WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 14
The march to NXT TakeOver: New Orleans continued Wednesday night as the top stars planted the seeds for rivalries that will consume programming in the coming weeks.
Aleister Black signed a contract for an NXT Championship match against Andrade "Cien" Almas and had a surprise for the champion's business associate Zelina Vega in Candice LeRae.
The Dusty Rhodes Classic continued as Sanity, The Street Profits, Heavy Machinery, and Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss waged war in two matches to decide which teams would advance.
Ember Moon sent a message to Shayna Baszler, Dakota Kai returned to action, and Adam Cole challenged United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne and may well have sparked a new tag team in the process.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Match: Sanity vs. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe of Sanity took to the squared circle for the latest match in the Dusty Rhodes Classic to kick off Wednesday's show. Their opponents? The team of Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss, last seen in turmoil as they blamed each other for a recent defeat.
Moss and Sabbatelli isolated Wolfe, working him over in the corner and appearing poised to earn a big upset victory.
Young made the hot tag, fighting off both of his opponents and delivering the top rope elbow drop to Sabbatelli that should have earned him the victory. Instead, Moss pulled him out of the ring and wound up paying for it when Nikki Cross wiped him out at ringside.
Back inside, Wolfe scored the win for his team over the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Sanity defeated Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
There were no obvious signs of dissension between Sabbatelli and Moss this week, but even at their best, they were unable to fend off interference from Cross and score the win.
Sanity are a dark horse in the Dusty Rhodes Classic, but their lack of direction over the last month is troubling. Without any focus from NXT management, they have appeared sporadically, feuding with The Undisputed Era while Killian Dain steals the spotlight in main events against Aleister Black.
Dakota Kai vs. Lacey Evans
In her return to the squared circle following an injury at the hands of Shayna Baszler, Dakota Kai squared off with the surging Lacey Evans, whose bad attitude has earned her a winning streak of sorts.
That sequence came to an end Wednesday night when Kai scored a quick roll-up victory over the former Marine.
After the match, Baszler stalked toward the squared circle, her presence terrifying the Kiwi.
Ember Moon made the save and challenged Baszler to a match. A brawl ensued, including a wristlock from Baszler to the NXT champion, but it was Moon who was left standing following a one-handed Eclipse.
Dakota Kai defeated Lacey Evans
The match itself was nothing special, but the angle afterward was spectacular.
Baszler inspiring fear in Kai puts her character over as the dangerous, cerebral assassin she is, while Moon showed no hints of intimidation, proving her toughness despite enduring tremendous pain the last time the two met.
A strong segment that helped evolve the characters and tell their story ahead of another high-profile showdown.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Match: The Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery
Two of the most popular teams in NXT did battle in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Classic Wednesday night as Heavy Machinery squared off with The Street Profits.
Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight controlled the pace of the match, using their size and athleticism to cut Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins off at every turn. They even delivered a unique battering ram that would have made Goldust proud.
Late in the sprint of a match, Ford launched himself off the top rope with a frog splash to Knight and scored the win for his charismatic team.
The Street Profits defeated Heavy Machinery
The match was too quick to be anything special, but as a display of the fun-loving nature of the teams, it was fine enough.
The Street Profits going over was the right decision as they are more over than the big men, and one has to wonder if the frustration on the faces of Dozovic and Knight will ultimately lead to an attitude change.
United Kingdom Championship Match: Pete Dunne vs. Adam Cole
The numbers game proved troublesome for United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne early on in his match with Adam Cole Wednesday night, with the distraction supplied by Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly enough to give the former Ring of Honor champion the early advantage.
Dunne, though, turned to his joint manipulation and an attack on his opponent's left hand to win back control.
Dunne punished Cole, trapping him in a wristlock, but his control over the methodical worker was short-lived as the leader of The Undisputed Era delivered a bicycle kick for a two-count.
Frustrated by the interference of O'Reilly and Fish, Dunne wiped them out at ringside, only to fall victim to his opponent's Last Shot finisher. Dunne kicked out and again targeted the hand of his opponent.
Fish and O'Reilly ran in, causing the disqualification and saving their teammate from defeat.
After the match, Roderick Strong hit the ring and made the save. The Messiah of the Backbreaker joined Dunne in clearing the ring. The Superstars suspiciously stared each other down to end the segment.
Pete Dunne defeated Adam Cole via disqualification
If anything, this made the audience want to see more of Dunne vs. Cole, which may not be a bad idea if management is not completely sold on elevating the latter to the NXT Championship.
The tease of a Dunne-Strong team is interesting and could lead to a ton of excellent matches, and a war with The Undisputed Era will only make that a reality.
Aleister Black and Andrade Almas Make TakeOver Match Official
NXT general manager William Regal oversaw a contract signing for the NXT Championship match at TakeOver: New Orleans between Aleister Black and Andrade "Cien" Almas.
Instead of Almas, though, Black was joined by Zelina Vega, who did a lot of talking before Black took a seat in the center of the ring and insulted the business manager's size.
He signed the contract for the match and, after another insult, found himself on the receiving end of a slap from Vega.
Black calmly walked away from the ring before thanking Vega for coming alone...because he didn't.
Candice LeRae hit the ring, and a brawl between the women broke out. LeRae stood tall to a thunderous ovation as the show went off the air.
This may not have done a lot to present much of a conflict between Black and Almas beyond the NXT Championship, but it did lay the groundwork for a match between Vega and LeRae, which would be a ton of fun given their recent interactions on television.
Black is such a charismatic presence that he does not have to do a lot to get a segment over, as was evidenced by him simply sitting on the mat and drawing a pop.
LeRae looked like a star here, Vega was excellent as always and the show ended with a bang.
A great conclusion to an above-average broadcast.