NXT returns tonight (Aug. 5) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. They are building towards TakeOver: XXX on Aug. 22.
- Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai in a #1 contender’s match
- Damian Priest vs. Ridge Holland vs. Oney Lorcan in a North American title ladder match qualifier
- Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) for the NXT tag team championships
- Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes
- Bronson Reed vs. Shane Thorne
As per usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) What’s the path for Undisputed?
Kyle O’Reilly returned last week, making Undisputed ERA finally whole for the first time in months.
Without him, Undisputed was struggling. Adam Cole lost his title. Roderick Strong was floundering. Bobby Fish hardly see any action. But as soon as Kool Kyle showed up, they found some of that missing swagger, attacking Imperium and setting up tonight’s tag title match.
More importantly, now that O’Reilly is back, NXT can finally start enacting the plan for Undisputed’s next stop. While they could win tonight, creative should go with something different for the ERA. They’ve done the heel dominance thing. It’s time to try a different direction.
Maybe they start splitting the group. Perhaps Kyle’s return and the team’s reinvigoration slots him into more of a leader role, which irks Cole, leading to those two feuding. They had an epic program in Ring of Honor years back.
Or maybe they start playing the babyface. They’re heels who always had their cheers so slotting these men as heroes won’t be too hard to get fans (at home of course) to buy into. It would take a little time to get there, but it’s something they can definitely do.
We’ll see what happens after their match tonight, win or lose.
2) Can Dakota actually beat Rhea Ripley?
Last week in this very space, we wondered if they could actually make Dakota Kai feel like a legitimate threat to Io Shirai’s title.
Dakota is doing great work as a heel, but she feels like she’s a level or two below where Io Shirai is right now. Kai has taken her fair share of losses as a heel (though to be fair that’s lessened with Raquel González at her side) while Io Shirai rarely loses. Could they fire up Kai enough to make her feel like a real threat?
They can tonight.
Despite losing her NXT championships to Charlotte at WrestleMania and taking the pin during the In Your House triple threat, Rhea Ripley still a big deal. She doesn’t lose often. Those two losses I just mentioned are pretty much when it comes to Ls in NXT.
If Dakota can pin Rhea tonight, that will elevate her. It doesn’t have to be squeaky clean. Raquel González can help plenty. A win would show that right now, Kai could beat someone who’s a big deal in the women’s division. If she can tonight, maybe she can do it again against Io Shirai.
3) Do we get another upset in the triple threat?
You could easily argue that Bronson Reed and Dexter Lumis qualifying for the TakeOver: XXX ladder match were upsets. Reed went over both Roderick Strong and Johnny Gargano. Lumis won a match that featured Finn Bálor.
I would not bet on that trend continuing tonight.
Damian Priest is the clear favorite in this match. Yes, he’s not the caliber of Bálor or Gargano. But Oney Lorcan has never won anything big in a singles match. And many NXT fans haven’t even heard of Ridge Holland. All while the Archer of Infamy has had plenty of spotlight. In fact, I’d say Priest is the favorite to win the ladder match, and we still don’t know who will qualify for the final two spots.
But they’ve been surprising us for two weeks now with these matches. Maybe Oney Lorcan sneaks one. That surely wouldn’t be a bad thing.
4) Will Karrion Kross actually have to qualify for his title match?
Last week, Karrion Kross challenged Keith Lee for the NXT title. Keith Lee accepted.
But that wasn’t enough for General Manager William Regal.
The old villain reminded everyone that he is in charge, and he makes the matches. NXT title matches will need to be earned. So who’s the poor bastard who Kross is going to crush to get that right?
Qualifying matches don’t seem like Karrion’s bag so maybe he wrecks stuff until Regal changes his mind. Maybe Lee convinces the GM to make the match. One way or another, we’re going to get there.
5) Why is Robbie’s other leg fine?
When Shotzi Blackheart ran over Robert Stone’s leg with a tank weeks back, it was bad. He had a tendon injury and needed to wear a walking boot. But when he was run over a second time, despite the report of partially torn tendons, he was pretty much OK the following week. No walking boot for the other leg. No John Laurinatis cart.
Was this a weaker tank? Stronger leg?
It doesn’t matter. I just wanted to see the man in a scooter.
We’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM ET on USA Network.