By Graham "GSM" Matthews
DIY def. Tian Bing and Hoho Lun in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round Match
It's been a while since we've seen Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa on NXT, and you wouldn't have even known. That's a tremendous testament to how well NXT cycles guys in and out each week for their shows. Nevertheless, Bing is still relatively unfamiliar with the WWE style and Lun was one of the weaker workers in the Cruiserweight Classic, but they had an impressive outing here. DIY went over as they should have, setting up an anticipated clash with The Revival in the quarterfinals.
Aliyah def. Billie Kay
Aliyah has come a long way since we saw her on Breaking Ground for the first time almost exactly a year ago. She isn't quite the caliber of an Asuka or even Ember Moon yet, but she's getting better. Kay isn't undefeated, so I was fine with her losing on a fluke in this match only for her and Peyton Royce to attack Aliyah and Liv Morgan afterward. Morgan just can't seem to catch a break, can she? On the bright side, NXT is finally doing something of note with its women outside of the title picture.
Tye Dillinger def. Noah Potjes
It's so weird to see Dillinger having jobber matches considering, for years, he was the enhancement talent putting other people over. This was exactly what it needed to be: short and sweet, and I liked Dillinger's post-match promo as well as Bobby Roode's attack on him. The renewed aggression from both men was great and added another layer to their already exciting match at TakeOver: Toronto.
NXT Women's Champion Asuka def. Thea Trinidad (Non-title)
Trinidad previously worked for TNA as Rosita for a few years and is currently the girlfriend of Austin Aries. She wasn't able to show much because this was largely a showcase for Asuka, but she would be a decent signing for NXT. Asuka continues to assert her dominance over the division, but Mickie James being announced as her next challenger in Toronto was an awesome surprise. Those two should have a killer match and it will be fantastic to have Mickie back in WWE for the first time in over six years.
WWE Cruiserweight Champon T.J. Perkins and Kota Ibushi def. Mustafa Ali and Lince Dorado in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round Match
Perkins replaced the injured Hideo Itami as Ibushi's partner in the tournament, and although I would have loved that dream team, Perkins was a suitable partner. This was the type of exciting action we were used to seeing in the Cruiserweight Classic that we aren't currently getting on Raw. I understand why, but this was far and away better than anything on Raw in weeks. Perkins and Ibushi advancing was a no-brainer, but don't expect them to make it to the finals given Ibushi isn't signed with the promotion.
After a lull period coming out of TakeOver: Brooklyn, NXT has really picked up the pace over the past month. I attribute most of that to the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, but there are several stories right now that I'm invested in and even the women's division is in the best place it's been in a while. TakeOver: Toronto is shaping up to be a strong show and I look forward to how the rest of the tourney fills out because right now it's unpredictable who will make it to the finals.