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NXT preview (Dec. 18, 2019): It is time

NXT returns tonight (Dec. 18) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. This is the last live show of 2019.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s championship
  • Adam Cole (c) vs. Finn Bálor for the NXT championship

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

1) Is it finally time for the title change?

Shayna Baszler has been on top for a long time. Yes, she’s been dethroned at one point by known badass Kairi Sane. But it’s been the Shayna Baszler show for almost two years now.

That could end tonight.

Rhea Ripley has been set up as the top of the women’s division on the black and gold brand. If there is anyone to take the title off of Baszler, it’s the Nightmare Rhea Ripley. They’ve built her up so well, and if they want to keep that going, she needs to win tonight.

Delaying the match until TakeOver: Portland in mid-February would mean extending the feud another two months. That doesn’t make sense. The time is right and there’s no need to wait. Closing out the year showcasing their hottest division with its hottest star is the way to go.

Plus, that would let fans know that the big titles will change hands on TV from time to time. It also frees up Shayna Baszler to finally move onto Raw or SmackDown in time for the Road to WrestleMania.

2) What’s the angle in the men’s match?

While I would bet on a women’s championship change, I wouldn’t do the same for the men’s. It’s not yet time for Adam Cole to lose his title. This story has been brewing for a little bit, but it’s not ripe for the change like Rhea’s feud with Shayna. There’s still a story to be told between Adam Cole, Finn Bálor, and Tommaso Ciampa (and maybe Keith Lee).

So they have to book this match so Bálor doesn’t take a clean loss but at the same time he doesn’t walk out with the gold. Could they go with Undisputed ERA interference? Sure. That’s a classic move to avoid the change. The other potential challengers could also impact the match.

While I’m hoping they find a creative way to finish this match with more than just a run in, if that interruption was Johnny Gargano, who Finn put on the shelf, it’d be exciting enough.

3) What’s next for Keith Lee?

Keith Lee’s excellent month hit a speed bump when he took the pin in the triple threat #1 contender’s match last week. He was booked strong throughout the match, but in the end, it was his shoulders pinned to the mat.

Tonight is rather important to keep the big man feeling important. They did a fantastic job making him feel like a huge deal this month. The final episode of the year should have a strong Limitless presence.

That doesn’t mean a video package to remind us he exists. He needs something in front of the cameras that has us leaving 2019 remembering why he’s someone to watch in 2020.

4) Is Angel a good guy now?

Angel Garza defeated Lio Rush to win the Cruiserweight championship last week. Garza worked the heel in the feud throughout. Despite that, the crowd seemed more into him than Rush at times.

Then after he won, he cut a babyface promo and proposed to his girlfriend.

We can forget that if we wanted to explain it away as a kayfabe breaking moment during the commercial break. But with such charisma, he obviously could be a babyface. Plus, this feud would be interesting if the guys reversed roles for the rematch.

5) Who’s in line for the tag team titles?

The tag team scene is a bit thin. The last people to challenge were one of the “rivals turned team” in Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic.

Breezango keeps picking up wins, and it’s very possible that they will be the tag team championship scene when NXT returns in 2020. And a silly Breezango facing a Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish who are not having it could be a fun program for Portland.

We’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM ET on USA network.

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