Sovereign S.A.M. here and I have the pleasure of writing the NXT blog this week. We all know how amazing NXT is and has truly become one of the premiere wrestling shows in recent years. This week marks the start of the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Classic and this year’s is a bit different since it is pitting NXT versus NXT UK. With all that in mind, let us jump right in and see what NXT had for us this week.
Rhea Ripley In-Ring
Rhea looks darn good with that NXT Women’s Championship around her waist and I loved seeing all the love that the NXT crowd gave her. Rhea came out like a star and talked about beating Shayna for the title. Rhea is clearly someone that will become a future star and it is hard to disagree with that. She kept talking and then Toni Storm made a surprise appearance and the NXT crowd gave her a lovely pop. Toni reminded Rhea of the times in which she beat her and even issued a challenge to her. Toni said that she planned on beating Kay Lee Ray at Takeover: Blackpool 2 and that she wanted to become a double champion. Rhea was up for that challenge, but Kay Lee Ray came out and had some things to say on the matter. She scoffed at the idea of losing to Toni and then Io Shirai came out for some words. She said that she wants Rhea next and then Bianca Belair made her way out. She confidently said that she is better than everybody in the ring and she would be interrupted by Candice LeRae. Before Candice could say a word, Rhea told her that she knew she was there to fight. I love Candice’s shrug in agreement because it sold the whole situation very well. Rhea would punch Bianca, and this would start a brawl with the women. This would lead to a six-woman tag match that would happen right then and there. Fun opening segment from the ladies and shows that Rhea has gone from the hunter to the hunted.
Six-Woman Tag Match
This match got off to a hot start as Candice started the match off with a tope to the women on the outside. The bad thing though is that the beginning of the match happened in picture-in-picture and I have come to be less of a fan of that over the last few months. It is nice to see the action during commercials, but we are trained to take our eyes off the screen during commercials so sometimes a person can miss out on the action. This was a fun match and did a great job in establishing the title scene in NXT post-Shayna. Io looked to be ready to hit her beautiful moonsault for the win when Bianca tagged herself in so she could get the win for the team. This led to Io hitting her with a springboard and abandoning her team. I do think Io botched the first attempt at it, but it wasn’t in view of the camera. This allowed the faces to regain the advantage and Rhea picked up the win for her team. I love how Candice handed Rhea her title but not before giving it a look. Their hands were raised, and Candice kept eyeing the title. That is a nice bit of storytelling from Candice to conclude a fun opening to NXT.
Tommaso Ciampa Vignette
Ciampa is truly a talent that gets every bit of the business and it showed in this vignette. He spoke about his rise to becoming champion and how he lost the title. The way he spoke about being champion was perfect because he truly feels that he was the best champion in NXT’s history. He spoke about his disgust over Adam Cole being champion and that he plans on getting the title back. This was done very well and shows Ciampa’s range on the mic. Ciampa is another one of those talents that has said he plans on being NXT for life and I don’t mind that. I know Triple H has spoken about Ciampa and said that he will move right into coaching at the Performance Center when his time is over because he feels like he brings a lot to the table. After seeing his work in NXT, I can’t disagree with him because he understands every little bit that is needed to be a complete wrestler.
Forgotten Sons vs Imperium
I have spoken at time about how I am not into the Forgotten Sons and not much has changed there. Their characters don’t resonate with me at all, but I will never deny how they can bring it in the ring. This was the first match of the 2020 Dusty Classic and I was looking to see how they would mesh with Imperium from NXT UK. I was pleased to see that this ended up being a pretty good match and a solid way to start the Dusty Classic. Imperium is my personal pick to win the whole thing and I think it would be a good way to draw attention to NXT UK. Again, solid back and forth action in this match and I really wondered if the Forgotten Sons would upset Imperium. That ended up not being the case as Imperium would go on and beat the Sons in a solid match.
Matt Riddle Backstage
I know Matt Riddle isn’t for some people, but I totally am behind the man. He gets what his character is, and it is pretty much an extension of himself. Those are the best characters to me, and I am glad WWE didn’t try to make him into something he is not. Riddle spoke about his random partnering with Pete Dunne in the Dusty Classic and even said how it was random. He spoke about how they are two different types of people but came together so they could win the Dusty Classic. I also love the name that they dubbed this team as they will be called the “Broserweights” and I want to see that t-shirt.
Austin Theory vs Joaquin Wilde
Very solid match between these two and I have to admit I was a bit taken aback when commentary said Theory is only 22 years old. I knew he was young, but I had no idea he was that young. Theory is extremely talent and if he keeps honing his craft, can have a very bright future. Wilde is the former Zema Ion and he has always been a fun guy to watch in the ring. Didn’t quite know what to expect in this match but boy was it a bit of fun. Wilde feels like the kind of guy that the NXT will eat up if he is given enough time on tv. Like I said, this match was fun and did a goo job in establishing who these two are. Theory did have a great match with Roderick Strong for the NXT North American Championship in the final show of 2019 for NXT and I feel like he could be in line to have a breakout 2020. Again, fun match that saw Theory pick up the win with his version of the TKO.
Gallus vs Undisputed Era
This was the second match of the Dusty Classic and it was a champion versus champion affair as it pitted the Undisputed Era versus Gallus of NXT UK. I love how both teams got in each other’s face at the beginning of the match as a way to say that they are the best tag team in NXT overall. The Undisputed Era is the best faction going right now and also the best tag team in my eyes and it is hard for them to have a bad match. I am familiar with Gallus’ work, but I will have to admit I do not keep up with NXT UK as much as I probably should. When Adam Cole and Roderick Strong decided to stay at ringside, I knew that was the clue to let us know who would win here. Fun match between these two teams and the numbers game of the Undisputed Era would prove to be too much as they would ultimately pick up the win over Gallus. My early prediction for the finals of the Dusty Classic is the Undisputed Era versus Imperium and I think it is hard to see any other teams make it to the finals at this point.
Johnny Gargano In-Ring
Johnny isn’t always the smoothest on the mic, but he truly brought the fire and passion here. He continued to speak about how he is a lifer for NXT and that he didn’t leave like Finn Balor did when he got the call from management. He did give Finn props for taking NXT to the next level but said that he took it even further once Finn left for Raw/Smackdown. Loved the energy and passion from Johnny here and of course Finn had to come out to respond to it. Finn came out and talked about how he made Johnny miss a Takeover because of his attack and that if he wants some, he can get it at Takeover: Portland. Johnny looked pleased at the notion and Finn also added that the match will happen, if he can make it to Portland. Lovely back and forth between these two and you can bet that their match at Takeover will be something to behold.
KUSHIDA’S Partner Announcement
I know this may not seem like something to grade but it must because of who was announced as KUSHIDA’S partner. Alex Shelley is reuniting with KUSHIDA and that is a total shock to me. I didn’t think WWE would get someone like Shelley as his partner and this certainly adds something to the Dusty Classic. The Time Splitters are reuniting, and the NXT crowd is going to give Shelley a lot of love one would have to think.
Mia Yim vs Kayden Carter
The more I see of Kayden, the bigger fan I become of her. She doesn’t have much of a character yet, but you can see that she is putting in work in the ring. She is extremely athletic and that is something that can get you noticed for more tv time. Mia is great as well and I was interesting to see how this match would go. I knew Mia would most likely win but I wanted to see how much offense they would give Kayden. I was happy to see they allowed her to show a bit here and she was rather impressive. Mia would end up picking up the win though as Kayden put on a valiant effort. Both women were then attacked from behind by Chelsea Green as she made her true debut on NXT. Robert Stone was on the ramp and many will recognize him as Robbie E in Impact, and he announced that she is the latest signee to the Robert Stone Brand. I am interested to see what they do with Chelsea because I feel like she can be huge.
Tommaso Ciampa Vignette Part 2
Pretty much everything I said in the previous vignette can be said here. Ciampa is just simply masterful at promos and this was just as good as the first one. He keeps talking about wanting to get his title back and I wonder if he will indeed get it back at the next Takeover. The review of this may be short but everything I had to say was said in the earlier vignette. Ciampa just understands everything about the business and he showed that again here.
Fatal 4-Way Match
This was a fatal 4-way match to determine the number one contender for the North American Championship and boy was it a ton of fun. Damian Priest, Dominik Dijakovic, Cameron Grimes and Keith Lee were the participants and you knew this would be worthy of the main event slot. The bar NXT has for main events is truly high and this one certainly fit right up there. All four men had a chance to shine here and show why they are in this spot. The men all had a bit of a short promo throughout the night as well and those did a good job in establishing the types of characters they are. There was so much action in this match in this match that there is no way I can do it justice in trying to describe it. This was such a fun match and I really had no idea who would come out on top. Cameron Grimes looked to have all the momentum and seemed like he would pick up the win but that would not be the case as Keith Lee made him bask in his glory as he picked up the win here. Lee will face Strong in a match for the title in two weeks and I cannot wait for it.
Yes, I am naming my version of the final thoughts of NXT after Mauro’s signature phrase. I know some may not like him, including members of the WR staff, but I adore the man’s style. What is there to say really about NXT other than this was a fantastic episode from start to finish. The Dusty Classic matches were great, and the main event was pure fun. Everything in between was great as well and the opening with all the women was a ton of fun. I did wonder where Shayna was, but I have a feeling she may be gearing up to rumble this month if you catch my drift. Fun episode of NXT as usual and no complaints from me. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all around the WRC.