NXT returned from the Capital Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida last night (27 January). You can find the results from the live blog here.
This week’s main event was a tag match, in a show jam packed with them, featuring former foes Finn Belor and Kyle O’Riley, in a non-title match featuring the tag team champions of Oni Lorcan & Danny Burch Were facing
The match was good in itself, although it was easy to get tired of tag team matches because there were so many. Finn Baylor played face to face with his arm working up and O’Reilly was the hot tag that decisively won with a submission.
After the match, Pete Dunne showed off a handicap by Adam Cole and Roderick Strong defeating the victorious team before the Kings of NXT were run out.
All in all, this angle is spinning its wheels. Kyle and Finn had an entertaining feud against each other, but there is little spark in the story of them playing reluctant allies against Pete Dunne and Tag Champs. In general, NXT is missing a spark, and there’s not much of an issue as to what’s going on with the main titles. (The women’s title still doesn’t have a clear direction, only to begin unveiling the week after.)
I give him props for acting Finn Baylor which literally seems to be a very important moment to walk side by side with the ERA, but it was not enough to make this event worth the main event.
This story needs a spark to feel worthy of the top spot on the card with takeovers, only a few weeks away.
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai defeated Jessie Kamiya and Aliyah to advance to Dusty.
There is not much to say about the match. Dakota did a lot of work, but Gonzalez eventually took care of the business. It was nothing spectacular but what it did to make it happen: remind us that Gonzalez is the chief.
However, what I appreciate most is the evolving relationship between Dakota Kai and Rekel Gonzalez. Raquel debuted as Dakota’s bodyguard last year. She was clearly working for Kai, advancing Kai’s career.
Rakil then began to breakout on his own, and instead of leaving the team or quarreling, the dynamic shifted. Dakota Arohi was more than happy to play a supporting role for Gonzalez. Even she is locked in a locker for her assistance during Reckel’s Last Woman Standing match against Reckel. And now they are working as a team, both working towards that common goal.
They may be bad friends, but I dig this friendship.
The opening bout on Tag night featured MSK on Drake Maverick and Killian Dan.
One thing I have said about the Dusty Classic in general is that they use it to elevate the tag team to a more serious situation. When they debuted Danne and Drake were a full on comedy bit. With a place in Time and now Dusty, they were portrayed as a respectable tag team.
They are still in the team’s DNA: Dan is the threat and Maverick is the ‘weak link’. But this week, Drake held his own. He was not an obligation as he had played in the past. This is important if they want this team to be more than just a comedy act. (Which should be fair, if this is what NXT wants, it’s a good role for them.)
The team still does not feel like a cohesive entity. There is still a sense of two people as opposed to actually working together as a pair in a tag team match. It is part of who they are, though hopefully they develop into more Team.
On the other side of the ring, MSK is very exciting. I have some experience of seeing him as a rascalz in Impact, but it takes me several months to see the Impact, so I am not aware of the caliber of work when he leaves. He said, they feel more special here. They are unique in style and personality. I was excited for this match because of them this week and I am excited to see what they will do in the next round.
My favorite match of the night was the Dustin quarterfinal bout where the Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Kushida and Leon Duff.
It was the only Dusty match of the night that really felt like it wasn’t over. Yes, GYV were favorites. But Ruff and Kushida won the first round big.
This match completed the task of bringing me to a point in which I wanted the underdog team to win. Leon Ruff does a terrific job just working a match as a sympathetic character. His personality makes it so easy for him to root. Meanwhile, GYVs are not attractive, but their style allows you to easily root against them. It is more disappointing when they win.
after the match. Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory attacked Rough & Kushi last week to avenge their loss. They eventually became frightened by Dexter Loomis, who has problems along the way as well as a clean North American title match.
It looks like Io Shirai may have to defend his title in a Triple Threat match.
Tony Storm called the champion, but after Shiri’s reply, Mercedes Martinez found himself involved in all of this. Despite not having another tag team with Storm and Martinez being on the same page, it is enough to go here with the triple threat.
Honestly, a triple threat is understandable. So many women are eligible for a title match, running an event with two of them at once helps move the line. And if there is a person they want for a singles match with the champion down the line, they do not take the pin.
It is not official, but our best guess at what lies ahead for the champion.
– Bronson Reid goes over Isaiah “Swaras” Scott. It is clear that they are making Reed big time. I question that at the expense of Swords, who won nothing of importance in his time at NXT. I think a win was his greatest achievement for splitting a series with Jake Atlas (who never wins). He needs to find a program for Scott that he can win.
– Kurt Stallion was to have a cruiserweight title match this week. But he was already attacked, so he was pushed until the following week. William Regal figures El Legado del Fantasma is the culprit, and while he is probably right, leaving the calling card on the bag of the Kernian cross Santos Escobar makes me wonder if he is the real attacker. I do not see what his motive would be.
– Malcolm Bynes scheduled Tyler Rust for a cupcake match, as Rust last week tried to do his own business and book himself in a match with Bronson Reid. The battle is won, so Malcolm is earning.
With the abundance of tag matches and the lack of any real hot angle, the show felt as if it had been pulled over. Nothing was outwardly bad. Each segment would have worked well on a show that had some hot angles. But it felt like a bunch of complementary stories together, leaving it to feel like a dull episode of NXT.
Grade: C +
Voice from below.