NXT returns tonight on a temporary new night (due to the NHL Playoffs on USA tomorrow) from Full Sail University. Tonight they crown a new NXT champion since Karrion Kross had to relinquish the title because of a shoulder injury.
Advertised for this week:
- Fatal 4-way Iron match between Finn Bálor, Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa, & Johnny Gargano for the vacant NXT title
- Street fight between El Legado del Fantasma vs. Breezango & Swerve Scott
- Timothy Thatcher vs. Bronson Reed
- Wade Barrett returns to commentary
As per usual, here are our five question about NXT tonight:
1) Well... who wins?
This is the big, and really the only question that matters, for tonight. I’m going to use this space to argue for Finn Bálor being the answer to it.
Finn Bálor has been very protected since returning to NXT. He’s taken a handful of singles losses, all due to distractions. Zero were squeaky clean. Adam Cole beat him because Johnny Gargano returned from Bálor caused injury, distracting the Prince. (This was the cleanest loss because Johnny did not interfere.) He lost to Cameron Grimes because Damian Priest attacked him mid match when the ref’s back was turned. And he lost to Velveteen Dream as a bunch of dudes brawled around them, with Timothy Thatcher using that moment to strike.
Right now, there’s no one built stronger to step into that role. The other three guys have held the title way more recently, making this fell fresher. And while Finn held the title for a long time years ago, he never held the title as this version of himself.
I’d argue against Adam Cole strongly. He just came off a very long title reign. We don’t need more Adam as champion. It’s time for him to go on and find his true post-title feud.
I’d also argue pretty strongly against Johnny Gargano. I like his new heel role, but it also feels like he’s an upper midcard guy right now. I wouldn’t fully buy him as the top guy over the other three.
Tommaso Ciampa is one I’d understand. But he just returned. And the last we saw of him prior to leaving, he was being straight up squashed by Karrion Kross. They turned him heel last week to reestablish himself as someone who makes sense competing in this match, but he hadn’t been winning prior to his hiatus.
The heel turn really helped alleviate that though. This version of the Psycho Killer feels like one who should hold the title. Hell, this version of Tommaso never lost the title. Because of that, despite the way he left, Ciampa would be a good pick to win tonight. But I don’t think he’s a better pick than Bálor.
2) What happens with ties?
I’ve seen some eye rolling at this match, but I don’t fully understand why. Iron Matches are fun, but they can be boring. This allows four incredible workers to divide up that hour to keep it from losing steam. I see no reason this is any worse than a regular Iron Man match. The psychology will be different, but that’s part of the appeal.
This stipulation leaves open the possibility for multiple ties. What happen if there’s a tie in any sense, whether it be two people, three, or all of them?
The easy answer is sudden death. Whoever is part of that tie goes on to a one winner takes all overtime. We may know if we’re getting overtime if the Iron Man match starts well before 9 pm.
3) We will get a winner, right?
There’s always the chance in a match with this many variables, NXT comes up with a reason not to crown a champion tonight. Instead, they use this match to kick off a program between two of the contestants to crown a champion down the road.
I would not go in that direction, and I don’t think they will. To have an hour long match and not crown a new champion after promising such will leave a bad taste in some mouths. Plus there’s no need to wait.
The whole reason they made sure all four guys were very established was so they can crown a new champ quickly and go from there. The audience doesn’t need to be convinced that any of these men are championship material. They’ve all had stellar NXT careers.
4) What will be the next era for the NXT announce team?
At first, Wade Barrett calling last week’s taping (including last week and tonight) seemed like a one time thing. Then when given a closer look, it was possible he may be sticking around more. Now, with reports that this was a tryout for Barrett and news that Mauro Ranallo is parting ways with WWE, it feels like a foregone conclusion Wade will be back in this role.
No matter what, this will be a new era of an NXT announce booth.
Mauro was the Voice of NXT and his booth with Nigel McGuinness and a mixture of Percy Watson and Beth Phoenix was the staple sound of the promotion for a couple years. With Nigel furloughed and Mauro moving on, we’re going to get a new sounds for NXT, possibly a combo of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, & Beth Phoenix.
Given how NXT changes with time, I don’t mind a change in the announce teams here and there. But I was a big fan of Mauro and will definitely miss hearing him every week. It will take time for whomever the new crew is to gel, but Wade, Beth, and Vic could be a very good booth long term.
5) Are Breezango going to be short lived champs?
Tyler Breeze and Fandango won the NXT tag championships last week. It was a feel good moment for two men who never held any good in NXT or WWE.
But this being NXT, they may not get to hold them for long. Instead, they may be a good babyface team that will lose to help establish a bigger heel team. Given their street fight tonight against El Legado del Fantasma, that team could be Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza. If they win, all of Legado would hold gold given Escobar is the Cruiserweight champion.
Also given they’re already feuding with Legado, it would be likely that’s the first title feud for Breezango. I’d like to see them retain the gold at least once, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t.
We’ll see if we get any answers to these questions tonight at 8 PM ET on USA Network.