1/20 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher in a Fight Pit match, ‘Dusty Classic’ tag tournament matches, more

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


JANUARY 20, 2021

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett


– The standard highlight package from last week’s episode aired, with added footage of the ‘Dusty Classic’ from 205 Live, followed by hype for tonight’s show.

– Beth Phoenix is back in the arena for commentary after a long stint of broadcasting remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(1) JOHNNY GARGANO & AUSTIN THEORY vs. LEON RUFF & KUSHIDA – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match

Theory and Ruff started the match and Ruff was unsuccessful in trying to take down Theory. Theory hit Ruff with a shoulder block. Theory and Ruff went back-and-forth, countering each other’s move attempts before Ruff scored with a dropkick and covered Theory for a two-count. Ruff tagged in Kushida who hit a shoulder breaker on Theory and followed up with a PK. Kushida hit a Butterfly Snap and worked over Theory with an armbar. Theory managed to escape and tagged in Gargano. Gargano worked over Kushida and yelled out “I am the best!”. Kushida fired back with forearm strikes and Gargano tagged out to Theory. Theory quickly hit a rolling dropkick and covered Kushida for a two-count. Theory and Gargano took control of the match, isolating Kushida while tagging in-and-out. Theory attempted a suplex but Kushida slipped out and Ruff tagged in. Ruff went after Theory and punched Gargano off the apron. Ruff attempted a diving move but Theory caught him in a Torture Rack. Theory managed a two-count after hitting a Blue Thunder Bomb before the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial break. [c]

Ruff tried to tag in Kushida, but Gargano blindsided Kushida to send him to the floor. Theory dropped Ruff with a backbreaker and Gargano tagged in to hit a neckbreaker for a two-count. Ruff bounced back with a big springboard cutter move from the top rope. Ruff tagged in Kushida and Theory tagged out to Gargano. Kushida took down Gargano and mounted him for a ground and pound attack. Theory tried to re-enter the fray but was met with a handspring boot from Kushida. Kushida sent Gargano flying to the floor and dove on to him. Kushida missed a PK and Gargano shot back with a kick of his own. Kushida hit Gargano with a Falcon Arrow and transitioned into a Juji Gatame, which was broken up by Theory.

Kushida and Gargano went back and forth with strikes. Gargano tagged out to Theory who hit an inverted Death Valley Driver on Kushida for a two-count. The heels double-teamed Kushida, leading to Ruff coming in to make the save. Ruff cleared Theory from the ring and Kushida hit Gargano with a bridged Fisherman’s Suplex for the victory.

WINNERS: Leon Ruff & Kushida at 14:55 to advance in the tournament

– A Pete Dunne vignette aired. Dunne talked about the similar backgrounds of Finn Balor and himself and said that after Balor left NXT Dunne gets compared to Balor, despite having built NXT up. Dunne declared himself a threat to Balor and the NXT Championship and said that Balor will be part of Dunne’s legacy.

– Joseph, Phoenix and Barrett made an on-camera appearance and provided a medical update on Kyle O’Reilly. O’Reilly was cleared after aggravating his jaw injury and is able to compete.

– A short hype video for Karrion Kross aired, promoting him for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: While I’m surprised to see Gargano and Theory eliminated so early, I imagine the feud between these four will be advanced by way of Gargano and Theory costing Kushida and Ruff a match later on in the tournament. A good opening match from these four. Pete Dunne’s promo was solid and noteworthy as it is firmly establishing him as a singles focal point now, indicating the McAfee stable is well and truly on the backburner.)

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Malcolm Bivens outside of William Regal’s office. Bivens put over Tyler Rust strongly as Rust came out of Regal’s office. Rust revealed he had got himself booked in a match with Bronson Reed, which wasn’t well received by Bivens who acted nervous about the match-up.

(2) KARRION KROSS (w/ Scarlett) vs. ASHANTI THE ADONIS (w/ Desmond Troy)

Kross dominated Ashanti with a trio of suplexes before hitting a Northern Forearm for the win.

WINNER: Karrion Kross at 1:15

– Kross and Scarlett headed to the back as Troy checked on Adonis. Kross returned to the ring and choked out Troy.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Straight-forward squash match to continue re-establishing Kross, not that I think he needs to be re-established as he was the NXT Champion prior to his injury, truth-be-told.)

– MSK (Wes Lee and Nash Carter) featured in a vignette introducing themselves and providing some background about themselves. Some highlights of their debut last week were played. Carter said thinking about winning the Dusty Classic makes him shed a tear. MSK said they wouldn’t let the opportunity slip away.

– Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm were backstage and said that even though they aren’t friends, they would win the women’s Dusty Classic tournament.

(3) IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match

Barthel and Dorado started the match and went back-and-forth before Lucha House Party double-teamed Barthel with a Metalik dive off of Dorado’s shoulders. Aichner tagged in and manhandled Metalik, tossing him around the ring. Metalik managed to tag in Dorado and Lucha House Party cleared both members of Imperium from the ring. Dorado dove over the top rope but was caught by Aichner who drove Dorado back-first into the ring apron. Dorado was rolled back into the ring and Barthel put him into the Tree of Woe. Imperium hit stereo dropkicks on the prone Dorado as the show went to a commercial break. [c]

Back from commercial, Imperium isolated Dorado in the corner, tagging in-and-out in quick succession. Dorado seized an opportunity to escape and hit Barthel with a Tornado DDT. Dorado managed to tag in Metalik and Barthel tagged out to Aichner. Metalik ran wild on Aichner, walking the top rope to hit a hurricanrana followed by a tightrope moonsault for a two-count. Barthel interfered which gave Aichner an opening to hit a springboard DDT for a two-count. Aichner went for a suplex but Metalik slipped out. Lucha House Party double-teamed Aichner again with a Missile Dropkick/ Code Red combo. Dorado covered Aichner but the pin was broken up by Barthel.

Imperium took out Lucha House Party with stereo suplexes. Aichner went for a European Bomb but Dorado countered with an X-Factor. Dorado launched Metalik over the top rope on to Aichner on the floor. Barthel suprised Dorado with a roll-up but Dorado kicked out at two. Dorado dropped Barthel and went up top for a Shooting Star Press for the surprise victory.

WINNERS: Lucha House Party at 11:20 to advance in the tournament

– Alexander Wolfe appeared at the entrance set and led Aichner & Barthel in the Imperium salute.

– The announcers threw to the weigh-in for the NXT Fight Pit Match. Tommaso Ciampa weighed in at 201 pounds and Timothy Thatcher came in at 225 pounds. William Regal wished both wrestlers luck before Ciampa and Thatcher got in a shoving match. Referees broke them up as a Tale of the Tape was shown.

– Beth Phoenix hyped the beginning of the inaugural women’s Dusty Classic for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A surprising win for Lucha House Party, but their round two match against Legado del Fantasma has tons of potential and the re-emergence of Alexander Wolfe makes for an interesting storyline direction for Imperium outside of the tournament.)


– Beth Phoenix was introduced with the Dusty Rhodes tournament cup. Phoenix spoke about the NXT Women’s Champions of the past and the many notable women who have passed through NXT. She said that the NXT women were going to make history again and introduced the Women’s Dusty Classic Tournament as the women wrestlers came onto the stage behind Phoenix. William Regal joined Phoenix to announce the first match, which was to start right now.

(4) TONI STORM & MERCEDES MARTINEZ vs. KAYDEN CARTER & KACY CATANZARO – Dusty Rhodes Women’s Tag Team Classic first-round match

Chain wrestling to start the match between Storm and Carter, with the heels taking control once Martinez tagged in. Storm and Martinez double-teamed Carter with repeated elbow drops. Carter managed to tag in Catanzaro and the faces delivered tandem moves of their own. Catanzaro scored a two-count after hitting Martinez with a slingshot swanton. Martinez turned the tables again with a series of strikes and was in complete control as the show went to a commercial break. [c]

Storm and Martinez tagged in-and-out to keep each other fresh as they isolated Catanzaro. Martinez  got Catanzaro on the top turnbuckle and went for a Super Air Raid Crash but Catanzaro reversed it into a frankensteiner from the top. Catanzaro made the hot tag to Carter, who cleaned house. Carter rocked Storm with a superkick and followed up with a Face Wash. Carter tried to roll-up Storm for the pin a number of times and hit a springboard dropkick. Carter covered Storm but the pin was broken up by Martinez, who was promptly taken out by Catanzaro. Storm headbutted Carter and hit a German Suplex. Storm applied a half Boston Crab and Io Shirai ran in to take out Martinez. Carter took out the distracted Storm with a kick and tagged in Catanzaro. Carter locked in a Figure Four while Catanzaro dove off the top rope with an inverted Red Arrow for the victory.

WINNERS: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter at 12:30

– Finn Balor stormed into William Regal’s office and made his intentions about Pete Dunne clear. Balor said that Dunne is playing from the Balor playbook so he asked for a match with Lorcan and Burch instead. Regal said that Balor would need a tag team partner and that Balor should keep his enemies closer.

– Bronson Reed was shown backstage making his way to the ring. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Another surprise outcome in the Dusty Classic, this time on the women’s side. I actually quite like Carter & Catanzaro and how they’ve developed over the last few months, so it’s nice to see them advance despite the story of the match really being Io Shirai. The finish with Catanzaro’s inverted Red Arrow was very good and is a good demonstration of what she has to offer.)

– McKenzie Mitchell was backstage and announced that Ashanti the Adonis and Desmond Troy would not be able to wrestle in their Dusty Classic match on 205 Live this week, due to the beatdown they suffered at the hands of Karrion Kross. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter bounded into shot, still celebrating their surprise victory in the women’s Dusty Classic.

(5) BRONSON REED vs. TYLER RUST (w/ Malcolm Bivens)

Reed manhandled Rust from the outset of the match and dumped him to the floor. Bivens helped Rust to his feet at ringside but Rust was overpowered by Reed again as soon as Rust returned to the ring. Reed tossed Rust with an inverted fallaway slam and Rust took a powder at ringside.  Rust was able to get an advantage and targetted Reed’s left arm. As Rust worked over Reed’s arm, a shot from backstage of Io Shirai and Toni Storm brawling appeared in split screen.

Reed blocked a kick from Rust and pummeled Rust with big blows. Reed hit a swinging chokeslam and covered Rust for a two-count. Reed escaped a submission attempt from Rust but got caught with a Yakuza Kick. Rust got Reed with a Samoan Drop for a two-count. Reed returned to his feet and drove Rust into the mat. Reed hit a running senton and scored with the Tsunami Splash for the victory.

WINNER: Bronson Reed at 4:55

– Bivens was disappointed with Rust’s performance and told him that Rust needs to pick his battles better.

– Backstage, McKenzie Mitchell informed Finn Balor that his match against Lorcan & Burch has been booked for next week, provided Balor can find a partner. Balor said he had people who owed him favours. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Reed continues to be positioned strongly upon his return and looked good again in this match. Rust has a ton of potential, so hopefully this storyline of him being a little too pluckly leads to some character development that sees him pick up some victories.)

– Finn Balor stormed into the locker room of Undisputed Era. Balor told Kyle O’Reilly that he knew why Balor was here. Balor asked O’Reilly if he would be his partner or if was still sucking meals with a straw. The two had a tense staredown before O’Reilly accepted Balor’s invitation.

– Santos Escobar was with his Legado del Fantasma offsiders in the ring. Escobar put himself over at the expense of the “cursed” Johnny Gargano, “glass jaw” Finn Balor and Karrion Kross, proclaiming himself as the “Champion of Champions”.  Escobar turned his attention to Lucha House Party and said that Wilde & Mendoza would beat them and soon join him as champions. Lucha House Party ran to the ring to confront Legado del Fantasma but were outnumbered, until Curt Stallion ran in to even the odds.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A good promo from Escobar, who hasn’t been given that many opportunities to showcase his mic skills.)

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Killian Dain and Drake Maverick about their victory in the first round of the Dusty Classic. Maverick launched into a promo about how they were inspired and would win the tournament. Dain complimented Maverick on his promo and gave him a hard slap on the back, which Maverick sold.

– Alicia Taylor introduced the NXT Fight Pit for after the commercial break. [c]

– McKenzie Mitchell tried to get a word from Lucha House Party and Curt Stallion but was interupted by Legado del Fantasma. Escobar vowed to teach Stallion a lesson with the NXT Cruiserweight Championship on the line next week.

– Entrances and introductions took place for Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher in the Fight Pit. Thatcher debuted new entrance music.


Ciampa intimidated Thatcher as he slowly moved towards him. Thatcher regained his nerve and the two charged at one another. The two brawled with each other on the upper level of the pit. Thatcher hit Ciampa with a hard suplex on to the platform. Thatcher attempted a heel hook, but Ciampa avoided the hold and dropped Thatcher with a running boot. Ciampa stomped away at Thatcher and maintained control of the match as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Ciampa threw Thatcher repeatedly into the the pit cage. Ciampa went for the Fairy Tale Ending but Thatcher countered the move and sent Ciampa into the pit cage. Thatcher applied a double wrist lock and transitioned into a full mount position to attack Ciampa with forearm strikes. Thatcher transitioned back to the wrist lock and slammed Ciampa’s hand to the mat. Ciampa turned the tide by driving Thatcher into the pit cage. Ciampa locked in a half Boston Crab and then targetted the kidney of Thatcher. Thatcher came back by kicking Ciampa into the cage.


Thatcher applied a sleeper hold but Ciampa escaped by hitting Thatcher with a low blow. Ciampa dropped Thatcher with the Widow’s Bell DDT in a creative spot with Thatcher positioning himself over the referee. The referee started the count and Thatcher just made it back to his feet. Ciampa went for the Fairy Tale Ending but Thatcher countered the move with a big European Uppercut. The two wrestlers exchanged big blows, with Ciampa coming out on top after slamming Thatcher’s head into the steel structure of the pit. Ciampa finally scored with the Fairy Tale Ending and applied a rear naked choke. Thatcher powered his way out of the hold, deadlifting Ciampa in the process. Thatcher got Ciampa tangled up in the pit structure and applied a unique leg submission, incorporating the cage, leading to a tap out from Ciampa.

WINNER: Timothy Thatcher at 15:35

– Thatcher went up to the fallen Ciampa in the corner and exchanged looks with Ciampa, with Wade Barrett speculated that Thatcher had earned Ciampa’s respect as the show went off the air.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A hard hitting match that lived up to the standards of the Fight Pit, although probably didn’t exceed Riddle vs. Thatcher in the original incarnation of the match. Importantly, Thatcher finally got a high-profile win after a series of notable losses. Even more importantly is for NXT to continue his momentum from here, otherwise he will take a big credibility hit.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: NXT is possibly the most consistent wrestling show on television, in terms of the standard of booking and in-ring work. It’s not always the most exciting or newsworthy presentation, but you can practically guarantee an entertaining two hours each week that makes sense. I am enjoying how the Dusty Classic isn’t just sitting independently of the show, instead there are many storylines being born from the tournament as it goes along. I’m particularly interested to see how the coming weeks play out for Karrion Kross and Timothy Thatcher, as they both respectively are ready for some clear focus.

Make sure to tune into the PWT Talks NXT podcast in the Audio section. You can find me on Twitter at @mattyhuss.

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