Worlds Collide is on Saturday, the starter to Royal Rumble Weekend, so this week’s NXT will be heavily focused on building to that. It’s a packed episode as well. The semi-finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Undisputed ERA vs Grizzled Young Veterans and Imperium vs Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne. We’ve also got Toni Storm versus Io Shirai to look forward to. And Roderick Strong puts the NXT North American Championship on the line against Keith Lee.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Undisputed ERA
Toni Storm def. Io Shirai (DQ)
Finn Balor def. Joaquin Wilde
Shayna Baszler def. Shotzi Blackheart
Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle
Keith Lee def. Roderick Strong (TITLE CHANGE)
Undisputed ERA vs Grizzled Young Veterans – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-final
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong accompanied Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly to the ring. Cole wandered over to the commentary desk to yell that they know Imperium is there (pretty simple deduction as two of them have a match later) and they’re not scared of them.
Early on, James Drake allowed himself to be distracted by Bobby Fish and got caught by O’Reilly, which led to him being stuck in the Undisputed ERA corner for longer than he’d have considered ideal. He got back to Gibson just before the break and it settled into a great match.
Things were really picking up when Imperium’s music hit. They were stood on the podium above the announce desk. Grizzled Young Veterans took advantage of the distraction and put themselves through to the final with a Ticket to Mayhem on Kyle O’Reilly.
» The first hype package of the night went to Rhea Ripley, positioning her in the context of everything she achieved last year and setting up the match with Toni Storm at Worlds Collide.
» Shotzi Blackheart had a promo package ahead of her match against Shayna Baszler. She said she’s going to take care of business. We’ll see.
Toni Storm vs Io Shirai
This was an interesting one for positioning. Shirai doesn’t lose often and is positioning herself in the queue for an NXT Women’s Championship shot down the line. Storm is in the process of moving over from NXT UK (as far as I know) and has a title shot this weekend. Neither of them could really stand to take the loss.
Of course, if a match is good enough then the loss hurts less in terms of losing face. Likewise, if the loss comes against the run of play. That looked like the way it was going to play out, Io Shirai had the best of it until late in the match. Toni Storm started to make herself some chances and then the third option for saving face when you have two competitors who shouldn’t lose revealed itself. Herself. Bianca Belair punched Toni Storm and caused a disqualification.
Belair took a moment to knock Shirai off the apron then turned her attention back to Toni Storm and planted her with a double chicken wing facebuster. While Belair was posturing over Storm, Rhea Ripley came out and had a brawl with Belair before getting dropkicked out of the ring by Shirai. Io Shirai threw Belair out to join her, moonsaulted onto them, then took a suicide dive from Toni Storm.
Toni Storm held the NXT Women’s Championship belt aloft to end the segment.
» Undisputed ERA had a very angry interview with Cathy Kelley. They ranted about Imperium causing their loss, then Adam Cole refocused them on the North American Championship match and making sure Roderick Strong retains. To be fair, against Keith Lee, it might take all four of them.
» Ilja Dragunov got an intro/hype package ahead of his match against Finn Balor at Worlds Collide.
Finn Balor vs Joaquin Wilde
Balor almost got himself disqualified straight away by stomping on Wilde in the ropes for too long while the ref was trying to back him off. Not a long match and not a great outing for Wilde. He got destroyed, and 1916 finished the match inside two minutes.
Shayna Baszler said that Shotzi thinks she made a statement last week but all she did was end her career when it’s barely started. Rhea Ripley calls herself the nightmare, but nightmares always give way to reality and the reality is, Baszler isn’t going anywhere and if she has to go through every girl in the locker room she will. She’s going to be Shayna three-time, and it starts tonight.
Shayna Baszler vs Shotzi Blackheart
Shayna Baszler decided to go with condescension as her theme for the start of the match, patting Blackheart on the head while easily dealing with her offence. Baszler never looked like she got out of first gear. Shotzi Blackheart had a couple of decent chances to pin Baszler, but she didn’t take them, and even on the comeback Baszler didn’t really break a sweat. Blackheart looked good, but Baszler has regained her air of unstoppability. Blackheart delivered a sliced bread on the apron and dragged Baszler into the ring so she could go to the top for a senton. Baszler evaded it and grabbed her as she landed then locked in the Kirifuda Clutch until Blackheart finally tapped.
» Tegan Nox versus Dakota Kai is happening. We got a story so far video, with promos from both of them over it. The match happens next week.
» Moustache Mountain got the next hype package. They face #DIY at Worlds Collide.
» Angel Garcia said he’s not worried about who his other challengers are on Saturday. When you’re as good as he is, you don’t feel pressure apparently.
Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle vs Imperium – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-final
WALTER and Alexander Wolfe accompanied Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner to the ring. After the opening match, two things were clear, Imperium were going to lose and it was probably going to be Undisputed ERA’s fault in some way. Nevertheless, the getting there was fun. Pete Dunne, especially, had a great early part of the match, but he got distracted by WALTER on the outside and Barthel knocked him into the steps and kneed him in the head.
There was some very efficient double teaming from both teams. Dunne and Riddle have pulled together quickly and Imperium are a well-oiled machine. WALTER and Wolfe were getting increasingly agitated at ringside as the Broserweights but they didn’t interfere. And I was only half right. Imperium did lose, but they lost clean, courtesy of a Dunne and Riddle double team on Aichner.
Grizzled Young Veterans came out at the end for Zack Gibson to verbally cut Pete Dunne down. He said Dunne was the most selfish thing to come out of NXT UK. He has been the roadblock every time they try to further their careers but that stops on Saturday.
Matt Riddle took the mic and said he heard Gibson say something about a joint (he’d mentioned joint manipulation) and he’d phased out, which got a laugh. Dunne explained that Gibson was just reminding everyone that every time they’ve stepped in the ring with him, Gibson and Drake have lost. And nothing is going to change next week.
Roderick Strong (C) vs Keith Lee – NXT North American Championship match
All of Undisputed ERA were ringside for the match and it wasn’t long before they became a factor by distracting Lee enough for Strong to take his leg out from under him and dropkicking him. Strong followed that up by working the ankle over using the steps.
It took Keith Lee a really long time to fight his way back into it, and not long after he did, Adam Cole distracted the ref long enough for Bobby Fish to kick his leg out from under him again.
An avalanche Olympic Slam failed to keep Lee down. O’Reilly and Fish cushioned Strong’s fall when Lee pounced him out of the ring (he got caught in the ropes, but everyone seemed ok afterwards). An ankle lock forced Lee to crawl for the ropes, but failed to make him submit. More distractions from Undisputed ERA forced Lee to knock them all off the apron and gave Strong his final opportunity to put Lee away, but the knee strike and kick in the face wasn’t enough. Keith Lee delivered a Big Bang Catastrophe and we have a new NXT North American Champion.
To add insult to injury, or injury to insult, Imperium arrived after Keith Lee left and the Worlds Collide go-home finished with a good old-fashioned pull-apart brawl.
The final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic 2020 is very Britwres 2016/2017, but that’s no bad thing. NXT is still the most consistent show on TV, with the best women’s division. And Worlds Collide looks like it’s going to be a good show. Everything is ticking along nicely. It’s quite refreshing to have a wrestling show where there is just nothing to complain about.