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NXT preview (May 27, 2020): Swan Song?

NXT returns tonight (May 27) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards TakeOver: In Your House on June 7.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher in a submissions cage match with Kurt Angle as special guest referee
  • Drake Maverick vs. Jake Atlas vs. Kushida in the cruiserweight tournament
  • Adam Cole negotiates with William Regal regarding Velveteen Dream
  • Io Shirai & Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte & a mystery partner

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

1) Is this the end of Riddle/Thatcher?

Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher in a submission/TKO cage match looks like it is a match that should be on the TakeOver card in a couple weeks.

However it really feels like this isn’t going to get stretched to that point. This is a stipulation match in a cage that has to have a winner - submission or TKO. It has a hall of fame referee in Kurt Angle. There’s no way they stack this up and then smoz it to do it again in two weeks.

That’s a bit odd given this is a feud they could get some mileage out. But even if we get a true winner tonight, say Thatcher wins and they book a rubbermatch at the TakeOver, what stipulation could top a cage match that has to have a definitive winner with Kurt Angle as the referee? Then again, Edge and Randy Orton went from a Last Man Standing match to a regular match on Raw so it’s possible.

Recent rumor says that Riddle is going to be called up to the main roster imminently and this may serve as his final match. Though a call up doesn’t mean he can’t stick around for one TakeOver match, but it would be a reason they opt to blow it off so quickly.

2) If it is the end, then what?

If they are going to blow this short feud off tonight, they have to have something in store for the men that would necessitate ending this as soon as it is. That next for Riddle may be the main roster. But that would leave Thatcher searching for his next feud.

Unless Pete Dunne found a way back into the states, I don’t see a story ready made for Thatcher. Outside that unlikely option, there isn’t a feud ready to go. With the TakeOver just weeks away, all other feuds seem to be solidifying. Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream (probably), Tommaso Ciampa vs. Killer Kross, the Women’s triple threat title match, a possible mixed tag with Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae against Keith Lee & Mia Yim, and Finn Bálor vs. Damian Priest.

Given they may opt to put the finals of the cruiserweight tournament on the TakeOver card or perhaps a tag title match (likely with Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch challenging Imperium), there wouldn’t be room on this card for Riddle/Thatcher anyway. Which is a shame because of all the matches that are announced or assumed, I’d be looking forward to that one the most.

3) Is this really it for Drake Maverick?

Drake Maverick upsetting Kushida last week to extend his WWE career and force a triple threat overtime in the cruiserweight tournament seemed like a foregone conclusion. This triple threat against Kushida and Jake Atlas is not as obvious.

In the end, I don’t think Drake wins it all. I think it’s just a great story to tell in this tournament to give it an extra level of drama. Word is they haven’t re-signed him after his release so it’s possible they just like him enough to showcase him on his way out. Or maybe they plan to bring him back when they can.

Not winning it all means he either loses tonight or loses in the finals.

My guess is he wins tonight. The triple threat format gives an overmatched Maverick a way to pick up a win while protecting the other guys. But he won’t defeat El Hijo del Fantasma in the finals.

4) Is Dream getting the shot at TakeOver?

After Velveteen Dream lost to Adam Cole on TV weeks back, failing to claim the promotion’s top title, it felt like he was done. With the allegations against him, the somewhat abrupt loss felt like he might disappear for awhile.

Instead, he showed up on TV last week to help out Dexter Lumis, who was about to take a three on one beatdown after he lost to Roderick Strong. Those actions caused Adam Cole to forego a championship celebration to instead negotiate with William Regal regards to the Dream. That negotiation is surely leading to a title match.

Maybe the champ will get a stipulation added where Dream has to leave NXT if he loses or he can never challenge for the belt again as long as Cole holds it. But the match seems like a foregone conclusion.

5) Will they put some wrestlers in the crowd?

Raw had some NXT wrestlers in the crowd last night to act as the audience and they will on Friday too. However, there isn’t word if NXT is going to move in that direction.

Personally, I don’t think they should. There’s the fact that some of those wrestlers, such as featured wrestler Shotzi Blackheart, were in that crowd. Now that’s not the biggest issue. AEW uses active talent in their audiences and it works for them. Though the plexiglass really makes it feel like these wrestler-fans aren’t part of the show so you wouldn’t want active talent in that role. But there’s enough PC talent they could fill that void.

The real reason is they don’t need it. NXT has been very entertaining even in an empty building. With the voice of Mauro Ranallo supplying the emotion and good stories to carry it along, it’s not necessary. Given some of it felt awkward on Raw, I’d prefer not to see it on NXT.

We’ll see soon enough.

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

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