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NXT preview (Apr. 29, 2020): Not enough

NXT returns tonight (Apr. 29) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Keith Lee (c) vs. Damian Priest for the North American championship
  • Charlotte Flair vs. Mia Yim

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

1) Can losing to Charlotte help elevate Mia?

Charlotte Flair challenged Mia Yim to tonight’s non-title match. The reason is Charlotte’s first match in NXT was against Mia, who was just working as enhancement talent at the time. Since then, Charlotte has become the most decorated woman in WWE history. Mia is no longer enhancement talent, instead a fixture of the NXT women’s division.

That gives this match a good story and it should be a good match. But how much does losing to Charlotte after a good match help Mia? How much will similar type of efforts help the division in general?

In WWE, there isn’t much between squash match and very even match. Because of that, there’s only so much to be gained from ladies having “good efforts” against the Queen. When everyone who isn’t enhancement talent can go toe to toe with Charlotte, then going toe to toe with Charlotte doesn’t really help elevate anyone.

NXT is a bit more clever in their booking so it’s entirely possible they find a way to use Charlotte so it does raise the division. But a close loss to the champ tonight isn’t going to help Mia ascend too far.

2) What happens with Velveteen Dream?

Normally, I wouldn’t ask this. But then late last week, Velveteen Dream denied inappropriate, and illegal, behavior. That behavior being sending inappropriate photos to minors. In a single tweet on the matter, he claimed photos were shared without his consent. There’s been nothing else about it since.

What happens with the presumed #1 contender for Adam Cole’s title tonight could give us a hint on how seriously NXT is taking these accusations. If it’s business as usual, then likely they find there’s not much to it and feel comfortable moving on with the plan. If there’s an angle that could serve as “writing off” Dream, such as an injury angle, that could mean they feel there’s enough there to back off his push right now.

The third option is most likely - that he’s not on TV at all. That means they don’t have to commit to a direction right away as they watch this unfold. And given that Velveteen was part of the big angle last week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him not represented tonight as they focus on the women’s division and the North American title.

3) Where does Damian Priest go from here?

Damian Priest has been targeting Keith Lee for awhile. He was unsuccessful in the TakeOver: Tampa-ish triple threat. Now he has a one on one match to try to get the job done.

But he’s probably not going to get the job done tonight either. And then what?

Priest is one of those guys who’s overall fine, but the snarkier part of me sometimes says, “Stop trying to make Priest happen.”

It’s not that he’s bad at all. But his gimmick of goth archer who loves to party can only take him so far. And with Killer Kross and Dexter Lumis making their debuts, there’s competition for that dark, brooding big man. Perhaps a loss tonight will propel him to where he needs to go.

NXT is usually very good at taking a person and transitioning them out of a feud to something else. We probably won’t see that tonight, but Priest will probably still have a spot after losing tonight, and it hopefully will be something that helps advance his character.

4) Who attacked Finn Bálor?

Last week, Finn Bálor was scheduled to face Velveteen Dream. But an unknown attack earlier in the night prompted the Prince to leave for the day. So who dunnit?

The obvious answer is Imperium. That’s who he’s actively feuding with, and it would make the most sense. But there are some shady characters on NXT right now. Such as Killer Kross, who is currently stalking Tommaso Ciampa, but there’s no reason to think that’s his sole focus. There’s also Dexter Lumis, who is pretty much the definition of a stalker. He’s focused on Undisputed ERA but again, why just one?

William Regal made it clear that Finn was not abducted like many people have been in the parking lot. But there’s a long list of possible suspects. And if this is going to stay true to most wrestling attack tropes, Bálor probably didn’t get a look at the attackers.

5) Should we take Akira Tozawa (or any of the cruisers) seriously?

Akira Tozawa scored a big win against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in the first match of the cruiserweight tournament to crown an interim champion. However, on Raw, he’s been servicing as enhancement talent. None worse than just two nights ago when he was straight up squashed by Jinder Mahal.

You could say “Well that was Raw & this is NXT” but they’re the same world. They have shared the same stage. So shouldn’t we look at the cruisers less after one of their victors in the tournament looked the fool on Raw?

There’s nothing that’s going to change with that. He’ll be booked fairly strong during the tourney but continue to get jobbed out on Mondays. WWE will just hope the NXT fans don’t remember and won’t care when we do.

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

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