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NXT preview (Aug. 12, 2020): It doesn’t hurt

NXT returns tonight (Aug. 12) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. They are building towards TakeOver: XXX on Aug. 22.

Advertised for this week:

  • Fallout from the Adam Cole/Pat McAfee events from last week
  • Cameron Grimes vs. Kushida vs. an unnamed mystery competitor in a TakeOver: XXX ladder match qualifier
  • Karrion Kross vs. Danny Burch
  • Damian Priest vs. Bronson Reed
  • Tyler Breeze vs. Santos Escobar (non-title)

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

1) Is this going to hurt Adam Cole?

I was a fan of the angle with Adam Cole and Pat McAfee last week. But mine definitely was not a universal opinion. There were many understandable takes that it made one of their top stars look bad or devolved too much into a main roster angle.

While I understand why people think that, I don’t agree. Especially with the first part.

So far, Adam Cole does not look any worse from this. Yes, Pat McAfee left him laying last week, but that was the cheapest shot. Cole was in a prone position. Many people were holding him back while he leaned over the table, giving Pat an opportunity to hit his best shot when Adam had no way to protect himself. And that best shot was a punt, something he made a living doing.

Another argument that can be made is they’re focusing too much on Cole’s height, but I’d argue it’s not like his size was a big secret. It’s not as if Vince McMahon was going to call him up and put the title on him, but then watch this angle and said “Wait! He’s short!?” The Panama City Playboy can continue to show that doesn’t matter when they fight at TakeOver.

The fact that McAfee is a natural helps it. When he delivered his promo on during an ESPN interview, he did it in a way that he made sure to put over Adam Cole big time. He knows what his role is.

Of course, it’s all going to come down to their match and how dominant Cole is during it. That’s a spot where he can look worse if he sells too much for someone not in the business. A small amount would make sense. After all, Pat is a pretty big guy and an athlete. But that’s where NXT can really fumble this angle.

2) Who’s the mystery opponent?

Tonight offers us the sacred mystery opponent for the triple threat match qualifying match. And when there’s a mystery competitor, you always have to speculate on it. It’s Article V, section 3 in the Code of Wrestling Fandom.

When guessing a mystery opponent, one main question needs to be asked: Is this a secret for a real reason? Because much of the time, it’s someone that they could have just announced, and it would have been exactly the same. Wrestling programs just throw the “secret” to hope a couple more eyes tune in. So if we get someone like Tony Nese or Kona Reeves, it’ll be a bit of a let down.

So who would be a good candidate for a legitimate surprise? Maybe someone like Tommaso Ciampa who we haven’t seen since TakeOver: In Your House. Granted, this wouldn’t be the best spot given his story of finding himself after that crushing loss. I doubt we’ll be seeing Velveteen Dream on our screens any time soon. Maybe Pete Dunne stowed away on a cargo ship and made his way to Orlando.

We’ll find out tonight. Let us know who you think it could be.

3) Will Dakota Kai get help?

Dakota Kai’s strong run as a heel was with Raquel González at her side. Raquel was the muscle for the smaller Dakota, allowing the Kiwi to accrue a good deal of wins.

But Raquel has disappeared. Given the environment, people missing from WWE is not uncommon. Whatever the reason, it comes at a bad time for Dakota.

Kai needed to get lucky to defeat Rhea Ripley (thanks to a Mercedes Martinez drive-by) last week, which isn’t the momentum you want heading into a big title match against a tough opponent like Io Shirai. If she wants to be taken seriously, Dakota needs González back soon or needs to come up with another plan.

Because right now, it’s tough to take her seriously as a threat to Io Shirai.

4) Will William Regal relent?

William Regal is a rare beast. He’s a consistently good babyface General Manager. He isn’t on TV too often. He’s not part of the stories more than he should be. But he’s a steady hand leading the brand.

Normally, he’s not one to be defied. Yes, he’s had plenty of trouble with Adam Cole and Undisputed ERA, but he was still able to guide the ship in the direction he wanted during their height of power. I’m not so sure he can do that with Karrion Kross.

Kross’ response to being told he’s not getting his title shot right away was to lay out the locker room. Danny Burch will probably pay the price for Regal’s defiance tonight as well. Even though it’ll hurt his pride, the GM may have to give Karrion what he wants to prevent unabated chaos.

5) Will Retribution have any presence in NXT?

God I friggin’ hope not.

Even though NXT is considered on par with Raw and SmackDown, it’s often insulated from main roster shenanigans. It’s more independent given Vince is not in charge of it like he is the other two shows. It doesn’t feel like the other two shows either.

But given there have been times where stories crossed over, most memorably last year’s Survivor Series, it has to be asked. The group of vandal dweebs has affected both Raw and SmackDown, so it’s possible that NXT can be targeted.

Hopefully, given NXT is taped at Full Sail, Retribution will opt not to pile into their mom’s station wagon to get the lift from the Performance Center and they stay away. Because let’s keep that tripe off the good show.

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

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