WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 27
January is a special month every year in NXT due to the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. This year, it is especially clear as tag team wrestling has taken over the product completely.
Finn Balor has had trouble with Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan, but before he could get to The Bruiserweight, he needed help to take out the help. Kyle O'Reilly agreed to work with his rival to take on a common enemy.
In the men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, the quarterfinals have arrived. The Grizzled Young Veterans faced a tough fight in the new alliance of Leon Ruff and Kushida. Both have built momentum from nowhere, but Zack Gibson and James Drake were ready to take advantage of their inexperience as a team.
The other match in the Dusty Classic included newcomers to NXT. The team of Wes Lee and Nash Carter, MSK, made an emphatic statement with an opening-round win against Isaiah "Swerve" Scott and Jake Atlas. In the quarterfinals, they faced Drake Maverick and Killian Dain, the odd couple that has managed to work.
For the women's Dusty Classic match of the night, Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai stepped into the ring with the lesser-known alliance of Aliyah and Jessi Kamea. It seemed like a lopsided affair, but Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter already proved that anything is possible in this tournament.
With major stakes on a night dominated by tag team wrestling, only the best would emerge victory. This was sure to be a special night for the black-and-gold brand.
Men's Dusty Rhodes Classic: MSK vs. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain
MSK used quick tags early to wear down Drake Maverick, showcasing a unique blend of speed and ingenuity. Killian Dain got into the ring to use Maverick as a human weapon to keep the team's hopes alive. MSK found a unique challenge in a chaotic energy of Maverick and Dain.
Maverick almost caught Wes Lee by stacking him up, but Lee kicked out at two-and-a-half. Nash Carter tagged in, and the two hit an elevated standing blockbuster for the win.
MSK def. Maverick and Dain by pinfall to advance in the men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
This felt too short, but the talent delivered. Maverick especially worked well with MSK, who played a unique role as the dominant performers. For the most part, they will be the face team coming back against top heel tag teams in the future.
At some point, Maverick and Dain deserve a serious run at the NXT Tag Team Championships, but it was never to be this year. MSK has impressed so far and acclimated well to the black-and-gold brand style. Hopefully, they will get a chance to show their personality soon.
Women's Dusty Classic: Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai vs. Aliyah and Jessi Kamea
A video package ahead of this tag team match explained why both teams wanted this victory.
Jessi Kamea got beat down by Raquel Gonzalez early, but Aliyah got into the ring with Dakota Kai to almost turn it around. Robert Stone tried to encourage the underdogs, but Gonzalez stopped a Kamea hot tag easily and planted her with a single-arm powerbomb for the win.
Gonzalez and Kai def. Aliyah and Kamea by pinfall to advance in the women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
This was almost a squash, but the member of the Robert Stone Brand got a little more offense than expected. It made sense that the most established heel women's team in NXT would look so good against a pair of wrestlers that rarely win.
It could have been fun to see more from them. The Robert Stone Brand has been absent so long that this could have been a soft reboot. Instead, it was made clear that Aliyah will never be the plan in NXT. Kamea has a chance but just needs more of a character.
Tyler Rust (w/ Malcolm Bivens) vs. Danny Garcia
A preview was shown for Tegan Nox's rehab with Brie Larson on Larson's YouTube channel. In a pre-taped interview, Malcolm Bivens explained that last week was just a blip on the radar for Tyler Rust.
Rust punished Danny Garcia by targeting the elbow of his opponent. However, Garcia showed his focus by using his speed to almost pull off an upset. Luckily, Bivens ended the match smiling after Rust caught Garcia in the Rings of Saturn for the win.
Rust def. Garcia by submission.
This was the right setup for a squash, and the match was well-wrestled by both performers. Garcia gave Rust fits along the way to show that the rising star is still not ready for serious top stars yet, but ultimately Rust picked up an impressive win.
Bivens is going to continue to give Rust easy matches, so this could get tiring. For the moment, it was the right spot. Rust is a future star. He just needs momentum and the right opportunity.
Men's Dusty Rhodes Classic: Leon Ruff and Kushida vs. Grizzled Young Veterans
Zack Gibson mocked Kushida and Leon Ruff for their lack of experience as a tag team, but The Grizzled Young Veterans shut up quickly when the faces got an early advantage with impressive and focused tag team offense.
The Japanese Superstar continued to dominate with submission focus when he was in the ring, even as Gibson and James Drake tagged in and out to stay healthy. However, Kushida still could not stay in the fight alone forever.
Ruff got a hot tag, almost taking the win with a senton bomb, but Drake saved his partner at the perfect moment. Grizzled Young Veterans planted Ruff with Ticket to Mayhem. Afterward, Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory beat down Kushida until Dexter Lumis scared them off.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Kushida and Ruff by pinfall to advance in the men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
This was fun nonstop action. Kushida and Ruff work well as the underdogs, working from underneath, especially against a great opportunistic tag team like The Grizzled Young Veterans. There was not much story behind the chaos, but that worked all the same.
Grizzled Young Veterans continue to work at the highest level as a tag team. It is unlikely they will beat either Undisputed Era or Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa, but Drake and Gibson should win tag team gold by the end of 2021.
Toni Storm Makes Her Intentions Clear to Io Shirai and Mercedes Martinez
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Curt Stallion about who he is. Stallion explained how much he had put into this business to get to NXT and how much more he will do to make his name as NXT cruiserweight champion. Legado del Fantasma injured Stallion backstage to avoid a title match.
William Regal told Santos Escobar he would defend his title next week no matter what. The champion found a card below his championship as a calling card for some mysterious challenger.
Toni Storm blamed Io Shirai from taking history away from her multiple times and now wanted to make history by taking something away from The Genius of the Sky, the NXT Women's Championship.
Shirai arrived and told Storm she would fight her anywhere and any time. Mercedes Martinez planted Shirai before Storm and Martinez got in each other's faces. Shirai dropkicked them both, but Storm recovered and laid out the NXT women's champion to stand tall.
WWE continues to build up Curt Stallion from an unknown to a worthy challenger. He is the only man Escobar has seemed afraid of to date, actively getting in the way of his No. 1 contender challenging him. It will be interesting to see what they can do next week.
Storm and Shirai have serious chemistry. The two can main-event NXT TakeOver together. Martinez is also a worthy and interesting rival to The Genius of the Sky. This may end up as a triple threat, but we all deserve Shirai in singles matches with both challengers.
"The Colossal" Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong promised they were tougher than Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. The Blackheart and the technician sat together and talked about their respect for each other after their fight. NXT aired an Imperium vignette on their plans for NXT.
Isaiah "Swerve" Scott told McKenzie Mitchell that he was finally seeing the hypocrisy of NXT, blaming him for everything while ignoring others' attitude.
Swerve went right after the right shoulder of Bronson Reed, giving him leverage to wear down and ground The Colossal in the mat. Scott made a mistake by not putting his opponent away, allowing Reed to fight back. Swerve caught The Colossal on the top rope and planted him on his shoulder.
Scott hit a huge 450 splash that nearly took the victory. A slap to the face by Swerve woke up Reed, who planted Scott with a clothesline and then hit the Tsunami for the win.
Reed def. Swerve by pinfall.
This was the best Swerve and Reed have been together. It was the first time Scott felt like he had a legitimate chance to win. However, The Colossal remains too limited in his overall repertoire to have absolute showstealers.
Reed clearly has become a focus for NXT. He has the size and talent to stand out. However, he is still a few steps away from truly feeling like a main event act. Swerve has more star power, but his size may forever hold him back, especially as an opportunistic heel.
Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Kyle O'Reilly gritted his teeth to fight through his jaw injury, but Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch gladly took advantage. Finn Balor shifted the momentum whenever he was in the ring, but he had to tag in and out to keep himself fresh, allowing the heels to wear down his former rival.
At a certain point, The Prince could no longer watch from the sidelines. He tagged in and found himself struggling with the physical tag team work of the heels. The NXT tag team champions dominated with uppercuts and smart double-team impact offense.
With time to recover, O'Reilly went off on the hot tag and managed to trap Burch in a leg trap for the submission. Afterward, Pete Dunne arrived and worked with Burch and Lorcan to hurt The Prince, breaking his fingers.
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were too slow to make the save, but eventually Undisputed Era stood tall with Balor until The Prince tolled away to walk alone.
Balor and O'Reilly def. Lorcan and Burch by pinfall.
The main event felt old-school. The tag team action was nothing truly special, but it was always consistently solid. The tag team champions dominated throughout only to lose at the end. It was the latest example of WWE showing a lack of clear respect to the current NXT tag team champions.
Balor vs. Dunne is going to be special. The inclusion of Undisputed Era felt unnecessary, but UE has been too consistently connected to Dunne, Lorcan and Burch not to get involved. Hopefully, O'Reilly is at least out of the title picture for a few months to get some wins back.