Introducing… the not-ready-for-TakeOver players!

Tonight’s show finds us in the San José State University Events Center (spoilers from which are here) for stuff that was filmed before but happens after TakeOver: WarGames 2 in continuity.

Here’s what to expect, and some thoughts on the overall landscape of the black-and-yellow brand.

The Headliner(s)

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming quickly after their last live special, the black-and-yellow found themselves in need of more than one “aftermath” episode of TakeOver this time around. Part of their solution was to film material at a house show en route to Los Angeles for WarGames 2. But how would they make sure they didn’t give away any finished from their live event, or have to present out of continuity action that was render moot by th results from Staples Center?

When you have a roster as ridiculously deep as NXT right now, it’s easy.

In fact, not counting the cleverly set-up showdown between Limitless Keith Lee and main roster-bound “Free Agent” Lars Sullivan (both squashed local talent types last week, Lee prevented Lars from dishing out post-match punishment to his opponent and they had to be separated backstage), everything being hyped for tonight features players who there wasn’t room for at TakeOver. In some cases, there wasn’t even much room for them on the road to WarGames 2.

EC3 is probably the most curious case, although the speculation he was tapped for a call-up prior to suffering a concussion in Brooklyn does explain a lot. In story now, he’s angry because Undisputed ERA jumped him after he beat Adam Cole a month or so. That gave him a kayfabe injury due to Bobby Fish’s steel chair attack. He’ll face German Marcel Barthel, the latest guy to have a “best kept secret at the Performance Center” rep, and someone who seems destined for NXT UK.

We’re also getting a banger of tag match pitting two teams who have TakeOver appearances on their resume. There’s no real build to The Mighty vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, but there doesn’t need to be. A win would move either team closer to a title shot, etc. You know the drill. These are also squads who could do double-time or even move over to the United Kingdom brand – Londoner Burch already has on a couple occassions.

A hop across the pond probably isn’t in the cards for the women on tonight’s episode, but who knows. Mia Yim is in need of an angle and some character development, as it’s not clear how far “was good in the Mae Young Classic” takes anyone. Her opponent, Vanessa Borne, is almost all character right now. It’s a familiar one (haughty model-type), but she’s good at it. She’s also been working with Kona Reeves on the Florida circuit in an alliance of arrogant heels. It’ll be interesting to see if that crosses over to television with this match.

Will what happens tonight put these acts closer to a spot on the TakeOver: Phoenix card?

The Title Scene

It doesn’t look like we’re getting much movement here, but so you remember where we left off…

Velveteen Dream gave him all he could handle, but Tommaso Ciampa is still your NXT champion. Next up is probably Aleister Black, still looking for the rematch he already would have had if not for Johnny Gargano for a belt he probably wouldn’t have lost if not for Johnny Gargano.

Black moved to the front of the line with a WarGames 2 win. War Raiders won the main event of that show, alongside North American champ Ricochet (who needs a new challenger) and United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne (who has his own brand, and TakeOver, now – click here if you want to be spoiled on who he’s facing there). So they should be first in line for a shot at Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong’s tag titles.

Since announcing that Twitter wars were beneath her, and with her long feud with Kairi Sane (probably?) finally in the rear view, the Queen of Spades Shayna Baszler can focus on making her second Women’s championship reign a long one. There are no shortage of challengers, however.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

– A win last week may be a sign Nikki Cross isn’t getting a permanent call-up any time soon, but it may mean we will get a payoff to her feud with Bianca Belair.

– Is Candice LeRae just angry because she can’t extricate herself from her husband’s issues, or is she starting to enjoy it in the dark just like Johnny Wrestling?

– After a historically quick win over Kassius Ohno, what’s next for Matt Riddle?

NOTE: Spoilers are out there for these pre-taped broadcasts (including here), but many Cagesiders don’t partake. If you are going to post or discuss spoilers for this show before they happen, or results of future shows, please use the spoiler bar in your comment.

See you tonight for NXT, Cagesiders!

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