NXT is coming off what will probably be one of their best shows of the year with New Year’s Evil from last week. It was a fun show and this week looked to have the ingredients to be one too. There were three tag matches set for this week to kick off the Dusty Classic. Speaking of the Dusty Classic, there was a mystery team called “MSK” that was added to the field and they would be having their debut match in the Dusty Classic. We also had matches between Shotzi Blackheart and Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano taking on Dexter Lumis to look forward to as well. Let us jump right in and see what NXT had for us this week.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Candice LeRae
This was a fun match to start NXT this week. Both women can bring it in the ring and they were able to do that here. Candice continues to show how turning heel has given her new life and Shotzi is showing she can be a future star. This was a fun back and forth affair and the two clearly have good chemistry in the ring. Both took turns in taking some nice bumps for the other and it looked like Shotzi was on the verge of a win here. That was until Indi Hartwell got involved and caused a distraction while Shotzi was on the top rope. Candice would take advantage and hit a swinging neckbreaker from the middle rope to pick up the win. Really fun match to start NXT this week.
Finn Balor In-Ring
Finn was out to the ring to talk about his match from last week with Kyle O’Reilly. He gave Kyle his props for hanging in there but told him that he is still not on his level. Finn then moved on to who would be next for him and he knows he has a target on him. He wants whoever wants next to step up and that is when Pete Dunne’s music would hit. Dunne wants next and believes he can take the title from Finn. He feels like Finn has been dodging him and this would all lead to a brawl. Dunne was accompanied by Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan and the three would attack Finn. Finn was able to fight them off at first but the numbers were too much for him. That is when Kyle O’Reilly and the rest of the Undisputed Era would come in to help Finn. Finn clearly didn’t want the help but was also not turning it down either. Nice segment here and seems like Kyle and Finn may have plenty of respect for one another.
Johnny Gargano Backstage
Johnny is so much fun as a heel and this was another example of that. He spoke about how he lost the tag match last week and made-up excuses for it. He also talked about how he was going to beat Dexter Lumis tonight because of how he was the reason behind the impromptu match. Austin Theory would then arrive and hand Johnny an envelope. It was sent by Lumis and Johnny would pull out a drawing of himself crying. His reaction was perfect and I loved how he told Theory that there was one of him as well. Theory’s was of him getting hit low by Shotzi’s missile and both men had me dying. I had no idea I would love this pairing as much as I do.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Ever-Rise
Here we had a first-round match in the Dusty Rhodes Classic and it was a nice one. Gibson cut a promo prior to the match and the man just oozes future star. Ever-Rise is a team that has really grown on me and it is just hard to explain why. They are solid in the ring and they were here against GYV. GYV really are darn good and they remind me a bit of the Revival when they were in NXT. A great tag team that is a bit of a throwback in ways but also not a throwback in other ways. This was a good match and a rare heel versus heel one as well. William Regal would appear on the screen and announce that the winners would receive a tag team title opportunity and that always adds a nice wrinkle to things. Fun back and forth match in this one and GYV would end up winning and advancing in the tournament.
Last Woman Standing Recap
It is clear that NXT is grooming Raquel Gonzalez to be their next big thing and this furthered that. This was a nice recap of her last woman standing match with Rhea Ripley and she provided her thoughts on it. She gloated a bit and then said she is ready to move on from Rhea. She is turning her attention to Io Shirai and wants to be the next one to have a shot at her and the NXT Women’s Championship. Raquel feels like she is the baddest woman in NXT and it is hard to argue against that since she took out Rhea.
Shotzi Blackheart Backstage
Shotzi was interviewed backstage about her loss to Candice LeRae. She said it sucked but that she has to focus on the future and that future is that she is entering the Women’s Dusty Classic. That excited me because I had said she should partner with Ember Moon and that is what we got. These two look like they have fun together and you could see it by the way they interacted with one another. Ember actually did pretty well on the mic here too and let a bit of her personality shine through. I am excited to see these two as a team and think they can be really fun.
Johnny Gargano vs Dexter Lumis
This was a really fun match and Lumis really showed a bit more of his moveset here too. The man clearly has another gear and Johnny brought it out of him. Johnny has that effect on people to bring out their best and that really is a testament to how good Johnny is. Lumis got to show off some nice athleticism with the different kip ups he did and this was a fun match. Really good back and forth and Lumis looked like he may be closing in on a victory. That ended up not being the case though as Johnny would squeak out the win with some help from Theory as he would cause a distraction. Lumis would put Theory in the Silence but Johnny would come to his aid. The two would beat down Lumis but he would be saved by KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA would put Johnny in the Hoverboard Lock and Lumis would put Theory in the Silence after KUSHIDA evened the odds. KUSHIDA handed Johnny the North American Championship and it seems pretty obvious now that he wants a shot at him. I really hope we get a match between the two at a TakeOver because it has the potential for a match of the year easy.
Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch Backstage
I wish I could grade this a bit higher but I am downgrading it a bit because it was hard to understand Dunne. I know he has an accent and he cut a nice promo on Finn earlier but it was hard to hear what he was saying here. They made it clear that they feel they run NXT and they want to remind the Undisputed Era of that. Good enough but could have been better had I been able to understand Pete a bit clearer.
Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa Interview
This was a fun interview segment and I liked how Wade didn’t overstep his bounds here. Thatcher didn’t want to say what injury caused the Fight Pit to be postponed and he is clearly doing that so Ciampa doesn’t have something to attack when they meet in the Fight Pit next week. Both bring that calm intensity to this and I always appreciate that in mic work. You don’t always have to raise your voice to get your point across and that is what happened here. Both men are primed and ready for the Fight Pit and that match should be awesome next week.
The Undisputed Era Backstage
Solid enough stuff from the UE here as they are not worried about Dunne, Lorcan and Burch. They also feel confident they will beat Breezango to advance in the Dusty Classic but did give them props as a tag team. I am digging this more face UE and I think it does not take away their swagger either. Often times we see face turns take away what made a team or individual amazing but that isn’t happening here. Kyle said he will be ringside to stop any shenanigans and this was solid.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott & Jake Atlas vs MSK
We were able to find out who MSK are and they are the men that formerly made up two thirds of the Rascalz. I will say it will take some getting used to for their new names of Wes Lee and Nash Carter. That being said, they looked awesome here and I quite like their entrance too. It will be interesting to see if they ever explain what “MSK” stands for or if they will just leave it up to the fans to decide what they want it to mean. Back to the match and this was my personal match of the night for NXT. This was a ton of fun and had such a nice pace to it. MSK are great in the ring and they got to show it here to a wider audience. I will say that I am still mad at 2020 because of a cancelled PWG show because the Rascalz were set to perform there. The match was really fun and I think this was a great debut for MSK. Great back and forth action and MSK would end up winning here. I think MSK could be favorites in the Dusty Classic and it is easy to see why.
Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Teams
3 out of the 4 teams announced were some I expected but one totally was not. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter, The Way, Shotzi and Ember were all the ones I expected but I did not see the team of Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez being a team. I wonder if they will keep it at four or if they will include some more teams. Toni and Mercedes have to be the favorites so far and it will be interesting to see how they work. They both want a shot at Io so it will be interesting to see if that plays a factor. Toni and Mercedes will be taking on Kacy and Kayden next week so that should be fun.
Scarlett Tarot Reading
This was an interesting segment to see Scarlett read some tarot cards. She was speaking in a foreign language and my guess would be Romanian is what she was speaking in. She made it clear that Kross still wants Finn and he would chime in with his “tick tock” catchphrase.
Xia Li vs Someone
Not much to this as far as a match goes because Xia made quick work of her opponent. We didn’t even find out her opponent’s name and that shows how fast this squash was. The match, for as long as it went, got off to an odd start because the audio from commentary was late. The interesting part came after as Xia and Boa’s master/sensei told her to continue the attack and she would beat down her opponent after the match. Nice beatdown from Xia and I am digging this story.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter Promo
Solid enough promo by these two as they know they are the underdogs in the Women’s Dusty Classic. Kayden has a bit more of a personality than Kacy but Kacy does come off as a sweetheart. Both know that Toni and Mercedes can be one heck of a team but that is not going to deter them as they want to make history by having the first victory in the Women’s Dusty Classic. It would be nice for the established team to win but I have a feeling Toni and Mercedes will win next week.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott *& Jake Atlas Scuffle
A video was shown of what happened backstage as Atlas and Swerve had a bit of a scuffle and had officials and referees in between them. They clearly put their differences aside for the tournament but now they can go back to hating each other since they lost. Bronson Reed was also in the middle and he would share some words with Swerve. Seems like we are heading towards a Swerve/Reed match and I am all for that one.
Breezango vs The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Roderick Strong)
This was a fun main event and I actually dug Cole and Strong as a team. I wasn’t quite sure how they would work since Cole has primarily worked singles as a member of the UE so it was nice to see him work in a team. Strong knows how to work in a team so it was easy to see he did well. Breezango also did great too as they always do. This was a fun main event match and I did wonder if they would have Breezango win here. The UE are always favorites because of how good they are and it was probably that they would win here. Kyle was ringside and he would end up getting attacked by Dunne, Lorcan and Burch on the outside. They tried to injure his jaw some more when Finn Balor would come to help him. He was clearly returning the favor but it would not matter as Dunne would hit Kyle in the jaw and give him a bloody mouth. The shenanigans on the outside were not enough to distract Cole and Strong though as they would beat Breezango in a fun match. They would check on Kyle and NXT would come to a close.
And That Is Undisputed
Overall, another fun episode of NXT this week. The tag teams took center stage and we should expect even more of that as both Dusty Classics continue. MSK had a great debut and the UE and GYV had good showings as well as they advanced in the tournament. I am still excited for the Women’s Dusty Classic and cannot wait to see those matches. Shotzi and Candice had a fun match and so did Johnny and Lumis. KUSHIDA seems next in line for Gargano and I cannot wait to see that match. All in all, great episode of NXT. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another episode of NXT.