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WWE NXT preview (Aug. 10, 2021): Lame duck

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NXT returns tonight (Aug. 10) live from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida.

Advertised for the show:

  • General Manager William Regal mediates a Face To Face between Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly
  • Raquel González “breaks her silence” about Dakota Kai attacking her to secure a Women’s title shot
  • Ilja Dragunov appears ahead of his TakeOver 36 NXT UK championship match with WALTER
  • Sarray vs. Ember Moon
  • The Breakout Tournament continues

As usual, here are our five questions about NXT tonight:

1) Can they get the focus off the behind-the-scenes and back on what’s on-screen?

NXT’s future is more in flux than it was a week ago. Sure, everyone was doing the usual pre-TakeOver speculating about the next wave of call-ups to Raw and SmackDown. Reports of Adam Cole and Pete Dunne’s expiring contracts added a new wrinkle to that conversation. But then the release of 13 performers, including former North American champion Bronson Reed, led to word Vince McMahon wants to take the brand to focus on creating bigger, younger future stars. Suddenly fans of the super-indie Triple H has created over the past five years are wondering if they’ll recognize the show in a few months, and wrestlers who helped it reach its peak have to be asking if they’ll be around for much longer.

With TakeOver 36 less than two weeks away, they should be able to at least distract everyone from worrying about what’s next beyond the SummerSlam weekend event. It could be a challenge though. The wrestlers are professionals and will undoubtedly focused on the task at hand. But NXT’s audience is more attuned to the internet news cycle than Raw or SmackDown’s. The stars the Sun. Sept. 22 show is built around are central to rumors about what’s next: Karrion Kross is already on Raw, Cole looks to be leaving NXT one way or another, and Dakota Kai is getting a look on Main Event. It’ll be tough to distract us when the reminders are on-screen.

Good storytelling and perhaps a surprise or two should get everyone back on board. But questions will linger.

2) Does Cole vs. O’Reilly III get a loser leaves town stipulation?

This is contradictory to changing the conversation, but it’s the one TakeOver feud where it really makes sense to lean into what fans think they know. Going back to the start of their 2021 feud, the story’s been that these two former Undisputed ERA can’t be in the same place without trying to kill each other. Giving them one last chance to prove who’s the better man then sending the vanquished one away would be a logical pro wrestling decision for Mr. Regal to make.

3) What else gets added to the TakeOver 36 card?

In addition to the three title matches already announced, and Cole vs. O’Reilly which almost certainly gets made tonight, they’ve definitely been setting up a Santos Escobar/Swerve Scott North American championship. That could be it if they go with a five matches. If they want to make it bigger, there are decisions to be made.

Was Indi Hartwell taking her own life in her hands and choosing Dexter Lumis over her “parents” wishes last Tuesday the end of that story? Follow-up question... does Austin Theory’s absence (and Main Event match) mean The Way is finished?

How about either set of Tag titles - do they make it onto TakeOver 36? There are options for both MSK and Io Shirai & Zoey Stark, but neither is in a hot feud. Is the story of Ted DiBiase coaching Cameron Grimes to outsmart LA Knight get another TakeOver match? Where do the cruiserweights stand after 205 Live took the brunt of last week’s cuts?

4) What are Vince’s plans for NXT’s women’s division?

The release of Mercedes Martinez tells us the focus will likely shift to younger female wrestlers as well, but the height and weight requirements probably don’t apply. Still, outside the title feud, the whole division seems to be in a holding pattern. And a lot of time is being dedicated to wrestlers in their 30s assembling stables (Franky Money with her takeover of the Robert Stone Brand, and whatever Mandy Rose is doing).

Women’s wrestling has been NXT’s calling card since the days of the Four Horsewomen. It’ll be interesting to see what role it plays in whatever the brand evolves into going forward.

5) Can they add some heat to the Breakout Tournament?

I love a straight-up competition as much as the next person, and the introductory promos the participants have been doing for this one have been solid. I’m still struggling to get terribly invested in it, though. Maybe they could give us someone to love and someone to hate? A backstage interaction between Odyssey Jones and Duke Hudson planted the seeds for something, and with those two big men being on opposite sides of the bracket, a pro wrestling trick or two could turn that into a noteworthy fued for the finals - and beyond.


Give us your questions and answers in the comments below. Then join us in our live blog and we’ll see what Qs and As tonight’s show gives us.