WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 13
While AEW continued to celebrate the new year this week, NXT kicked off the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic on Wednesday's show.
The tournament will feature new and existing teams competing in matches over the next several weeks before the final two teams fight for the coveted trophy.
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong of The Undisputed Era took on Breezango, while The Grizzled Young Veterans battled Ever-Rise.
We also saw NXT's top couple in action when Candice LeRae faced Shotzi Blackheart and Johnny Gargano battled Dexter Lumis.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's show.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae
NXT wasted no time getting to the action. As soon as the opening video was over, LeRae and Blackheart came out for the opening match.
They immediately began using a quick pace and seemed evenly matched until Blackheart took LeRae down into a short-arm scissor submission.
Indi Hartwell cheered on LeRae from ringside as she began to fight back. They took the fight out of the ring, and Blackheart hit a jumping knee from the steel steps. A distraction from Hartwell allowed The Poison Pixie to take control.
They traded the upper hand several times, but neither competitor could put the other away until LeRae hit a swinging neckbreaker from the middle turnbuckle for the pin. Hartwell provided another distraction to give her the win.
Blackheart and LeRae are both known as risk-takers, so it was no surprise when they started flying around the ring to take each other out.
Even with a tiny crowd in attendance, you could tell the fans loved Blackheart. LeRae played a good heel, but it was the girl with the green hair who stood out for most of the match.
Hartwell did a good job as LeRae's enforcer at ringside, but it would be nice to get a few more segments that let us get to know her character better.
Overall, this was a good way to kick off the action for the night. Blackheart will easily recover from this loss.
The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Ever-Rise
The first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began with Ever-Rise taking on The Grizzled Young Veterans.
Zack Gibson took control right away and brought in James Drake to keep the pressure on. Chase Parker yanked Drake down by his hair to turn the tables. Gibson had to calm Drake down so he wouldn't get the team disqualified.
Gibson came in and hit Matt Martel on the apron before turning his attention back to Parker. The GYV spent the next few minutes putting Parker through the wringer.
Martel finally got the hot tag and went after both opponents with a flurry of strikes. Both teams participated in a sequence of double-team moves that led to Gibson and Drake hitting their finisher for the win.
This was a fast-paced match with some solid tag team wrestling, but the last couple of minutes had a little too much going on at once.
A few tag team spots in a row is fine, but once the referee steps aside and just lets everyone be in the ring as much as they want, it becomes too chaotic.
Other than that, this was a fun bout. The Grizzled Young Veterans continue to impress with every outing, but Ever-Rise could use a little fine-tuning.
Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis
After a quick promo from Blackheart and Ember Moon hyping their upcoming appearance in the Dusty Rhodes Cup, Lumis and Gargano came out for their match.
Gargano's North American Championship was not on the line, but he still had Austin Theory at ringside to provide him with some backup. Gargano tore up one of Lumis' drawings, and the Tortured Artist took him down with ease.
He creepily chased Gargano out of the ring, but Johnny Wrestling was still able to hit a kick to the face. They fought on the top rope until Lumis knocked him down. Gargano avoided a senton bomb as the show went to a break.
Lumis began to make a comeback and uncorked a couple of stiff right hands. It looked like he had the match well in hand, but a distraction from Theory led to Gargano rolling Lumis up for the win.
Gargano and Theory tried to attack Lumis after the match, but Kushida ran down to make the save. Kushida made it clear he is coming for the North American Championship.
Lumis is one of the most unique talents in all of NXT, but management might not know how it wants to use him yet. It's clear WWE wants to push him, but it's not rushing into it so he can establish his character.
Both of these Superstars have incredible talent, but it felt like they were holding back a bit in this match. We have seen many wrestlers save their best ideas for PPV matches, but it was a lot more obvious than usual in this bout.
This match was fine, but it never felt like it reached the level these two are capable of getting to. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what was missing. It just fell a tad short. This should have been the match of the night but won't stand out in the end.
Jake Atlas and Isaiah Scott vs. MSK
The new tag team on the block made its debut this week when MSK took on Jake Atlas and Isaiah Scott in another first-round match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Atlas started off against Nash Carter. They had a nice exchange of takedowns and counters that led to Atlas getting a two-count.
Swerve tagged in and Carter brought in Wes Lee. After a moment, Scott and Atlas cornered the newcomer for a double-team combo. Scott and Atlas employed some dirty tactics, and it led to a huge brawl at ringside with all four men.
We returned from a break to see Carter holding Scott in a bodyscissor. They both made the tag and Lee went on a rampage. Both teams came close, but it was MSK that ended up scoring the win to advance in the tournament.
This was another match that had a quick pace with a lot of energy, but being the debut of MSK, formerly known as The Rascalz, made this a little more interesting.
WWE didn't spend a ton of time hyping the group's arrival, but it did tease it with some graphics recently. Debuting as part of this tournament was an interesting decision because if MSK doesn't win, it means it's going to lose one of its first matches in NXT.
Atlas and Scott worked well together, but they were never going to become a permanent team, so being eliminated early is for the best. They made MSK look good.
The only major complaint with this match was a lack of pacing. It felt like they just moved from one spot to the next without taking the proper time to sell anything. That may have had more to do with them wanting to pack as much into the match as possible, but sometimes, less is more.
Xia Li vs. Jobber
After returning last week with a decisive victory, Xia Li was back this week to battle another jobber. She hit one right hand and a spinning kick to get the win. She dished out a little more punishment after the match was over.
As a match, this wasn't much. As a way to make Li look unstoppable, it was awesome. Grading two strikes and a post-match attack is almost impossible, so this grade is based on how well this segment worked.
Li has a presence about her that makes her stand out from everybody else on the roster. If WWE continues to book her this way, it won't be long before she has a title shot.
The entrance, music, look and change in attitude all suit her well. It will be interesting to see if Boa finds the same success when he starts wrestling more often.
The Undisputed Era vs. Breezango
The main event featured Tyler Breeze and Fandango taking on Cole and Strong of The Undisputed Era in the third Dusty Classic bout of the night. Kyle O'Reilly accompanied his teammates to the ring despite not being cleared by medics.
Breeze and Cole came to a stalemate after their first exchange and shook hands as a show of respect before locking up again. They both tagged their partners so Strong and Fandango could square up.
We returned from a break to see Breezango dominating Cole with some standard tag team tactics. The leader of the UE brought in The Master of the Backbreaker to do what he does best.
Strong unleashed a barrage of offense against both men. Once Cole had recovered, Strong tagged him for a double-team move to get a near-fall. Breeze turned the tables and tagged Fandango to kick-start a sequence that involved all four men taking each other out in various ways.
Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch attacked KOR at ringside until Finn Balor tried to make the save. Pat McAfee's friends took them out, but Cole overcame the distraction to hit a superkick to Fandango for the win.
As expected, this was the best match of the night. The chemistry between all four men in the ring was off the charts and they used it to put on a memorable performance.
The high jinks at ringside marked the third time a match ended with interference this week, but out of the three, this one made the most sense from a storyline perspective. WWE addressed three different feuds at the same time with efficiency.
This bout was a prime example of how good Breeze and Fandango are. They make everything look easy and always elevate their opponents. This was the best possible way to end this week's show.