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WWE NXT preview (Mar. 1, 2022): Main roster makeover

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

Advertised for the show:

  • Tommaso Ciampa & Bron Breakker vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
  • Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Pete Dunne for the North American championship
  • GUNTHER vs. Solo Sikoa
  • Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta vs. Wendy Choo & Dakota Kai in a women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match
  • Raquel González & Cora Jade vs.Y ulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz in a women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match
  • Von Wagner vs. Andre Chase
  • Harland vs. Draco Anthony

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

1) How much longer will Tommaso Ciampa be in NXT?

He’s one of the stars of the 2.0/Raw crossover movement, but he’s also seemed entrenched in his role as Bron Breakker’s mentor on Tuesday nights. His latest appearance on the red brand last night saw him pick up a win over Robert Roode, and served to bridge his storyline from last week’s NXT (where Roode helped Dolph Ziggler become the #1 contender to Bron’s title) and tonight’s (where Breakker & Ciampa vs. Dirty Dawgs will open the show).

There have definitely been signs NXT may not be his main home for much longer. He dyed the gray out of his beard, which sounds like a Vince McMahon edict. Then last night, the “No One Will Survive” theme he’s been entering to since turning on his #DIY partner Johnny Gargano was replaced by something distinctly less distinctive.

In addition to the same makeover touches we saw with Karrion Kross and Keith Lee — and hopefully if a call-up does happen, it works out better for the Blackheart than it did for those fellas — you have to wonder what role Ciampa has left to play on NXT. If he is sticking around, they’ll need to come up with a new routine. We’re already getting our second 2022 helping of “having Bron’s back while talking about wanting another title shot,” and the year is only two months old.

2) Is tonight the night Pete Dunne wins his first NXT Prime singles title?

Crazy to think the man who held the UK’s main belt for 685 days is still looking for his first Orlando-based championship, but here we are. Pre-rebranding, it definitely felt like the Bruiserweight was being positioned for a run with the NXT’s top prize. Instead, he’ll shoot his shot for the A Champion’s North American strap tonight.

Will Dunne join other black-and-gold era stars like Ciampa, Roderick Strong, Cameron Grimes & Raquel González are a resume booster for a 2.0 titleholder? Or could he add to his own legacy while freeing Carmelo Hayes up for bigger things?

3) Who is 2.0’s top heel?

We had an Interesting conversation around this question in the Cageside “offices” recently, prompted by my man Kyle Decker researching for an upcoming Rumor Look Back. The consensus is the Women’s champ Mandy Rose is presented as the show’s overall main villain, but we struggled to come up with an answer on the men’s side.

It could be Hayes, but especially when you take his tremendously entertaining running buddy Trick Williams into consideration, Melo’s probably too cool to be a big bad for long.

My guess is that WALTER GUNTHER is being primed for that role. Taking out Rikishi’s son (and Jimmy & Jey Uso’s brother) Solo Sikoa tonight should be a step to setting him up as Breakker’s next rival post-Stand & Deliver. And speaking of the Ring General...

4) Where do we stand on 2.0’s controversies?

The rebrand is roughly six months old, and it’s generated conversation about a number of things, including but not limited to releasing or de-emphasizing folks from the previous version of the show, upping the sex appeal, introducing an ethnically stereotypically character in Tony D’Angelo, pushing not-ready-for-television performers, changing WALTER’s name, and parodying left-leaning young people with Joe Gacy’s heel character.

As is the case with most things in the internet age, the vocal opposition to those things we short-lived, with most people tweeting and commenting on next shiny, outrageous thing to headline the rapidly-cycling news. But that doesn’t mean people still aren’t annoyed or turned off by them.

You can’t say that those things have grown NXT’s audience. But other than the initial wave of fans who dropped the show from their weekly diet with the 2.0 makeover, it’s hard to say they’ve caused folks to change the channel.

In addition to GUNTHER’s push, Gacy looks to be returning to a more prominent role (he’s been working 205 Live/Level Up lately). We’ll see what kind of reaction they get online, and what if any impact they have on the ratings.

5) Will Dexter Lumis learn to live with the fact his wife has history with Duke Hudson?

I personally love that Lumis is the goofiest, cuddliest serial killer in all of sports & entertainment, but your mileage may vary. He should learn to accept that his wife has a sexual history, and that that doesn’t change the fact she’s chosen to spend her life with him. Then hopefully we can all agree that both Mr. & Mrs. Sexy Dexy should kick Duke Hudson’s ass for planting unwanted kisses on Indi Hartwell.

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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