We’re plotting out the ways that NXT could go sideways on the leaked ending for this week’s episode.
Leave now if you don’t want to know about the NXT spoiler that came out last week.
Okay. Here we go.
Those who remember my interview with Keith Lee for this very site and were spoiled last week by a certain photo will not be surprised that I became very emotional and excited when I saw the photo for myself. My favorite friendly fellow, looking very blurry but also very much like both the North American and NXT champion.
But in the days that passed, my mind has wandered and I’m second guessing everything. I do this, I think, because if I can imagine the way it goes wrong before it happens, I won’t be let down as much.
Answer 1: It’s not the real finish
EJ Nduka, a performance center talent, tried to throw us off the scent after Saurav Gurjar’s photo of Lee celebrating in the ring became the talk of the town:
This is very much possible. It would not be weird for WWE to do such a thing. They did reshoots for the Edge and Orton Backlash match, and if this photo were indeed only one half of the recorded events, there’s always a chance that Cole retains in the other half.
That being said, I don’t exactly believe this to be as likely. Were this the case, and were Lee to lose to Cole - wouldn’t they want to shock us all, and let us see that for ourselves? Why let Nduka make this claim online? I assume NXT had some hand in this coming out because after the original photo of Keith Lee as a dual champ, the house that Uncle Paul built is probably taking a stronger hand with social.
The influence of NXT management is also seen in Nduka’s language. He refers to Taz’s Dynamite promo with the words “sloppy shop,” and reports say WWE was offended by those words. I don’t know Nduka, and while I could see anyone wanting to defend their own employer, doing it in such a manner feels like it wasn’t from him.
Answer 2: It’s not the complete ending
More likely, though, is NXT doing a classic NXT move (or “VINTAGE NXT!” as Michael Cole would say) and having this lead to a surprise moment once the NXT trademark graphic hits in the lower corner of the screen. You know the moments I’m talking about. Like when Kevin Owens turned on Sami Zayn at the end of NXT TakeOver: R Evolution or when Ciampa turned on Gargano in Chicago.
In a moment that would remind me of Naito’s Wrestle Kingdom celebration, cut short by KENTA, Lee’s golden moment feels like a possible time for his next challenger to appear. This could be Dominik Dijakovic, who has unfinished business with Lee and hasn’t appeared on Raw (as was rumored) — and would feel like the traditional NXT ending, picking up on existing relationships.
But The Limitless One’s also possibly made an enemy out of a man whose property he destroyed. While Lee’s been as noble as it gets in his pursuit for the NXT championship, he did break a cardinal rule of pro wrestling: do not destroy someone else’s ‘sacred object.’
The idea of a sacred object can be best seen recently in AEW when Inner Circle ruined Orange Cassidy’s sunglasses. It’s like staining Superman’s cape. It shouldn’t be done.
But Keith Lee broke Karrion Kross and Scarlett’s big dumb hourglass around the time he made his intent for Cole’s championship clearer, and in that moment he might have sealed his own fate.
Watch that clip from the June 17 NXT again. Look at the knowing smirk on Cole’s face. He knows that Lee has angered Karrion Kross and Scarlett. He knows that hell has been mocked. For Lee’s sake, I hope he’s ready for the next NXT superstar that management seems especially high on.
Could the Great American Bash end in a Kross Jacket?
You know I’ll be tuning in to find out.