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NXT preview (July 17, 2019): Wheeere’s Johnny?

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NXT returns to us tonight (July 17) as they continue to build towards TakeOver: Toronto.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Adam Cole’s first championship defense
  • Apollo Crews vs. KUSHIDA
  • Dexter Lumis vs. Bronson Reed in a Breakout tournament match
  • What’s next for the Street Profits?
  • Matt Riddle vs. Arturo Ruas

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

1) Does Gargano finally return tonight?

It’s been six weeks since Johnny Gargano lost his NXT title to Adam Cole. It’s also been six weeks since we’ve seen Johnny Gargano.

In that time, Cole has been antagonizing his foe. He’s gone to Johnny’s parent’s pizza place in Cleveland to act like a total jerk. He went to the wrestling school that trained Johnny and did the same. Now he’s coming back to Full Sail to defend his title against an unknown opponent. Will Johnny finally confront the man who’s been antagonizing those close to him?

It would make sense. We’re less than a month away from TakeOver: Toronto, and we haven’t seen the man who is presumably challenging for the NXT title. Tonight would be the time to do it. Any later, and they’ll be rushing things.

2) Who is getting a random title shot?

It’s odd to see someone get a NXT title match who has not earned it. William Regal doesn’t just hand out title matches, especially for the top prize in the men’s division. People have to earn them one way or another. The fact that we don’t even know who it is leads me to believe that this isn’t a serious title match.

This could be an Adam Cole sanctioned title match. It could be a match against a hand picked opponent that he will easily defeat to antagonize Johnny Gargano. Maybe it’ll be an AIW trainee to really stick it to Johnny Wrestling.

That would make more sense because they wouldn’t just give us Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole caliber title match unannounced on weekly TV.

3) What’s Matt Riddle doing this TakeOver?

TakeOvers normally have five matches. That means not every one is going to make it on the card. Nothing has been made official, but this is how I feel things are shaping up:

  • Adam Cole (c) vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT title
  • Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Mia Yim vs. the NXT Women’s title
  • The Street Profits (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish for the NXT tag team championships
  • Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Roderick Strong for the North American championship
  • Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai

Now this is just a guess. I haven’t looked ahead to the official card. Maybe LeRae and Shirai don’t get a TakeOver spot but instead a pre-TakeOver spot. (They should be on the main show.) But if this is pretty close to accurate, that means the Bro has to sit this one out. That’s a bit surprising given his status.

It’s always possible he’s added to one of the singles title matches - the NXT title or North American title. Riddle has had issues with the ERA before and has a win over both Cole and Roddy. If they don’t go the triple threat route, they’ll have to figure out something for him to do in the background because it shouldn’t be long until the Bro is challenging for the top title.

4) Who else is going to challenge KUSHIDA?

KUSHIDA is now a destination opponent for men across all five brands on WWE. He’s undefeated, and guys are stepping up to try to end that. There’s been Drew Gulak. There’s been Kassius Ohno. And tonight, it’s Apollo Crews.

This could be a really fun gimmick for awhile. Seeing guys like Cesaro or Tyler Bate or Cedric Alexander stop by NXT to put on a great match with KUSHIDA would be awesome. In the end, it should be an NXT roster member to get the job done. But let’s have some fun with it prior.

5) Was the Riddick Regimen a one and done gimmick?

A month or so back, Riddick Moss returned to introduce a new character. He presented what he called his “Riddick Regimen” which was all about the workout that got him into shape. It was a bad sign for the gimmick when he lost the match debuting it. And it wasn’t as if he lost to someone much higher up on the card. He lost to Raul Mendoza, who is talented, but isn’t some winning machine in NXT.

That character was never going to take Moss to the top. But it was an obnoxious enough heel gimmick to work as an enhancement persona.

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

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