The Dusty Rhodes TagTeam Classic 2021 gets underway tonight with Undisputed ERA versus Breezango and Grizzled Young Veterans versus Ever-Rise. Dexter Lumis is back in the ring after hosting last week’s New Year’s Evil. He’s facing Johnny Gargano in a non-title match. And Shotzi Blackheart faces Candice LeRae in the next phase of their enmity.
Candice LeRae def. Shotzi Blackheart
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Ever-Rise
Johnny Gargano def. Dexter Lumis
MSK def. Jake Atlas & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Xia Li def. Valentina Feroz
Undisputed ERA def. Breezango
Shotzi Blackheart vs Candice LeRae, with Indi Hartwell
Shotzi Blackheart opened the show in her tank.
A decent opening match. Indi Hartwell played her role of distraction a couple of times, but Shotzi Blackheart got the opportunity to take her out alongside LeRae with a suicide dive mid-match. The feud is developing nicely, getting steadily more vicious and with no sign of slowing.
It was another Indi Hartwell distraction, getting up on the apron when Blackheart was on the turnbuckle, which led to the finish. The time it took Blackheart to shove her to the floor was long enough for LeRae to climb up beside Blackheart and bring them both down with a swinging neckbreaker.
Finn Balor appeared to talk about last week’s match against Kyle O’Reilly. He said Kyle is great but he’s not on his level. O’Reilly stepped up at New Year’s Evil and just like last time he got put down. Only this time it’s O’Reilly drinking his meals through a straw. There was a warning for anyone thinking of coming for him next that they stopped manufacturing the cloth he’s cut from.
Pete Dunne had been shown arriving at the arena with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan earlier. They interrupted Balor for Dunne to say it’s his turn. He watched what Balor did to O’Reilly, like he’s been watching his entire career, knowing it would one day be them. Balor thinks he’s the poster boy for European wrestling but he only reason he holds the crown, and the title, is because Dunne hasn’t taken it from him yet. He said he’s not waiting anymore, but when he tried to get in the ring Balor kicked him down.
Unfortunately, that triggered Burch and Lorcan into attack mode as well. Dunne went for the arm Balor hurt last week, and the numbers proved too much.
Kyle O’Reilly ran down to help Balor and nearly got his head kicked in as well before Adam Cole and Roderick Strong turned up. There was an awkward standoff between Balor and Undisputed ERA when things had calmed down. Balor eventually rolled out of the ring but they continued it there. There’s no friendship there, but there’s respect between Balor and O’Reilly.
Johnny Gargano is so smug these days it’s an automatic cringe-fest. He’s confident The Way will win the men’s and women’s Dusty Cups. He was making excuses him and Theory losing to Kushida and Leon Ruff, when Theory arrived with an envelope for him. It was cartoons of them from Dexter Lumis.
Turns out we’re getting three Dusty Cup matches tonight. A mystery team called MSK are facing Jake Atlas and Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, who were fighting each other a couple of weeks ago.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Ever-Rise – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
William Regal opened the 16-team tournament officially before the start of the match.
Ever-Rise is NXT’s nearly team. They’ve talked themselves up plenty, but they lack presence and development which is unusual for NXT. That said, this was a really good match for them. Parker and Martel’s teamwork is nigh on perfect, but they’re out-skilled, or out-resourced, by Gibson and Drake. The match finished, as expected, with a Ticket to Mayhem.
Raquel Gonzalez described Rhea Ripley as ‘Like 2020, a bad memory we’re all is trying to forget’. She’s the brick wall Ripley’s shiny career hit. She’s coming for Io Shirai next… there seems to be something of a queue.
Shotzi Blackheart isn’t going to whine about losing to Candice LeRae because she’s got her eyes on history. The first women’s Dusty Cup. She knows LeRae and Indi Hartwell are in it, so she needs a partner. Someone she knows she can win the whole thing with. Someone she went to war with. Ember Moon. Moon joined her and she’s excited about it too. They could be great together.
Johnny Gargano vs Dexter Lumis
Dexter Lumis hits like a sledgehammer. Gargano is fast and creative with a thousand tricks up his sleeve and a plan B for everything, but for every 20 moves Gargano landed, a single blow from Lumis halted his momentum and flattened him.
Theory grabbed Lumis’ leg from outside the ring so Lumis stamped on his hand. Gargano ended up in The Silence despite the interference, when Lumis caught him in the middle of One Final Beat, but Theory got on the apron and Lumis let go to punch him. Lumis grabbed Theory to suplex him into the ring but Gargano got under Lumis and pinned him with a rollup. Lumis didn’t let go of Theory, so he got thrown across the ring anyway.
Gargano had to rescue Theory from The Silence after the match. Kushida arrived before they could execute the beatdown they had planned. There was a beatdown, it was just Kushida beating on Gargano. Kushida wants the NXT North American Championship.
Burch, Lorcan, and Dunne think Undisputed ERA need to keep their noses out of their business. Dunne said Kyle O’Reilly put himself in the way between him and the NXT title. He told Burch and Lorcan they should all go and take him out of it and they wandered off.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher have their Fight Pit match next week. This week, they had a sit-down with Wade Barrett. Ciampa told Thatcher he’s a crappy coach. Thatcher said Ciampa is a man questioning whether he’s still got it. It was fun. Watch.
Undisputed ERA aren’t worried about Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan. Kyle O’Reilly is going to accompany Cole and Strong to the ring to keep the peace during their match against Breezango. Adam Cole is certain Undisputed ERA will advance in the Dusty Cup.
Jake Atlas & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs MSK – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
MSK are The Rascalz, or they used to be. They were Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz, they are now Wes Lee and Nash Cutter. There was a nod to their old team name from Vic Joseph who said, ‘These rascals are high-flying’.
I’m a little sad it was Swerve and Atlas who had to go out on the MSK debut, they both deserve better. The match was great though. Swerve and Atlas could be one hell of a team, but they won’t be doing it in this year’s Dusty Cup. Swerve took MSK’s double team finisher and got pinned.
The first of the teams for the women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic have been announced. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell, Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter, Mercedes Martinez & Toni Storm, Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter versus Mercedes Martinez & Toni Storm will be the first match of the tournament, and it’s next week.
Scarlett had a vignette making it very clear that Karrion Kross is coming for Finn Balor. If Pete Dunne also wants Balor next, does that mean we will see Kross versus Dunne first?
Xia Li vs Valentina Feroz
Boa accompanied Li to the ring again and they left the veiled figure with facepaint in the ornate chair on the ramp. Li’s opponent didn’t even get named on the show (but did on the website results page) and the whole thing was over in two moves. They sent her off and had her made into a lethal warrior to bring her back to squash enhancement talent (or whatever the correct word for jobbers is now). The veiled figure gave Li a signal after the match for Li to back and inflict more punishment.
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter are excited about the opportunity to be the first team to advance in the first women’s Dusty Cup. They feel like they’re always overlooked and they’re ok with that. People can keep overlooking them and underestimating them right up to the point where they win the whole thing.
Swerve and Jake Atlas were trying to fight backstage while people separated them. Bronson Reed broke it up and told Swerve to cool it. Looks like Swerve and Reed might be having more issues and I guess Swerve and Atlas won’t be a great team after all.
Next week’s Dusty Cup matches are Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado (not billed as Lucha House Party on the graphic) versus Imperium and Kushida & Leon Ruff vs Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory. We’ve also got the Fight Pit match to look forward to, and the start of the women’s Dusty Cup.
Breezango vs Undisputed ERA – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
There was no elaborate entrance for Breezango, this means a lot to them because Dusty Rhodes meant a lot to them. Commentary said Kyle O’Reilly shouldn’t have been out there because he’s not medically cleared, but as he’s already been punched in the face, I guess anything goes.
Adam Cole and Tyler Breeze got the match underway and, honestly, find a way to give us a nice series of one on one matches between them because I think they could do something special. Breeze is one of the most consistently underrated superstars of recent times (and let’s face it, that’s a long, long list) and Breezango may be one of the most underrated teams. One short title run that ended via the other team cheating, is not enough.
It was a fantastic main event, sadly interrupted by Kyle O’Reilly getting beaten up at ringside by Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan while everyone in the match was down. Balor came down and tried to save him, but Dunne threw him into a pillar then punched O’Reilly and kneed his injured jaw against the barricade. Adam Cole saw what had happened but got superkicked by Tyler Breeze before he could get there. Strong tried to distract and failed. Cole went for Panama Sunrise of Fandango and failed, but as Fandango came off the top turnbuckle he was met with an Adam Cole superkick and pinned.
Kyle O’Reilly was bleeding from his mouth when Cole and Strong got to him. Balor moved closer to Undisputed ERA as the show went off air. Safety in numbers or just wanted to be in shot?
The first three teams through to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic are Grizzled Young Veterans, MSK, and Undisputed ERA.
I’m enjoying what NXT are doing with the main titles. Both Io Shirai and Finn Balor have multiple credible challengers and it’s not completely obvious who will be next in line. There’s such a lot going on in NXT that there’s almost too much to keep up with, but that’s not a complaint. If anything, it just shows where the main roster brands could be doing so much better with the talent they have available.