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NXT preview (July 15, 2020): Too Soon to be Real

NXT returns tonight (July 15) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. This is the fallout from the Great American Bash.

Advertised for this week:

  • Io Shirai (c) vs. Tegan Nox for the NXT Women’s championship
  • Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes

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

1) Why is Tegan Nox getting her shot so soon?

Tonight’s title match between Io Shirai and Tegan Nox feels very soon.

Tegan Nox has a great story, coming back from two devastating knee injuries to try to realize her dream. That story will always be there, but will be best if really explored. Winning a #1 contender’s match two weeks ago and getting that opportunity tonight is not that. Outside a brief, but good, video last week, there hasn’t been any build to this.

The likely reason for this is tonight is really meant to to set up Tegan’s real next feud and not serve as her true championship opportunity. After a backstage interview last week, it sounds like Candice LeRae has her sights set on Nox. She’ll likely cost her this match.

And that’s fine. It’s a way to get give the program a strong start. Tegan can have a strong match with Io before the Poison Pixie delivers her message, costing the babyface the chance to realize her dream. In fact, this is an instance where a clean loss isn’t something I’d want to see.

Because when Tegan’s title program is the real deal, they need to give us that emotional build that it deserves.

2) What happens to the North American title now?

Keith Lee’s historic victory last week left him holding two championship titles - the NXT title and the North American title.

It was quite the feat and quite the moment. But now it leaves NXT with the task of figuring out what to do with the lesser of the two titles. The Limitless One is going to be NXT champion for a little while. North American champion? Maybe not.

The way I see it, there are two main options. Either Lee keeps both titles and defends them, likely separately, until he loses one. Or he vacates the NA title and NXT runs a tournament to crown a new mid card champion.

The first option is more intriguing, but tougher to book. Because Keith Lee isn’t going to lose the North American championship any time soon if they go that route. That’d involve their exciting new champion dropping a match really soon. They could play heavy into interference like the main roster did when Becky Lynch had two belts, but at least those were titles of equal value. Lee wrestling twice per major event until he lost a belt would be a fun story. But it would deprive the midcard of a title for awhile.

That’s why they’ll likely go with the relinquishing route, giving future-Hall of Famer Vacant another championship reign. That would allow for a tournament to elevate men like Damian Priest, Killian Dain, and Timothy Thatcher without forcing Lee to take an L.

3) What’s next for Adam Cole?

It took over a year, but thanks to Keith Lee, Adam Cole is no longer NXT champion. Which leads to the inevitable ‘Now what?’

Given his historic reign, it doesn’t make sense to call him up to the main roster without at least an epilogue program to explore what’s left of Cole after the smoke of his title loss has cleared. Is he humbled? Is he in denial? Is he more determined than ever to win it back?

Even though Karrion Kross is lurking, Cole getting a rematch of sorts after that reign makes perfect sense.

4) Where’s Tommaso Ciampa?

One of the main stars of NXT has been missing.

Ever since losing to Karrion Kross in convincing fashion at TakeOver: In Your House, Tommaso Ciampa has been MIA. He wasn’t on their big two week Great American Bash special in any capacity.

That actually makes sense. His loss to Kross was bad. Competitors need time to recover from a defeat of that magnitude. It also makes sense to cycle wrestlers in and out so they don’t get stale or over exposed.

The question is whether or not creative is the only reason Ciampa is out. Maybe with COVID spiking in a frightening way in Florida, he has understandably opted not to come to work and instead stay home with his wife and newborn baby. And if that’s the case, we may not see the Psycho Killer for awhile.

If it is just a creative cause for his absence, then we may see him soon as NXT looks to start their newest chapter.

5) Is Robert Stone going to be in a walking boot?

Last week, Robert Stone was run over by a tank. It was just another example of how entertaining Stone is every week, whether he’s a Tony Khan parody or not. (I’m saying not.)

Robert is selling that angle big time on Twitter, like he works every angle. (He’s like Drake Maverick in the fact he promotes everything he’s doing, is a great character worker, and makes the best of everything given to him.) So I assume that he’s going to show up tonight in a walking boot or cast to sell the tendon damage he received from Shotzi Blackheart’s tank assault.

Whether he does or not, he’s still probably getting beat up.

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

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