suspense about the outcome. There’s probably not a lot of doubt about the outcome, either. Maybe we’ll at least get a funeral for the Cruiserweight championship where both Trick and Malcolm Bivens can deliver eulogies.
5) Is AJ Styles going to put over a WWE prospect for the second night in a row?
Doesn’t look like The Phenomenal One is going to wrestle at New Year’s Evil. They’re just saying he’ll “come calling” to confront Grayson Waller... again. But in the likely event its more than just another war of words between the two, will Waller get the upper hand just one night after the future Hall of Famer did the job for Omos on Raw?