We start things off this week with a brief video package about Dusty Rhodes and the previous Dusty Tag Team Classic events before going to the NXT Command Center where Charly Caruso is standing by. She hypes tonight’s Dusty Classic finals and confirms that Bobby Fish is injured and will be out of action this Saturday. The winners tonight will face Undisputed Era in New Orleans for the NXT Tag Team Titles.
We then get the opening video package and head to Full Sail University for action. Our announce team for the evening is Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness.
Match 1: The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne
Everyone comes down to the ring and we get Pete Dunne getting in the AoP’s faces as the ring introductions.
Akam and Strong start things off with Akam tossing Strong into the corner and Rezar tagging in. I guess the Authors forgot about Mini-Author of Pain Roderick Strong from WarGames. Rezar comes off the ropes, but Strong avoids the attack and crawls back into the corner and tags Dunne in. Dunne and Rezar get into it as we go to commercial. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We come back from break to find the AoP double teaming Dunne. AoP is all over Dunne, beating the piss out of him and working quick tags. It’s not pretty or flashy but it’s getting the job done. Dunne tries to fire up but is immediately beat down again. Eventually the Authors hit their double team stomp/sidewalk slam deal and cover, but Dunne manages to kick out at two.
The crowd tries to rally Dunne and finally he manages to grab Akam’s hand and does the finger break spot, because even as a babyface in peril, Pete Dunne is still like, “Fuck your fingers.” Dunne eventually makes the HOT TAG to Strong who comes in and runs wild on AoP.
Strong takes out Akam with a big knee that sends him out to the floor and then comes off the ropes with a forearm on Rezar. He lands a dropkick and follows with a knee strike on Rezar that drops the big man. Strong then hurks him up for an Olympic Slam and covers but Rezar kicks out at two. The crowd is absolutely going apeshit.
Strong hits another knee strike before Dunne tags back in connecting with a step up enziguri in the corner. He heads up top and nails Rezar with a double stomp and goes for a cover but Rezar manages to kick out.
Dunne goes for a triangle choke but Rezar deadlifts Dunne and Akam makes a blind tag. The AoP hit a double team neckbreak/sitout powerbomb and Akam covers but Strong comes in to make the save.
Rezar charges at Strong who pulls the top rope down sending Rezar out to the floor. Strong gets a blind tag on Dunne and this hit the double team Bitter End they used last week. Strong covers, but Rezar comes back in to make the save.
Dunne and Strong then run wild with knee strikes and enziguris on both AoP lads but they go to the well one too many times and get dropped with stereo big boots from Akam and Rezar. Everyone is down when Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly hit the ring.
They attack everyone, dumping AoP out to the floor and leaving Dunne and Strong laying in the ring as the ref calls for the bell and the ring announcer rules the match a double disqualification.
Pleased with their handiwork, the Undisputed Era start to head to the back but William Regal’s music hits and my absolute favorite version of William “Steven” Regal shows up: “Sick of this Bullshit” William Regal.
Regal’s all like, “You two think you’re so smart don’t you? Think that if there’s no winner here you won’t have to defend the tag team titles at TakeOver? Guess again! At TakeOver it’s going to be Undisputed Era against Strong & Dunne AND the Authors of Pain and the winner of that match will be the winner of the Dusty Classic and the NXT Tag Team Champions!”
Winners: Double Disqualification
This got really good once the hot tag to Strong happened. While I generally don’t like fuck finishes this one made sense since Undisputed Era have beef with everyone involved and are also trying to avoid defending their titles due to Fish’s injury. [***]
We get a fucking awesome video package about the dudes in the ladder match to determine the inaugural NXT North American Champion. Each of the competitors in the match gets segment that is shot differently during which they talk about how they’re going to win the belt. Lars Sullivan hurls cinder blocks about because he is awesome.
We get another outstanding video package, this time highlighting the feud between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. This is legit one of the best booked feuds in the history of wrestling and boiled down to a three or four minute highlight reel made me hate Tommaso Ciampa all over again.
Match 2: Kairi Sane vs. Vanessa Borne
The match gets underway with a lock up. Borne quickly overpowers Sane after stomping on her foot and goes after Kairi’s arm. Sane counters out of the hold and chucks Borne across the ring with an arm drag. She follows with a roll up for one and a bridging cradle for two before Borne cuts her off with a flapjack.
Borne keeps up the attack with elbows and clubbering before getting two off a quasi-curb stomp in the buckles. Borne then attempts to ground things, but Sane escapes and levels her with the spear.
Sane fires up and hits her sliding elbow and then heads up top. She comes off the top with a flying elbow strike that gets her another near fall. Kairi heads back up top but Borne follows her up.
They trade strikes and Borne gets knocked down into the Tree of Woe. Sane then stands on the top turnbuckle and comes down with a brutal looking double stomp.
Sane heads back up once more to hit the elbow drop and pick up the win.
Winner: Kairi Sane
This was a perfectly cromulent television match. Sane gets some time on TV so fans don’t forget that she exists and she picks up the win so they can start to position her as the next challenger for the Women’s title if they chose to go that route. Borne has some potential a heel. Her character work is pretty good, but she could use some more in-ring seasoning so to speak so having her work with the best, like she did here, should help her in the long run. [**]
Lacey Evans held a press conference saying that she’s a classy lady, a mom, and a Marine, but she’s been held back because Regal keeps giving title shots to trash. She says that she’s embodied what it means to be a strong woman and then runs down Nikki Cross for being insane, Ember Moon for only being a top rope maneuver, Dakota Kai for being adorable I guess, and Kairi Sane for being a bad role model.
William Regal decides to either head home early or possibly sneak out back for a smoke but is intercepted by Cole and O’Reilly who are pissed off at him for making them defend the titles at TakeOver. Cole says it’s not fair that he has to wrestle twice: once in the triple threat to defend the tag team titles and once in the ladder match for the North American Championship.
Regal tells them they’ve got three options: Cole can wrestle twice, O’Reilly can defend the tag titles alone, or Cole can drop out of the ladder match. He tells them to figure it out before Saturday.
NO MAN IS EVER TRULY GOOD! NO MAN IS EVER TRULY EVIL! ONE MAN, HOWEVER, IS TRULY NUDE AND THAT MAN IS ALEISTER BLACK!
We get a video hyping Black and Almas and highlighting their recent feud ahead of their match for the NXT Championship. This is another very good video package.
Last Week in the Performance Center…
We see cellphone footage of Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler getting into fisticuffs in the performance center as Sarena Deeb tries to separate them.
Following this footage we get a promo from Moon recorded earlier this week about how she doesn’t regret what she did because Baszler disrespected a trainer. Moon talks about how as champion she represents the company inside and outside of the ring and at TakeOver promises to show Baszler that being the champion is about respect or something.
Next Week on NXT…
The announcers inform us that next week on NXT Kairi Sane will be taking on Lacey Evans. I like that even on the go home show for a PPV NXT takes the time to set up random TV matches unrelated to anything that could potentially happen at the PPV.
Match 3: Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain
One dude in the crowd starts chanting “HOSS FIGHT!” as the match begins. This man is my hero. These two big boys who love to roughhouse lock up aggressively a couple times but end up in a stalemate. The start trading straight rights and Sullivan takes control.
He nails Dain with forearm smashes but Dain comes back with a big boot that sends Sullivan out to the floor. Sullivan gets back to his feet and pulls Dain out to the floor with him and we get some brawling ringside as we go to commercial. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We return to find Sullivan in control of the action back in the ring. He clubbers Dain for a bit and tries for the Freak Accident but Dain fights out of it. Dain comes back with some clubbering of his own and then hurks Sullivan up onto his shoulders. Wasteland hits and Dain follows with a Big Lad Running Senton.
Dain goes up onto the middle rope and tries for a Vader Bomb, but Sullivan gets his knees up. Both men get back to their feet. Sullivan turns Dain inside out with a clothesline and then heads up to the top rope. Dain cuts him off and both men start trading strikes. They both go for headbutts and the hossness of their respective domes cause both men to fall off the ropes out to the floor.
Velveteen Dream runs out and gets up on to the top rope as the two behemoths sell falling off the ropes onto the floor, but before he can do anything Adam Cole hits the ring. Dream gets off the ropes and stares Cole down as EC3 heads out as well.
Dain and Sullivan recover and head back into the ring when suddenly music we’ve never heard before hits and Ricochet sprints down to the ring. He does some flips and a superhero pose in the center of the ring as everyone else looks shocked.
Everyone stares at one another and the show goes off the air.
Winner: No Contest
This was decent enough while it lasted but I could tell from the outset we weren’t going to get a conclusive finish to this match. I don’t mind using a fuck finish in a match between two guys to hype an upcoming multi-man bout but kind of wonder about why they decided to end the episode when they did. Why not do the old WCW Monday Nitro ending and have all six guys start wailing on each other while one of the announcers scream about being out of time?
Anyway my love of big fuckers wailing on each other makes me hope that we’ll get a proper Dain vs. Sullivan feud after TakeOver since there was just enough colossal jostling here to make me think we could get a really fun hoss fight out of these two. [**]
All in all I thought this was a pretty decent go home show that did a good job of hyping the matches for TakeOver as well as setting up some potential TV feuds for the next batch of TV tapings. I personally wouldn’t have booked two non-finishes for the same show, but I kind of understand why they did it.
I’m slightly more excited for TakeOver than I was prior to this episode but that has more to do with the video packages than any of the in-ring action or backstage promos we got on tonight’s episode.