NXT returns tonight (Aug. 26) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. This is the fallout show from TakeOver: XXX last Saturday.
Advertised for tonight:
- Karrion Kross and Scarlett kick off NXT
- Tommaso Ciampa’s return
As per usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) Can they find fresh programs for the men?
Now that people don’t get called to the main roster like they used to (Keith Lee’s Raw debut aside), the top of the men’s division is looking very familiar.
Karrion Kross is new blood, but otherwise we’re looking at Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Finn Bálor, and probably Velveteen Dream as the top men on the roster. Gargano has worked with all those guys, some multiple times. He’d be better suited working with one of the guys from the midcard, such as Bronson Reed. Cole has worked with all these guys too, though I do think a longer feud with Finn Bálor could be in order.
They really need a new face or two to start bringing some variety in to the main event scene, but there doesn’t seem to be one person in particular I can see taking that role. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tyler Breeze working with some of these guys to freshen things up. Perhaps they can grab a vet who isn’t doing much on the main roster too.
While NXT in general does a good job of making changes to keep characters fresh, when gives have been around as long as Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, and Velveteen Dream, it’s tough to find a program that feels fresh.
2) What’s the status Karrion Kross?
The word after Karrion Kross won the NXT title from Keith Lee was the new champ sustained a shoulder injury. It was a separated shoulder, but as of writing this, we don’t know the degree of the injury.
Fortunately, signs point to something minor. Karrion Kross wasn’t too concerned in an interview with ESPN. And given that injury happened on Saturday, if he were going to have an MRI, he would have had that by now. If it were bad - like vacate the title bad - there’d probably be some rumblings about that already.
In the mean time, they can use smoke and mirrors to keep him on TV without focusing on his injury. They can lean on Scarlett to act as his proxy and backstage videos, something they did even when he was healthy, and he can return when he’s healed.
If it is worse news and it is going to need to be out for an extended period of time, then that’d obviously suck. It’d suck for the man, who just won the title. And it’d suck for the promotion who would have to shake everything up to try to find a new champion.
If that were the case, I’d say put the gold on Finn Bálor. He’s been very protected since he return to NXT and could immediately slot into that position. But hopefully, he won’t have to and they can tell the story they were planning to tell with Karrion Kross.
3) What does Tommaso Ciampa do now?
One person who wouldn’t fit the role of new champion right away is Tommaso Ciampa.
The last time we saw the man, he was straight up squashed by Karrion Kross. It was the kind of loss that needs a rebuilding to come back from.
That loss was clearly the start of a story for Ciampa, who’s likely going to wonder whether he should go back to the dark side where he had much more success. Or does he have the resolve to succeed with his new outlook on things?
It’s the lowest we’ve seen a former champion. This could be a really good story starring a really good storyteller.
4) Is Raquel González striking out on her own?
The final image from the NXT women’s title match was a stare down between Rhea Ripley and Raquel González, two women who weren’t even in the match.
Raquel has been playing the role of bodyguard/insurance policy for Dakota Kai. But that stare with Ripley (who’s also in a feud with Mercedes Martinez) frames her as the star of the group, not the woman who just failed to win the title.
If thats the case, we’ll see if she’s ready for that spotlight. And we’ll also see if that mean Dakota Kai is going to have to strike out on her own once again.
5) Why’s Wade Barrett on commentary tonight?
The recent reports of Wade Barrett returning to WWE for a one time announcing gig on NXT tonight are odd.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Wade Barrett even when a lot of people disliked him (pre-Bad News). It just seems surprising for them to bring him in for a one time thing. Let’s say the reason is Mauro Ranallo is still back in Canada dealing with whatever kept him off TakeOver and needs more time away. Then wouldn’t they just use Corey Graves again?
Maybe this is a one time thing definitely but also serving as an audition for a longer role. Perhaps they want someone full time to round out the Beth Phoenix/Mauro team, but honestly Nigel McGuinness was perfect in that role.
Or maybe this is a bigger audition. Maybe Samoa Joe is getting ready to get back in the ring and this will serve as a look at a man they think can replace him.
Or in the end, this could just be that he still has a good relationship with the company, something came up, and he decided to jump in for one time only.
Whatever the reason, Barrett has experience doing commentary commentary with NWA and in general has a good personality for the gig. And it’ll be be great to hear him on WWE one more time.
We’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM ET on USA.