By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Rich Swann and No Way Jose def. Drew Gulak and Tony Nese in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round Match
Swann and Jose are the ideal makeshift tag team in that their respective styles mesh perfectly together and they should be a fun duo in this tournament, assuming they last long. The match wasn't what it could have been, but considering they only had a few minutes to work with, but it was a well-wrestled opener. It will be interesting to see what type of match Swann and Jose will have with The Authors of Pain in the next round.
Bobby Roode def. Sean Maluta
From his glorious entrance to the way he wrestles his matches, Roode continues to ooze super stardom. He has the presence of an elite athlete, and as great as he has been in NXT, it really does beg the question as to why he isn't already on the main roster. I don't know if the idea was for the crowd to get behind him and not Maluta, but being the master heel he is, Roode was able to get the fans to boo him when discussing Tye Dillinger afterward. Their post-match brawl was exactly what the feud needed and I'm looking forward to their clash at TakeOver: Toronto.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce Attacked Liv Morgan
I have been begging for something extraordinary from Kay and Royce and they definitely delivered in a big way with this attack. Poor Morgan continues to suffer with the various losses and beatdowns, but she might benefit from becoming a more sympathetic character. Anyone with an internet connection knows the NXT Women's Championship match at TakeOver doesn't feature any of these women, but it's a nice side story for them for now that has been well done thus far.
Austin Aries and Roderick Strong def. Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round Match
There were rumblings for weeks that Strong might be Aries' partner given their storied history together in Ring of Honor, and I am very happy that was the direction NXT ended up going in. If Aries and Roode weren't going to reunite, Aries and Strong was the next best team. Needless to say, they have excellent chemistry together and they made short work of their unknown opponents. I'm excited to see more from them in the later rounds and I wouldn't mind seeing them win the whole thing now that Hideo Itami, Aries' current rival, is out injured.
Danielle Kamela def. Nikki Cross by Referee Reverse Decision
Cross is actually a very skilled in-ring competitor, but we saw merely a small part of what she is capable of in this match. This was mostly a standard squash for Cross, but her crazy antics were what made her stand out. It's definitely something we have yet to see in the NXT women's division and I hope it doesn't have a short shelf life. The reversed decision didn't do Cross any favors in her debut, but it was unique and put her over as an unhinged lunatic, so I will say that.
Patrick Clark Interrupted NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura
I guess the idea is that Nakamura is more aggressive now that he's back, which I like. It's not that he wasn't already awesome, but it spices up his feud with Samoa Joe a bit. Clark was the last person I expected to see come down to the ring, and this gimmick he has is certainly questionable, but if he can somehow manage to get it over with the audience, more power to him. Expect these two to square off sometime soon.
The product was treading water for a little while following TakeOver: Brooklyn, but it seems to have regained its mojo with the return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Although this edition of NXT didn't feature any memorable matches, the debuts of Roderick Strong and Nikki Cross were newsworthy, and we received more storyline progression with the women, the main event scene, and Roode and Dillinger, making it an enjoyable hour on the whole.