NXT returns tonight (July 23) as they build towards TakeOver: Toronto in three weeks.
Advertised for tonight:
- Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano announce their stipulations for TakeOver
- Angel Garza vs. Jordan Myles in the second round of the Breakout Tournament
- Io Shirai vs. Kacy Catanzaro
- Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest
- Who’s next for Velveteen Dream?
As per usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) Will these be some unique stipulations?
To answer this question simply: No. There’s no real unique stipulation in wrestling. Everything has been done to some degree. So when Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole announce their stipulations for their second of two out of three falls TakeOver matches, it won’t be something that’s reinventing the wheel.
But this feud would benefit heavily from something novel that ties well into their story instead of just Cole saying “Tables match” and then Gargano saying “Submission match.” This story has been overall entertaining, but has always felt lacking throughout.
That’s not entirely their fault. This feud started as the consolation prize when we couldn’t get Johnny’s huge match against Tommaso Ciampa. But each step of the way in the story, it never felt like a big deal..
The matches have been very good because these two can’t have bad matches. But these stipulations really need to ignite some fire under the final stage of their story. While they’re not going to be stips we’ve never seen before, they need to tie into the story in a way that gets the fans jazzed to see how these men navigate them.
2) How does the third stipulation work?
If both men are tied after the first two stipulations, it’ll be William Regal who decides the third fall.
They aren’t advertising that Regal will reveal the tie breaking stipulation tonight. It doesn’t mean he won’t. But it’s also possible that after Cole and Gargano endured two wars with each other in Toronto, the GM will then spring on the third stipulation, meaning they’ll have no preparation.
I kind of like the chaos of the second option more. After they endure two unique stipulations, Regal just comes out and says “Ladder match” and leaves.
3) Who takes the loss?
Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest is an intriguing one. Both men are in a place where they really can’t lose.
Damian Priest just debuted. Taking a loss this soon would not be ideal. And it’s not like he’d be losing to a top guy. He’d be losing to Keith Lee, who’s entire gimmick now is “Things haven’t gone the way I’ve wanted.” That would be cutting his feet out from under him.
Keith really needs a win himself. He’s not wrong that his first year in NXT has not been ideal. It’s been marred by injuries (his and his opponent’s) and lack of direction. This win would get him on track. A loss would prolong his inauspicious start.
If I had to guess, I’d say Keith is the loser here. Priest is too early in his introduction to take this caliber of loss. But Lee’s faltering is already part of his story. Another loss would just reinforce that. It’ll force his character to find what works, even if that’s a full on heel turn.
4) Will Io bring the aggression?
On TV, Io Shirai’s first promo as a heel was received by the disdain of Full Sail. However, live reports indicated that wasn’t a true reaction. There sounded to be a good amount of applause still.
That’s why having her annihilate Kacy Catanzaro tonight is the way to go. Kacy is a perfect choice here because she’s so easily likable. She’s also a rookie who already is at a severe disadvantage against Shirai. So Io beating the hell out of Catanzaro will seem totally uncalled for. It could be the type of thing that actually gets the crowd to turn on her, not just raise the ire of some piped in boos.
Kacy and Candice LeRae have teamed up prior, so this would be a good situation for Candice to storm out and get some revenge on her future opponent. And a good chance to actually turn the crowd against Io Shirai.
5) What’s the TakeOver card?
Last month, I had felt I had a good idea of the TakeOver card. All four title matches and Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae. Now I’m not so sure.
Currently we have two confirmed matches - the NXT title match and a tag title match featuring the Street Profits and Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish. The women’s title will surely get on the card and that’ll likely be Mia Yim challenging Shayna Baszler.
It really feels like this is the TakeOver for Undisputed ERA to walk out with all the gold. That would mean a match between North American Champion Velveteen Dream and Roderick Strong would have to be included. But if a title match is getting cut, it’s this one.
There are actually three possibilities for the fifth spot. (The main event is probably going to be long so it’s unlikely they’ll go with six matches.) The Candice/Io fight is still a strong contender.
But so is Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain, which kicked off last week when Beast of Belfast attacked the Bro, sending him through the stage with a senton. Matt Riddle usually finds his way onto TakeOver cards. The finals for the Breakout Tournament is also a contender as it would make sense to showcase the new talent in front of a larger crowd. But that’s the match least likely to sneak on.
We’ll see if we get answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM.