NXT Results: Top Champion interferes in Women's Dusty Rhodes Classic Match; Balor confronts Undisputed Era

What a night on NXT
What a night on NXT

With the Men's Dusty Cup in full swing, NXT kicked off another tournament this week. The first-ever NXT Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began this week as well.

The Fight Pit was supposed to take place on NXT New Year's Evil two weeks ago, but a slight injury to Timothy Thatcher placed him on the shelf for half a month. Now, he finally has the chance to even the score with the former NXT Champion. Will Tommaso Ciampa beat him again, or will the Thatch-as-Thatch-Can instructor emerge 2-0 inside Fight Pit?

Beth Phoenix is back ringside at the commentary booth, joining Wade Barrett and Vic Joseph in person as we kicked off NXT. We started the night with a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match, pitting The Way against Kushida and Leon Ruff.

Game Break: Guess Today's Mystery Player. Play the Brainbuster Game Now!

NXT Dusty Rhodes Classic Opening Round: Kushida and Leon Ruff vs The Way

Austin Theory and Leon Ruff started the match, with The Unproven One managing to keep track of Ruff for quite some time. However, after escaping a torture rack and avoiding a dropkick, Ruff managed to respond with one of his own, rocking Theory. Kushida tagged in, and he and Ruff hit tandem penalty kicks on Theory's arms.

Kushida continued to focus on the arms, hitting a modified armbreaker on the mat. Theory struggled to get out of the middle of the ring, reaching for Johnny Gargano while Kushida tried to twist his limb out of the socket. Eventually, Theory got to his feet and bowed Kushida in the face, enabling him to tag in the NXT North American Champion.

Kushida and Gargano traded strikes, with a back elbow from Johnny really disorienting the Japanese star. Theory tagged back in for a slingshot rolling dropkick. The Way took turns battering the Time Splitter, hoping to eliminate their opponents from this NXT Dusty Classic.

Kushida managed to escape Theory's grasp and tagged in the former NXT NA Champ. Leon Ruff pelted Theory with a series of kicks and set him up in the corner for a monkey flip. Theory ducked it and caught him diving for a torture rack blue thunder bomb. Ruff barely kicked out.

Theory kept up the punishment, bashing Ruff's face-off of Gargano's feet. The Way tortured him, all the while cutting the ring in half to keep Kushida on the sidelines. An enziguri dropped Theory, but Gargano yanked Kushida off the apron to stop the tag.

A kneeling backbreaker/rolling neck breaker combination dropped Ruff for a two-count. Mr. NXT and Austin Theory seemed to have total control. Ruff fought out of a powerbomb, though, and baited a counter from Theory. After that, a springboard cutter planted Theory. Kushida and Gargano tagged in, with Kushida taking Gargano right to the mat.

Theory tried to pull him off and paid for his interference with kicks and a handspring back elbow. A handspring double kick sent Gargano to the floor, and a tornado DDT spiked him.

Back in the ring, Kushida locked in the cross armbreaker. The second it was synched in, though, Theory broke it. Gargano followed up with an enziguri to stun Kushida. A fisherman brainbuster and superkick combination earned Theory another two-count.

Ruff took Theory to the ground, leaving Gargano and Kushida to battle it out. The Hoverboard Lock was blocked, but Gargano was hit with the snapmare/dropkick combo and a double underhook suplex, getting a surprising pin on Johnny Gargano.

Results: Kushida and Leon Ruff defeated The Way via pinfall on NXT.

Grade: B+

Kushida just picked up a pinfall victory over the NXT North American Champion, his second in recent memory.

Can anyone stop the former NXT Champion?
Can anyone stop the former NXT Champion?

Malcolm Bivens was waiting outside NXT GM William Regal's office hoping to get Tyler Rust a big match. As he was talking to McKenzie, Rust left Regal's office, surprising Bivens. He said he'd gotten there early and already had the talk. He'll take on Bronson Reed tonight. Bivens said that wasn't the direction they were supposed to go, but it's fine. Tonight, Rust goes straight to the top.

Karrion Kross vs Ashante "Thee" Adonis on NXT

Unfortunately for Ashante "Thee" Adonis, he was placed in a match with the sadistic Karrion Kross tonight. The former NXT Champion quickly spiked Adonis with two Doomsday Saitos. The referee tried to call the bell, but Adonis refused.

Kross lined him up, and a running forearm to the back of the neck was all Kross needed to finish the job.

Results: Karrion Kross defeated Ashante "Thee" Adonis via pinfall on NXT.

Grade: C

That may be the result for anyone on NXT that tries to face Kross. Desmond Troy tried to check on Adonis, and Kross rushed him to lock in the Kross Jacket.

We got an interview from MSK, with Nash Carter doing a terrible Borat impression. Wes Lee cracked up as we cut to some footage of their debut match from last week. Carter and Wes Lee said that all their hard work has led them to NXT, and they're not walking away from this tournament without winning the NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

Speaking of which, another first-round match up is next as Lucha House Party faces former NXT Tag Champions Imperium.

Who needs friends when you're the toughest women in NXT?
Who needs friends when you're the toughest women in NXT?

Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm cut a promo on their opponents in the NXT Women's Dusty Cup tonight, claiming that they were going to knock Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter out of the tournament because this isn't about friendship. It's about two tough women dominating NXT.

NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: Lucha House Party vs Imperium

Lince Dorado started things off with Marcel Barthel, bringing down the cruiserweight to work over his arm. Dorado sent Barthel overhead but was brought down by a double throat chop from the former NXT Tag Team Champion.

Gran Metalik got the tag, however, and LHP hit Barthel with an assisted body splash. Their run was cut short, though, as Fabian Aichner was next. The powerhouse demolished Metalik, flattening him into the mat with clubbing blows.

A backbreaker snapped Metalik in half, but he was able to kick out. A reverse slingblade planted Aichner, and LHP kicked off another offensive run. With Imperium sent to the floor, Dorado went for a suicide dive. Aichner caught him, driving him spine first into the apron before planting him with a powerslam.

Metalik was hung upside down, allowing Imperium to meet in the middle with a pair of running basement dropkicks. Throughout the break, Imperium kept up the pressure, with Metalik on the apron as Dorado was stretched and beaten on the wrong side of the ring.

Dorado found himself on the top rope and managed to grip Barthel's head, spinning around the ropes for a tornado DT. Aichner and Metalik came in, and The King of The Ropes proved why he earned that nickname.

A tightrope walking hurricarnana and a double jump moonsault earned Metalik a near fall. Aichner's powerslam was stopped, but Barthel managed to tag in for Imperium to spike Metalik with a wheelbarrow implant DDT.

Imperium took Dorado up for the toss suplex. Metalik escaped to tag out, and a sunset flip/dropkick combination nearly put Aichner away. Barthel saved his partner but was tossed out for his trouble.

Barthel sent Dorado into Aichner for the toss suplex and caught Metalik diving, turning it into a death valley driver. Aichner got the two-count on Dorado. A spinebuster/penalty kick combination set up for the Imperium Bomb. However, Dorado countered Aichner with a rolling facebuster. Metalik sent Barthel into Aichner with a springboard hurricanrana.

With Metalik sending Aichner to the floor, Dorado left Barthel on the mat with a superkick. A Shooting Star Press landed perfectly across Barthel, sending Lucha House Party to the next round.

Results: Lucha House Party defeated Imperium via pinfall on NXT.

Grade: A

Lucha House Party pulled out a huge upset over Imperium. When they went to walk up the ramp, Alexander Wolfe was standing on the stage. Aichner and Barthel were seemingly terrified, and the former NXT Tag Champs straightened up for the Axeman of Imperium.

The lineup for the first-ever NXT Women's Dusty Cup.
The lineup for the first-ever NXT Women's Dusty Cup.

WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix ran down the history of women's wrestling in NXT. All the greats, all the moments. Main eventing WrestleMania, competing in the first-ever women's HIAC and Elimination Chamber matches, NXT's women's division is all about making history.

Tonight is no different. The first-ever NXT Women's Dusty Cup started on this week's episode.

NXT Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opener: Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez vs Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro

Toni Storm and Kayden Carter started off the first-ever NXT Women's Dusty Rhodes Classic Tournament match. A running dropkick disoriented Carter, giving Storm a chance to tag out to Mercedes Martinez.

Martinez lost control quickly, with the speedy duo of Catanzaro and Carter taking out Martinez with the fast-paced offense. When Carter left the ring, though, Martinez slowed things down with some heavy shots. Catanzaro was caught in a kneeling chin lock, and when she broke out was slammed to the mat by her hair.

A powerslam planted Catanzaro for the near fall. Storm and Martinez kept control throughout the break, and we came back to Storm rocking Catanzaro with a running hip attack. Martinez moved back in, continuing to dismantle NXT's Ninja Warrior. Catanzaro avoided a slam from the top, though, turning it into a hurricanrana from Bret's Rope.

Martinez tagged in the former NXT UK Champion, but Catanzaro couldn't get to her corner. She managed to crawl through Storm's legs, though, and Carter came in on fire.

A series of dropkicks knocked Storm into Martinez, leaving the powerhouse out of the match. A rolling superkick stunned Storm, leaving her dazed on the bottom ropes. A sliding big boot nearly took Storm's head off. Carter rolled her up, and when Storm kicked out, Carter responded with a springboard dropkick.

Catanzaro took Martinez down on the door with a corkscrew press. Back in the ring, though, Storm smacked Carter with a headbutt. Carter was hit by a German suplex but fought out of a Boston Crab.

As Mercedes Martinez stood up to get back in the fight, she was blindsided by Io Shirai. Carter set up Storm for an incredible corkscrew splash, sending them to the next round.

Results: Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter defeated Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez via pinfall on NXT.

Grade: A-

NXT Champion Finn Balor told William Regal he wanted to get his hands on the NXT Tag Team Champions.

To get Oney and Danny, Regal told him he'd need to find a tag team partner.

Bronson Reed dominates
Bronson Reed dominates

Backstage, McKenzie had some news regarding the NXT Dusty Classic. Ashante "Thee" Adonis was set to take part in a first-round bout on 205 Live. However, due to an injury suffered tonight, he's out of the tournament.

It wasn't revealed if he would have a replacement or if their opponents would get a bye.

Tyler Rust w/Malcolm Bivens vs Bronson Reed on NXT

Bronson Reed, of course, overpowered Tyler Rust at the start of the match. The size difference was nearly insurmountable. Rust broke a headlock by taking Reed to the ropes but was sent flying to the floor with a shoulder block.

Bivens gave Rust a pep talk, but it didn't serve Rust much as NXT's Colossal One crushed him with a military press gutbuster. Bivens told him to use his mind, which gave Rust the idea to work over the arm. It was a great plan, but again Reed just crushed Rust, running through him with a cross body and hitting a chokeslam.

Rust kicked out and chased Reed up top to lock in a kimura lock. Reed broke away but was dropped off the top with an assisted Samoan Drop. Reed barely kicked out and avoided Rust's flipping snapmare slam. After a running senton, Reed followed up with the Tsunami for the win.

Results: Bronson Reed defeated Tyler Rust via pinfall on NXT.

Grade: B

Backstage, Finn Balor said that a few people in NXT owe him a favor. It's time for The Prince to collect.

The Champion of Champions
The Champion of Champions

The NXT Champion ran into The Undisputed Era's locker room, looking to bring in Kyle O'Reilly as his tag team partner. It was a tense moment, as Finn Balor asked if he was still sucking his meals through a straw.

Roddy Strong almost attacked him at that moment, but Adam Cole held him back. O'Reilly accepted Balor's proposal. They'll face the NXT Tag Team Champs next week.

NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar explains what a champion is

Santos Escobar called himself the "Champion of Champions" in NXT. He said a real champion doesn't have a curse like Johnny Gargano or a glass jaw like Finn Balor. Karrion Kross had the look, the ability, and the woman on his arm, but couldn't even defend the title according to Escobar. Maybe the belt was too heavy for him.

Santos Escobar has stayed strong, knocking down every challenger that has come his way. The NXT Cruiserweight Champion is now looking to Legado Del Fantasma to become the NXT Tag Team Champions once they win the Dusty Cup. They were interrupted by LHP, who rushed Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde.

They couldn't fend off the two-on-three beat down. However, they didn't need to as Curt Stallion, the real No. 1 contender to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, made the save. Stallion had LHP's back tonight, and it looks like Legado Del Fantasma's days could be numbered.

McKenzie interviewed Killian Dain and Drake Maverick, who will face MSK on NXT next week in the Dusty Cup. Dain was asked what he expected out of Lee and Carter, but Maverick took over the interview. He said that MSK is a great team, and he knows just how impressive they are. However, only one team can hold the Dusty Cup at the end of all this, and that will be he and Killian Dain.

The Beast of Belfast was happy with that, telling Drake that he did a great job.

It's time for the Fight Pit!
It's time for the Fight Pit!

The NXT Cruiserweight Champion found his challenger backstage and was livid about what happened a few minutes ago. Next week, Santos Escobar said he will embarrass Curt Stallion and expose him for what he really is.

NXT Fight Pit: Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher stood on the top of the Fight Pit for their introductions and the reading of the rules. No pinfalls, no rope breaks, you can only win by knockout or submission. Timothy Thatcher won the only Fight Pit in NXT history, forcing Matt Riddle to submit in the summer of 2020.

The match started with both men still at the top. Ciampa and Thatcher came to blows, and Ciampa attempted to launch Thatcher over the rails all the way down 20ft to the floor. Thatcher fought back and suplexed Ciampa on the unforgiving structure.

The NXT Champion traded blows with the Thatch-as-Thatch-Can instructor, with neither man ever getting a real advantage for quite some time. Ciampa got the upper hand finally as he sent Thatcher's throat upwards into the railing. Thatcher fell to the ring below, and Ciampa took his time to admire the opponent gasping for air and attempting to escape.

However, the mat was where Thatcher felt at home, and he managed to use his ground game to turn things around for a moment. Ciampa eventually broke away from the mat and bounced Thatcher's head off the steel structure several times before hitting a running knee that left Thatcher struggling to get up. The ref's count began, but Ciampa didn't let him finish.

Thatcher blocked the Fairy Tale Ending, sending Ciampa shoulder first into the steel. Thatcher then tried to snap Ciampa's fingers off in the post, but a kick to the knee forced Thatcher to lose his grip. A belly-to-belly suplex, though, brought Ciampa back down to the mat.

A few elbows nearly knocked The Psycho Killer of NXT out cold. Thatcher took the opportunity to smash his fingers, bent backwards, into the mat, seemingly breaking them. Ciampa used his good hand to send Thatcher into the steel again, giving him enough time to shake some feeling back into his fingers.

A slingshot into the steel set Thatcher up for a single leg Boston Crab. Thatcher refused to submit. A sleeper from Thatcher would've worked, but since this match was No DQ, Ciampa kicked Thatcher low to break the hold. The ref knelt down to check on Thatcher, and Ciampa used the ref as a fulcrum for Willow's Bell. Thatcher got to his feet just before the ten counts.

Thatcher blocked another Fairy Tale Ending, leading to these two men bashing one another with forearms. Ciampa bounced Thatcher's head on the steel post holding the cage up, then spiked him with the Fairy Tail Ending.

That wasn't enough, and Thatcher was even able to escape a chokehold. Another sleeper was locked in, and this time Ciampa tried to climb away. Thatcher placed his leg in between the cage walls and nearly snapped his other leg with a stretch muffler. With nowhere to go, Tommaso Ciampa was forced to submit.

Results: Timothy Thatcher defeated Tommaso Ciampa via submission on NXT.

Grade: A

Timothy Thatcher is undefeated in the Fight Pit. After the match, Thatcher and Ciampa stared each other down, and it seemed that they'd earned one another's respect.

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Edited by Alan John
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