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WWE NXT 7/22 Review: A North American Title Tournament & the Feud For the Main Championship Gets Personal

It’s the end of July and we are a month away from NXT Takeover 30 during Summerslam weekend. Overall, NXT 7/22 was a solid show. We are starting to build blocks in what the major feuds are going to be going into a big event marker. We even get some smaller wrinkles as well. No Io Shirai or Adam Cole this week. There are still things to figure out – for instance, the men’s tag team division. Imperium hasn’t been seen in over a month (probably due to the pandemic) and it feels like the division is spinning the wheels a bit. Overall, this episode of NXT did its job to showcase the possible stars that will carry the band into 2021.

The North American Title Tournament: The funny thing was leading up to the announcement, there were rumors that William Regal could be stepping down or some combination of NXT and NXT UK was going to happen. Nope. Keith Lee is relinquishing the North American title and there will be a tournament to determine the new titleholder. This makes perfect sense on a couple of fronts:

  1. The North American title was a pillar of Keith Lee’s rising star, not only in NXT, but all of WWE. Now Lee joins an exclusive club of NXT champions such as Asuka who relinquish the belt and not lose it. (Keep it special. Don’t make it a habit.) Lee’s promo in how he wanted to give other superstars a chance only highlights how great of a talker he is. The tournament means more because he is saying why. It’s amazing how much his babyface character has grown in only a year.

2. NXT has a plethora of talent who needs something to fight for. Finn Balor, Dexter Lumis, Damian Priest, and Cameron Grimes to name a few. Having a double champion with that deep of roster is just not feasible. I know that dual titleholders seem to be all the rage in wrestling right now. You can use the North American title to elevate the future of the brand. Also, having triple threat matches, a match type that NXT books particularly well was refreshing to see other than a long single bout tournament. Look no further than the first qualifying match – Gargano v. Reed v. Strong. Two former North American titleholders and a future star of the brand who needed a big win.

This match was phenomenal. They did a good job of highlighting Bronson Reed’s size and athleticism. Within that, Roderick Strong and Johnny Gargano were able to have their dynamic. Nice little call back with Strong almost stealing the win as he has with previous triple threat matches. Reed needed the boost here, especially coming off two losses against Karrion Kross. Gargano and Strong can operate without the title in NXT. The right call and finish were made with Reed picking up the win. It’s time to make new stars.

Robert Stone Brand Has A New Member: If the ‘Robert Stone Brand’ is going to continue, you have to add some legitimacy to it. You need a new wrinkle other than Robert Stone being a comedy act that gets run over by a tank each week or running into Killian Dain. Although, it is funny and it seems like both Aliyah and Stone are both enjoying their roles. Mercedez Martinez joins the group and also gives Shotzi Blackheart her first real feud in NXT.

It’s a win/win situation. Blackheart gets to continue to develop against someone who is a time-tested veteran and Martinez builds her stake as a main heel in the women’s division. The women’s title is going to be tied up for the foreseeable future with Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai, and possibly Tegan Nox all vying for the title. One of the best things that NXT has been doing in recent months is building multiple storylines across the women’s division. To note, you could even have Aliyan and Martinez fight for the tag titles one day and add to that division as well.

‘It’s On Me. It’s My Call: Karrion Kross looks like an absolute, ruthless killer and that’s what how you want to build your heel challenger. Keith Lee has been able to conquer every challenger that has been in front of him recently, but people have been longing for him to go up against someone along with the ilk of Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar. We’ve seen him go against the Balors, the Garganos, and the Strongs. Let’s see what he goes with someone almost as powerful as he is. With what happened in the match between Kross and Dominik Dijakovic, it both gives this feud emotional stakes and gives Lee a legitimate threat to his title.

It also doesn’t hurt Dijakovic as well. He didn’t tap, he elected to go out on his sword. I’m not sure if they want to run this back because of what happened. The lasting image of Kross staring down Lee as he choked out his friend was money. As the weeks progress, it’s going to be fun to see how Kross gets to the usually cool mannered Lee.

The NXT 7/22 episode is now streaming on the USA Network website and app, Hulu and tonight on the WWE Network.


Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.

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