All images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service
- First Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round match: TM61 VS The Authors of Pain w/ Paul Ellering; The Authors of Pain win and advance to the semifinals.
- Bianca Belair VS Drew Renee; Bianca wins.
- Aleister Black VS Killian Dain; Aleister wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic returns to NXT!
Eight teams will compete over the remaining month until TakeOver: New Orleans on Wrestlemania weekend. In the end, the one team remaining will win an NXT Tag Team Championship opportunity on the big night itself! Who will be the team to hold onto their dream and “shoot for the sky”?
First Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round match: TM61 VS The Authors of Pain w/ Paul Ellering!
The two teams from last year’s finals are the first two up! Will Akam & Rezar continue where they left off? Or will Thorne & Miller prove to them that #TheMightyDon’tKneel?
The two teams are raring to go, and it is Rezar starting against Thorne. Rezar shoves Thorne then throws him to a corner before grinding in a shoulder. He brings Thorne over and tags in Akam, to mug Thorne with knees to the ribs. Akam flapjacks Thorne out of the AoP corner, but Thorne fights out of an open corner. Akam shoves Thorne but Thorne tags in Miller, and TM61 works together with a double Russian leg sweep. They also hit the standing moonsault and fist drop combo, but Akam then slips away to regroup. Rezar climbs up but TM61 double dropkicks him back down, then Thorne builds speed. Miller pulls the rope down for Thorne to FLY!
He takes out both Authors, and Miller helps bring Akam up and in. Miller covers, ONE, but Miller keeps on Akam with a camel clutch. Akam powers out so Miller throws forearms and chops. Miller runs but into a scoop, and then a buckle slam! Rezar tags in to rain down hammering rights. The fans cheer for TM61 while Rezar chokes Miller, then gives him crossface punches. The Authors are dominant as ever while we go to break.
NXT returns and Miller fights out against Rezar’s clutch. Rezar shoves Miller and takes him down for more hammering hands. He drags Miller over to tag in Akam, then they hit Miller with the sidewalk slam stomp! Cover, TWO, but Akam keeps focus as he forearms and stomps Miller on the mat. He drags Miller up and clubs him around the ropes. Akam wraps Miller in a cobra clutch while fans rally for The Mighty. Miller sits up and works his way against the hold. He stands up and elbows out, to then back Akam into a corner. Akam holds on but Miller spins around to DDT! Both men are down, and the fans rally again. Miller crawls, as does Akam, hot tags to Thorne and Rezar!
They collide but Thorne is the aggressor with European Uppercuts. Thorne runs and actually brings Rezar down with a lariat! He dropkicks Rezar to a corner, then hits a leaping leg lariat, to the cannonball! Thorne fires up with the fans, then brings Rezar back up. He tries to suplex but Rezar blocks. Thorne gives him forearms, then tries again, and actually gets Rezar up for the Falcon Arrow!
Cover, TWO! Thorne keeps focus while the fans cheer, and goes back to Rezar. They stand up, Thorne runs, but into Rezar’s boot! Rezar drags Thorne over, tags in Akam, and lift for the powerbomb neckbreaker! Cover, Miller breaks it! Rezar boots Miller down, then fireman’s carry lift in synch with Akam lifting Thorne. The Authors head for corners, but TM61 slip out to shove them into the buckles. Rezar ends up all the way out of the ring, while Thorne saido suplexes Akam! Miller hurries over, tags in, then climbs up. “Blue Vengeance” Moonsault! Cover, but Rezar breaks it. Thorne returns and goes after Rezar, but Rezar elbows him back. Rezar lifts Thorne and then powerbombs him to the apron!
Thorne is down and out while fans lose their minds, and Miller staggers onto his feet. Akam throws Miller with an exploder into buckles! Tag to Rezar and the Authors go after Miller, Last Chapter!
The Authors of Pain win! Akam & Rezar take out The Mighty in the first round, is this going to be a powerful sequel to last year’s story of dominance?
NXT General Manager, William Regal, meets with NXT Media.
Regal announced this third Dusty Rhodes Classic, but who are the favorites to win? Well with teams like the Authors of Pain, SAnitY and Heavy Machinery, “everyone is in for a treat.” Regal leaves it at that, but in comes the British Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne.
They ask the WWE United Kingdom Champion on his successful defense against the Messiah of the Backbreaker, Roderick Strong. Dunne admits Strong pushed him to his limit, but the UK title stays in the UK. However, Strong shows up now to respond.
Strong tells Dunne that while Dunne was the better man, and congratulates him on the win, he also wants Dunne to know that he’ll gladly go another round. But that’s when The Undisputed Era decides to walk by.
Is “Roddy” begging for another big match to lose? Dunne tells Adam Cole that he hasn’t won much since showing up, either. Cole gets in Dunne’s face, but Regal returns. Is there a problem here? No, no problem. At least, not yet. Will the Bruiserweight have to worry about Strong and the Panama City Playboy coming after his UK Championship? In fact, it is announced as such! Can Dunne retain the title or will this upstart Yank yank that belt away from the UK?
“It takes four fingers to make a fist.” The Dusty Rhodes Classic was the beginning of their madness. “Chaos has and always will rule.” This year, their chaos will continue. “Because united we purge!” But the Beast of Belfast speaks directly to Aleister Black when he says, “Chaos will win!” Will SAnitY finally find their way to complete and utter chaos control over NXT?
Bianca Belair VS Drew Renee!
Ms. EST of NXT has been on a roll as of late, because she is the strongest, fastest and all-around best woman in the Division today. Can she keep it up to become the newest NXT Women’s Champion?
The bell rings and Bianca takes her time stepping up to her opponent. Bianca and Drew circle, but Bianca kicks low to then drag Drew by her hair. She suplexes Drew up, then rolls through to suplex again. Another roll through, and another suplex to gord buster. Bianca taunts Drew as she gets to ropes. Drew crawls to a corner, Bianca pulls her back out by her hair. She then lifts Drew for the reverse powerbomb!
Bianca covers, Bianca wins! That was one of the fastest wins for Ms. EST, can she make one of the fastest climbs to the top?
Backstage interview with Lacey Evans.
The Lady of NXT will be facing Dakota Kai in the Team Kick Captain’s return, how does the Model Soldier feel about that? Lacey is here to show the entire NXT Universe what a “classy and calculating” is capable of. On top of that, Dakota is on the list of the various “classless, sad excuse for a woman” she means to remove from the Division. Just look at what happened to her in her match against Shayna Baszler. She’s probably still shaken up. Lacey has seen Dakota in the trainer’s room, so Lacey is going to put Dakota to the test. But then, Shayna Baszler herself appears. Lacey decides to excuse herself at this moment.
Shayna says “Another week without a word from Ember Moon.” The Queen of Spades called out the fighting champion, but there’s only been silence. Guess she knows the answer. Which woman will fulfill her mission in NXT first?
Heavy Machinery speaks.
Last year, Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic were little calves, pieces of viel. But now they’re “nice aged beef.” It doesn’t matter who they face, they ain’t ready for the beef! Will #SteaksAndWeights be too much for the Street Profits in their opening round match of the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Classic?
Tommaso Ciampa quietly walks out to the ring.
The Sicilian Psycho already proved he had a black heart when he betrayed Johnny Wrestling to break up Team DIY. But then he escalated it when he attacked Gargano after one NXT Championship defeat, and then during an NXT Championship challenge. Now Gargano is no longer part of NXT, and fans don’t hesitate to tell him, “You Suck!” while he walks out into the Center Stage Theater arena.
As for why he’s here tonight, Ciampa takes his time entering the ring to embrace the heat. Fans chant “We Want Johnny!”, and even hold up Johnny Wrestling shirts. Ciampa, brandishing the weapon that is his crutch, goes to speak, but the boos and jeers keep him from starting. They start up “You Suck! You Suck!” again, but Ciampa waits them out. Then “We Want Johnny!” chants return, and Ciampa loses his cool. He throws down the mic, hops out of the ring, grabs another mic, then drops it again. The fans taunt him with “Nana na na, Hey Hey Hey, Good-Bye~!” as he heads for the stage. They even use “DELETE! DELETE!” on him. Ciampa spots a Johnny Wrestling, and snatches it! He holds it up in front of the crowd, and tears it up!
Then he hops back in the ring, grabs his crutch, and beats the scraps with it, until the crutch breaks. Ciampa storms off without a word, because his actions speak for themselves. The fans continue to chant for “Johnny Wrestling!” but he embraces it, heat and all. What will Ciampa do now that he’s banished the object of his grudge?
Aleister Black VS Killian Dain!
The Embodiment of the End and the Beast of Belfast both want at El Idolo for the NXT Championship. As such, they’ll gladly go through each other with full force! Who will survive to continue down this Road to TakeOver: New Orleans?
The bell rings, and Damo blasts Aleister with a dropkick right away! Cover, TWO, but Damo does not let up. He stomps on Aleister, then puts him in a corner for body shots. Damo whips Aleister corner to corner then flattens him, before whipping him corner to corner again. Aleister dodges this time, and starts kicking back. He blocks to retaliate with a strike fest that brings Damo down. Damo rolls out, so Aleister goes to the apron to MOONSAULT!
Down goes Damo, and the fans fire up for Aleister. However, Damo is slowly getting back up as we go to break.
NXT returns, and Aleister stomps and punches away on Damo. Damo shoves him back then runs him over with the Divide body check! Damo covers, TWO, and Damo glares at Aleister as he gets to a corner. The fans rally while Aleister takes stomp after stomp from Damo. Damo kicks the rope Aleister leans on to jack his jaw, then drags him up again. Aleister pushes Damo but Damo punches back. Damo wraps Aleister’s arm around ropes to kick the ribs, then covers, TWO. He goes for a hold but Aleister resists, so Damo clubs the resistance out of him. Damo puts on the seated abdominal stretch, stretching and bending the spin and ribcage.
The fans rally and Aleister fights his way out, but Damo rocks him with a knee. Damo stalks Aleister, then drags him up for a swift scoop slam and splash. Cover, TWO, but Damo keeps going with another splash. TWO again, and now Damo grows frustrated. He turns Aleister over, for a splash directly on the back! Cover, TWO, and Damo glares at him again. Now Damo stretches Aleister back in a modified camel clutch, again torturing the spine and ribs.
Aleister endures while fans rally, and powers his way up. He fights out but Damo gives another knee lift. Damo suplexes Aleister but Aleister slips out to a waistlock. Damo elbows out, but Aleister evades and blocks to counter with kicks. Aleister boots Damo then forearms him on the rebound. When Damo stays standing, Aleister runs for another forearm smash. Damo remains standing, and even roars back at Aleister. Aleister sweeps the legs, runs, and knees Damo right in the head! Aleister handsprings up and gives a running forearm in a corner, then runs for the springboard quebrada!
Cover, TWO, but Aleister keeps his calm. He stands up while fans rally again. He drags Damo up but Damo throws him out to the apron. Damo runs in but Aleister counters, then goes to the top rope. Aleister flies, but into a lariat! Cover, TWO! Damo is furious that he was so close yet so far. The fans rally again while Damo thinks on what to do next. He glares at Aleister, saying “You’re in my path.” He drags Aleister up by his jaw and throws in a heavy body shot. Aleister hits back, so Damo gives another body shot. Damo reels back but Aleister blocks and roundhouses! Aleister runs, but Damo picks him up for a huge spinebuster! Damo stands, roars, and drags Aleister up into the fireman’s carry. Wasteland slam to back senton, but he’s not done there, it’s the VADER BOMB! TWO!! Damo cannot believe it!
The fans rally while Aleister crawls to a corner. Damo is upon him, shoveling him up to his shoulders. Aleister fights out and victory rolls to a cover, TWO, BLACK MASS!!
Aleister wins! He made the Beast of Belfast #FadeToBlack, and remains undefeated in singles competition. His path to the NXT Championship seems free and clear, will it be El Idolo’s turn to face the Embodiment of the End?
Another solid episode of NXT, and felt very full for only 46 minutes and change. I didn’t expect the opening match for the Dusty Rhodes Classic 2018 to open the night, and I also didn’t expect the Authors of Pain to win. This immediately busts my bracket as I thought they’d go with TM61 overcoming the team they couldn’t overcome last year and then be a shoe-in for the finals. The match was great, and AoP wins, but I feel AoP is doing this to put over whichever team they face in this year’s finals. I suspect that team will be SAnitY, as they still want a proper rematch with the Undisputed Era. As for TM61, they can always try after ‘Mania Weekend to give a tag title build towards TakeOver: Chicago II.
The parking lot paparazzi promo segment was very intriguing. Strong returns to NXT TV to say he is more than ready to try again with the WWE UK Champion, but then we get Dunne VS Cole for the title practically out of nowhere. I doubt Cole will win that, but it’s becoming ever more apparent that NXT needs a midcard belt for all these other great wrestlers that are spinning their wheels waiting for THE NXT Championship. Maybe the women need a midcard belt, too, since Bianca Belair has only been tearing through jobbers lately. If Ms. EST is to really impress, she needs to be defeating more established women. Lacey Evans gets to face such women superstars in her Right to Censor revival, so why not Bianca?
Ciampa’s “promo” segment was done brilliantly! The fans poured on so much Heel Heat over him screwing over Gargano, and he handled it all perfectly. Tearing up then beating the Gargano poster was the perfect way to represent what he’s been about since TakeOver: Chicago 2017. Damo VS Aleister was great, but probably could’ve gone a couple more minutes. They did great telling a story, Damo constantly talking about his path to the title while working over Aleister’s torso. Aleister shows great fortitude to survive and then his finisher is given great points as it truly finishes Damo in one. Aleister VS Almas will be just as good as the recent pair of Gargano VS Almas matches, but probably with much more focus on stiff strikes. I’d expect Aleister wins to then establish himself as the strongest champion in awhile, because he’d beat the man who beat Gargano four times.
My Score: 8.5/10