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NXT preview (July 31, 2019): A wrench in the plans

Pete Dunne on Twitter

NXT returns to us tonight (July 31) with their second to last episode prior to TakeOver: Toronto.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong
  • How will Shayna Baszler respond to Mia Yim?
  • Tyler Breeze vs. Jaxson Ryker
  • Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed in the semi finals of the Breakout Tournament
  • What’s next for Candice LeRae & Io Shirai’s “scorching” rivalry

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

1) Is Pete Dunne the big wrench in Undisputed ERA’s quest?

Before last week, Undisputed ERA seemed prime to walk out of Toronto with all the gold. The stipulations for the NXT title match seem to favor Adam Cole more than they do challenger Johnny Gargano. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish are not underdogs against the Tag Team Champion Street Profits. At best, they’re an even chance to win. And Roderick Strong had a strong chance to take the North American title from the talented, but comparatively inexperienced, Velveteen Dream.

But then Pete Dunne showed up.

We learned last week that the Bruiserweight will be back with NXT prime for awhile and will be part of the North American title match, making it a triple threat at TakeOver. Suddenly, the chance for ERA to win all the gold went down.

Roddy beating Velveteen, while very possible, was always going to be the toughest hurdle for Undisputed in becoming undisputed. Pete Dunne’s addition tanks those odds.

A triple threat in general is going to lower the odds drastically. Adding the Bruiserweight specifically makes it worse. Roddy’s meticulous style would have matched up well against Velveteen Dream, but not so much against Pete Dunne, who is also a man who loves to target a body part and inflict harm. Then add in the fact that Dunne has personal issues with Strong, who betrayed him when he joined the Undisputed ERA. So he’ll be looking to derail the stable’s goals at all costs.

Tonight, he’ll go one on one with Strong where can start inflicting damage prior to TakeOver.

2) We getting a Dango return to NXT?

Tyler Breeze is going to be outnumbered when facing Jaxson Ryker tonight. No doubt the rest of the Forgotten Sons will be in the big man’s corner. Prince Pretty had already been talking about getting some back up prior to his confrontation with the Sons backstage weeks back. Tonight would be a good time to do so.

Breeze’s main roster partner Fandango has been gone for awhile but has been ready to return. Will he return in the black and gold brand to help his former partner?

It surely would be a great pop and they could do great things together as a different type of tag team than they were on Raw and SmackDown. But part of me wants to see Tyler as a solo act as he navigates the new waters of the current iteration of NXT.

Tonight should give us a good hint if a partner, or even a stable, is coming to aid Prince Pretty.

3) How do they get to “scorching”?

I chuckled a bit when I saw WWE describe the Candice LeRae/Io Shirai feud as “scorching” in their preview. I don’t think two segments, one that was rather rushed, could get to scorching.

This feud, which could still be a contender to sneak onto the TakeOver card, has been rather underrepresented since Io turned heel. The turn itself was well executed, though may have suffered a bit because Candice LeRae hadn’t been built up on the roster. Since then we had a very brief promo from Shirai and last week when Candice got a very quick moment of revenge.

This program is at a slight disadvantage. They can’t ask Io Shirai for long promos to help sell her villainy (and they haven’t done anything else to get fans to turn on her). As mentioned above, Candice was mainly featured as Johnny Gargano’s wife and hadn’t had an established run on her own in the promotion. (Compare this to if they used Kairi Sane in the Candice role and how much more successful this would already be.)

It doesn’t mean they can’t get to “scorching” but they need more work in the next couple weeks. We need to see Io Shirai do something dastardly so we want to see her get her ass kicked. Beating the hell out of Kacy Catanzaro last week could been that thing, but they didn’t go with it. A strong promo from Candice LeRae, who has cut minimal promos in NXT, could also help raise the profile of their feud.

But right now, I’d label this rivalry as “lukewarm.”

4) Does Mia get her match?

Mia Yim’s tactic to getting a Women’s title match has been beating the hell out of Shayna Baszler’s lackeys. It’s a sound strategy, but the champ is cunning. She knows what Mia wants and is less likely to give it to her. But maybe targeting Shayna’s friends is the way to get her to think emotionally instead of prudently.

This story looks to be based on Mia convincing Shayna to give her the match instead of the standard NXT route of having to earn it via a match or two that William Regal sets up. And while maybe he’ll step in and give the Blasian Baddie what she wants, it feels like Mia is going to have to convince the champ to take the match.

5) How are they deciding who gets the Breakout spotlight?

The Breakout Tournament has been a blast so far, and there’s really no wrong answer to who should win it.

That being said, it’s been a bit surprising to see who has advanced and who’s been eliminated. Jordan Myles, who is already in the finals, and the winner of tonight’s bout between Cameron Grimes and Bronson Reed, are all entertaining. But they also aren’t the members who have stood out the most.

Isiah “Swerve” Scott was eliminated in the first round. Swerve is a star who loads of charisma. And not that Grimes, who defeated him, isn’t very talented, but Scott is something special. They’re high enough on him that he already had a main event match on 205 Live.

Angel Garza looked to be the star of the entire tournament and was eliminated by Myles last week. I’d even argue that Dexter Lumis stood out more than Bronson Reed with Lumis’ unique character and presentation.

Perhaps they felt guys like Garza and Scott would be fine no matter what and wanted to showcase the other guys for longer. And again, there’s no wrong answer here. It’s just interesting to think about.

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

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