Welcome everyone to another edition of 'On the NXT Level', I hope you're all well and currently still buzzing after an extremely productive day. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a downer, this is going to be the last trial column. I'll give closing comments but this has been a wonderful opportunity to return and try to offer something a little different.
Last week it was stated that NXT gave the better hook for the following Wednesday and the ratings certainly demonstrate that belief to be true. The overall booking has felt stronger, as of late especially, with added layers to what is unfolding. Viewers want multiple possibilities that can feasibly happen, as opposed to all roads obviously leading to Rome. That's what stimulates our brains, triggers our imagination, and gives that sweet dopamine release.
Similar to my last column, here are some predictions for the first night of the Great American Bash and the 'Winner Takes All' title match. A shorter and sharper piece this time around. If its to be the last, let's not stand on ceremony!
Oney Lorcan vs Timothy Thatcher: Merge these two workers together and you've got a technically satisfying bout. They've wrestling against one another with far less exposure and now it is great to see this happening on NXT. Thatcher is on a roll and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon.
Winner: Timothy Thatcher
Sasha Banks vs Io Shirai: A non-title match, and it's a shame that Io Shirai has been featured so sparsely since capturing the NXT Women's championship. There are cogs turning on the other brands where Sasha is likely to be directed to more so. We're conditioned to recognize that the belt not being on the line is to protect the champion. We've seen too many examples of this.
I see this being a reverse of roles, the idea is to protect Sasha Banks and foresee an upset. That way the top of the NXT women's division has marked her territory, without discounting Sasha as a viable singles contender in the process, for the near future.
Winner: Io Shirai
Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai vs. Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim: This is a four-way elimination contest to be crowned the number one contender to take on NXT Women's champion, Io Shirai. There is arguably more history & chemistry with LeRae coming out on top, that makes the most sense.
The division as of late is focussing on these four performers and has done for some time. It's gotten to the point where it is hard to discount any of them, really. Going against what makes sense in favour of gut instinct, I'm expecting the following to come out with the 'W'.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Aliyah & Robert Stone vs Rhea Ripley: If Rhea loses, she must join the 'The Robert Stone Brand'. An opportunity for the audience to see an added dimension to her character. This may be the whole point of the exercise. A heel-turn if she becomes settled into being an enforcer and takes a 'must like it and lump it' attitude.
On the flipside, overcoming a two on one handicap can make Ripley showcase her dominance in the ring. The conditions in place indicate that Robert Stone's obsession in recruiting Ripley may finally pay off. Though does he really know what he's getting himself into?
Winner: Aliyah & Robert Stone
Dexter Lumis vs Roderick Strong (Strap Match): You got to love the recent Undisputed skits. Watching Roderick Strong bouncing off the protective plexiglass was quite amusing to behold. What else do you expect when you're getting stalked by Lumis? Sounds a natural reaction to me, even more so for a cowardly heel.
The Undisputed faction has been supportive of Strong. Such comradery may manifest itself into the match. I say "may", "will" is more likely to be the case. It is all about beating your fears, and Strong wasn't ready last week to confront them, resulting in a count-out.
Dexter Lumis is on the rise and a loss for Roderick Strong isn't going to have a major impact. He is impervious to pain, as they say, and in his opponents head.
Winner: Dexter Lumis
Yes, this is night 2 on July 8th. NXT Champion, Adam Cole, vs North American champion, Keith Lee. Winner takes all to be crowned a dual title-holder. Not only that, but we also have the foreboding shadow of Karrion Kross lurking to await the victor. A lot of people I've spoken to are predicting the winner to drop the NXT championship to Kross in the near future.
I'm sensing that in its current form, the Undisputed Era is going to fold. Win, lose or draw for Adam Cole. His star power is off the charts and ready to elevate onto the blue or red brand. We have been teased Kross versus Cole, however, this doesn't necessarily mean it will happen by the initial roles.
Cole may very well challenge Kross, in the aftermath of him defeating Keith Lee to become champion. Take into account that Cole has already attained an impressive resume up to this point. Becoming North American champion may be overkill. To have Keith Lee win would give him a distinct accomplishment that no other NXT talent can boast.
It is a difficult choice, whether the goings-on behind the scenes are priming Adam Cole to be transferred. My prediction comes down to who benefits the most and it is this man.
Winner: Keith Lee
A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to venture into these columns. Coming back after five years has been brilliant and will remain an avid reader. I am a writer & paid contributor for other publications, after contacting the site owner, Ben, I wanted to volunteer and give something give back.
WNS was one of the first opportunities I received for writing pro-wrestling. Doing a column once again was a cool idea I wanted to resurrect on this site. There's been a mixed reaction, I was warned columns were no longer a thing anymore but overall the positive outweighed the negative. There's been some solid constructive criticism, a few personal attacks, and trialling this content comes down to whether it is a benefit to the site.
If a new edition is immediately divisive, not by context but by the author, and time-consuming to produce twice a week, longevity comes into question. It would be unfair to commit for the foreseeable, in the process provoking who aren't in favour of it and disappointing those who are. The decision to discontinue I've made.
Once again, thank you for your support and honesty. It is greatly appreciated.
I wish one and all the very best in the future and that you take care during these high-pressure times.