WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from March 13
After two years, the most epic story in NXT history wrote its latest chapter with a stunning conclusion to Wednesday's WWE Network presentation.
Johnny Gargano outsmarted the most cerebral villain in NXT, leaving Tommaso Ciampa lying in a heap to close out the show, and now has momentum on his side as TakeOver: New York draws near.
He was not the only Superstar to make headlines Wednesday, as Shayna Baszler, The Forgotten Sons and Moustache Mountain all had notable evenings.
Find out now with this recap of the March 13 episode of NXT.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Moustache Mountain vs. The Forgotten Sons
The first semifinal match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicked off Wednesday's show and pitted Moustache Mountain's Trent Seven and Tyler Bate against The Forgotten Sons' Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler.
Bate outwrestled the opposition early but quickly found himself trapped in a cobra clutch at the hands of Blake. Bate tagged in Seven, but after a brief flurry by the Brit, the babyfaces again found themselves on the defensive as The Forgotten Sons targeted his previously injured knee.
Bate tagged back in and unloaded on the opposition, including a standing shooting star press on the floor. A combination of Seven's injury and interference from Jaxson Ryker left Bate prone to the inverted DDT/double stomp combo that sent The Forgotten Sons to the finals of the tournament.
The Forgotten Sons defeated Moustache Mountain
This felt like bits and pieces of a better match squeezed into a shorter one that never really got into a flow.
With that said, Bate was again outstanding, totally outshining everyone else in the match and demonstrating why WWE was so eager to crown him the first United Kingdom champion.
The Forgotten Sons advancing was a surprise of sorts considering how inconsistently utilized they had been to this point, but it is a nice surprise that will freshen up the tag team division in the tournament's wake—win or lose.
Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair
The No. 1 contender to the NXT Women's Championship would be decided Wednesday, as Io Shirai battled Bianca Belair for the right to challenge Shayna Baszler at TakeOver: New York on April 5.
Belair dominated early, using her strength and athleticism to neutralize Shirai's experience advantage. She caught the Mae Young Classic finalist attempting a headscissors and sent her face-first into the ring steps.
Shirai recovered relatively quickly, though, and delivered a 619 that sent Belair across the squared circle.
The EST of NXT recovered, tied Shirai in the Tree of Woe and whipped her midsection with her braid.
Shirai fought out and delivered a moonsault, but Belair got her knees up and followed with a German suplex that grounded her opponent.
As the action intensified, Baszler hit the ring and attacked both women. Kairi Sane tried to make the save but ultimately suffered a familiar fate. The Queen of Spades was left standing after choking out Shirai, establishing her dominance.
The match was back-and-forth but never had the opportunity to develop.
Shirai and Belair worked well together, but the run-in, the non-finish and the post-match beatdown left this feeling more like an angle than an actual match to determine a No. 1 contender.
A Triple Threat (at least) now appears to be the case for Brooklyn, and while that may be good for Shirai and Belair in that they each get a title opportunity, it gives creative an out in which Baszler can lose the title without really losing the match. That feels too much like a cop-out.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. DIY
The most intriguing match of the 2019 Dusty Classic pitted the reunited DIY, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, against the team of Aleister Black and Ricochet.
Ciampa and Gargano, who entered to DIY's old theme song and wore the blue T-shirts that had become synonymous with the team, controlled the pace early. They wore down Ricochet while Ciampa taunted Black on the ring apron.
The former NXT champion did finally make the tag and took the fight to his last two TakeOver opponents. Ricochet tagged back in and again found himself at the mercy of DIY following a missed moonsault to the floor and a nasty superkick.
Late in the match, it appeared as though Gargano suffered a knee injury that left Ciampa to go it alone against a resurgent Black and Ricochet.
The babyfaces made short work of The Blackheart as The Dutch Destroyer blasted him with Black Mass and Ricochet finished him off with the 630 senton to cash the team's ticket to the finals.
After the match, Ciampa made his way to Gargano, whose wife Candice LeRae had come to ringside. He tried to help him, but Gargano fell down. Ciampa looked to throw him into the stage, just as he had done two years earlier to necessitate the team's bitter breakup, but Gargano countered and sent Ciampa into the stage, revealing his knee injury was a farce.
He superkicked Ciampa and hyped up the crowd to close out the show.
Ricochet and Black defeated Ciampa and Gargano
Not only was this match fantastic, but the post-match events were also anticipated by fans for months. Gargano used deception against Ciampa, luring him into a false sense of security and sticking it to the NXT champion in a way that popped the crowd and made for one of the more unforgettable moments in NXT TV history.
It is a shame Ciampa will be unable to compete at TakeOver because of a neck injury. The final encounter between the Superstars likely would have been a Match of the Year candidate. Instead, fans are robbed of a fitting conclusion to a years-long story that has been micromanaged to perfection.
This was yet another extraordinary chapter in a long, emotional book.