1/13 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Undisputed Era vs. Breezango and Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Ever Rise in first round ‘Dusty Classic’ tournament matches, Candice LeRae vs. Shotzi Blackheart, more

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NXT ON USA TV REPORT
JANUARY 13, 2021
ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY MATT HUSTWAITE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett

[HOUR ONE]

– The show opened with a highlight package of last week’s ‘New Year’s Evil’ edition of NXT before segueing into hype for the ‘Dusty Classic’ Tag Team Tournament.

(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. CANDICE LERAE (w/Indi Hartwell)

After fronting up to each other, both wrestlers went back and forth with Blackheart gaining the early momentum with a series of strikes. Blackheart avoided offensive attempts by LeRae and hit the ropes to take LeRae down with a crossbody for a two-count. Blackheart applied a Juju Gatame and transitioned into an armbar, but LeRae managed to make it to the ropes for the break. LeRae went up top but was knocked down by Blackheart, clipping her head on the turnbuckle on the way down. Blackheart locked in a double underhook submission and LeRae countered into a pin attempt. The action spilled to the apron and Blackheart hit LeRae with a diving knee on to the floor. Hartwell got involved and kept Blackheart from reentering the ring, allowing LeRae to hit Blackheart with a baseball slide before diving over the top rope to take Blackheart out. [c]

Blackheart hit an enziguri and covered LeRae for a two-count. LeRae ended up in the ropes and Blackheart hit her with a cannonball senton for another two-count. The wrestlers ended up on the apron again and Blackheart dropped LeRae with a DDT. Hartwell checked on LeRae as Blackheart hit the ropes and dove onto both LeRae and Hartwell on the floor. Blackheart rolled LeRae back in the ring and covered her for a two-count. LeRae hit a basement kick and covered Blackheart for a two-count of her own. Blackheart blocked a lionsault attempt from LeRae and countered a GargaNo Escape attempt with a twisting facebuster. Blackheart hit a hanging DDT and went up top. Hartwell distracted Blackheart long enough to allow LeRae to join Blackheart on the top rope and hit her with a spinning neckbreaker for the win.

WINNER: Candice LeRae at 11:05

– Finn Balor was backstage, walking towards the ring entrance area.

– Pat McAfee’s Crew, minus McAfee were shown arriving at the Capitol Wrestling Center. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A good opener which left the door open for more matches between these two. Hartwell does well as the pesky offsider outside the ring and I don’t think there is anyone that LeRae doesn’t mesh with in the ring.)

– Finn Balor came to the ring and cut a promo about how he is still the NXT Champion. Balor put over Kyle O’Reilly for stepping up but said the O’Reilly is not at Balor’s level. Balor said that the difference between Takeover and New Year’s Evil was that this time it is O’Reilly who is eating meals through a straw. Balor pointed out the red “X” that was on his shirt and said it represents the target that is on him and the NXT Championship.

Pat McAfee’s Crew (Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch) came to the ring and confronted Balor. Dunne said that the only reason Balor is champion is because Balor hasn’t faced Dunne yet. Dunne reminded Balor telling him to get in line for the title before he and the rest of the Crew jumped Balor. Balor tried to fight them off but was overwhelmed. Kyle O’Reilly ran in for the save but McAfee’s Crew still had the numbers advantage. Adam Cole and Roderick Strong ran in to back up O’Reilly, with Undisputed Era and Balor clearing the ring of McAfee’s Crew. Balor and Undisputed Era looked across the ring at each other before Balor rolled out of the ring and left as his music played.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Great segment that set the main event scene for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure if I should still be calling Dunne, Burch and Lorcan “McAfee’s Crew” since there has been no mention of McAfee on television for weeks now. Balor continues to come across as a star on a level of his own.)

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Johnny Gargano to promote his match against Dexter Lumis for later in the show. The interview pivoted towards the Dusty Classic Tag Team Tournament and Gargano claimed that he and Candice LeRae would win both the men’s and women’s tournaments respectively. Mitchell reminded Gargano that he’s lost to both Kushida and Leon Ruff recently, and that he will be facing them both in the opening round of the Dusty Classic. Gargano blamed the loss to Kushida on his ‘unbreathable” skinny jeans. Austin Theory appeared with “gifts” from Dexter Lumis, which were drawings of Lumis beating Gargano. [c]

(2) EVER-RISE (Matt Martel & Chase Parker) vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake) – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match

Gibson and Martel started the match, with a cocky Martel slapping Gibson in the back of the head. Martel quickly backed up and tagged out to Parker. Gibson kicked Parker down and tagged in Drake. Drake hit Parker with a headlock takeover. Parker fought up and sent Drake into the ropes, dropping down as Drake bounced back. Drake hit Parker with a hip toss. After a lock-up, Parker wrenched the arm of Drake, who rolled through but was yanked down by the hair by Parker. Parker kicked Drake out of the ring and obnoxiously yelled “Ever-Rise rules!” as Gibson held the furious Drake back at ringside.

GYV took control, tagging in-and-out and hitting tandem offensive moves. Drake hit Parker with a bulldog and tagged in Gibson. Parker rolled to ringside and Gibson followed to hit a sidewalk slam on the floor. Drake tagged back in and got a two-count after a spinning heel kick. Drake held Parker back from tagging Martel but Parker eventually managed to make the hot tag to Martel, who burst into the ring and cleaned house. Ever-Rise hit a series of tandem moves before Drake dropkicked Martel from behind. Gibson tagged in and GYV hit the Ticket to Mayhem for the win.

WINNERS: Grizzled Young Veterans at 8:00 to advance in the tournament

– A Raquel Gonzalez video package aired, in which she said that Rhea Ripley is a bad memory that we all will try to forget. Gonzalez is looking towards Io Shirai and the NXT Women’s Championship.

– Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis was promoted for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Not a bad match, but it was hard to get invested – despite the tournament implications. Ever-Rise are just hanging around as a generic heel team and GYV have some work to do to get over to a level that matches their incredible in-ring ability.)

– McKenzie Mitchell was backstage with Shotzi Blackheart. Mitchell asked about Blackheart’s loss to Candice LeRae and Blackheart said she wasn’t letting it get her down. Blackheart proclaimed that she would win the Dusty Classic and announced Ember Moon as her partner.

(3) DEXTER LUMIS vs. JOHNNY GARGANO

Gargano ripped up the pictures that Lumis had drawn of him, leading to Lumis unloading on Gargano. Gargano was spooked by Lumis’ snake crawl. Lumis caught Gargano in the throat with a punch. Lumis made his way to the top turnbuckle and Gargano followed. Lumis punched Gargano in the throat again, sending him crashing to the mat. Lumis went for a swanton bomb but Gargano avoided the move as the show went to commercial. [c]

[HOUR TWO]

Lumis hit a spinebuster on Gargano and unloaded with right-hand punches. Lumis hit a suplex and kipped up. Lumis hit a leg drop and tried to apply the Kata Gatame, but Gargano escaped. Gargano dropped Lumis with a cruxifix driver and scored a two-count. Gargano hit Lumis with a roundhouse but Lumis was not fazed. Gargano took Lumis down with a second roundhouse and covered him for a two-count. Lumis came back with more right hands. Theory caused a distraction which allowed Gargano to rock Lumis with a kick. Gargano went for the One Final Beat but Lumis countered into a Kata Gatame. Theory jumped on the apron and distracted Lumis again, allowing Gargano to roll up Lumis for the win.

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 11:10

– Lumis snake crawled towards Theory and locked in the Kata Gatame. Gargano saved Theory and went to take out Lumis with a chair when Kushida ran-in for the safe. Kushida locked in a Hoverboard Lock on Gargano while Lumis locked Theory into the Kata Gatame. Kushida released the hold and indicated to Gargano that he was coming after the NXT North American Championship.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The purpose of this match was to pivot Gargano and the NXT North American Championship towards Kushida. As a match itself, it was nothing special. Lumis’ character is not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t mind him, but he needs some more clear focus. Maybe a program with Theory will be just that?)

– McAfee’s Crew were backstage with McKenzie Mitchell, who asked them about their altercation with Finn Balor and Undisputed Era earlier in the show. Burch said that his teams run NXT and that Undisputed Era need to mind their own business. Dunne targetted Kyle O’Reilly saying that he got in the way of the NXT Championship. Dunne said that it’s time to take out O’Reilly.

– A sitdown interview with Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher aired. Wade Barrett conducted the interview. Barrett said that Thatcher had been cleared to wrestle and Ciampa was curious to know exactly what Thatcher’s injury was. Thatcher played down the injury and said that nothing would affect the ‘Fight Pit’ match. Barrett questioned Ciampa’s choice to fight Thatcher in Thatcher’s signature match. Ciampa said that to change the locker room culture, he has to enter enemy territory. Thatcher compared himself to a lion and Ciampa to a zebra. Thatcher accused Ciampa of being unsure as to whether he still has it. Ciampa retorted that Thatcher would find out for himself in the Fight Pit.

– The debut of MSK was promoted for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A very well produced sit-down interview. Whenever WWE produces these segments they always seem to hit, so I wish I knew why we get more of the MizTVs of the world when we could have these instead.)

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Undisputed Era about Pete Dunne targetting Kyle O’Reilly. Undisputed Era declared that they have each other’s backs.

– MSK were revealed as the former Rascalz of Impact Wrestling. Wentz and Xavier are now known as Nash Carter and Wes Lee respectively (ugh..)

(4) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT & JAKE ATLAS vs. MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match

Atlas and Carter went back-and-forth to start the match. Atlas hit a back elbow for a two-count before tagging out to Scott. Carter took Scott down with an armdrag. Carter hit a wicked-looking corkscrew crossbody on to Scott for a two-count. Carter tagged out to Lee who had an armbar reversed by Scott before being dragged to the corner. Scott tagged in Atlas who took an elbow shot from Lee. Scott dragged Lee out of the ring. All the wrestlers went after each other on the floor. Lee dove over the top rope with a plancha to take out Atlas and Scott before the show went to a commercial break. [c]

Back from the break, Scott had the advantage on Carter. Scott hit a Paydirt on Carter. Scott went for a crossbody but Carter bend over backwards, ala The Matrix, to avoid contact and tagged in Lee. Lee went after Atlas and hit a basement dropkick. MSK double-teamed Atlas with an assisted standing moonsault (known as the Hot Fire Flame) for a two-count. Scott made the blind tag on Atlas and hit Lee with a brainbuster. Atlas dropped Lee with a swinging side slam and Scott came flying off the top with a 450 Splash. Atlas went for the pin, but Carter broke it up. Carter pulled Atlas to ringside. Scott had gone up top again but was shoved down by Lee. Lee hit Scott with a Frankensteiner and MSK scored with a modified Hart Attack double-team move for the win.

WINNERS: MSK at 12:00

– A video promoting the women’s Dusty Classic tournament aired. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter face Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm in a first-round match next week.

– Xia Li was promoted for after the commercial break [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Well, the injection of the former Rascalz into the NXT tag team scene will certainly shake things up. A great match, which served as both a reminder of Scott and Atlas’ talents and also a fantastic showcase to introduce the NXT audience to the newly dubbed MSK. I could do without the pathetically generic “Wes Lee” and “Nash Carter” names but, nonetheless, they will provide a valuable spark to the tag division.)

– A Scarlett vignette aired, where she conducted a tarot card reading telling the story of Karrion Kross moving on from Damian Priest to “The Prince”. Finn Balor is on Kross’ horizon.

(5) XIA LI (w/Boa & mystery woman) vs. enhancement wrestler

Li rocked the enhancement wrestler with a right-hand and finished her off with a cyclone kick.

WINNER: Xia Li at 0:22

– Li was ordered by the mystery woman to beat on the enhancement wrestler like a punching bag. Li complied and pummeled at the enhancement wrestler in the ropes.

– Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter cut a promo saying that even though they are underdogs, they should never be underestimated.

– Undisputed Era were shown making their way to the ring. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: As straightforward of a squash match as you can get. As elaborate as the entrance and mystique are, I do hope we get the reveal of the mystery woman soon.)

– Backstage, Jake Atlas and Isaiah Scott were fighting. Steve Corino and Bronson Reed were among the people breaking up the fight. Reed got in the middle of things and broke up the fight as Scott complained that Reed always took Atlas’ side.

(6) BREEZANGO (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (Adam Cole & Roderick Strong w/Kyle O’Reilly) – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match

Breeze and Cole started the match with a lockup, which Breeze took into a side headlock. Cole sent Breeze into the ropes, but Breeze bounced back with a shoulder block. Both wrestlers teased hitting a superkick and backed up. After going back and forth again with waistlocks, both wrestlers tag out. Strong and Fandango did the test of strength spot, with Strong getting the upper hand. Fandango fought out of an arm wrench took Strong down. Fandango sent Strong flying with a back body drop and targetted Strong’s shoulder with knee drops. Fandango managed a two-count after a spinning wheel kick, as the show went to a commercial break. [c]

Back from break, Strong got the hot tag and took out Breezango with drive-by forearm shots. Strong hit a suplex on Breeze with Breeze landing on Fandango. Fandango was the legal man and Strong covered him for a two-count. Strong slammed Fandango with a gutbuster. Strong tagged out to Cole, who got a quick two-count on Fandango. Fandango tagged out to Breeze after avoiding a Last Shot. Breeze got flattened by a Cole pump kick. Breeze came back with a Side Lungblower for a two-count. Breezango double-teamed Cole and hit a slingshot wheelbarrow elbow drop combination. Strong made the last-minute save to break up the pin attempt. Cole landed a kick on Breeze who fired back with a clothesline.

McAfee’s Crew (I really should stop calling them that…) came to ringside and beat up O’Reilly. Finn Balor ran in to make the save but Dunne, Lorcan and Burch got the upper hand. Dunne smashed the head of O’Reilly into the plexiglass barricade. Cole was distracted in the ring and missed a Panama Sunrise. Fandango went for a flying move onto Cole but Cole hit him with a superkick and covered him for the victory.

WINNERS: Undisputed Era at 11:55

– Cole went to look after O’Reilly and yelled out for medical assistance. The heels gloated at the entrance area as Balor glared on to end the show.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Not a bad match by any stretch, but it was pretty formulaic to simply lead to the angle with Dunne, Burch and Lorcan. I almost would’ve preferred to have seen the interference cost Undisputed Era the match to further their heat with Dunne, Burch and Lorcan even further. They don’t really need to be in the Dusty Classic nor win it, whereas Breezango has only recently lost the tag titles and could’ve played that story through the tournament.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: A solid follow-up to the more event worthy ‘New Year’s Evil’ special, and a return to the usual groove of conventional booking to see us through to the next Takeover. The timing of the Dusty Classic is good as it provides an anchor for the show to carry things until Wrestlemania season. MSK debuting was a highlight and I really look forward to seeing what they do in NXT. I just hope we get some clarity on whether Pat McAfee is still a factor or whether Pete Dunne is now the leader of that crew.

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