NXT returns tonight (July 27) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. This week’s episode was taped last week - spoilers are here, if you’re into that sort of thing, and if you are, please use a spoiler bar if you discuss them in the comments - and will air on SyFy due to USA Network’s Olympics coverage.
Advertised for the show:
- Adam Cole vs. Bronson Reed
- Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Pete Dunne & Oney Lorcan
- The first round of NXT’s Breakout Tournament continues with Carmello Hayes vs. Josh Briggs
- Karrion Kross’ dominant NXT championship reign continues
As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:
1) Are they rushing Samoa Joe’s return to the ring?
You don’t need a spoiler report to see this is coming at some point soon. NXT continues to forge ahead with the narrative that Kross can’t be stopped despite his upset loss to Jeff Hardy on the July 19 Raw. He’s defeated most of the other likely top contenders for his championship during his reign. And after following up his attack on William Regal’s enforcer by taking out the General Manager himself, well, as the chant goes, Joe is gonna kill him.
Since Joe’s return to WWE, they’ve built to a Kross match - and teased ones with Pete Dunne, Adam Cole, and others. They’re going to happen, but is it too soon?
This isn’t about concern for the former TNA & NXT champ’s health, or it’s not only about that. If WWE medical says he’s cleared, he’s almost certainly okay. They weren’t wrong about Daniel Bryan, Edge, and Christian (Cage) when they gave those men the green light after a long layoff.
But the enforcer angle was a lot of fun, and seemed like something that could run for at least a few more months. They probably feel rushed to get the Samoan Submission Machine into the role Finn Bálor played for them over the past couple years after the Prince’s call-up, and the pending call-ups of other top stars & big prospects. And Joe could remain allied with Regal as an active or semi-active wrestler.
It might have been fun to see more of Joe as strictly an authority figure, though.
2) What’s next for Raquel González?
Speaking of dominant champions who’ve cleared out their division, there are only a couple big options left for the NXT Women’s champion. An Io Shirai rematch has been teased, but the Genius of the Sky is now a Tag champ with Zoey Stark. Will they tease Io as a double champ in building to a TakeOver 36 clash? Or is it finally time to pull the trigger on something I’ve wanted since Stand & Deliver - a split and feud with Dakota Kai?
If it’s the latter, it’ll be interesting to see how they do it. NXT’s hesitancy to commit to Big Mami Cool as a heel or a face probably hasn’t helped her connect with the fans, but it gives them some flexibility should they split the former Tag champs. Should be a hot feud either way. Or a Shirai rematch would be dope, too.
3) Is The Way okay?
Johnny Gargano couldn’t beat Kross for the NXT title. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell lost the Women’s Tag belts. Austin Theory tried to right the ship, but failed to pick up a win after challenging Kyle O’Reilly. Then he walked away as the other members of The Way fought about Indi’s relationship with Dexter Lumis.
Every family goes through issues. But every wrestling stable (other than The New Day) eventually falls apart.
Is it Johnny? Is it?
4) Can The Diamond Mine elevate the Cruiserweights?
Kushida’s a legend, but his time atop the purple division doesn’t seem to have done much to change people’s perceptions of the WWE cruisers. Rumor has it NXT believes Roderick Strong’s new group is the missing ingredient, the villains the scene needs to turn great matches into buzzworthy stories.
So far I haven’t seen it, but it’s early days. Maybe if they let Malcolm Bivens loose on the microphone more often? Get Hideki Suzuki more involved? I love Roddy, but he’s best as part of ensemble, not the focus of it.
5) Who’s breaking out in the Breakout Tournament?
The second edition of NXT’s rookie showcase was probably always going to pale in comparison to the first, as it isn’t stocked with big indie stars or former Impact wrestlers. It’s early days - the first round isn’t even in the books yet - but so far nobody’s stood out the way guys like Cameron Grimes and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (or the since retired winner) did in the 2019 version.
Odyssey Jones got a few spotlight features on NXT social after his win last week, and they’ve already started building to his match with Duke Hudson. But that’s a second round clash. Does either of those big men against Carmello Hayes, Josh Briggs, Trey Baxter or Joe Gacy excite you?
The next couple years of NXT might depend on the answer.