This week’s NXT saw the next evolution of women’s wrestling as we had the first match in the female Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. It was announced yesterday that NXT had signed three indie talents Lacey Ryan, Priscilla Kelly, and Elayna Black, now known as Zoey Stark, Gigi Dolin, and Cora Jade. With these new signings, the Black-and-Gold brand has managed to build the opening bracket in the competition, and I can’t wait to see these new signings compete. I was a big fan of Priscilla Kelly on the indies, so it’s great she’s got a spot in NXT.

We had another couple of tag team matches in the men’s division, as Imperium faced Lucha House Party, and Kusida and Leon Ruff stepped up against The Way. Outside of tag team competition, we saw both Karrion Kross and Bronson Reed in action, as well as some superb promos, but it was the main-event that stole the show, as Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa finally faced off inside the Fight Pit.

Kushida & Leon Ruff vs The Way (Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory)

Theory manhandled Ruff as the match got underway, but Ruff’s cat-like ability helped him to evade an early upset. Kushida tagged in and locked in a unique arm lock, followed by some clinical mat submissions. Theory broke the hold and tagged in Gargano who stomped down Kushida, then Theory came back in and continued the beating. He whipped Kushida hard into the turnbuckle and had Kushida in an arm lock as Gargano tagged in. They knocked the Time Splitter to the ground and continued their assault. Ruff tagged in and let loose on Theory, delivering a huge dropkick and a flurry of kicks.

After getting distracted by Gargano, Theory managed to drop Ruff with a Blue Thunder Bomb, but only managed a two-count. After the break, Gargano controlled Ruff with a headlock. He tagged in Theory, but Ruff couldn’t get the tag when Kushida was pulled off the apron. The Way connected with a double team move, but only managed a two-count. Ruff hit a cutter off the top rope and tagged in his partner. Kushida ran rough shot on The Way, using his speed to wipe them out, ending with a DDT on Gargano off the apron who was stood outside.

Kushida had Gargano in an arm lock, but Theory interrupted it. Theory tagged in and dropped Kushida from above his head onto his knee as Gargano followed up with a superkick. Yet again, Kushida kicked out and allowed Ruff to get involved, hitting a tope con hilo on Theory outside. In the ring, Kushida hit a basement dropkick then delivered a modified fishermen’s suplex to pin the North American Champion. What a surprise upset. Ruff and Kushida advance to take on the Grizzled Young Veterans in the next round.

Winners: Kushida & Leon Ruff Rating: 7.5/10

Karrion Kross W/ Scarlett vs Ashante “Thee” Adonis W/ Desmond Troy

Kross connected with a fisherman’s suplex, then two Doomsday Saitos. He punched Adonis in the back of the head whilst saying, “time’s up.” He pinned Adonis for the quick victory. Poor Adonis. Karrion Kross needs to be inserted into the title picture ASAP. As Desmond Troy went to check on his partner, Kross locked in the Kross Jacket and put them both on the mat.

Winner: Karrion Kross Rating: 2/10

Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) vs Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik)

Barthel and Dorado started things off, with Barthel hitting a suplex and locking in a wrist lock. He knocked Dorado off his feet, but after a few strikes, Dorado landed some chops to Barthel’s chest. He connected with a hurricanrana off the top turnbuckle. Metalik then stood on Dorado’s shoulders as he carried him over to Barthel where he landed a splash. Aichner tagged in and kept Metalik grounded. Metalik hit a reverse sling blade, then took out both members of Imperium. Dorado tried a suicide dive but was caught by Aichner where he slammed him to the ground outside.

After the break, Aichner was in full control until Dorado hit a stunner. Barthel tagged in and continued to dominate. He booted Dorado in the thigh as he was trapped in the turnbuckle. Dorado fought back with a tornado DDT off the turnbuckle. Metalik tagged in as did Aichner. He walked the ropes and connected with a hurricanrana, then landed a moonsault, but could only get a two-count. Barthel held Metalik as Aichner landed a DDT on him, but Dorado broke up the pin attempt.

Metalik dropkicked Aichner as Dorado was wrapped around him, allowing him to hit a Canadian Destroyer, but Barthel broke up the pin. Imperium hit Lucha House Party with stereo suplexes. Imperium set up Dorado for their finisher, but Dorado broke it up by hitting a facebuster on Aichner. Metalik hit a moonsault on Aichner outside as Dorado hit one on Barthel in the ring to pick up the win. This was a superb match. Congratulations to Lucha House Party. After the match, Alexander Wolfe appeared on the ramp as Imperium were walking off. He did the signature Imperium pose as Barthel and Aichner followed suit.

Winners: Lucha House Party Rating: 8.5/10 

The Next Stage Of The Women’s Evolution

Before the first match in the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, William Regal and Beth Phoenix were stood with the cup. Phoenix reeled off the biggest names in the women’s evolution of NXT, such as Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and Asuka. She said it was the NXT universe that wanted this to happen, and that they would once again be making history. The women taking part joined them on stage, including the three new signings.

Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Mercedes Martinez & Toni Storm

Storm and Carter kicked things off. Storm knocked Carter down, then hit a basement dropkick. She tagged in Martinez who continued the beating. Catanzaro tagged in and they delivered a double kick on Martinez who rested her chin on the middle rope. Martinez took control right back, trapping Catanzaro with a chin lock. Martinez slammed her after a failed attempt at a tornado DDT and went for a pin, but Carter broke it up. After the break, Storm went for a pin on Catanzaro, but she broke free.

Martinez came back in and hit an overhead suplex. Catanzaro was able to hit a hurricanrana on Martinez as they tussled on the top turnbuckle. Storm managed to tag in as Carter was tagged in. She dropkicked Martinez and hit a splash on Storm in the same move, lighting up the match in a big way. She tried to roll up Storm, but only got a two-count. After a basement dropkick, she tried again, but the pin was broken up by Martinez.

Storm hit a German suplex on Carter then locked in a single-legged crab. From out of nowhere, Io Shirai attacked Martinez by throwing her into the announcer table. Carter wiped Storm out in the ring. Carter locked in a reverse figure four leg drop as Catanzaro hit an insane corkscrew off the top turnbuckle to pick up the win.

Winners: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter Rating: 7.5/10

Bronson Reed vs Tyler Rust W/ Malcolm Bivens

Reed charged at Rust and knocked him out of the ring. He then gorilla pressed Rust into his knee and followed up with a fallaway slam. Rust stood on the apron and wrenched his arm into the rope. As the match was going on, cameras cut to backstage where Toni Storm was brawling with Io Shirai. Reed launched his body at Rust and knocked him over, then landed a splash in the corner followed by a chokeslam. Reed climbed the turnbuckle where Rust joined him. He went for a pump kick on Reed and managed to land a Samoan drop. Reed hit a standing senton, then connected with a big splash off the top turnbuckle for the win.

Winner: Bronson Reed Rating: 5/10

Fight Pit Match: Timothy Thatcher vs Tommaso Ciampa

Both men slugged it out on top of the pit, as Ciampa tried to throw him over the railings. Thatcher choked him against the railing, then hit a suplex on the hard wooden surface. Ciampa managed to break out of a submission hold by kicking Thatcher in the face, followed by a succession of stomps. The chops coming from Thatcher’s chest echoed through the arena, but it wasn’t long until he turned the tide. Although Thatcher almost made a comeback, Ciampa was right there to punish him by whipping his throat into the barrier.

After the break, both men were inside the cage, with Ciampa thrusting Thatcher’s body into it. As Thatcher was against the cage, Ciampa landed a running knee into his face. As the referee counted to five, Ciampa interrupted and went for a Fairytale Ending, but Thatcher whipped him into the cage. Thatcher suplexed Ciampa, then locked in a wicked arm submission. He smashed his elbow into Ciampa’s mouth, then smashed his hand into the mat as Ciampa screamed in pain.

 

Thatcher was then thrown into the cage. Ciampa whipped him into the cage once again, as Ciampa tried to lock in a crab. Thatcher forced Ciampa into the cage with his legs, then locked in a sleeper. Ciampa hit a low blow, then a Willow’s Bell off the referee’s back. The referee counted to nine as Thatcher got up. The two men traded blows in the middle of the pit. Ciampa managed to land the Fairytale Ending. He held in a sleeper hold, but Thatcher threw his body into the cage. Thatcher wedged Ciampa into the corner of the cage and locked in a stretch muffler for the victory. This was as brutal as I thought it was going to be, and I loved every minute.

Winner: Timothy Thatcher Rating: 8.5/10

What Else Went Down

– Pete Dunne cut a vicious promo in video form on Finn Balor, saying how they were cut from the same cloth. Dunne said that when Balor left NXT, he was there building a brand. He said them crossing paths was inevitable, and that Balor would be forced to live in his legacy.

– Malcolm Bivens was backstage waiting for Tyler Rust to finish talking to William Regal. Rust walked out and said he’d got a match with Bronson Reed. Bivens did not look happy about it at all.

– MSK appeared in a video package. They talked about all the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get here. They said they were going to win the Dusty Cup. These guys are so likeable it hurts. They deserve to be here. Each guy has so much talent, and the fact we finally get to see them perform at the highest level around is a gift.

– Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm cut a promo on Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro, saying how they were going to beat them later on.

– Footage was shown from earlier today where Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher were doing their weigh-ins. Regal wished them the best of luck as Thatcher pushed Ciampa, which then broke out into a brawl. The strangest thing about this wasn’t that there was a weigh-in, but that Ciampa had hair.

– Finn Balor went to Regal and asked for Pete Dunne in a match, but wanted Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch first. Regal told him he needed to find a partner. Balor said he doesn’t have friends anymore, only enemies. Regal told him about keeping his friends close.

– Isaiah “Swerve” Scott walked up to Bronson Reed before his match and told him not to get in his business again. He then said, “good luck out there.”

– Finn Balor was backstage with McKenzie Mitchell. She mentioned his tag match next week, where Balor said he knew a few people that owed him a favour. He approached Undisputed Era and said they were all grown men around here. He asked Kyle O’Reilly to be his partner, and he said he was in. Oh boy.

– Legado Del Fantasma were at ringside. Escobar told everyone what a Champion of Champion is. He said he doesn’t have to overcome a curse like Gargano or have a glass jaw like Finn Balor. Escobar said people like to act like a champion like Karrion Kross, but when it’s time to prove themselves they don’t make it to their first title defence. He stepped in the ring and said he backed up everything he’s said and sent Lucha House Party packing. He then brought up how Mendoza and Wilde were one step closer to becoming tag team champions. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado ran out, but Legado Del Fantasma overpowered them. Escobar climbed the top rope as Mendoza and Wilde held Dorado, but Curt Stallion ran down to even the odds. Later on, they all met up backstage where Escobar challenged Stallion to a match for his title next week.

– Drake Maverick and Killian Dain were being asked about their win on 205 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament and how they would be facing MSK next week. Maverick said he was walking in with an ally and a best friend. he said they would win the Dusty Cup.

After The Bell

This was a fantastic episode of NXT, filled with some very enjoyable matches. The first match in the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was great. The main event was also a stunner, and as much as I love Tommaso Ciampa, it felt right that Thatcher should win. Knowing that we’re getting a match where Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor are teaming up makes me happy. Next week is looking fantastic already, as not only do we get The Prince and O’Reilly facing off against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, but the Cruiserweight Championship is on the line as Santos Escobar takes on Curt Stallion.

Elsewhere, I hope Pete Dunne and Finn Balor happens at TakeOver, but I’d also like to witness Karrion Kross thrown into the mix. It would make an excellent triple threat match. Alexander Wolfe returning to Imperium could do a lot to make them more appealing. As excellent as they are in the ring, they’re missing the charisma they once had when all four members were together. All in all, NXT was fun to watch, and it looks as though things are only going to get better.

Stars of the Show: Lucha House Party Overall Rating: 8/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE