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WWE NXT New Year’s Evil preview (Jan. 10, 2023): Men on a mission

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NXT returns tonight (Jan. 10) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando!

Tonight’s a special episode — NEW YEAR’S EVIL!

Every themed episode and PLE comes along with the usual speculation about call-ups, and New Year’s Evil is no exception. Several acts seem to be in the process of being evaluated for a move to Raw or SmackDown in the first half of 2023. One that we find particularly interesting right now is Pretty Deadly.

Kit Wilson & Elton Prince came up during the heyday of the British indie boom, a time & system Triple H & Shawn Michaels clearly have an affinity for. They’ve held both the NXT UK and NXT Tag titles, dropping the later to a little team called The New Day (ever heard of them?). As they get ready to face a gauntlet of opponents for a shot at reclaiming their belts from Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston, Pretty Deadly got a trial run on the house show circuit last weekend — and sources told PWInsider they impressed.

With Main Event appearances becoming routine for WWE Developmental talent, the live event tryout feels significant. It also reminded me of this quote Kofi gave Sports Illustrated shortly after New Day beat Prince & Wilson for the black-and-gold belts:

“Pretty Deadly is so talented. And they’re going to be even bigger than they are now. It’s all about getting experience and getting in there with experienced superstars, then spreading their wings to fly. Anything we can do to help that, we’re here for it. We want them to flourish. That’s what we’re here to do, and I’m looking forward to mixing it up with them again.”

As with Dolph Ziggler’s feud with Bron Breakker last year, New Day’s run in NXT seems to be as much about helping develop an act WWE is high on as it as about ratings. This may be driven by whatever injury issues Woods is dealing with, but he & Kingston & Woods seem to be particularly tasked with testing Pretty Deadly’s range as out-of-the-ring performers. Their run in the States has mostly seen them show off the comedic side of their characters. Running into another team with a pronounced silly streak has given Elton & Kit a chance to show they’re more than just “YES BOY!”

If I were a betting man (I am on occasion, but never on wrestling... yet), I’d wager that Pretty Deadly win tonight’s gauntlet. NXT’s other established men’s teams are either otherwise engaged tonight, or have some internal issues to work out. But it’s entirely possible someone else beats them for a one-off shot at Kofi & X on Vengeance Day, and we don’t get the rematch until Stand & Deliver. Schism’s Dyad is probably the likeliest candidate in this scenario, based on Kingston beating Joe Gacy one-on-one last Tuesday.

Delaying things is probably smart, as it’s ‘Mania season, and it’s not entirely clear where Pretty Deadly (or New Day) fits on the main roster right now. But unless they drop the ball in the next few months, I’d expect to see Elton & Kit on Raw or SmackDown in 2023. I might even bet on it.

The rest of the title scene

The next test for Breakker’s NXT championship run is yet another guy who’s on the cusp of bigger things — Grayson Waller. Bron finally got the upper hand on the annoying Aussie last week, and will try to carry that momentum into New Year’s Evil. Should be fun, even if we can’t help looking down the line to a Breakker/Carmelo Hayes classic after The A Champ took care of business against Apollo Crews last week.

We’ll find out who gets the first shot at NXT Women’s champ Roxanne Perez after tonight’s 20 Woman Battle Royal. Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne and Cora Jade are all probably getting a shot at Perez at some point, but there are lots of other wrestlers (Indi Hartwell, Zoey Stark, Isla Dawn... and that doesn’t even include Roxanne’s fellow babyfaces), we could see emerging victorious from this one.

His main challengers are on a collision course for one another, so Wes Lee’s gonna sit back with his North American title this week, and watch Dijak & Tony D’Angelo do battle.

We don’t know who their next rivals are, but NXT Women’s Tag champs Kayden Carter & Katana Chance might be concerned with finding out who their stalker mystery watcher is.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

• Back to the subjects of collision courses and future New Day opponents, The Creeds finally get to mix it up with Indus Sher tonight.`

• Was so excited for Charlie Dempsey vs. Hank Walker I thought it was last week, and already wrote a bunch of stuff about the story going on between Dempsey and Walker’s coach Drew Gulak. It is supposed to happen at New Year’s Evil, so it’s like you’re getting two previews this week!

• I’m gonna need Oro Mensah and everyone else to start treating Big Body Tuesdays with a little more respect.

What will you be looking for on NXT tonight?

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