NXT airs tonight (Dec. 20)
live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
Before we get you up to speed for the show, a reminder that SPOILERS for this pre-taped episode are out there, including here. If you’d like to discuss them, please either do so in the SPOILER post, or use the SPOILER tag.
The 2.0 era of NXT was an... interesting year. We’ll need more time to fully judge its impact (or lack thereof) on WWE and the wider pro wrestling scene. But if you were telling the story of the brand’s technicolor phase to someone right now, there are a handful of wrestlers you’d probably point to as examples of what 2.0 was all about.
Given the men who were helping to guide the developmental program from the summer of 2021 until the summer of 2022 — and that one of fan’s nicknames for 2.0 was N-Sex-T, it’s not terribly surprising that two of those examples are women.
A lot of digital ink’s been spent over the past week on one of the performers I’m thinking of, and we’ll find out tonight if WWE is going to address the disappearance of Mandy Rose.
From a storytelling perspective, it will be weird if they don’t mention Rose’s absence. They delivered a surprise when Roxanne Perez beat Mandy for the NXT Women’s title last week, but that alone doesn’t explain why a wrestler who ruled over the division for more than a year is suddenly gone. From a business perspective, WWE hasn’t even publicly acknowledged Mandy’s firing, so it won’t be a shock if her character doesn’t even get the “Poochie died on the way to his home planet” treatment after Amanda Saccomanno was released for the more adult content on her FanTime page.
The other person I’m thinking of is Nikkita Lyons. The former WOW Superhero attracted a lot of attention when NXT rolled her out last year, as WWE leaned into the sex appeal she demonstrated on screen and on social media. Lyons seemed like a leading candidate to eventually end Rose’s reign. An injury slowed her rise, and as fans dug deeper into the posts that inspired a lot of horniness online, many discovered that Nikkita’s politics were a turnoff.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say Lyons has been “buried” since her return. Far from it. But Shawn Michaels & team have definitely taken their foot of the gas when it comes to pushing her to the top. Rather than being a part of the singles championship picture, Nikkita’s been focused on the tag scene. Out of that, her partner Zoey Stark turned on her, giving them both a midcard program to focus on.
We’re getting the first one-on-one encounter in that feud tonight. It could tell us a lot about where the current powers-that-be behind NXT think of Lyons progress and potential.
My guess if that HBK & company see the same money in Nikkita that Vince McMahon & John Laurinaitis did, but have decided to slow down the process. Win or lose, the Lyons/Starks rivalry will probably continue past this week’s episode, allowing that process to continue while Perez and Cora Jade continue to establish themselves as main event-level players.
The rest of the title scene
Bron Breakker would be the third person I’d point to as an example of what 2.0 was all about, and he is well established as both NXT champ and one of this new era’s flag bearers, as well. The build to his New Year’s Evil showdown with Iron Survivor Grayson Waller continues this week.
There’s lots of interest in what happens to Toxic Attraction’s Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin now that Rose is gone. Is their role in a Triple Threat for Kayden Carter & Katana Chance’s NXT Women’s Tag Team championship (along with Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley, set-up last week when the champs got involved in a Dolin & Jayne vs. Paxley & Nile match) their swan song?
Seeing as the just won the belts at Deadline, and have been a focal point of promotion for weekly TV ever since, I doubt Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen are taking the NXT Tag Team titles from The New Day. They probably need to focus on helping Fallon Henley save the family bar anyway.
North American champion Wes Lee definitely has a problem with Tony D’Angelo. Does he have one with Dijak, too? Hard to tell after the recently returned big man showed up for a post-match staredown with Lee, which allowed The Don to launch a sneak attack on the champ.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
• Axiom and Carmelo Hayes square off tonight. This probably has implications for the future and titles and whatnot. We’re just excited because we know it’s gonna slap.
• There’s not a lot of merriment in the halls of Chase U. Not only is Drew Gulak walking around NXT acting like he’s a better trainer than Thea Hail & Duke Hudson’s professor, but now Andre got his butt kicked on Raw!
• Elektra Lopez and her
baddies fellow heels have had a lot to say about Indi Hartwell recently, and Hartwell’s had enough of it.
• The Creeds are testing themselves against JD McDonagh as we all wait for their inevitable clash with Indus Sher.
• Scypts is not a fan of Ikemen Jiro apparently, but he does like his blazer. How does he feel about Big Body Tuesdays?
What will you be looking for on NXT tonight?