WWE NXT 2.0 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 18
WWE NXT 2.0 has opened the new year with some momentum, but it is always about looking ahead. The January 18 edition of the show was set to feature plenty of moments that looked more forward than back.
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic has begun once again. The annual tag team tournament has been a mainstay of NXT since the passing of Dusty Rhodes, and it has defined the tag team division in new and exciting ways each year.
This week, The Creed Brothers would clash with young upstarts Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen. Malik Blade and Edris Enofe had a plan to upset Legado del Fantasma and continue a surprising streak as a team.
Malcolm Bivens talked his way right into the path of WALTER after promising The Creed Brothers would dethrone Imperium. Roderick Strong stepped up to protect his manager, unafraid of The Ring General.
After defeating Pete Dunne in a physical match, Tony D'Angelo was riding high, ready to challenge anyone, but first he wanted to "pay his respects" to the memory of The Bruiserweight.
As always, there was plenty more to come with NXT 2.0, but the foundation looked to be a trio of great matches that would not disappoint.
Grayson Waller Serves LA Knight a Restraining Order/Waller vs. Dexter Lumis
LA Knight mocked Grayson Waller as he waited for his rival to appear. Waller arrived with a restraining order in hand. Dexter Lumis arrived as Knight announced that Waller would have to face Lumis or him, after lifting the restraining order.
Waller agreed to fight The Tortured Artist. He targeted the arm of Lumis, hoping to keep him down, but he got too cocky. Waller let the dangerous performer back in the match, allowing him to hit a uranage nearly into the Silence.
However, after the cocky boxer ducked outside, a mysterious big man attacked Lumis, sending him into the steel post. Waller hit a rolling cutter for the win. Waller presented his new "insurance policy" afterward, the mysterious man who laid out Lumis.
Waller def. Lumis by pinfall.
Waller has been a consistent highlight of NXT 2.0 lately, and the brand clearly knows it. He has earned himself a bodyguard as a heel with so many enemies, and Saurav Gurjar (formerly of Indus Sher) can fit this role well as he learns more in the ring.
The match was solid, but Waller vs. Knight is the big money match. Lumis ended up feeling more like an obstacle to that destination than a real rival. He needs a new feud where he has a chance to seriously compete.
Dusty Tag Team Classic: The Creed Brothers vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen
Brooks Jensen punched Brutus Creed in the mouth early, sending his mouthpiece flying out. This set a physical tone and woke up The Creed Brothers. They beat down Jensen until Josh Briggs finally got the tag to battle Julius Creed.
Julius bent the barricade with Jensen's back and then returned to the ring to help Brutus in laying out Briggs with their finish for the victory.
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter found the country boys backstage and invited them out for drinks. Wendy Choo caused some drama after she said Jensen "liked" Carter.
Creed Brothers def. Briggs and Jensen by pinfall to advance in the men's Dusty Tag Team Classic.
The Dusty Tag Team Classic will likely have predictable winners, especially in the quarterfinals, but it is important to make each match matter. This was a great showcase for Briggs and Jensen, who made The Creed Brothers sweat and were put over for it by commentary.
The Creed Brothers learn with each performance and impress more and more. This is a team that likely will not be in NXT 2.0 for too much longer. The Raw and SmackDown tag team divisions could use them, and they stand out among the pack.
Dante Chen vs. Guru Raaj
Dante Chen put over his own struggle to return to the ring after a leg injury. The Singaporean Warrior looked good early on, diving after Guru Raaj, who escaped outside. However, Duke Hudson struck, attacking both men with little reason beyond announcing his return.
Chen vs. Raaj goes to a no-contest.
This was a mostly unnecessary segment, but it could mean more in the future. Hudson is back, and he is a talented star who can help NXT 2.0. The haircut makes him look like a threat. It's all about what he does next. He cannot afford to feud with another top star just yet.
Chen has a lot to learn still in the ring. It has been hard to see what he can do. This certainly was not about highlighting him.
Carmelo Hayes and Cameron Grimes Crash Tony D'Angelo's Memorial Service
Joe Gacy told Harland he needed to help eliminate negativity, focusing on an injured Odyssey Jones, who had mocked them. Officials later found Jones holding his injured knee with Harland standing over him.
Tony D'Angelo held a memorial service for Pete Dunne. He did not spend long talking about The Bruiserweight before turning to his future: the NXT North American Championship. This brought out Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams.
The two were insulted, though they did not have much time to complain before Cameron Grimes came out. Hayes told the two to fight it out for a shot at The A Champion. Grimes smashed the picture of Dunne over D'Angelo's head.
D'Angelo and Hayes are rock-solid foundations of NXT 2.0, and that is made even more obvious by how much they are used every week. While it is unlikely D'Angelo will face Melo one-on-one any time soon, the tease was fun, especially with Trick and D'Angelo trading ridiculous shots.
D'Angelo will continue to learn from veterans, next fighting Grimes. His gimmick may be limited, but his talent in the ring and boundless charisma can raise his standing until he finds a better one.
Kay Lee Ray vs. Ivy Nile
Sarray promised to return soon to America with a new passion and energy after finding her focus in Japan.
While Kay Lee Ray came in the favorite, Ivy Nile quickly overwhelmed her with surprise offense, including an enzuigiri and leg DDT. KLR showed her resilience, fighting back quickly and hitting a KLR Bomb. However, Mandy Rose got involved to distract her, allowing Nile to roll her up for three.
Afterward, Toxic Attraction attacked Ray until Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta evened the odds. The three women sent the heels running.
Nile def. KLR by pinfall.
This was an impressive showcase for Nile. She looked great with KLR, her most experienced opponent so far. It was a showcase of her talent and the potential she has to compete at the top level soon.
The booking was tired, though, as NXT did not want to hurt either wrestler. Nile won, but only with obvious help. It was one of multiple roll-up finishes on this show that did not need to happen. Ray could have won, or this match did not need to happen.
Dusty Tag Team Classic: Legado del Fantasma vs. Malik Blade and Edris Enofe
Legado del Fantasma laughed off the threat of Malik Blade and Edris Enofe, promising MSK they would win the Dusty Tag Team Classic. Santos Escobar interrupted Bron Breakker's interview and warned him that he would go after the NXT Championship soon.
While Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde looked good early, the underdogs came back with fire. Santos Escobar had to trip Blade to stop his momentum. After the referee threw out the leader of Legado del Fantasma, Breakker grabbed Escobar, carrying him off.
In the chaos, Blade rolled up Wilde for three. Breakker congratulated Blade and Enofe on their win backstage.
Blade and Enofe def. Wilde and Mendoza by pinfall to advance in the men's Dusty Tag Team Classic.
This never got to be more than an angle. It was more important that Breakker went after Escobar than fans got to see what these two teams could do together. Blade and Enofe keep winning, but they rarely get to show their talent.
Breakker vs. Escobar is an exciting possibility that will help solidify the new NXT champion. It is important, though, that Escobar looks like a serious challenger. He has earned that respect.
Dakota Kai vs. Yulisa Leon (w/ Valentina Feroz)
NXT 2.0 showed a video package for Yulisa Leon and Valentina Feroz, followed by an interview that Dakota Kai interrupted, telling them that their friendship would fall apart when they found success.
This set up a match where Feroz got involved, distracting Kai long enough for Leon to come back with ferocity. Leon hit a bridging fallaway slam to nearly take the win. However, Kai answered back quickly with the Kaio Kick for the victory.
Kai def. Leon by pinfall.
This did not feel like it accomplished anything. NXT put over Leon and Feroz as potential threats in the Dusty Classic, but Kai defeated the two women in what almost became a handicap match.
NXT seems to be setting her up to reveal her new partner for the women's Dusty Classic, but she should have struggled more on her own. The Captain of Team Kick has not gotten enough time yet to showcase her new character.
Roderick Strong (w/ Malcolm Bivens) vs. WALTER
WALTER gave credit to Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner for holding down the fort for Imperium while he was in the UK. He told them it was time to begin their mission to show that the mat is sacred. Malcolm Bivens put over the success of Diamond Mine and promised Roderick Strong would win as well.
WALTER dominated early even when Bivens tried to get involved. He chopped Strong's chest red, which would have caused most to give in. Instead, The Messiah of the Backbreaker fought back. He hit a series of impressive running forearms and a superplex for a near-fall.
The Ring General did not have an easy answer to Strong's unending motor, hitting repeat strikes off the ropes. However, a powerbomb was too much for Strong, sealing the win for WALTER.
WALTER stated after the match that the winner was "Gunther." Barthel and Aichner attacked Strong, causing a furious brawl between Diamond Mine and Imperium.
WALTER def. Strong by pinfall.
Strong vs. WALTER was everything it promised to be. Strong pushed The Ring General without ruining any of his mystique. It was clear that both men are among the best in NXT, and they brought all that they could to this ferocious main event.
Diamond Mine vs. Imperium can be a very interesting feud, especially if it leads to Imperium adding a female member. The group needs a fresh face, and this feud has plenty of legs, even if WALTER is always going to be the higher priority over Strong.
WALTER did make a quick announcement that is concerning. It looks like WWE has officially changed his name to Gunther. This is the final stage in his move to WWE full time, and it will take some time to get used to.