SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
JANUARY 27, 2021, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Nate Lindberg & Tom Stoup to break down the episode:
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-Recap of last week started with Thatcher and Ciampa’s Fight Pit match followed by their entry into the Dusty Cup and also covered the uneasy alliance between Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor.
(1) MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) vs. DRAKE MAVERICK & KILLIAN DAIN – Dusty Classic quarterfinal match
Lee and Maverick opened. Collar and elbow into a waistlock takedown by Maverick. Rollup for two. Headlock by Maverick. The two battled to a rope for a clean break. Go-behind by Wes Lee and a waistlock takedown. Maverick reversed to a front chancery and Lee reversed again and worked the arm. Irish whip and Carter tagged in. Tandem attack and a bronco buster by Carter. He covered for one. Tag to Lee, who hit a springboard senton. Tag again and Carter hit one of the same for two. Rope run and Maverick put on the brakes, then made the tag. Dain used Maverick as a dart against Carter and pounded him in a corner. Maverick tagged in and the two teamed up for a senton by Dain and Maverick covered for two. Dain tagged in again and hit a back elbow in the corner. Tandem kick and Dain covered for two. Lee tried to break up the pin and Dain saw him and moved. Nice touch.
Lee tagged in and the two use4d quick kicks to put Dain on his knees. Lee hit a forearm and went up the corner but Dain followed and tossed him to the floor heading to split-screen commercial. Lee played face in peril throughout the break, though all four are faces.
Back to full screen, Dain and Lee were legal. Dain was in control and hit a slam and a senton. Maverick tagged in and leaned in to cover for two. Front chancery by Maverick kept Lee from tagging. Lee was able to escape long enough for the hot tag and Carter struck fast and often with kicks. He put Dain on the floor with a kick and he and Lee teamed up for a Carter senton and Lee covered for two, broken up by Dain. Carter hit a moonsault on Dain and both were cleared to the floor. Maverick rolled up for two, but Lee made a tag and Carter hit a blockbuster to finish.
WINNERS: MSK at 11:04.
(Wells’s Analysis: Of the various cup matches tonight, this one had the most doubt with the face-face dynamic. Going far with MSK makes sense, but Maverick and Dain were one of NXT’s hottest acts a couple of months ago and it seems like they’ve faded well into the background now. MSK showed off a little more of their tandem moveset tonight and the audience again seemed to respond well to the act)
-Earlier today, Pete Dunne drove Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch to the arena and they jawed at the camera about tonight’s assumed main event.
-A brief hype package promoted the Women’s Dusty Classic matchup of Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai facing Jessie Kamea and Aliyah, up next. Robert Stone was the voice-over to hype Kamea and Aliyah.
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Curt Stallion in a backstage interview. He talked about his tough road on the indies and how he saw a shooting star that made him want to call himself the “lone star.” He said the rocket was strapped to his back and the lone star was going to become a superstar. He faces Santos Escobar for the Cruiserweight championship tonight.
(Wells’s Analysis: I’m unfamiliar with the Stallion act for the most part, so I’ll reserve some judgment, but Stallion kind of comes off as an arrogant, apathetic tool)
(2) ALIYAH & JESSIE KAMEA (w/Robert Stone) vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ & DAKOTA KAI – Dusty Classic first round match
Gonzalez easily handled Aliyah. Tag. She easily handled Kamea until she escaped and hit a quick dropkick, but Dakota Kai distracted her and Gonzalez hit a lariat. Kai tagged in but ran right into a body slam. Springboard elbow by Kamea got two. Aliyah tagged in and the two ran the ropes and Aliyah hit a forearm and slam for two. Aliyah booted Kai in a corner and fired up. Kai bailed and Aliyah missed a basement dropkick. Kai hit a pump kick on the floor and rolled Aliyah in for two. Gonzalez tagged in and battered Aliyah. Whirlwind powerslam by Gonzalez got two. Kai tagged in and hit a stiff kick in the corner for two. Kai shoved Aliyah into the Kai corner and Gonzalez tagged in. Gonzalez kicked Aliyah, then hit a hip toss and did a kind of hip toss on Kai to throw her atop Aliyah for two as Kai tagged in. Kai worked a cravat briefly. Aliyah attempted to reverse but Kai yanked her down by the hair. Aliyah finally made the tag, but so did Kai. Gonzalez hit a running lariat and then her finisher for the win.
WINNERS: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai at 5:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: I didn’t know if this one would even make it to NXT, or if it would be on YouTube or some other WWE channel with the heel-heel dynamic and the foregone conclusion. Aliyah and Kamea had to work de facto babyface against the monster Gonzalez and the audience didn’t much know what to do with it. Gonzalez and Kai face Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter in the semifinals)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked with all four members of The Way backstage. Indi Hartwell made a “way” pun about winning in the Dusty Cup and Candice was proud. Mitchell mentioned Kushida pinning Johnny Gargano twice, and Gargano flipped out and walked off. Austin Theory explained that Mitchell shouldn’t say Kushida because Gargano thought he was cursed. In his explanation, he kept saying Kushida’s name himself, which repeatedly set Gargano off. The group exited and Dexter Lumis appeared from behind a curtain where they all had been standing. They’re really dancing around the edge of good silliness and too much.
-Scarlett spoke forebodingly and menacingly about something or other to promote Karrion Kross in a brief cinematic segment.
-Available tomorrow, Tegan Nox trains Brie Larson in a Captain Marvel tie-in
(3) UNNAMED ENHANCEMENT TALENT (Daniel Garcia) vs. TYLER RUST (w/Malcolm Bivens)
The bell rang out of nowhere after the Brie Larson segment. Rust and Bivens spoke in an inset interview and Bivens once again had to say “Diamond in the Rust.” The announcers talked about Rust getting back on track after last week’s loss. Rust and his unnamed opponent grappled for a moment and Rust took the opponent down, then worked a wristlock and threw an uppercut under his arm. Rust spun around the opponent and snapped him down by the arm. The opponent (called “[the] opponent” by Vic, who also apparently doesn’t have a name for the kid) rolled up Rust for two. Rust hit a brief guillotine. The opponent came off the second rope into a superkick by Rust, who hit a float-over neckbreaker and his finisher for the tap.
WINNER: Tyler Rust at 3:53.
(Wells’s Analysis: Beth quickly said the name of the opponent during the replay of the finish, and it was something like Rio (Sleuthing says it’s Daniel Garcia, who’s done some jobs on 205 Live). It was irritating that the guy didn’t even get a name. As always, Rust was a technical marvel in the short affair.)
-Another brief segment promoted Kushida & Leon Ruff vs. Grizzled Young Veterans, up next.
-McKenzie Mitchell wanted to know Finn Balor’s thoughts about tonight’s match, but she scattered when Kyle O’Reilly showed up. Kyle asked if Finn was ready and Finn said always. Kyle asked if he could trust Finn, who responded “What do you think?” Kyle said he didn’t really have to trust him as long as they were on the same page.
(4) KUSHIDA & LEON RUFF vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake) – Dusty Classic quarterfinal match
Gibson did some mic work on the way to the ring. The babyfaces were in the ring already as we continue the trend of even upper midcarders not getting entrances sometimes. Kushida and Gibson grappled in the ring and Gibson got frustrated that he couldn’t keep hold of Kushida. Kushida threw strikes in a corner and Drake helped Gibson block an Irish whip and Gibson took down Kushida with a clothesline. Drake entered for a spinning heel kick for two. The two hit their feet and grappled a bit. Ruff tagged in and took Drake’s left leg out from under him with kicks. Ruff did his Spider-Man moves in the corner to avoid Drake’s strikes and he tagged Kushida. The faces drove Drake’s knees to the mat and Kushida covered for two. Kushida wrenched Drake’s arm and tagged. Ruff came off the top with boots to Drake’s arm. Ruff wrenched the same arm over his own right shoulder, then hit a Pele kick on the arm. Ruff hit a huracanrana in a neutral corner and worked a brief front chancery. Drake reversed and snapped Ruff to the mat, then made the tag. Tandem suplex attempt was broken by Kushida and Ruff hit a cutter from the top rope on Gibson for two heading into a commercial break.
Ruff had likely been dominated throughout the break. Ruff rolled up Drake for two but Drake took control back with a lariat. Drake threw a left that put Ruff out on the floor and Gibson tagged and held Ruff up for a Drake elbow that he finished with a backbreaker.
Back in the ring, Ruff found a small opening and tried to make the tag, but Gibson tagged Drake, who cut it off. Ruff nearly made it through Drake’s legs for the tag but couldn’t get there. After a back elbow, he made the hot tag and Kushida threw his offense at Drake quickly. Drake blocked a Hoverboard Lock and backed him into the GYV corner where Gibson tagged in. The two reversed holds until a reset. Gibson hit a double chop to the throat and tagged Drake. Doomsday Device got a long two on Kushida. “What a rush that would have been,” Vic quipped.
GYV went for Ticket to Mayhem, blocked by Kushida, who made the tag. Missile dropkick by Ruff to Gibson, then a tope for Drake. Ruff ran to the other side again and hit a rolling senton to the floor on Gibson. Back inside, clothesline by Ruff, who went up and missed a senton as Drake dragged Gibson away. Drake tagged in and dropkicked Kushida to the floor to clear him out. Ticket to Mayhem finished Ruff.
WINNERS: Grizzled Young Veterans at 13:14.
As GYV admired the Dusty Cup outside the ring, Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory charged past them and into the ring to attack Kushida and Leon Ruff. Theory held back Ruff as Gargano hit One Final Beat on Kushida. Dexter Lumis showed up behind Theory and scared the hell out of him. Theory and Gargano took off the other way.
(Wells’s Analysis: Fun tag affair with just a tiny bit of doubt, but this is likely GYV’s tournament to lose. Ruff once again plays the part of a hard-fighting face who still takes the fall in the end, which is likely going to be the story of his career. They face the winners of Undisputed Era vs. Ciampa and Thatcher.)
-Backstage, Curt Stallion had been attacked near a vending machine. Officials checked on him as William Regal appeared. Stallion simply said “Legado” to Regal.
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s so rare in wrestling for babyfaces to know who attacked them backstage, I was genuinely surprised when he identified the perpretrators)
-McKenzie Mitchell told Legado del Fantasma that Curt Stallion wasn’t medically cleared and Escobar tried to lie about what he’d done. Regal stormed into frame and said the match would happen next week, and if Stallion was magically injured again, they’d face consequences. Regal left and Legado del Fantasma laughed it off. Someone had put a tarot card on Escobar’s duffel bag and he sold it like fear, saying “The end is near!” He then laughed this off as well and the three walked off to enjoy the night.
-Toni Storm started cutting a promo on Io Shirai, announcing her intentions for the Women’s Championship, just like most of the roster recently. Io’s music played to bring her out. Shirai said she’d defend against her anytime, and reminded her that she didn’t like her. Storm attacked but Shirai took control before long. Shirai cleared Storm from the ring, and Mercedes Martinez appeared and did a powerslam to Shirai. Martinez admired the belt and she and Storm briefly argued over who would be taking it before Shirai attacked both. Storm and Martinez then fought over the chance to attack Shirai, and Storm won that battle and hit three hip attacks on Shirai in the corner. Not sure if this suggests a triple threat, or Storm and Martinez each taking a turn.
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Isaiah “Swerve” Scott backstage, and Scott started acting the victim in all of his recent entanglements. Swerve wanted to try an experiment and asked McKenzie to point a finger at him. He then asked how many fingers were pointing back at her, and he walked off.
(Wells’s Analysis: Basic stuff here, but even so, for a guy who was such a likeable babyface, Swerve sure is a strong heel as well)
-Imperium hype segment. They’ve been separated for too long, they said. Alexander Wolfe said that his arrival was only the beginning. Oh my – when does Walter arrive?
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Adam Cole and Roderick Strong about their impending match with Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. They put the two over but Strong said there was no was no way those two dorks would keep them from their goal.
(5) BRONSON REED vs. ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT
Swerve backed up to a corner to get a break and hit a rising knee. Scott threw fists but Reed took Swerve to a corner for some shots, then tossed Swerve to the floor. Swerve landed on his feet and hit a pump kick on the apron, then missed a PK and Reed threw him overhead and he landed awkwardly on the apron, then the floor. The action went back inside, but Reed quickly clotheslined Swerve to the floor, then hit a hard-looking tope as the match went to commercial.
Swerve was in control. He took Reed to a corner shoulder-first. Swerve trapped Reed’s arm on the mat and hit some back elbows. Swerve grabbed a headlock in transition and Reed reached a rope, but Swerve held on until the count of four. Swerve wanted a rolling flatliner but Reed swatted him from the air. Rope run and a block by Reed. Reed went for a delayed suplex but switched to a Death Valley Driver for two. Reed wanted a chokeslam but his hurt shoulder gave out. Overhead kick by Swerve with Reed on the second rope. Swerve went up the corner with Reed and took him down, landing on the bad arm. Swerve went up and hit a 450 splash for a believable near-fall.
Swerve said “This is Swerve’s house” to Reed as the two were on their feet and slapped Reed. Reed returned with a huge palm strike, laying out Swerve. Reed went up and hit a Tsunami out of relative nowhere to finish.
WINNER: Bronson Reed at 9:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: A good match that didn’t need 40% to happen during a commercial break. Reed seems to be in a spot similar to where Kushida has often found himself where he’s winning but has no clear direction after wins and as a result, he treads water. Swerve is newly a heel but isn’t winning any more than before, despite how good his act is in every aspect. For now he’s a great lower midcarder, but hopefully there’s more in his future)
-Backstage, Tommaso Ciampa said you win some and lose some, but some you always remember. Timothy Thatcher set up a chair next to him and said respect had grown. Ciampa said that next week, their match with Undisputed Era would be a war. Also next week, Legado del Fantasma face Lucha House Party.
(6) FINN BALOR & KYLE O’REILLY vs. ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH
Non-title. Balor and Lorcan started the match as the bell rang at a quarter to the hour. Balor took down Lorcan with an armdrag and made the tag as Lorcan escaped. O’Reilly and Burch locked up and O’Reilly worked a headlock. Rope run and a block by O’Reilly. He took down Burch and worked a brief armbar. Lorcan tagged in and the two hit tandem chops. Uppercut to the jaw by Lorcan as the announcers mentioned that O’Reilly’s ailing jaw is a bullseye. Burch worked a headlock on the mat and O’Reilly tried to roll him up, but Burch rolled back. O’Reilly fought to get to his feet and then threw body shots to break. He wrenched Burch’s arm and tagged Balor, who viciously went after the arm and tagged O’Reilly again, who continued the assault on the left arm. Tag to Balor, who came off the second rope with a shot to the arm. Yet another tag and O’Reilly did the same. The faces elbowed a charging Lorcan, then cleared both heels from the ring and shared their usual look of respect and trepidation as the match went to split-screen.
Back to action, Balor tagged in and cleaned house. Double stomp for Lorcan, who was legal. Balor stomped Lorcan near a rope, then an intervening Burch. Lorcan took Balor to the heel corner and tagged Burch, and eventually the numbers caught up and Lorcan took control for some ground & pound. Big chop by Lorcan. Tag to Burch, who hit an uppercut. Burch put Balor on the mat with an armbar. Burch charged a corner and hit a clothesline for two. Beth mentioned Burch and Lorcan selling their souls to Pat McAfee to get the championships and that’s the first time McAfee has been mentioned in weeks, and neither of the other announcers expanded on the thought.
Lorcan and Balor fought for position in the middle of the ring and Lorcan hit a knee to the abdomen and grounded Balor and yanked one arm back. Uppercut by Lorcan. Another and another, but Balor hit a Pele kick to create some separation. Balor crawled to his corner and reached for the tag, but Lorcan kept him at bay, hanging on as he got elbowed. Sling Blade and a hot tag by Balor. Big boots by O’Reilly, who destroyed both of the champs. Running forearm for Burch in the corner. Burch took some shots at the jaw to fight off O’Reilly’s finisher. Burch tried a dropkick from the top but O’Reilly snapped him out of the air and seamlessly snapped on a submission for the win.
WINNERS: Balor and O’Reilly at 11:58.
After the match, Pete Dunne showed up and the three beat down O’Reilly and Balor. The three set up Balor for an attack on his digits and Adam Cole and Roderick Strong appeared on the ramp. Dunne went through with the attack, and then the three fled the ring and went to the apron. The three members of UE stood together in the ring with Balor just in front of them and the four looked back at the heels. Balor shifted back slightly and stood parallel with the other members of UE and the crowd lost it, likely waiting for the four of them to do the Undisputed Era signal, as I certainly was. Balor then fell back further and exited the ring as UE kept staring out at the three heels.
(Wells’s Analysis: Finn Balor continues to do his best work in this feud both from a ring standpoint and a character standpoint. It would seem Karrion Kross is still probably the long-term endgame for the championship, but with the strength of Finn’s reign I’d table that for now and milk this current faction warfare. Very strong match, of course, that was really little more than the next step in a much longer storyline)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s nice to have two Dusty Classics and the women have certainly earned the chance to have one, but having both of them running at once has totally taken over the show and left little room for anything else. That said, they still managed to work toward something in both the men and women’s main event scenes. Most everything tonight was a thumbs up, many mild and a few better, but with all the chaos of the tournaments, it’s hard to tell whether the tag matches are leading to something or detracting from some better storytelling that could be happening.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher are now part of the tag tournament after a respect pairing that I’m sure many saw coming, so they’re your guaranteed wacky pairing from the Dusty Classic. A few have won it, so they could go all the way. TakeOver is just about three weeks away, so even with a lot of tournament matches left, we’ll have to get to some other business – though I suppose both finals could end up at the show.
Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream later for more analysis on tonight’s show. See you next week.