MSK def. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinal Match
Maverick and Dain are developing into a really fun team that can flip the switch from goofy to serious whenever they deem necessary. As for MSK, they're such a blast to watch and are already off to a strong start in NXT. We found out a bit more about them last week, though we still have no idea what MSK stands for (unless I missed something). MSK needed the win more and Maverick and Dain can afford the loss. As an opener between two babyface teams, I enjoyed this and the result was the right one.
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai def. Jessi Kamea and Aliyah in a Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Unlike the kickoff to the women's Dusty Classic last week, the outcome to this contest was completely predictable, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Gonzalez and Kai needed a dominant showing to re-establish themselves as a tandem. Gonzalez has gotten the singles spotlight lately and rightfully so, but she and Kai are still a hell of a pairing and I could certainly see them winning this whole thing. If not, it's possible Gonzalez turns on Kai so she can enter the NXT Women's Championship hunt.
Tyler Rust def. Dante Rios
Rust is talented and I'm looking forward to seeing him evolve, but this way too competitive. I don't even know who Rios is and I doubt he'll be NXT TV ready any time soon, even though he had an impressive outing here. If you want to showcase Rust and have him bounce back from last week's loss to Bronson Reed, then give him a dominant win, not a match against an enhancement athlete he can barely win. We heard a little from Malcolm Bivens in a pre-taped promo before the bout, but I still think we should be hearing from him more. He's that good.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Leon Ruff and Kushida in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinal Match
There was no way Ruff and Kushida were advancing to the next round with Grizzled Young Veterans being the actual team of the two, but this was a fun match, nonetheless. Ruff has won enough matches in NXT to where it isn't a foregone conclusion that he'll lose every single time (though it was pretty apparent here), and Kushida is always a blast to watch. Plus, Grizzled Young Veterans bring the best out of whoever they work with. The heels picked up the clean win, and afterward, The Way attacked Kushida and Ruff to seemingly set up Kushida vs. Gargano for the NXT North American Championship at TakeOver.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai Brawled with Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez
It's been clear for weeks that we were headed for some sort of a multi-woman match for the NXT Women's Championship at TakeOver because of how many legitimate challengers there are to Shirai at the moment and this succeeded in setting that up. Shirai and Storm got in each other's faces before Martinez showed up and attacked Shirai again. I figured Gonzalez would be added to the mix as well after she pinned Shirai at WarGames, but it looks like she's being groomed for a title shot post-TakeOver instead. That should be a terrific Triple Threat based on the level of talent involved.
Bronson Reed def. Isiah "Swerve" Scott
I know these two have interacted on and off over the last month or so, but I don't know if I'd actually call it a feud if Reed has beaten Scott decisively every single time. Don't get me wrong, this was another quality from them and they have strong chemistry together, but I'm not sure what the point of them facing off is other than killing time. Reed is slowly building momentum again, but as I've said before, he needs a real rivalry and I don't think this it. Scott has potential as a heel but needs to establish some credibility first.
NXT Champion Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly def. NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch (Non-Title)
I hate whenever champions eat an unnecessary loss, especially when it doesn't lead to whoever beat them getting a title shot (and I don't think that will be the case with Balor and O'Reilly, either). Despite that, this was still an entertaining main event that furthered the feud between Balor, Undisputed Era and the trio of Lorcan, Burch and Pete Dunne. Balor and O'Reilly were natural partners and had the hard-hitting affair with Lorcan and Burch I was hoping for. Speaking of Lorcan and Burch, they're obviously featured more prominently as heels than they ever were as faces, but they would really benefit from having Pat McAfee back in their corner and cutting their promos for them. Post-match, the heels stared down the babyfaces in the ring, though I wasn't sure what to make of Balor backing out of the ring. I sensed a turn coming from someone, but we didn't get that. Maybe it will be Balor vs. O'Reilly vs. Dunne at TakeOver, or is two Triple Threats too much for one show?
We were supposed to get an NXT Cruiserweight Championship match between Santos Escobar and Curt Stallion on this show, but Stallion was mysteriously attacked backstage before it could happen. It was apparently Karrion Kross sending a message to Escobar after Escobar mocked Kross in a promo last week. Kross vs. Escobar could be a hell of a match for TakeOver. The rest of this show was the usual solid stuff from NXT. The Dusty Classic tournaments have some of the matches more meaning and we're starting to see what the card for TakeOver in a few weeks is going to look like. Nothing stood out as special from this episode, but the angle advancement was there and everything mattered/clicked. That's all I tend to ask for most weeks. The shows could use more of a must-see feel to them, but that's my only nitpick.