The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicks off tonight with Undisputed ERA versus Gallas, and Forgotten Sons versus Imperium. There is also a Fatal Four-way Number One Contender’s match to choose Roderick Strong’s next NXT Orth American Championship challenger, featuring Keith Lee, Damian Priest, Dominik Dijakovic, and Cameron Grimes. If WWE’s preview is to be believed, we should also find out who will be the first to challenge Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, & Bianca Belair def. Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, & Bianca Belair
Imperium def. Forgotten Sons
Austin Theory def. Joaquin Wilde
Undisputed ERA def. Gallus
Mia Yim def. Kayden Carter
Keith Lee def. Cameron Grimes, Damian Priest, and Dominik Dijakovic
Rhea Ripley opened the show for the first time as NXT Women’s Champion. Once the chanting had died down she talked about how she’ll never forget winning the title and celebrating on the shoulders of fans. And that was all she got to say before Toni Storm arrived.
Storm congratulated her then asked if Ripley remembers her beating her, twice. At NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool Storm is planning to win back the NXT UK Women’s Championship. Then at Worlds Collide she’s going to become a double champion. If Ripley has the guts to accept – she didn’t say anything about putting the NXT UK belt up though.
The current NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray arrived next and said nobody believes that because Storm won’t be winning the title this weekend.
Io Shirai was next out. She wants the title. As does Bianca Belair, who joined the party and told everyone she’s better than them. Candice LeRae was the next one out and Ripley had had enough. She asked LeRae if she wanted to fight too and when LeRae shrugged, Ripley said ‘so do I’ and smacked Bianca Belair.
Ripley, Storm, and LeRae cleared Belair, Shirai, and Ray from the ring but before they could go anywhere a six-woman tag was declared. Candice LeRae sealed things with a suicide dive onto the other team.
Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, & Bianca Belair vs Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, & Bianca Belair
So the first live televised match of NXT 2020 showcased most of the best of the NXT women’s division (and two-thirds of the top tier of NXT UK’s women). To absolutely no one’s surprise, it was a great match. They are throw-together teams who would just as happily fight against each other, but they got the job done… for most of the match.
It fell apart when Io Shirai was about to deliver a moonsault to Toni Storm to finish the match. Bianca Belair tagged herself in when Shirai was on the top turnbuckle and put Storm up on her shoulders for the K.O.D., but before she could deliver it Shirai dropkicked her and left the ring. Bianca Belair was distracted just long enough for Rhea Ripley to tag in and kick her in the head. A win via Riptide quickly followed for the champ.
There was a brief moment of tension when Candice LeRae hesitated while handing Ripley back the belt, but the segment finished with her raising Ripley and Storm’s hands in victory.
Tommaso Ciampa had a vignette to explain how much he loved being champion and how much it sucked to have to hand it over when he needed surgery. He feels like a different person without it, empty. Adam Cole took his life and he wants it back.
In a second segment, Ciampa said Cole’s legacy is tainted because he’s never beaten him. The title was handed to him. Cole needs to cement his legacy and Ciampa needs his life back. He doesn’t know who or what he will become without Goldie.
Keith Lee is planning to pounce anyone who gets in his way on his path to becoming North American Champion.
Forgotten Sons vs Imperium – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 1
I’m not sure I like the NXT vs NXT UK format, but I’m guessing they’re trying to raise the profile of NXT UK. Aichner and Barthel have both been on NXT multiple times, so they’re known quantities to the crowd, and they’re great so it was an excellent start to the tournament. Forgotten Sons are also good. Wesley Blake had a great match. He also got pinned so Forgotten Sons are out of the competition.
Imperium will face the winners of Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle versus Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster.
Matt Riddle said he doesn’t know Pete Dunne that well but he decided that they’d make a good team for the Dusty Cup so he asked him in his inimitable way and Dunne agreed in his.
Austin Theory vs Joaquin Wilde
Theory was looking to make up for losing his debut match. Wilde was looking to find his place in the NXT pecking order after taking part in the Breakout Tournament. Only one of them could raise their profile in this match. It was fast, fun, and competitive, if a little short, but Austin Theory took the win.
Damian Priest sees winning the North American Championship as the first step towards making his name live forever.
Undisputed ERA vs Gallus
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong accompanied Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to the ring. Wolfgang and Mark Coffey came alone. It was a heavy hitting match, as is Gallus’ style, and suitably entertaining to watch. Gallus were never going to win though. Apart from anything else, they were outnumbered. Adam Cole was the deciding factor. He knocked Wolfgang senseless with a kick to the head from outside and left him wide open for the high low finish from Fish and O’Reilly.
Undisputed ERA will now face the winners of Grizzled Young Veterans versus Kushida & Alex Shelley who was named during the show as Kushida’s mystery partner.
Johnny Gargano wanted to talk about Finn Balor. He’s not taking anything away from how good Balor is or how important he’s been to NXT… Look, there were a lot of words but Gargano wants to fight Balor. His main premise was that Balor left and NXT moved on without him. He took issue with Balor taking the main roster call up and revealed he could have gone to the main roster in August but chose to stay in NXT.
Balor came out then and said NXT is his chessboard and Gargano is soft. He told Gargano to go and talk to William Regal to set up a match for them for TakeOver Portland, if Gargano makes it that far.
Cameron Grimes was a little frantic about the match ahead. He was talking to himself and trying to convince himself that he deserves it more than the other guys.
Mia Yim vs Kayden Carter
This was a nice surprise. I thought for sure the women’s division would be done for tonight after they got the first half hour. Mauro Ranallo said that Carter is yet to pick up a win, which surprised me. Her matches are always entertaining and she’s clearly very talented. She gave Mia Yim a really hard time for a lot of this one, but it wasn’t her night to break her losing streak. Mia Yim got the pin after Protect Ya Neck.
After the match Mia Yim helped Kayden Carter to her feet and gave her a hug, at which point they were attacked by Chelsea Green.
A man in a suit with a microphone appeared on the ramp and said, 2020 is the year the Robert Stone brand takes over NXT. Starting with the hottest free agent signing, Chelsea Green. I’d expect Deonna Purrazzo along soon.
Dominik Dijakovic promised his family the North American Championship nine months ago. Tonight is just a formality before the world feasts its eyes.
Damian Priest vs Cameron Grimes vs Dominik Dijakovic vs Keith Lee
Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic got their rivalry reignited early on, but no one is getting much one on one time in a fatal four-way like this. It was still pretty impressive when Lee played catch with Damian Priest then used him to take down Dijakovic and Grimes though. As was Lee’s superplex on Priest later in the match.
I had to wait 24 hours to see the end of the match because BT Sport lost transmission before it finished. I guess it was worth it. Everyone got to look impressive at least a couple of times. Everyone bar Keith Lee got tossed around a bit. And Dominik Dijakovic got pounced out of the ring. The end came after Cameron Grimes had taken out both Damia Priest and Dominik Dijakovic on the outside. He got slapped out of the air by Keith Lee as he came off the top turnbuckle, Then, despite valiantly fighting back, took a Spirit Bomb that looked like it should have left a dent in the ring, and got pinned.
NXT are asking people to consider donating to the Australia Red Cross due to the devastating fires in Australia at the moment. The link they put up on screen is here.
Next week, in addition to the last two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round matches, there will be a Women’s Battle Royal to determine the NXT Women’s Championship Number One Contender. It will feature Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Mia Yim, Kayden Carter, Dakota Kai, Vanessa Borne, Xia Li, Santana Garrett, Shotzi Blackheart and Chelsea Green. Shayna Baszler is a notable absence there. Main Roster arrival imminent?
It has also been announced that Toni Storm will get a shot at Rhea Ripley’s XT Women’s Championship at Worlds Collide. Whether she carries the NXT UK title into that match will be determined on Sunday in Blackpool.