Authors of Pain def. TM61 in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round Match
This was every bit as enjoyable as their original encounter in the finals of the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with both team having strong showings. TM61 took the fight to Authors of Pain and attempted to pull out the big victory, but to no avail. I was actually shocked by the result considering Authors of Pain have been main roster ready for months and TM61 just recently returned to the ring. Hopefully they'll find a way to rebound soon.
Bianca Belair def. Miss Drew Renee
Belair continues to impress with short and sweet squash matches. She once again made quick work of her opponent here, but she doesn't strike me as the dominant type. I'm glad she's gradually getting more and more television time, though, and I assume she'll be put in her first real rivalry after TakeOver. In the meantime, it's wise to allow her to build momentum.
Tommaso Ciampa became enraged by the NXT Universe’s support of Johnny Gargano
I don't believe Ciampa has said a single word since he initially left NXT to heal his injured foot last year, so I love how he has remained silent this whole time. He actually doesn't have to talk because he was so despised by the audience here and received boos that were so loud that it didn't even matter. This was a masterful segment that illustrated just how beloved Johnny Gargano is, and how hot of a match those two will have at TakeOver: New Orleans.
Aleister Black def. Killian Dain
I was hoping for more of a hoss fight between these two, and while it ended up being a real solid main event, it fell just shy of being that exciting encounter I know they're capable of producing. Nevertheless, they made good use of the time they had and Dain looked credible in defeat. Black is obviously being primed for a shot at the NXT Championship, so this might as well have been a No. 1 Contender's match.
The build to TakeOver: New Orleans rolled on with another enjoyable episode featuring the kickoff of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a showcase for Belair, Ciampa eliciting nuclear heat, and Black overcoming Dain on his road to challenging for the NXT title. A stacked show was advertised for next week as well with Lacey Evans vs. Dakota Kai, Adam Cole vs. Pete Dunne, Heavy Machinery vs. Street Profits, and Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss vs. SAnitY all on tap. More exciting stuff is coming out of tonight's tapings at Center Stage, and from what I've hearing/reading, it definitely looks like we're in for a hell of a TakeOver over WrestleMania weekend.