January 16, 2020

NXT Review – 15/01/2020

Tonight’s show honestly looks pretty great on the face of it. We’ve got the final two first-round matches of the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which is Kushida & Alexa Shelley versus Grizzled Young Veterans, and Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne versus Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster. Tyler Breeze, Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, and Lio Rush have a triple threat number one contender’s match to decide who faces Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship at Worlds Collide as part of the Fatal Four-way title match. The other two competitors will come from NXT UK. Rhea Ripley’s next challenger will also be decided, with a Battle Royal. And it’s likely that Imperium will have something to say to Undisputed ERA after Undisputed ERA’s invasion at the close of NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool.




Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle def. Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster

Grizzled Young Veterans def. Kushida & Alex Shelley

Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott def. Tyler Breeze and Lio Rush

Bianca Belair won the Number One Contender’s Battle Royal




» Tonight’s show was dedicated to the memory of Rocky Johnson.

» Just a two-man desk tonight. Nigel McGuinness had the night off after calling NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool, so it was Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix for tonight. It worked fine.


Keith Lee opened the show. He talked about Undisputed ERA having had a great 2019, and still holding all the championship gold. They arguably had the best year of anyone except him. But the difference is that they have reached their limit and he is limitless. He’ll prove that next week when he beats Roderick Strong.

He got interrupted by Undisputed ERA at that point. They yelled about al the people they’ve put out and told him he’s next then attacked him. Three of them held Lee down while Strong trapped Lee’s leg in a chair for Strong to jump on from the turnbuckle. Tommaso Ciampa ran down after they’d done that and chased Undisputed ERA away, but Lee was limping when he got up and the damage may have been done.

Undisputed ERA attack Keith Lee
All photo credits: wwe.com


» Finn Balor vs Johnny Gargano is confirmed for NXT TakeOver Portland.


» Tegan Nox will be in tonight’s Battle Royal because she’s finally been cleared. Candice LeRae interrupted Nox talking about getting her hands on Dakota Kai, to hug her, but they’re opponents later.


Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle vs Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster

I’m sorry but I’m having Britwres 2016/2017 flashbacks again. The match was a lot of fun. Riddle and Dunne worked surprisingly well together. It got an unexpectedly long time as well, there were two ad breaks during it. Andrews and Webster are only a few days removed from a brutally hard ladder match in Blackpool, but they appeared to be on the top of their game. The crowd loved it, and they weren’t wrong. When Andrews tried to stop Dunne getting past him to break a tag up and Dunne punched him onto his partner instead, I laughed so loud I woke my dog up. The ‘Broserweights’ secured the win with a double team finish on Mark Andrews.

Pete Dunne punches Mark Adrews onto Matt Riddle and Flash Morgan Webster


» Imperium will be paying NXT a visit next week ahead of their match with Undisputed ERA at Worlds Collide.


Tommaso Ciampa said it’s clear that Undisputed ERA have a hitlist but that’s great because he does too, and Adam Cole is on it. He told the world last week that when Adam Cole took Goldie he took Ciampa’s life. No more waiting, no more distractions, he needs his life back and he’s taking it.

Undisputed ERA came to the ring and they went four on one. Obviously, Keith Lee was still being assessed by the doctors, but Johnny Gargano came to his old best friend and bitter enemy’s rescue. Bobby Fish caught the old DIY finisher. Ciampa and Gargano did a lot of looking at each other after the ring was cleared, while the crowd chanted ‘DIY’.

Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano

Trent Seven tweeted in the break that it would be nice if Ciampa and Gargano could stay friends long enough to fight them at Worlds Collide.


Kushida & Alex Shelley vs Grizzled Young Veterans

This was the final Dusty Classic first-round match. Most of the crowd were justifiably excited to see Alex Shelley and he showed everyone why. Zack Gibson and James Drake are a well established and effective tag team, but they were outclassed at times in this one. They were definitely outpaced. It didn’t matter though, they thoroughly spoiled Shelley’s debut by shoving Kushida off the top turnbuckle and giving Alex Shelley a Ticket to Mayhem.

Alex Shelley takes Grizzled Young Veterans' finisher

After the match, Kushida and Alex Shelley offered Gibson and Drake a handshake. They declined and Zack Gibson said they didn’t come all this way to stand there and shake hands while the hipster Full Sail crowd pretend to know who Shelley is. They have derailed the reunion tour on the first stop. Kushida and Shelley are a great tag team of the past, but they are the present and the future. They’ve conquered Europe and they are soon to be recognised as 2020 Dusty Classic winners.


» Robert Stone said Chelsea Green has been pulled from the battle royal because, while the NXT women’s division is better than it has ever been, Green is better than the best and all these women trying to steal her spotlight isn’t on. So we have to wait.


Tyler Breeze vs Lio Rush vs Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott – Triple-threat match to join the XT Cruiserweight Championship Fatal Four-way at Worlds Collide

Angel Garza joined commentary to get a ringside seat to find out one his opponents at Worlds Collide. Tyler Breeze is back on the singles hunt now Fandango is once again on the injured list. I’m sad for Fandango, and Breezango are great, but I’ve wanted to see Breeze get a really good singles run for a very good time. He had to step up in this one to have any chance against Rush or Scott.

In truth, Swerve and Lio Rush did the majority of the bouncing around, while Breeze kept inserting himself in the action whenever he saw the opportunity. This match was everything that’s good about triple-threats. I liked it a lot. Isaiah ‘Swerve Scott finished it with a JML Driver on Tyler Breeze.

Tyler Breeze, Lio Rush, and Isaiah 'Swerve' Scott


» Ahead of the Battle Royal to decide her next challenger after Toni Storm, Rhea Ripley said she doesn’t mind who wins. Toni Storm wants to cut the queue at Worlds Collide and that’s ok because Ripley will go straight through her and whoever wins tonight. This is her division now and the nightmare is just beginning.


Johnny Gargano was asked why he stepped in to help Ciampa tonight but he didn’t get to answer because Ciampa came over to thank him. Gargano asked him what he thought about Moustache Mountain’s tweet and they agreed to one more for old time’s sake.

A commotion drew attention away from them which turned out to be Undisputed ERA, a lot of security, and Keith Lee. Undisputed ERA vanished when Lee started tossing security around like cushions – one hit a car windscreen and smashed it – and Lee screamed after them that the prophecy ends next week.

Keith Lee throws a security guard at a car

#DIY vs Moustache Mountain was confirmed for Worlds Collide.


Candice LeRae vs Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair vs Kacy Catanzaro vs Mercedes Martinez vs Shotzi Blackheart vs Santana Garrett, Vanessa Borne vs Xi Li vs Kayden Carter vs MJ Jenkins vs Jessi Kamea vs Indi Hartwell vs Catalina vs Deonna Purrazzo vs Io Shirai vs Tegan Nox vs Shayna Baszler

Kacy Catanzaro retired not long ago after an injury. Good to see her back. Mercedes Martinez has just signed a proper NXT contract. Shayna Baszler was a surprise entrant just as the match was about to start. I may have missed a couple of people, but a lot of them came out during the break so if I didn’t spot them, tough.

Women's battle royal competitors
All photo credits: wwe.com

The first elimination took a while, but it was MJ Jenkins courtesy of Shayna Baszler. Jessi Kamea went next thanks to Bianca Belair, followed by Catalina, Kayden Carter, and Santana Garrett by Baszler. Mia Yim took out Vanessa Borne. Shotzi Blackheart eliminated Deonna Purrazzo, so Purrazzo dragged her out of the ring and kicked her in the chest. Blackheart wasn’t eliminated, but she was out of the ring for a long time. Baszler took out Xia Li, and Kacy Catanzaro was eliminated by Io Shirai.

Getting down to the expected names, Candice LeRae was the first to go when Bianca Belair tipped her over the top rope and ran her into a ringpost. Mercedes Martinez eliminated Mia Yim and immediately squared up to Shayna Baszler. Martinez came off worst and found herself heading back to the locker room.

Shayna Baszler, Tegan Nox, Io Shirai, and Bianca Belair were the final four left in the ring. Dakota Kai appeared as Nox climbed the turnbuckle and pulled her off it to the floor, eliminating her. Kai threw the knee brace at her head and left.

Dakota Kai throws knee brace at Tegan Nox after eliminating Nox from the battle royal

Back in the ring, Shayna Baszler tried to eliminate Io Shirai but Shotzi Blackheart chose that moment to come back in and tipped Baszler over the ring. She got overexcited about celebrating and got thrown out by Bianca Belair.

The final two were Io Shirai and Bianca Belair which, let’s face it, probably should have been the two fighting it out for the next shot anyway. Shirai came off the top rope and Belair caught her but gave her a fallaway slam instead of just tossing her over the top rope. Shirai made her pay with another hard-fought five minutes and a lot of almosts, but eventually, Bianca Belair put Io Shirai across her shoulders and pitched her over the top to the floor.

Bianca Belair throws Io Shirai over the top rope to win the battle royal

It will be Bianca Belair versus either Rhea Ripley or Toni Storm at NXT TakeOver Portland.




Final word

The semi-finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic 2020 are set. Unsurprisingly (and this is the problem with brand versus brand tournaments) two teams from NXT and two teams from NXT UK survived. Imperium will meet Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne, and Grizzled Young Veterans will face Undisputed ERA. The semi-finals are next week.

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