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NXT preview (July 10, 2019): Heel turn challenge

NXT returns to us tonight (July 9) as they continue to make their way to TakeOver: Toronto.

Advertised for tonight’s show:

  • The Street Profits (c) vs. the Brit-Am Brawlers for the NXT tag team championships
  • Fallout from the Io Shirai/Candice LeRae situation
  • Bay Bay Championship Tour continues
  • Boa vs. Jordan Myles in a Breakout Tournament match
  • Damien Priest in action

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

1) Will Io Shirai’s heel turn be accepted?

For all intents and purposes, Io Shirai’s attack on Candice LeRae was a heel turn. Especially because it looks like Shayna Baszler is moving on to Mia Yim, meaning Io won’t have that “tweener” role in a triple threat to play.

The crowd seemed to respond appropriately during the attack, but is that sustainable?

Fans love when the babyfaces they enjoy find their dark side. They were already eating up Io’s viciousness when it was focused on Shayna. Now it’s just focused on a babyface. But is Candice an established enough babyface to keep Io heel?

No doubt LeRae is a natural babyface. But she hasn’t really established herself as a solo character on the NXT roster. Her main role has been as Johnny Gargano’s wife. Yes, she’s been working solo for a bit, but it hasn’t been a focus, and it may not be enough for people to choose her over the more established Shirai.

It will be the job of both women and creative to get the reactions they desire. But the NXT crowd is notoriously fickle and there will likely be at least a small cluster who is chanting for Io during this feud.

2) Will NXT change up their recent tag team booking formula?

The Street Profits defending their titles against the Brit-Am Brawlers is a match that could easily deliver. But with the recent booking of the division, a very possible outcome has me less enthusiastic for it.

Tag team segments have seen a steep uptick in matches ending with disqualifications due to interference from other teams. After William Regal told the Forgotten Sons last week that they were going to the back of the line when it comes to the tag titles, I fully expect them to interfere with this match.

Hopefully they eschew that urge as they’ve been going to that well a ton lately. It’s a good tool to extend feuds or build multi-person matches. But it gets lazy when used too often. NXT is entering that territory.

Hopefully it doesn’t go that way. If they are trying to get to a TakeOver card where the Undisputed ERA are all in title matches, maybe Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch take a clean L to move back to the line alongside the Forgotten Sons. That would leave Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish an opening to challenge the Street Profits at TakeOver. (And that would be a fire match.)

3) Will this Breakout Tournament match meet the standards of the first two?

One appeal to this Breakout Tournament is the competitors are far from rookies. They’re seasoned veterans, who are looking to tear it up.

However, tonight’s match features one wrestler who can actually be considered a rookie: Chinese wrestler Boa. So we’ll also be watching this breakout match to see how he looks and if he’s ready for more TV time.

His opponent is surely ready. Jordan Myles (formally known as ACH) has been doing this for over a decade. He’ll be able to make sure Boa has at least a decent match while showing off himself. So it will surely be enjoyable, but it’ll be Boa’s readiness that can allow it to live up to the first two.

4) When are we going to see Johnny Gargano?

Adam Cole continues to antagonize Johnny Gargano by douching it up at his parent’s pizza place before going to the school that trained Gargano and told them not to bother trying. It already has him in some hot water with his girlfriend and it’s surely going to draw the ire of the former NXT champion.

So when is Johnny Wrestling going to actually do something about it? Is he going to catch up to Cole while he’s on his tour of Cleveland? Or will he be waiting at Full Sail when Cole returns to NXT’s home base?

5) When and where will Killian Dain show up on the card?

We’ve been getting some video packages teasing the return of Killian Dain to NXT. After SAnitY was never used on the main roster, the group was split and Dain returned to NXT prime (unlike NXT UK like his former mate Alexander Wolfe).

The first questions regarding the big man is how long will he get the video treatment before he returns. Will we see him before TakeOver? After? A big spot during TakeOver? If the Undisputed ERA will in fact be the focus of the next special, there may not be a place for Dain until after the fact.

And where on the card does he go? Does he start at the Keith Lee level with squashes and smaller feuds? Or because he’s already had some time in NXT, does he enter higher up on the card in the North American title scene or even towards the main event?

Personally, I’d like to see him cut the line a bit since he’s already been established on NXT TV. Maybe he doesn’t challenge the winner of the NXT title match after Toronto, but treat him like a guy who soon could.

We’ll see if we get answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM.

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