Hi, and welcome to the NXT review. Now that we’re past the irrelevant nonsense of Worlds Collide which as we all discovered is like Bragging Rights but with an audience who refuse to acknowledge the existence in the ring of one of the two brands, let’s get on to the important business of building to NXT TakeOver: Portland. This week, we have a grudge match, a Dusty Classic Final and a couple of number one contenders to determine. Let’s see how it went down…

The Undercard

Shotzi Blackheart def. Deonna Purazzo // Pinfall (Top Rope Senton). Not a bad, little match. It was more of a showcase for Shotzi who is a star in the making but Purazzo held her own.

Dominik Dijakovic def. Damian Priest // Pinfall (Feat Your Eyes argentine rack inverted GTS) A fun, if rushed encounter that seemingly set up Dijakovic vs Lee again for TakeOver: Portland. Sure, I guess I can live with that.

Kayden Carter def. Chelsea Green w/ Robert Stone // Pinfall (Small Package roll-up). In her ‘official debut’, Green lost. This was a surprise but not an unearned one as Carter has been working hard to make everyone else look good, it’s nice to see her get some momentum. Unless she loses it all next week in a rematch…

Promos & Packages

Cathy Kelly was backstage with the Broserweights. Matt Riddle’s blend of weed puns and playing off Dunne’s deadpan continued to delight. Anyway, they said they’re going to win tonight which clearly they are because the Dusty Classic prefers two dudes to a tag team.

We got a recap of the Tegan Nox-Dakota Kai rivalry.

Keith Lee came out and thanked the NXT universe for being with him as he claimed his first piece of gold, he was interrupted by Damian Priest who admitted to kidnapping groups of women and Dominic Dijakovic who called Priest a “bootleg Marilyn Manson”. Lee then scampered away leaving the other two big lads to fight it out over who gets to fight him.

Tommaso Ciampa was talking pre-break about how he’s going to get Goldie back. Post-break, he was murdered Kyle, Bobby and Roddy and was dragging a table to the ring. This brought out Adam Cole and William Regal as Cole and Ciampa argued. This led to a wild brawl and Ciampa putting Cole through the table before posing with the title and the most symmetrical bleed I’ve ever seen. This was good, by Cole standards, it didn’t go on too long and left Ciampa looking like he could take the title back.

Finn Bálor vs Trent Seven

This match was set up because Finn attacked Gargano backstage at Worlds Collide and Moustache Mountain came to his aid. Because he’s a bad lad now, Finn dropkicked Trent as he rolled into the ring and mostly dominated beyond a few hope spots. Trent is a phenomenal underdog performer and you could see from Finn’s chest, he more than made his mark with his comebacks but this did suffer from a split audience who continue to cheer Finn in spite of him being a real dick these days. Despite the crowd, this was a fun match with a motivated Finn and hints that we might get him vs Tyler Bate down the line which could be good. Finn pinned Trent off a 1916 lifting reverse DDT.

Winner: Finn Bálor

Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai

Imagine this, you’ve got a big feud based on the split of a beloved tag team, you have one of them become a despicable heel and the other a beloved babyface. You’ve built this match for weeks, months even, you’d think the match would be an epic right? Like the Gargano-Ciampa Unsanctioned match? No, it was about three and a half minutes.

The thing is, this was a really good sprint while it lasted with both Nox and Kai showing appropriate levels of fire and animosity. There were some beautiful moments like Nox rolling in and out to reset the count only to roll into a boot from Kai. Even the finish itself as Candice LeRae turned up to stop Kai getting a chair involved only for Nox to use the distraction to hit Kai with a knee brace and hit a Shiniest Wizard for the pin was well done. Even if they end up building this to a proper match at the next TakeOver, three minutes? And yet, the Dusty Classic final gets about twenty. It’s ridiculous. For a show with three women’s and three men’s matches on it, it’s ludicrous that the longest of the former is half the length of the latter. Between this and Damian Priest’s line about taking groups of women if he wants them, you’d almost think we’d fallen into a time capsule. Not in a good way.

Winner: Tegan Nox

Dusty Classic Finals: Broserweights vs GYV

For anyone not paying attention so far, Broserweights are the team of Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle, Grizzled Young Veterans are James Drake and Zack Gibson. To reach this point, Broserweights defeated former NXT UK Tag Team Champions South Wales Subculture and Imperium, GYV defeated former IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Time Splitters and Undisputed Era. Where I think this tournament has been a great showcase for the tag team fundamentals of GYV, I’ve felt it’s brought out the worst excesses of the Broserweights, taking two exciting singles guys and forcing them into a team that has gelled well but never really felt like they’ve done more than cool spots.

You’ll be glad to know, I think GYV had a positive influence on Broserweights because this one even had a structure to it. It was a pretty standard template, Pete took a beating till Riddle could come in and near-falls could be traded but there’s a reason those formulae are standards, they work. Last year I saw Drake and Riddle work a dark match at Download Festival and it was good fun but the real strong sections of this match were the interactions between Gibson and Riddle, as the two larger men of the teams, they just went out and did some big lad wrestling and it was good.

This match, much like this review, felt overlong and indulgent as frankly no one believed the GYV were going to win because of the title match implications, because they were the heels and because the Dusty Classic is almost always won by two dudes. It is also possible this is me speaking as someone who wanted more than three minutes on the mid-card for Nox vs Kai. But for what it was, this was a suitably important moment for the finals of a tournament and hopefully could build to a very good match between Broserweights and Undisputed Era. Or it might just be a twenty-minute self-congratulatory spotfest. Let’s hope it’s not.

Winner: Broserweights

When this week was good, like Shotzi Blackheart coming out in her tank and doing her best Arisa Hoshiki impression, it was very good. At it’s worst, it was still watchable. I like that they tried to tell so many different stories and maybe with a better timing balance, this would have been a great show. As it is, it’ll do.

Next Week:

Jordan Devlin is here

So is Keith Lee

Nothing else is determined.

All images courtesy of WWE.com

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