Kushida and Leon Ruff def. The Way (NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory) in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First-Round Match
Obviously, Gargano and Theory were the better team of the two, but it made sense for the babyfaces to advance with Kushida pinning Gargano so the heels can cause them to lose in the next round. That would set the stage for Gargano vs. Kushida for the NXT North American Championship at TakeOver next month. The match itself was enjoyable and The Way already have strong chemistry together. This was a nice way to kick off the show.
Karrion Kross def. Ashante "Thee" Adonis
Most Karrion Kross matches are the same in that he completely decimates his opponent with ease and this was no exception. In other words, it was exactly what it needed to be. There was no indication of what's next for Kross, but I assume he won't be in action at TakeOver and instead he'll get the next shot at the NXT Championship after Pete Dunne. The bigger story was Kross attacking both Adonis and his Dusty Classic tag team partner Desmond Troy, rendering them unable to compete in the tournament. I like both guys, but I don't think anyone will be upset over them being taken out considering they aren't a team, anyway.
The Lucha House Party def. Imperium (Martel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First-Round Match
It's cool that Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik are sticking around in NXT for a little longer despite Metalik's recent failure to win the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Hell, they were just on Raw this week, so they'll probably continue to pull double duty until they're bumped from the tournament, most likely in the next round against Legado del Fantasma. This was a blast of a bout, even though there were a few sports that didn't look the smoothest. Alexander Wolfe coming out on stage afterward to confront Barthel and Aicher was interesting. Is he bringing them back to NXT UK or does that mean WALTER isn't far behind?
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter def. Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez in a Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First-Round Match
When this match was announced last week, I immediately thought Catanzaro and Carter were going to get destroyed. Besides, Storm and Martinez are much bigger stars than them and are objectively better, so why wouldn't they? But then I remembered that Io Shirai has bad blood with both heels, so I figured she'd show up and that was what happened. It protected the heels in defeat, furthered their feud with Shirai, and gave the babyfaces a big win. They're a nice underdog duo and Catanzaro specifically has potential in my opinion. That finisher of hers looked wild, even though the execution wasn't perfect.
Bronson Reed def. Tyler Rust
This was the one match on the show that felt like filler. I don't want to say it was completely pointless because Reed did have that run-in backstage beforehand with Isiah "Swerve" Scott, but there wasn't anything overly exciting about it. They had a well-wrestled match that was won by Reed. I think my problem with this was that both guys need wins right now, so putting them against each other was a weird decision. It's about time Malcom Bivens got featured more regularly on NXT TV. Fingers crossed he doesn't end up disappearing the same way Robert Stone did.
Curt Stallion Saved The Lucha House Party From Legado del Fantasma
Stallion is rarely ever featured on NXT and viewers haven't been given much of a reason to care about him. He actually became the number one contender to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship back in November when he won a Fatal 5-Way, but you would never know that because it's never acknowledged. Nonetheless, this was a solid segment designed to hype Lucha House Party vs. Legado del Fantasma in the quarterfinals of the Dusty Classic and remind people that Stallion is next in line for a title shot. Santos Escobar's promo was the best part about this, though. The dude is just a natural on the mic and screams star.
Timothy Thatcher def. Tommaso Ciampa in the Fight Pit
That first Fight Pit last year between Thatcher and Riddle was so damn cool because we had never seen anything like it before, or at least not in a long time. This didn't quite reach the same heights that one did, but this was still a terrific, hard-hitting main event. Thatcher and Ciampa utilized the cage well and beat the holy hell out of each other. The finish looked fantastic and I'm so glad Thatcher won because he desperately needed this. It's already been announced that they'll be teaming up in the men's Dusty Classic in place of Adonis and Troy, which has me very excited.
The episode-long story with Finn Balor and Pete Dunne was great and effectively built up Balor and Kyle O'Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for next week. The Fight Pit main event was easily the most must-see thing on the entire show, but the two hours were filled with fun matches and several storylines were progressed. Everything also served a purpose and/or held my interest, so I honestly don't have many complaints. NXT had maintained momentum for the past few weeks, and although some shows are better than others, almost all of them have been good to great. That's a positive sign with TakeOver right around the corner.