The fourth annual Dusty Rhodes got underway this week on NXT with the first round matches. The show began with a video package on the tournament and all eight teams making their case as contenders in short promos.
Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic
Aleister Black & Ricochet vs European Union (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
The recently thrown-together pairing of Black and Ricochet picked up the victory here after a hard-fought and entertaining contest against the European pairing of Fabian Aichner and Marchel Barthel.
The commentary team let the importance of the Dusty Rhodes Classic be known with Mauro even saying a win “will attach a rocket to your back”.
The heels worked on Black early on with a number of impressive tag-team moves, including a spinebuster by Aichner followed up by a running penalty-kick by Barthel. Black would eventually make the hot tag to his partner and this was where things heated up.
Ricochet stunned the European Union with his patented high-flying offence before Aichner and Barthel would hit back by, first, taking out Black on the apron and then Aichner delivering his picture-perfect, double-springboard moonsault which awed the crowd for the near fall.
As “NXT” chants filled the arena, the newest members of the WWE main roster made a comeback through Aleister Black who stomped on Aichner as Ricochet took out Barthel on the outside. Black would find an opening and hit the black mass for the 1-2-3. A fast and ferocious start to the Dusty Rhodes Classic. The crowd applauded as two of NXT’s biggest stars begin what is surely their NXT swansong.
The Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler) w/ Jaxson Ryker vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Once again, the heels won the early exchanges and took control by isolating Oney Lorcan in one corner. Blake and Cutler worked furiously on the back of Lorcan, who sold impeccably.
Oney would eventually manage to make the tag to the Brit, Danny Burch, who cleaned house with suplex after suplex. However, as the babyface duo went for their double-team finish, Lorcan just couldn’t pull his weight to complete the move, giving Wesley Blake enough time to interfere.
Oney, the legal man by now, attempted to mount some offense by delivering European uppercuts but got caught by a butterfly backbreaker and then a Boston crab applied by Cutler. Burch would eventually break that up.
After some more back-and-forth action, the heels would gain the upper hand, surprisingly without any interference from Ryker, as Blake would deliver a powerbomb on the already injured back of Lorcan on top of Cutler’s knees on their way to victory.
The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs Moustache Mountain *Tyler Bate & Trent Seven)
This came across as a pretty standard NXT TV tag-team match with perhaps both teams suffering from the lack of a face-heel dynamic. Both being faces, both struggled to garner heat from their offenses and build sufficient momentum.
Nevertheless, the match featured a number of incredibly athletic manoeuvres with Bate and Ford the main protagonists. Ford would take out Seven on the outside with his jaw-dropping somersault from inside the ring to the out before he and Dawkins hit double-team spinebuster into a frog splash for the very, very near fall on Bate in the ring.
The match would reach it conclusion when the veteran Trent Seven would interrupt another tandem offence attempt by the Street Profits and dragon-suplex Ford onto the ring apron. The Brits would follow it up with a slightly botched burning hammer into a double-stomp on Dawkins for the win.
Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa)
There was incredibly upsetting news from the WWE this past week with Tommaso Ciampa being forced to undergo neck and spinal surgery which could no longer be delayed any further.
Nevertheless, with this being pre-taped, Ciampa did feature and teamed up with former friend-turned-rival, Johnny Gargano, as the duo initially came out to their own individual entrance themes before Ciampa would point to the titantron and the old DIY theme song would hit and the crowd would erupt.
The match would begin with massive “DIY” chants from the audience. The the heels worked on Gargano before Ciampa would get the hot tag early on. Both members of DIY were getting undisputed (pardon the pun) babyface reactions.
Things heated up towards the end as Ciampa would look to deliver a hat-trick of German suplexes on O’Reilly only for Fish to try to interfere. Gargano would take out Fish on the outside with a running flip from the apron to the outside.
O’Reilly would bring out one final push as he countered Gargano’s slingshot DDT attempt into a guillotine submission move. Ciampa would break it up with a running knee to the side of O’Reilly’s head. The “babyfaces”, Ciampa and Gargano, would eventually get the better of a phenomenal final exchange by hitting their old DIY superkick/knee combination for the pin.
An excellent finish to the match. As Ciampa held up the arm of Gargano, the NXT Tag-Team champions, Hanson and Rowe, the War Raiders came out and stood on the entrance ramp for a face-off as the show went off the air.
The NEW NXT North American champion
After the Forgotten Sons’ victory, the new NXT North American champion, the Velveteen Dream, made his way out and he would get on top of the announcer’s table before posing with his newly won championship belt.
The Dream would get on the mic and say that this was just to remind everyone that the Velveteen Dream is the North American champion.
Wait just a second. “Broooo” would ring around the arena as the King of Bros, Matt Riddle, made his way out to a huge pop from the Full Sail faithful. Riddle said that he only came out to get a closer look at the North American championship since he was wondering how it would look like around his waist.
The Dream would respond with a conspicuous jab at Riddle’s history with drugs by stating that he “must be on cloud nine right now”. The champ would then remind everyone that the spotlight, quite literally as one flashed on him at that very moment, belonged to him.
After their double-countout finish last week, Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee almost came to blows in a pre-taped backstage segment at the Performance Centre. General Manager William Regal set a rematch between the two in two weeks’ time.
The NXT ‘Exclusive’ clips on the WWE’s Youtube channel presented a lot of extra content for NXT fans with Eric Bugenhagen making a comeback and playing an air guitar along with an enthusiastic Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson and a totally uninterested Nigel McGuinness.