By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired April 4, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped March 7 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
The intro teaser opened up with a montage of the past Dusty Rhodes Classic winners. The show cut to Charley Caruso in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic “Control Center”. Legends like Michael Hayes, Terry Tayor, and Dustin Rhodes were shown entering Full Sail from “earlier today”. Charley hyped up Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong vs. Authors of Pain for the Dusty Classic trophy and a title shot against Undisputed Era. Charley Caruso noted that Bobby Fish isn’t cleared to wrestle due to an injury and proposed what implications this might have in the Tag Team Championship picture in regards to this tournament. The NXT Theme aired…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary and introduced the viewers to the show and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team finals which will open up the show. Kayla Braxton handled the formal in-ring introductions…
1. “The Authors of Pain” Akam and Rezar (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Nigel noted how Dunne and Strong making it to the finals is a Cinderella story (no, it’s not!). Dunne and Strong were the fan favorites. Akam tossed around Strong with ease and quickly tagged in Rezar to continue the pain. Strong managed to make a tactical retreat and tag in the fresh Pete Dunne. Dunne tried to braul while Rezar tried to use the Muay Thai clinch to dominate Dunne heading into the break. [C]
The Authors had Dunne dominated in their corner. Akam used hammer fists to ground Dunne. Akam then applied pressure with a snug Kesa Gatame. Akam beat a mudhole into Dunne in a corner. Akam tagged in Rezar who continued similar aggression. Dunne was knocked out with a clinch knee. The Authors earned a nearfall after a side slam and stomp combo. Dunne escape Akam with a finger break and feint kick. After taking each other out, both men got tags and Roderick Strong had the hot tag momentum by cleaning house. Roderick Strong had an inspired rally of forearms and kicks which fired up the crowd and especially Nigel McGuinness. Roderick Strong hit Rezar with an Angle Slam for a good nearfall.
Dunne hit Rezar with a running enziguri and double stomp to his back. Dunne went for a Kimura but the Authors lifted him and hit a neckbreaker power bomb combo. Roderick Strong ran in to extricate the other Author from the situation. Strong and Dunne hit their Bitter End of Heartache on one of the authors. They landed stereo stiff strikes on both Authors. The Authors ended that rally with stereo dropkicks which allowed the crowd to soak the huge moment in. Suddenly, Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly ran in to beat down everyone for the double DQ.
The Authors of Pain vs. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong ended in a double disqualification in 8:06.
Kayla Braxton clarified that it was a double DQ rather than a no-contest which made Nigel wonder what it meant for the finals and Takeover match. William Regal walked out and announced a triple threat between Undisputed Era, Authors of Pain, and Dunne and Strong for both the Dusty Rhodes Classic and Tag Team Titles. A hype video then aired for the North American Championship ladder match. The wrestlers were shown in environments that played to their characters. EC3 was next to a pool. Dream was in a lounge. Dain was next to a burning trash can. Sullivan was next to bricks. They all stated their claim or the North American Championship… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Now that was a great match that could only get greater if given more time, which we will get at Takeover. The Dusty Rhodes Classic final being on the line is a bit goofy with Undisputed Era not even being in the tournament. What saves is that thankfully it will lead to a good match given how we just saw a strong preview. As for the video package on the North American Ladder match, nice use of video package time especially for viewers who are unfamiliar with some of the newer faces in EC3 and Ricochet.
A Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa video package aired which chronicled their friendship, Ciampa’s betrayal, and events leading up the the Takeover Unsanctioned Match. Johnny Gargano talked about seeing Ciampa as a friend. Ciampa said Gargano was selfish and how Gargano didn’t care about Ciampa when he tore his ACL. Ciampa said this is not “our” moment, this is “my” moment. Ciampa talked about how the Ciampa betrayal kept interfering in his following matches. Ciampa talked about how he wanted to rip Gargano’s greatest moment straight from his heart. Johnny Gargano said “as a symbol, I will live forever”. Ciampa said he wants to take Gargano’s spirit, soul, and heart. Gargano said he will finally have his moment…
John’s Thoughts: Nothing too special there, but it was great hype. The dueling story was told very well and had the effect of a face-to-face. A well built feud with Ciampa missing most of it due to injury. Ciampa hasn’t wrestled in nearly a year yet this has potential to steal the show.
2. Kairi Sane vs. Vanessa Bourne. Oh my word. Bourne had a S&M type look and it wasn’t half bad. She was also improved in her mannerisms. Bourne tried to use power to dominate Sane but Sane dominated with her technical ability. Bourne quickly had to scramble after several pin attempts from Sane. Bourne gained momentum after a flapjack. Bourne landed a corner curb stomp on Sane. Sane escaped Bourne and hit a corkscrew spear on Bourne. Sane hit her signature plank walk forearm. Sane hit a flying elbow strike on Bourne. Bourne and Sane brawled on the top rope. Sane successfully put Bourne in position for the Del Rio corner stomp. Sane hit the InSane elbow on Bourne for the win.
Kairi Sane defeated Vanessa Bourne via pinfall in 4:17.
The commentators recapped the match heading into break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: This was the weekly “developmental” match to test out what Vanessa Bourne could do and I have to say she has improved in terms of look and in-ring. As for Sane, I’m surprised they haven’t built her up into anything meaningful for WrestleMania weekend. I wonder if she’s going to compete in the pre-show battle Royale at Mania?
Nigel McGuinness cut to a “Statement” from Lacey Evans. Evans said she was tired of facing “societal trash” in NXT. She was in a press conference. Evans bragged about being a mother and former Marine. Evans talked about how Ember Moon hasn’t shown the strength of a woman other than jump off the top rope. The press asked about Dakota Kai but Evans didn’t want to take that question. Evans called Kairi sane pathetic…
Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly complained about Regal booking the Tag Team Title match at Takeover and how h’s forcing Cole to compete in two matches. Regal said they only have three options: Cole can compete in two matches, O’Reilly can defend the title by himself, or Cole can only wrestle the Tag Team Match. The show cut to an Aleister Black and Andrade Almas promo package which included the scenes from the Gothic church as well as clips from Almas and Vega…
John’s Thoughts: A little better work by Evans on the mic but we’ve heard this promo from her before about the same people and her 1920s character is still stale. Moving on to the Undisputed Era, I’m surprised Regal didn’t lay down the option of a new member joining so I wonder if those three options was to stomp out any speculation.
The commentators cut to the clip from last week where Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler brawled in the performance center. They cut to Ember Moon’s follow up interview where Moon complained about how Baszler disrespected a coach and how that was the worse thing ever… [C]
Mauro Ranallo advertised Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans for next week (didn’t we get this already? Maybe we didn’t but it seems like Deja Vu). Lars Sullivan made his cool entrance followed by Killian Dain…
3. Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain. Dain and Sullivan ran into each other like two freight trains and had a stalemate. They both were unfazed from haymakers and clubbing strikes. Sullivan gained the upper hand with clubbing strikes. Dain retaliated with a running boot. [C]
Sullivan was mulling Dain by wrenching on his neck. Dain fought his way out with gut punches but Sullivan countered with a knee strike. Dain landed a few right hands. Dain hit a slam and senton combo. Sullivan blocked the Vader Bomb with his knees. Sullivan hit a rainmaker on Dain. Dain punched Sullivan to prevent a high risk move. Dain and Sullivan brawled on the top rope. Sullivan landed a headbutt on Dain which also knocked out Sullivan too.
The crowd was even more fired up with Velveteen Dream making his entrance. Dream wore some nice dreadlocks. Dream was about to do a high risk move but was interrupted by Adam Cole who told everyone “Adam Cole Bay Bay”. EC3 walked out to join the party. Killian Dain didn’t like his match being interrupted. New music played as Ricochet made his entrance to do his flip pose in the center of the ring.
Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain ended in a no contest in about 6:00 of TV Time.
The signature flashed on the screen as the show ended with all of the North American Championship competitors in the ring…
John’s Thoughts: Not the greatest of matches as the two big ol’ dudes were mostly lumbering around. Sullivan did get to show some good aggression and he plays the monster role very well. Dain didn’t get a chance to show off his signature agility. The story wasn’t the match and was more of a set up for the go-home staredown. I would have liked to see a bit more in terms of video packages for the North American Championship Ladder match, but I also understand that they don’t have enough time in one hour to give everything exposition. This is where the Takeover Pre-show comes in handy.
Overall, this was an okay show. They could have done better but they have limited time. To mitigate that problem, we could have done without the Lacey Evans, Kairi Sane, and Vanessa Bourne stuff. It built to next week and was fine but they should be dedicating more time to WrestleMania weekend. What made this episode worthwhile and had a good preview for Takeover was the Authors of Pain vs. Strong and Dunne which was expected to be good. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Audio Review for the Dot Net Members as well as a hit list for everyone else. Join me this Saturday for live coverage of the NXT Takeover New Orleans show.