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WWE NXT preview (Feb. 1, 2022): Depth perception

NXT 2.0 returns tonight (Feb. 1) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando!

Advertised for the show:

  • Imperium (GUNTHER, Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. Diamond Mine (Roderick Strong & The Creeds)
  • Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Legado Del Fantasma ( Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
  • Raquel González vs. Cora Jade

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

1) Are we excited for the women’s Dusty Classic this year?

When the two tag tournaments were announced, we were told the women’s version would start in February. It’s February, and NXT is still working to put the field together.

Prior to the announcement of the second ever Dusty Cup chase for the NXT women’s roster, there were by my count three healthy, established tag teams on the show. That immediately raised questions about how the show would fill out even the minimum eight-team bracket required to justify a tournament... and almost a month later, we’re still asking.

To WWE’s credit, they’ve made this into a storyline. Several of them in fact. Io Shirai is looking for a partner to fill-in for the injured Zoey Stark (and she better pick Wendy Choo, who isn’t a freak, she’s just comfortable #ChooCrew). Cora Jade is trying to earn Raquel González’s respect, which gives us tonight’s one-on-one match between the WarGames allies.

Assuming those pan out, and they put the Tag champs in the field, we’d be up to five teams (Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne, Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter, Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta, González & Jade, Shirai & TBD). Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz look set. Do they just run out the other two teams that work 205 Live with Leon & Feroz, Amari Miller & Lash Legend and Fallon Henley & Erica Yan.

That would do it. The first round wouldn’t be terribly suspenseful, and the quality of work probably won’t be high. Hell, the women’s Rumble was filled with veterans partly because this group of talent isn’t ready for that spotlight. But it is developmental, and things like this is how you get them ready.

But even if I sell myself on that, the other reason I’m having trouble mustering up much enthusiasm is because I have little confidence the women’s tag scene won’t just be forgotten again after the Dusty ends. The winners probably get a title shot — or whoever Toxic Attraction screws out of getting their name etched on the Cup will. Given history and the depth of the division, women’s tag wrestling will likely become a C story on the C show again (as opposed to on the A and B shows, were it’s a D story).

But it’s a tournament, and that’s something that always makes it a little more interesting. Let us know where your excitement level is.

2) Would it have been better to just not explain the name change?

GUNTHER’s explanation for not being WALTER any more might as well have been “WWE wanted something they could trademark.” Hey, it might have been, I don’t speak German.

A dumb move deserves an empty explanation, I guess. Moving on...

3) Are a blazer (and Suit Man Stone) the missing ingredients for Von Wagner?

WWE flirted with giving him a role on SmackDown, then had him show Kyle O’Reilly the door. Wagner looked like one of the guys they wanted to push right from the start of the 2.0 rebrand, but he’s struggled to grab any of the attention given to Tony D’Angelo and Grayson Waller, let alone Bron.

His “rampage” since O’Reilly’s exit hasn’t been terribly impressive either, but here’s hoping his alliance with The Robert Stone Brand changes things — for Stone’s sake, if nothing else.

The former TNA star is wildly entertaining (to me, anyway), and has never been given anything other than the “get heat/laughs for women’s mid and undercard feuds” job. Like fellow underutilized manager Malcolm Bivens has with Diamond Mine, the Suit Man should get a chance to shine in some higher profile spots.

4) 2.0 is still N-Sex-T, huh?

Carmelo Hayes spent as much time making sure we noticed Ollie Jayy as he did selling us on his next North American title defense (now set to be against Cameron Grimes at Vengeance Day after Pete Dunne attacked D’Angelo during their #1 contender’s match last Tuesday). And Edris Enofé is as focused on shooting his shot with Women’s champ Mandy Rose as he is on winning the Dusty with tag partner, Malik Blade.

We’ve not seen much evidence this strategy is working to draw in... anyone, really. But I guess this is one of those things they’re not willing to give up on yet.

5) Is Dolph coming or not?

For two Mondays in a row, Raw’s gotten my man Geno excited about the possibility of Dolph Ziggler showing up on NXT. I do think it would be fun to watch the Show-Off bump around for Breakker, but I also wonder if Zigs isn’t the new Veer. Maybe he’s just perpetually coming (jeez, this is a sexy show), but never arrives?

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.

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