In A-side/B-side, two Milwaukee Record writers tackle various city issues in an informal, crosstalk style. Insults are hurled, feelings are hurt, and everyone learns something in the end. Maybe.
Vince Morales: NXT is returning to Milwaukee this weekend in what is the shortest amount of time between Milwaukee visits they’ve ever done. Usually, it takes about 18 months between Turner Hall sellouts and the roster is always completely different from the last time they came. This time it’s only been a little over four months since the last time they were here and, well, the roster is still completely different.
The December show (which was awesome) featured Ricochet, Aleister Black, Heavy Machinery, Kairi Sane, Dakota Kai, and Tommaso Ciampa in key roles. Every single one of those people won’t be at this show, with the WWE calling up the first five and the injury bug catching the last two. On top of that, we have the NXT Tag Team Champions, The War Raiders, debuting on Raw a week ago as [checks notes] “The Viking Experience.” Change is afoot in NXT and this is set to be a much, much different show than it was last December.
My question for you, Sam, is change a good thing for NXT?
Sam Morales: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that is why it is called the present.” — some college kid, probably.
Of course change is a good thing for NXT! Not only does it mean that we get to experience new wrestlers. For example, Candice LeRae and Mia Yim are on the card for Milwaukee! But it also means that we can invest more into the live shows because you never know who will and who won’t be there the next time NXT comes to town. To quote the same college kid, “Live in the present—it’s a gift!”
Plus, NXT changing their roster does not mean it’s changing the format of its show, which is arguably what makes it so great. Shorter shows and consistent storylines make NXT easier to watch and easier to get your non-wrestling-fan friends to go to a show with you. Explaining the feud between Ciampa and Gargano (they were friends, now they’re not) is much easier than explaining the feud/non-feud between Bayley and Sasha Banks (they were friends, then they weren’t, then they won the tag titles, now Sasha quit?). NXT just gets it!
Think of it this way: if NXT didn’t embrace change, it would be the same as the main roster. Would you really want Baron Corbin still hanging around NXT? No, nobody wants that.
That being said, I love the current roster and will cry when I see Velveteen Dream for the last time in the NXT ring.
VM: Please don’t say that. Velveteen Dream will never leave NXT and he will always be this perfect and there will be no wars and world peace will be achieved.
That’s really the thing with NXT though, isn’t it? The last TakeOver may have been one of the best they’ve ever done, but it’s almost more notable in terms of who wasn’t on the show. No Keith Lee or Dominik Dijakovic, who absolutely could have stolen that show. Recent signings like Kushida, ACH, Jonah Rock, and manager extraordinaire Stokely Hathaway were nowhere to be found. While the Street Profits were also missing and everyone knows they are beyond ready to bring the swag to the NXT Tag Team titles.
The Johnny Gargano era should definitely be interesting. While he had some of the best matches in all of wrestling over the past couple of years, most of the people he had them with are now gone. It’s a guy we know very well holding that big belt, but he’s going to have to prove himself against an entirely new crop of stars with very different wrestling styles. And Adam Cole, bay-bay.
While Johnny has his work cut out for him and is a marked man, Shayna Baszler continues to assert herself as one of the most dominant champions in NXT history. Is there anyone that can stop her?
SM: My heart says Bianca Belair, my curiosity wants to see how big the championship belt looks on Kacy Catanzaro, but my gut says Xia Li. How could I say anyone else but her after seeing this video of Kairi Sane saying goodbye to Li before Sane moved to the main roster? I hope Xia Li beats her in five seconds on Saturday.
VM: Here, here.
SM: One last question…is it Saturday yet?