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While AEW continued to celebrate the new year this week, the NXT 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic started on Wednesday’s show.
The tournament will feature new and existing teams competing in matches over the next few weeks before the final two teams battle for the coveted trophy.
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong from The Undisputed Era took over Breezango, while The Grizzled Young Veterans fought Ever-Rise.
We also saw NXT̵
Let’s take a look at everything that happened in this week’s show.
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NXT wasted no time in getting to the action. As soon as the opening video was over, LeRae and Blackheart came out for the opening match.
They immediately started using a fast pace and seemed to be evenly matched until Blackheart took LeRae down in a short arm scissors.
Indi Hartwell cheered on LeRae from the ring side as she began to fight back. They took the fight out of the ring and Blackheart hit a jumping knee from the steel steps. A distraction from Hartwell allowed The Poison Pixie to take control.
They switched over several times, but neither competitor was able to put the other away until LeRae hit a swinging neck breaker from the center knob to the pin. Hartwell gave another distraction to give her the win.
Blackheart and LeRae are both known as risk takers, so it was no surprise when they started flying around the ring to take each other out.
Even with a small crowd present, you could tell the fans loved Blackheart. LeRae played a good heel, but it was the girl with the green hair who accounted for most of the match.
Hartwell did a good job as LeRae’s enforcer at ringside, but it would be nice to have a few more segments that let us get to know her character better.
Overall, this was a great way to start the action for the night. Blackheart will easily recover from this loss.
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The first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began with Ever-Rise taking on The Grizzled Young Veterans.
Zack Gibson immediately took control and brought in James Drake to keep up the pressure. Chase Parker pulled Drake down by the hair to turn the tables. Gibson had to reassure Drake so he did not get the team disqualified.
Gibson came in and hit Matt Martel on the apron before turning his attention to Parker. GYV spent the next few minutes putting Parker through the knob.
Martel finally got the hot tag and went after both opponents with a touch of strikes. Both teams participated in a series of double-team moves that led to Gibson and Drake hitting their finishers for the win.
This was a fast-paced match with some solid roof team match, but the last few minutes were going on a little too much at once.
A few tag team spots in a row is fine, but when the referee steps aside and just leaves everyone in the ring as much as they want, it gets too chaotic.
Other than that, this was a fun match. Grizzled Young Veterans continue to impress with each outing, but Ever-Rise could use a little tweaking.
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After a quick promo from Blackheart and Ember Moon hyping their upcoming appearance in the Dusty Rhodes Cup, Lumis and Gargano came out for their match.
Gargano’s North American championship was not on the field, but he still had Austin Theory at the edge of the ring to give him some backup. Gargano tore up one of Lumis’ drawings, and the tortured artist took him down lightly.
He eerily chased Gargano out of the ring, but Johnny Wrestling was still able to hit a kick in the face. They fought on the rope until Lumis knocked him down. Gargano avoided a send-off bomb as the show went on hiatus.
Lumis started to come back and removed a pair of stiff right hands. It looked like he had the fight well in hand, but a distraction from the theory led to Gargano rolling Lumis up for the win.
Gargano and Theory tried to attack Lumis after the match, but Kushida ran down to save. Kushida made it clear that he is coming to the North American Championship.
Lumis is one of the most unique talents in all of NXT, but management may not know how they will use him yet. It’s clear WWE wants to push him, but it’s not rushing into it so he can establish his character.
Both of these Superstars have incredible talent, but it felt like they held back a bit in this match. We have seen many wrestlers save their best ideas for PPV matches, but it was much more obvious than usual in this match.
This fight was fine, but it never felt like it reached the level that these two are capable of getting to. It is difficult to clarify what was missing. It just got a little short. This should have been the match of the night, but does not stand out in the end.
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The new tag team on the block debuted this week as MSK took on Jake Atlas and Isaiah Scott in yet another match in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Atlas started against Nash Carter. They had a good exchange of removals and counters that led to Atlas getting two-counters.
Swerve scored and Carter picked up Wes Lee. After a moment, Scott and Atlas cornered the newcomer to get a double-team combo. Scott and Atlas used some dirty tactics and it led to a huge fight at the edge of the ring with all four men.
We returned from a break to watch Carter hold Scott in a body scissors. They both made the mark and Lee hit crazy. Both teams came close, but it was MSK who ended up scoring the victory to advance in the tournament.
Grade: C +
This was another match that had a fast pace with a lot of energy, but being the debut for MSK, formerly known as The Rascalz, made this a little more interesting.
WWE did not spend much time hyping the group’s arrival, but it teased it with some graphics recently. Debuting as part of this tournament was an interesting decision, because if MSK does not win, it means it will lose one of its first matches in NXT.
Atlas and Scott worked well together, but they should never become a permanent team, so it is best to be eliminated early. They made MSK look good.
The only major complaint about this match was the lack of pace. It felt like they were just moving from one place to another without taking the right time to sell something. It may have had more to do with those who want to pack as much into the fight as possible, but sometimes less is more.
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After returning last week with a decisive victory, Xia Li was back this week to fight another employer. She hit a right hand and a spinning kick to win. She handed out a little more punishment after the match was over.
As a match, this was not much. As a way to make Li look unstoppable, it was amazing. It is almost impossible to classify two strikes and one attack after the match, so this character is based on how well this segment worked.
Li has a presence about her that makes her stand out from everyone else on the list. If WWE continues to book her this way, it won’t be long before she has title shots.
The entrance, music, appearance and attitude change suits her well. It will be interesting to see if Boa finds the same success when he starts fighting more often.
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The main event featured Tyler Breeze and Fandango taking over Cole and Strong of The Undisputed Era in the third Dusty Classic match of the night. Kyle O’Reilly accompanied his teammates to the ring despite not being cleared by doctors.
Breeze and Cole came to a stalemate after their first exchange, shaking hands as an expression of respect before unlocking it again. They both tagged their partners so Strong and Fandango could get together.
We returned from a break to watch Breezango dominate Cole with some standard tag team tactics. The UE leader brought in The Master of Backbreaker to do what he does best.
Strong unleashed violent violence against both men. Once Cole had recovered, Strong tagged him to a double-team move to get an almost drop. Breeze turned the tables and tagged Fandango to start a sequence that involved all four men taking each other out in different ways.
Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch attacked KOR at the edge of the ring until Finn Balor tried to save. Pat McAfee’s friends took them out, but Cole overcame distraction to hit a super kick to Breeze for the win.
As expected, this was the best match of the night. The chemistry between all four men in the ring was off the charts and they used it to give a memorable performance.
The high jinks at the ring edge marked the third time a match ended with interference this week, but out of the three, this one made the most sense from a historical perspective. WWE addressed three different feuds at the same time with efficiency.
This match was a great example of how good Breeze and Fandango are. They make everything look easy and always lift their opponents. This was the best possible way to end this week’s show.