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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 10, 2021): Dusty Classic Fatigue


NXT returned last night (Feb. 10) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Finals are Set

The main event of this week was a men’s Dusty semi-final match between The Grizzled Young Veterans and Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher.

The match was a solid main, which made sure to demonstrate how the GYV really functioned as a true team. While T & T weren’t off the same page, it was clear the Vets are extensions of each other. This factored into the finish when Zack Gibson grabbed James Drake, who was prone for Ciampa’s finish Willow’s Bell, preventing the move. This allowed the Vets to deliver their double team finisher Ticket to Mayhem. Gibson covered Tommaso as Drake prevented Thatcher from breaking it up.

The Grizzled Vets were always a lock for the finals as it seemed like they were in line for a significant push before the pandemic hit and they returned to Europe.

On the on the other side of the bracket, MSK defeated El Legado del Fantasma to join them in the finals.

This match opened the show and was quite a fun time. Both have a very entertaining style and that meshed well for this bout. MSK’s roll out has been as strong as can be. They’ve been able to show personality and use their unique style within the NXT tag format. Advancing to the finals of the Dusty immediately establishes them as a legit tag threat in the division, whether they defeat the Grizzled Young Veterans or not.

This will pit a talented, but bland (by design) team in GYV against the exact opposite in MSK. And while the Vets are those heels with no redeeming qualities, they’re always good in the ring. This final should deliver a match worthy of a Dusty Classic final.

The Other Final

The Women’s Dusty Finals were also set this week.

Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon defeated Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell to advanced to TakeOver. It was a really enjoyable bout, though with some of the talent in this match, that shouldn’t be surprising. Moon, Blackheart, & LeRae are all great wrestlers. Hartwell is still rather new to this ,and that is obvious in many of her matches. But here, she was solid, even whipping out an impressive springboard elbow.

My “gripe” about this match was more the positioning of it. Last week, Raquel González & Dakota Kai punched their ticket to the finals. That means the outcome of this match was never really in doubt. Heel vs. heel matches are very uncommon, so the Way had little chance in this match. Face vs. face matches are more common. If Ember & Shotzi won first, it wouldn’t be impossible that Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter could have won their match. This isn’t an issue with this match at all. It’s more an issue how they opted to lay it out.

We learned this week that the winner of the Dusty Cup will get a Women’s tag team title shot “eventually.” The winner Sunday should try to get that match before Nia’s hole is completely healed.

A Perfect Jerk

Johnny Gargano continues to find new life as the cowardly heel.

To try to avoid facing Kushida at TakeOver, he told everyone he broke his arm. To drive the point home, he had the Way bring him to the ring in a wheelchair, explaining that he’s such a power walker that if he can’t swing his arms, he can’t walk. I’ll buy it.

It was all classic comedy heel, something that still amazes me how well Johnny plays it. From instructing the Way to turn the wheel chair from the facing the hard cam to facing the video screen to supplying an x-ray with the wrong limb identified, it was all hilarious stuff.

William Regal played the party pooper, revealing he knows that Gargano is cleared to compete and pointing out all the fallacies in Johnny’s argument. This allowed Kushida to sneak in behind the Way, leading to a comedic reveal when the heels noticed him in their ranks.

Kushy faced Austin Theory later in the night, a match that ended in DQ when the North American champion attacked his challenger. After the match, Dexter Lumis prevented this from becoming a two on one beatdown and their night ended with Lumis and Kushida executing dual submissions.

While Lumis has enough reason to dislike the Way, he feels a bit shoehorned here. I’d call him a fifth wheel, but technically he’d be a fourth wheel, which is the perfect amount of wheels.

Picking the Wrong Fight

The Tian Sha stable looks to have its first program.

To start, I think Tian Sha is the stable name. After last week’s origin video, it was possible that was the name of Mei Ying after she sold her soul to a dragon to become immortal. But given Tian Sha is on the video screen as they all come out, and that Wade Barrett referred to her as Mei Ying this week, I’m using it as the stable name until I see something suggesting otherwise.

Their first feud will be against Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter. The KCs were ringside when Xia Li was squashing Cora Jade, trying to get through to a woman they thought was her friend. (This is a classic move in wrestling, establishing a friendship after the fact despite said friendship never really being shown on TV.)

To make matters worse, Carter got into the face of Ying, predictably upsetting the dark queen. Mei even choked Boa until Li effectively disposed of both Kayden and Kacy.

I’m unsure how this is going to go. Right now, Tian Sha has one active wrestler in Xia Li. Ying just watches and Boa hasn’t wrestled. Not that he would be fighting one of these women, but it is odd that they haven’t given him a couple squashes as well. Perhaps NXT doesn’t feel he’s as ready as Xia.

So right now, one woman is going to battle a tag team. Unless this is the vehicle to get Mei in the ring. Given she just observes the fights, it’ll take a bit more work to get her to reveal that soul of a dragon.

All the Rest:

- Cameron Grimes returned to Full Sail very wealthy from investing in GameStop and then dogecoin. This is a humorous twist to this character. He’s still a cocky idiot, but now he’s super rich. It’s a fun wrinkle that will be entertaining to follow. I also look forward to when he loses it all.

- Both main title matches got the video package treatment. Which is fine, but both matches were lacking any real heat. They could have benefited from one more segment to try to add a little more drama to those matches.

- Santos Escobar sent Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza to attack Karrion Kross. Kross of course destroyed them instead. (Only the aftermath was shown.) Escobar will face Kross next week.

This was a solid show. None of the main title angles had any fresh additions to them, both represented in video form. This meant that the Dusty semis had to carry the day.

And in general, those matches were all good. Though I think next time, they should space the men and women’s Dusty tournaments. I understand why they want to run them at the same time, but these last few weeks felt like tag team overkill. The other option is announcing it sooner and stretching the rounds over a longer period of time so they don’t have to cram every episode with them. This wasn’t as big of an issue as they progressed deeper into the tournament, but there was some Dusty Classic fatigue even this episode.

Outside establishing what the two Dusty finals would be, this show didn’t do anything to add to Sunday’s TakeOver. Johnny Gargano is always entertaining though.

Grade: B

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