In the wake of serious allegations made against its rising superstar, WWE will seemingly move forward with its previous plan for the Velveteen Dream. Dream (real name Patrick Clark Jr.) was accused last week of sending nude photos to underage fans, which he immediately denied on Twitter.
WWE has stayed silent on the matter and has chosen to heavily promote the scheduled title match between Dream and NXT Champion Adam Cole. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, next week’s episode of NXT had already been filmed, leading many to believe that the company will sweep the ordeal – and the storyline – under the rug following Wednesday’s bout.
Dream has not appeared on television since an impromptu tag match with newcomer Dexter Lumis on the April 22 edition of NXT. However, WWE and Cole have gone out of their way to promote the upcoming title fight on social media despite the accusation.
The upcoming episode of NXT is massive for the company. With All Elite Wrestling scheduled to resume live tapings of Dynamite, WWE has stacked Wednesday’s card in an attempt to maintain viewership. In addition to the NXT title match, there will be an NXT Women’s Championship match between recently crowned champ Charlotte Flair and Io Shirai. Karrion Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux will also make their debut, while Johnny Gargano will take on Dominik Dijakovic.
Leaving Dream on the card might be a short-term solution for the company to boost ratings, but fans are still left in the dark regarding his future. WWE has had no problem inserting new superstars into storylines as a result of unforeseen circumstances. The company simply promoting the match as advertised has led some to believe they’ve seen enough evidence to believe the allegations are unfounded, giving them the green light to move forward as planned.
Not much has surfaced about the story since it first broke. While the authorities and WWE know more than the public, continuing on that course of action could lead to disaster for the organization. If the investigation has already shown Dream to be innocent, then a title shot for one of the most popular, homegrown talents in the company could inject some new blood into a brand Cole and the Undisputed Era have dominated for almost two years.
However, new evidence can be released long after the initial story disappears. If this happens while Dream is still a prominent part of the brand or even the NXT Champion, the situation could devolve into chaos. Any headline with “WWE Champion” and “sending nudes to minors” in the mainstream news would be a PR nightmare for the company. Writing any storylines that require putting Dream in the spotlight past this Wednesday is too risky for a company already struggling with its public image.
While putting Dream in a title match is already risky, it does allow WWE to write him off television until the situation can be properly sorted out. Given how the Undisputed Era operates, it would not be shocking to see the other three members of the stable attack Dream and cause an “injury” that would keep him in the shadows until further notice. If the allegations are false, playing it safe and writing Dream out of the storyline gives WWE a chance to bring him back in the future, free from the cloud hanging over him, and possibly give him a title opportunity in front of a live crowd.
Velveteen Dream remains innocent until proven guilty, but WWE needs to exercise extreme caution in how they navigate the top feud on the black-and-yellow brand. One mistake could turn fans away and give AEW a huge advantage in the war for Wednesday night ratings.
The WWE needs to consider it's next moves very carefully when it comes to NXT and the allegations surrounding Velveteen Dream.