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NXT preview (July 8, 2020): Pull the trigger

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NXT returns tonight with their second week of the Great American Bash, anchored by a title vs. title main event.

Advertised for tonight:

  • Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee title vs. title
  • Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim in a street fight
  • Johnny Gargano vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
  • El Legado del Fantasma vs. Breezango & Drake Maverick
  • Mercedes Martinez in action

Before I jump into our questions regarding tonight, I should address the elephant in the room.

The finish to tonight’s big main event was spoiled. Sure, it’s possible it was a swerve and they taped two finishes, but that doesn’t make sense. That’s a move to use when there are fans who can tweet the results. There’s no reason to do that when it’s a closed set. (Though I can see them shooting a different finish after the leak.)

I’ve avoided said spoiler so all I’m about to say is said without knowing anything about the finish. If you’ve read it, then you have extra knowledge to accompany my speculation. We also ask to refrain from discussing it in the comments without the spoiler tag and recommend if you’ve remained spoiler-free, avoid the comments just in case.

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

1) Is it Keith Lee’s time?

Keith Lee has been on the upswing for a long while now. Tonight, he can reach the top of the mountain and defeat Adam Cole to become the first ever double champion in NXT.

And he absolutely should.

Honestly, what are they waiting for at this point? Sure they can delay things and pull the trigger later, but the more they put it off, the more risk it won’t happen. That’s why they should do it tonight.

Adam Cole’s reign has been enjoyable, but it’s time to get on with it. And there aren’t many people who can take it from him. There’s Lee, Finn Bálor, and Karrion Kross. Finn doesn’t need it and Kross should beat a babyface.

You know, a babyface like Keith Lee. The prevailing theory for if Keith loses is Kross interferes because Lee broke his hour glass. But why not wait until after the match and set up that angle?

This is a massive match, but the instinct is they’ll find a way to avoid ending the show with one man holding both titles. Booking a winner also will help us dispel such notions in the future.

Long story short: Put the titles on Keith Lee, you cowards!

2) If Keith doesn’t win, is he main roster bound?

At this point, if the Limitless One doesn’t achieve NXT greatness tonight, it could be the end of his run there.

Maybe he’ll put over Kross on his way out, either dropping the North American title to him if tonight ends in a DQ or just losing to him if he loses the title to Cole tonight. But losing such a big match likely spells the end of Lee in NXT.

Yes, he could lose tonight for a comeback run to win the title later, but that almost seems like it’ll take too long for that get to where he needs to be. And the main roster can always use some new blood.

3) Candice LeRae has to win this, right?

While Candice LeRae’s heel turn has gotten off to a strong start in terms of her commitment to the act, it hasn’t translated to wins. Her team lost at TakeOver. She was first eliminated last week in the #1 contenders elimination match.

We saw with Dakota Kai that a strong heel turn personality wise doesn’t mean much if it’s not complimented with wins. Now to be fair, they eventually got Dakota right when they paired her with Raquel González, and they started picking up wins. But early on, losing a feud to Mia Yim really hurt her early run as a villain.

History can repeat itself if Candice LeRae doesn’t defeat Yim tonight. The Poison Pixie’s heel run has a ton of potential with a new personality and her smarmy husband at her side. But she needs to pick up some legit victories.

4) Where does Mercedes Martinez fit into the women’s division?

Mercedes Martinez has a match tonight, likely against some enhancement talent.

This isn’t her first match since officially signing with NXT, but it feels like this is her real debut given they’ve given her a couple video teasers this time around. So where does she fit in?

Given her veteran status, you could see her falling into former Kassius Ohno’s role of gatekeeper/veteran who will give their stars good matches. But that would be a major waste of her talents.

Mercedes has had a long independent career before signing with NXT, and there’s a story to be told about her trying to claim the biggest prize of her career. Whether she wins or loses, a marquee title match against Io Shirai (or whoever the champion is when they get there) should happen.

More immediately, I would enjoy a feud between her and Rhea Ripley. Two badass women trying to fight their way to the NXT title.

5) Who’s next for the Robert Stone Brand?

Last week, Robert Stone and Aliyah lost a two on one handicap match to Rhea Ripley, failing to secure her as the blue chip client for the Robert Stone Brand. Their excuse? “We didn’t want her anyway.”

Robert Stone announced on Twitter that he’s got a new signing to announce tonight!

Who would join this loser is beyond me, but I’m very excited to find out. Maybe it is someone who doesn’t want to join him like Rhea. Maybe it’s someone who doesn’t watch the product. Either way, it’s going to be good. Stone is a guaranteed laugh when he’s on TV.

We’ll see if we get any answers to those questions when NXT returns with the second night of the Great American Bash at 8 PM tonight on USA Network.

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