Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez def. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter in a Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
The outcome to this contest wasn't as obvious as some may have thought, as there was a significant chance Catanzaro and Carter could have pulled out the huge upset victory by pinning Kai. Once again, they gave it a great effort and looked terrific in defeat. The dynamic between these teams was strong and it was a smart choice for the opener. It was announced that Kai and Gonzalez will battle the winners of Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon vs. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell in the finals at TakeOver: Vengeance Day (which is a cool name, by the way).
Austin Theory def. Leon Ruff
Interestingly enough, I believe Ruff is the only person Theory has beaten one-on-one since returning to NXT. That said, the victory means a little more now than it did a few months ago now that Ruff is a former NXT North American Champion. It was a solid showcase for Theory, who is slowly but surely putting all the pieces together and his alliance with Johnny Gargano is helping a lot. Speaking of Gargano, his NXT North American Championship defense against Kushida is now official for TakeOver.
Legado del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde) def. The Lucha House Party in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinal Match
I enjoyed the last encounter these teams had not too long ago, so this was unsurprisingly entertaining as well. This could have gone either way, but Legado del Fantasma advancing was the right call with MSK also in the semifinals. It was cool to hear MSK cut a promo afterward as they already feel like bigger stars than they did in IMPACT. As for Lucha House Party, I'd be all for them sticking around in NXT, but Raw's depleted tag team division probably needs them more.
Edge Put NXT Champion Finn Balor and Pete Dunne on Notice
Yes, WWE obviously announced Edge for NXT because they knew they were airing opposite of the Beach Break edition of AEW Dynamite, but it also made sense. No Royal Rumble winner has ever considered choosing the NXT Championship, but now that the brand is bigger than it's ever been before, it makes sense. Of course, I don't think we're getting Edge vs. Balor at WrestleMania 37, but I liked the tease. This was a solid segment on the whole with Balor and Dunne generating excitement for their upcoming championship clash and teasing that we haven't seen the last of Edge in NXT.
Toni Storm def. Jessi Kamea by Disqualification
I know Kamea and Aliyah wrestled two heels last week, but aren't they heels themselves if they're aligned with Robert Stone? It's also weird Stone hasn't had any promo time since resurfacing on NXT TV. At any rate, the match was a complete afterthought due to Mercedes Martinez quickly interfering and going after Storm. Io Shirai interjected herself into their brawl and was the last woman standing. That Triple Threat at TakeOver should be stellar.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar def. Curt Stallion
Stallion earned his shot at the Cruiserweight Championship over two months ago, so it was about time he got it. I like that we've gotten to know Stallion a little better in the sit-down interviews in recent weeks and he took Escobar to his limit here. It was a fun match, but in the end, Escobar retained his title as he should have. Post-match, Karrion Kross showed up and attacked Mendoza and Wilde. Kross vs. Escobar would be a hell of an addition to TakeOver, but I can see it happening on an upcoming episode of NXT TV instead.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher def. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and Roderick Strong) in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinal Match
When you put four outstanding athletes in one ring, you're guaranteed to get a killer match and that's exactly what this was. It was all action from to bell to bell and they beat the crap out of each other. I would have been content with either team advancing, but Thatcher and Ciampa were clearly put together for a reason, so it's possible they win this whole thing. Them taking on Grizzled Young Veterans is bound to be a banger next week.
You can count on the quality of NXT TV going up every year around the time the Dusty Classic comes around because the matches are always exciting. Having one for the men and one for the women this year has been a plus and has led to even more stories being told and more people getting opportunities. TakeOver is shaping up to be an incredible card, but I guess we should have expected that. This was a top-notch edition of NXT that moved things along and featured a handful of above-average matches along with a rare appearance from a WWE Hall of Famer that served a purpose.