The Creed Brothers def. Grizzled Young Veterans in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
I appreciate that this was commercial-free as it very much helped with the pacing and made the match even better. On paper, viewers didn't have an incentive to cheer for either team considering both are heel, but this crowd clearly favored The Creed Brothers. This was a hell of an opener and those final few minutes in particular were terrific. I would've loved to have seen Grizzled Young Veterans finally win the whole thing after going to the finals the last two years and losing, but The Creed Brothers are clearly the stars on the rise and I see them taking the Dusty Cup.
Tiffany Stratton def. Wendy Choo
I honestly don't see either of these two getting beyond a certain level in NXT's women's division. Choo is actually quite skilled in the ring and Stratton had one of her better showings to date here, but their gimmicks are just awful. Choo is at least getting over with the crowd, whereas Stratton is so one-dimensional that it's hard to get invested. The match was a bit better than expected and was serviceable for the time they were allotted.
Pete Dunne def. Draco Anthony
We found out last week that Dunne and Tony D'Angelo will finish their feud next week in a Steel Cage match, which is fitting seeing as how the storyline started inside a cage at WarGames. As for this match, it was well wrestled for as long as it lasted, but it merely served as a backdrop for the stuff with Dunne and D'Angelo. I mean, Anthony just lost to Andre Chase of all people a week ago, so it's tough to take him seriously at the moment. Dunne made it official afterward that his Steel Cage match with D'Angelo at Vengeance Day will be "weaponized," meaning weapons will be hanging across the top (a la the one-off Ambrose Asylum gimmick from Extreme Rules 2016).
LA Knight def. Sanga
I haven't seen Sanga work since his Indus Sher days with Veer (by the way, when is he finally coming to Raw?!). He's not the worst by any means, but it was probably for the best that he was kept limited here in what was a short and sweet affair with Knight winning decisively. Any other outcome would have been silly and Sanga doesn't need to be protected at this point. Knight attacked Grayson Waller afterward, but in doing so, he apparently violated Waller's restraining order against him, so Waller promised that Knight will be arrested in front of the whole world at Vengeance Day. How nice of him to wait a week to put him behind bars instead of doing it immediately.
The NXT Champion Summit with NXT Champion Bron Breakker, Santos Escobar, Dolph Ziggler and Tommaso Ciampa Descended Into Chaos
Wade Barrett presided over this segment to start, but he wasn't in that role for long. Breakker and Escobar exchanged words to hype up their NXT Championship clash next week before Ziggler took a seat at the table followed by Ciampa. For those who haven't been following along, Ziggler and Breakker have been going back and forth on Twitter in recent weeks, though it's unclear if this will be a short run for Ziggler in NXT a la AJ Styles or if he's here to stay for the foreseeable future. This was solid all around, but I wish they kept Ziggler and Ciampa out of it so the focus was more on Breakker vs. Escobar. At least Escobar stood tall over Breakker at the end.
Sarray def. Dakota Kai
It's crazy how much has changed with both women since they first faced off over the summer. Kai was being built up for an NXT Women's Championship opportunity at the time, while Sarray was doing a whole lot of nothing despite coming into NXT with some fanfare a few months prior. The roles have reversed and Kai is just kind of there these days. It's sad to see, but at least she can be counted on for a quality contest like this one. It was an entertaining affair while it lasted and Sarray got to keep her momentum going.
MSK def. Edris Enofe and Malik Blade in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
This definitely did not reach the levels The Creed Brothers vs. Grizzled Young Veterans did, mostly because it went about half the time, but it was still a fun little sprint. Both teams worked well together, made the most of the babyface vs. babyface dynamic, and kept it consistent throughout. Enofe and Blade have gotten a ton of television time throughout the Dusty Classic, so hopefully this isn't the last we've seen of them as a team. Meanwhile, having won the Dusty Cup last year, MSK advancing to the finals made sense, but as previously noted, Creed Brothers are my pick to come out on top at Vengeance Day.
NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose def. Kay Lee Ray
You'd think this would have been given more time since it was left off Vengeance Day and headlined the "go-home" episode of sorts instead. Maybe they don't trust Rose going more than 10 minutes in a singles match? Regardless of the reason, this was an underwhelming main event in my eyes. It felt like it never reached that next gear before abruptly ending. The rest of Toxic Attraction interfering to help Rose retain was also disappointing because it looked like that had been prevented with them being attacked backstage beforehand. Post-match, Io Shirai made the save for KLR, so all signs point to KLR being Shirai's partner in the upcoming women's Dusty Classic.
As a go-home show for Vengeance Day, I thought this edition of NXT succeeded in leaving me excited for that event. The card has come together really well and it has a lot of potential on paper. This was a bit of a better show than last week, but it wasn't without its misses. For example, the Stratton and Choo characters are a waste of television time, and the NXT Women's Championship main event was a disappointment. I don't have high hopes for Nikkita Lyons, either. On the bright side, we got some strong wrestling from the men's Dusty Classic semifinals and you should check out the opener in particular if you haven't seen it. The NXT Championship picture also has my interest at the moment, so it's nice that NXT 2.0 has improved from where it was a few months ago and that there's some stuff worth watching for.