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WWE NXT preview (Aug. 3, 2021): End of an ERA

NXT returns tonight (Aug. 3) 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:

  • Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis in a “Love Her or Leave Her” match for Indi Hartwell’s romantic future
  • Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish
  • The first round of NXT’s Breakout Tournament concludes with Joe Gacy vs. Trey Baxter
  • Hit Row battles Legado Del Fantasma in tag action

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

1) Are we witnessing the end of an ERA?

The fact Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly’s feud will likely end with one of them leaving NXT isn’t a new wrinkle. Future plans have long factored into the way a lot of wrestling fans watch Triple H’s show. WWE itself has fed into at times, encouraging us to watch the black-and-gold brand to get in on the ground floor with the guys & gals who’ll someday be starring on Raw and SmackDown.

What’s new is that Cole’s next step might be outside the company he’s worked for since 2017.

If the second-ever NXT Triple Crown champion (he and Johnny Gargano are the only two men to have held the NXT, North American & NXT Tag titles) decides the grass is greener somewhere other than WWE, could he be the first of many folks we’ve categorized as “NXT lifers” whose next move is Dynamite, Impact, or Japan instead of Raw or SmackDown?

Something to consider as we watch the build to Cole/O’Reilly III continue tonight. The Panama City Playboy will certainly answer Kyle O’Reilly’s steel chair attack from last week with something - probably a challenge for TakeOver 36. Loser leaves town match, anyone?

2) Should Keith Lee get a title shot?

WWE only crosses the continuity streams when it suits them, and it usually doesn’t suit them. NXT champion Karrion Kross’ run on Raw, where he now has a 1 - 2 record, is definitely one of those times when they’re acting as if there are multiple WWE Universes.

It’s definitely not helping Kross. How much the main roster’s 50/50 booking approach will damage his prospects on the red brand remains to be seen. But in NXT - where most of the audience is at least aware of what happens on Monday nights - we’ve already heard about “Hardy” chants at the CWC taking over one of the big moments in the build to his match with Samoa Joe.

So why not bring the Limitless One in for while after TakeOver 36? It won’t effect his Raw booking, the reaction he got in Chicago proves the diehard fanbase still loves him, and Joe vs. Lee would be a banger.

3) Isn’t Indi Hartwell the greatest?

After Papa John took Hartwell up on her proposed “if Dexter Lumis can beat you, The Way has to give Dexter Lumis a chance; if you beat him, we’ll stop chasing each other around” match, Indi updated her Twitter thusly:

For you youngins who don’t get the reference... here. It’s a very good reference.

4) Who has the power in the Women’s Tag title scene?

The champions’ partnership seems tenuous, as Zoey Stark has to badger Io Shirai to even hang out together. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter have positioned themselves for a title shot, but it’s mostly been by taking advantage of the chaos surrounding Franky Monet’s hostile takeover of The Robert Stone Brand. Mandy Rose is recruiting... I think? She’s being very secretive.

A wealth of contenders isn’t a bad thing. But if you argued that the months old NXT Women’s Tag division could use some stability, and that having the previous champs in a forbidden romance angle after being dethroned due to a distraction from someone who’s now on SmackDown teaming with half of a previous championship duo, while almost everyone else is involved in some managerial drama - I wouldn’t say you’re wrong.

5) Will fans cheer Raquel González?

Speaking of former Tag champs, Dakota Kai’s betrayal of Women’s champ Raquel González last week ended the partnership between the first holders of those titles.

It’s hard to tell what reaction they were going for, because NXT has waffled between presenting González as a face (or at least an honorable tweener) and a heel since the Dusty Classic. But fans definitely seemed to jump on the Kai bandwagon last week after her cheap shot attack on Big Mami Cool.

Does it matter, or was this always going to be some flavor of a heel vs. heel program? Will Triple H and his braintrust course correct to adjust for folks cheering for the Kiwi kicker?

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.

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