NXT New Year's Evil was a huge success last week, with some quality early contenders for the match of the year. Tonight, NXT began their build to find the new contenders for Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. That's right, it's time for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic!
We had three opening-round bouts tonight, including the debut of a mystery team known only as "MSK." There were sixteen teams in the tournament overall, with six facing off on this week's NXT.
NXT Champion Finn Balor appeared as well, looking for his next challenger. There were quite a few Superstars who felt they were ready for a shot at the throne, and a few of them sent a strong message tonight.
We kicked things off with a fantastic bout between Shotzi Blackheart and Candice LeRae. Would Blackheart be able to stop The Way?
Shotzi Blackheart vs Candice LeRae w/Indi Hartwell on NXT
Candice LeRae attempted to jaw jack with Shotzi Blackheart, but the Tank Girl of NXT came here to fight. After a double leg takedown, Blackheart avoided a neck breaker in the ropes and hit a cross body off the top for a two-count. Blackheart kept up the pressure, rolling LeRae around the ring with her arm in a modified armbar.
LeRae managed to get to the ropes just before Blackheart trapped her in a cross arm breaker. Blackheart yanked her off the second rope, driving LeRae's head into the top turnbuckle in the process. LeRae escaped a bridging headlock and finally took the fight to Blackheart in the corner. At least, momentarily. Blackheart was knocked from the top to the apron, but yanked LeRae's arm through the ring post.
Sending LeRae to the floor, Blackheart rocked her with a flying knee across the face. Indi Hartwell finally served her purpose, distracting Blackheart so that the Poison Pixie of NXT could hit a baseball slide and a dive. Back inside the ring, Blackheart was battered with kicks and chops. Kicking out of a roll-up, she was rocked by a nasty big boot, leaving her struggling to stand up in the corner.
LeRae was rocked with a superkick, though, and the running senton in the ropes crushed her for a near fall. A DDT spiked LeRae on the apron, sending her to the floor and Hartwell running to her aid. Shotzi followed up, sending them both into the barricade with a suicide dive. Inside, LeRae kicked out just in time.
Blackheart responded after Blackheart ran into the second turnbuckle, stunning her with a superkick. However, Blackheart countered a springboard maneuver, yanking her off the middle rope and hanging her up as well. LeRae was quick to change the game plan and tried to lock in the Gargano Escape.
LeRae couldn't hold onto it, and Blackheart drove her into her knee with a spin-out facebuster. A running knee/DDT combo off the corner spiked LeRae again. As Shotzi moved up for her Senton Bomb, Indi Hartwell again tried to distract her. Taking a hit for the team, she allowed Candice to climb up for Ms. LeRae's Wild Ride.
Results: Candice LeRae defeated Shotzi Blackheart via pinfall on NXT.
Pete Dunne and the NXT Tag Team Champions pulled up to the building and moved on to the ring. What message were they trying to send tonight?