Moore’s NXT TV Live Review: The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament semifinals, Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair to determine the No. 1 contender to the NXT Women’s Championship

By John Moore, Staffer (@liljohnm)

Aired March 13, 2019 on WWE Network
Taped February 20, 2019 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were on commentary. Mauro dubbed the Dusty Classic as NXT’s version of March Madness…

Moustashe Mountain made their entrance for their Dusty Rhodes tag match (while Kayla Braxton tried to hold back laughs when the UK guys started getting comically intense with their towels. Braxton has really evolved to a great personality)…

1. “Moustashe Mountain” Tyler Bate and Trent Seven vs. “The Forgotten Sons” Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler (w/ Jaxson Ryker) in a semifinal match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Bate and Blake started off with chain wrestling. Blake hit Bate with a body slam. Cutler tagged in and Bate got the advantage. Bate hit Cutler with a snap suplex for a one count. Cutler gained control and initiated a tag with Blake to play the isolation heel game on Bate. Bate caught the hot tag and hit a nice fakeout DDT on Cutler. He grounded Blake and got a nearfall on him. The crowd was oddly quiet for this hot rally.

Cutler got a chop block on Seven. Cutler focused his attack on Seven’s now injured leg. Thank God for one lady in the crowd who fired up the crowd with a “Big Strong Boys” chant while Seven was getting his leg worked on by Blake. Seven “reversed the momentum” on a figure four to work on Blake’s knees a bit, but Blake tagged in a healthy Cutler. Seven struggled to get to his corner. Both men took each other out with shortarm lariats. Bate and Blake tagged in with Bate having the traditional babyface steam behind him. Bate showed off his awesome strength by lifting both men (over 300 pounds I assume) with an airplane spin. Bate crashed and burned on a shooting star on the apron to the outside.

Bate hit Cutler with an Exploder Suplex while hitting Blake with a Standing Shooting star. Bate hit Cutler with AJ’s Spiral Tap for a nearfall that Cutler broke up. Moustashe Mountain hit a combo rebound lariat-Dragon Suplex on Blake. Ryker put Blake’s foot on the bottom rope for an unseen illegal rope break. MM took care of Ryker a bit. Moustashe Mountain went high risk but Cutler broke up the move. Ryker added insult to injury by tackling Bate with an axe handle strike. This distracted Seven to allow the Sons to hit Seven with their Scorpion Death Drop stomp finisher for the victory.

The Forgotten Sons defeated Moustashe Mountain via pinfall in 9:38 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. 

John’s Thoughts: A great match with an oddly quiet crowd (Kudos to the lady in the crowd who tried to fire them up). I guess Moustashe Mountain isn’t as over in the US yet as they should be. Odd to me, because I usually look forward to greatness with Bate and Seven. Bate in particular is a freak of nature and someone who will be a top tier star years to come (hopefully he builds up his talking game). The sons continue to impress in the ring but draw mute reactions from the crowd. I honestly think they need more than just Gunner to add star power to the team. That or find a way to make Blake and Cutler more distinguishable.

Cathy Kelley interviewed Matt Riddle about confronting Velveteen Dream last week. Riddle said he came out to say hi and look at the title close up, simply put. Adam Cole interrupted like he usually does during NA Championship interviews and said his usual things about coming for the title. Riddle told Cole that they should settle business in the ring. Bro… [c]

Shayna Baszler joined the commentary table for the number one contender’s match…

2. Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair in a match to become No. 1 contender to the NXT Women’s Championship. Baszler was a bit rough on commentary. Shirai did a few flips and then hit Belair with a shotgun dropkick. Belair sidestepped from a Shirai tope attempt. Belair impressively caught a flying Shirai and then slammed her into the steps. Baszler claimed that when Baszler lost to Shirai (in Stardom) the referees were biased in Japan. Belair and Shirai were pretty even in the ring. Belair hit Shirai with a standing moonsault for a nearfall. Shirai reversed a Glam Slam into a double stomp. Shirai put Belair in 619 position, in a painful way, and hit the Tiger Feint Kick. Shirai hit a slingshot dropkick and corner meteora on Belair. Belair countered and used her hair as a weapon to slap Shirai in the gut.

Shirai and Belair brawled to the top rope. Shirai lapped Belair and hit her with a Frankensteiner. Shirai went for a moonsault but Belair got the knees up. Belair then gave Shirai a spear for a moment of respite. Baszler then went in the ring to attack both women for a no-contest.

Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair ended in an apparent no contest in 5:31.

Baszler knocked down Shirai and then locked Belair in the Kirafuda Clutch. Kairi Sane ran in for the save but Baszler locked her in a Kirafuda Clutch. Shirai ran in and cleared Baszler from the ring. Shirai went to check on Sane. This allowed Baszler to lock Shirai in the Kirafuda Clutch to lay all three women out with her submission. A “boring” chant ensued from the crowd…

John’s Thoughts: I didn’t think those segments were boring. Shirai and Belair put in a good effort in a rushed pace, but the story was the post match stuff. I really liked the post-match putting a lot of credibility behind Baszler in her single handedly taking out all three babyface contenders with a choke hold while doing it in a heel way by taking away the match from the fans. The only low point was Baszler on the commentary. She’s hit and miss on promos.

Nigel McGuinness recapped the Dominik Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee match from two weeks ago. They also aired last week’s segment where Dijak crashed Lee’s training…

Mauro hyped Ricochet and Black vs. DIY for after the break… [c]

Cathy Kelley interviewed Shayna Baszler outside of Full Sail. Baszler said what she did just proved that there is nobody worthy to get her title. Kelley told Baszler that Regal booked a four way match between Baszler, Shirai, Sane, and Belair for the next takeover show. Baszler walked away…

John’s Thoughts: A part of me wanted to see Baszler beat up Kelley to put more steam behind her. Anyway, an intriguing match. Baszler could be in line for a callup and they just put her in a position to transfer the title to one of three possible replacements at the top of the mountain. If Baszler is randomly sticking around, I hope we don’t get another Duke and Shafir finish. Baszler is obviously better on her own as we saw here.

DIY came out together to their Chrome Hearts theme. They also wore their famous generic blue shirts…

3. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. “#DIY” Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in a semifinal match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Black and Ciampa started off the match with Black’s kickboxing giving him the upper hand. Ricochet tagged in which allowed Ciampa to recover and tag in Gargano. A series of counters occurred. Ricochet gained an upper hand with a dropkick. Ricochet and Black teased topes but did their signature flip fakeouts as DIY shoved each other out of the way in a friendly way just to avoid the potential dives.

Gargano hit Ricochet with a slingshot spear that didn’t fully hit. Gargano got a one count after a suplex. Ciampa tagged in and hit Ricochet with a catapult. DIY traded quick tags to isolate Ricochet. Ciampa even taunted Black to mess up the opponents’ momentum. Ricochet used his core to block a Gargano slingshot DDT but Gargano grounded Ricochet with a lariat to continue the DIY quick tag offense. Ricochet gave Ciampa a neckbreaker to force Ciampa to DDT Gargano. This allowed Black to get the hot tag. Black hit Ciampa with the triple kick combo. Black hit Ciampa with a lionsault for a nearfall.

Gargano dodged a sweep kick. He couldn’t dodge a front kick off the slingshot. Black hit Gargano with a Brainbuster. Ciampa broke up the pin. Ciampa got a blind tag to blindside Black with a knee. Black recovered and prevented the DIY knee-superkick finsiher. Gargano superkicked on the outside. Ciampa hit Black with a Tower of London on the apron. Gargano hit a slingshot DDT on Black for the nearfall. Gargano locked Black in the La Mistica into the GargaNo Escape. Ciampa locked Ricochet in a Fujiwara Armbar. Ricochet deadlifted Gargano into a DVD to DVD him on Gargano, thus breaking both submissions.

Mauro noted the double submission is what DIY used to beat The Revival for the tag titles. Gargano rolled to ringside and sold an injured knee. Ciampa walked in the ring and brawled with Ricochet. Both men traded compelling kicks in the ring with Ricochet ending the sequence with and Eddy Gordo waterfall kick on Ciampa. Ciampa showed a bit of worry, or interest, in his injured parther. Ciampa tried to one-man-army things, but he ate both a Black Mass and 630 from his opponents for the loss to Ricochet.

Ricochet and Aleister Black defeated DIY 13: 27 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. 

Percy Watson pointed out that Ricochet Death Valley Drivered Ciampa on Gargano’s knee to cause the injury. Candice LeRae ran to Gargano to check on him as Gargano was leaning on the ring barricade. Ciampa also checked on Gargano to give LeRae that conflicted look on her face. LeRae and Ciampa put Gargano on their shoulders to walk him up the ramp (which is also predicting an angle). Gargano stumbled to the floor at the top of the ramp. Ciampa teased throwing Gargano into the LED again (via betrayal) but Gargano showed that his knee was fine as he threw Ciampa into the LED and then Gargano gave Ciampa a running knee. Gargano soaked in “Johnny Wrestling” chants to close the show.

John’s Thoughts: Mixed thoughts here. A good match in terms of in-ring. I didn’t think DIY was together long enough to where the nostalgic moments and the subsequent Gargano trap didn’t have the impact I thought it could have. That said, their booking works perfectly in one sense because Ciampa can leave TV after this without much change to their booking plans. They were obviously booking towards Gargano vs. Ciampa for the NXT Championship (odd because their callups happened before this taping). It’ll be interesting to see how they book the main event now given the big Ciampa injury. Even more curious would be the status of the Gargano callup.

As for the Dusty Classic, we got all good matches, but I can’t say I’m as excited for a Forgotten Sons vs. Black and Ricochet final, mostly because the Sons are still very dull as a team. It’s primarily Blake and Cutler being very vanilla. DIY vs. Moustashe Mountain and Mounstashe Mountain vs. Black and Ricochet would have been sexier matchups on paper. It’ll probably be a good match, but I fear this leads to the Forgotten Sons winning because of Ricochet and Black being on the main roster (unless they want Black and Ricochet walking around on Raw and Smackdown with title belts which isn’t completely out of the question). I’ll be by tomorrow with a Hit List and member’s exclusive audio review to provide more thoughts on this episode.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. “It’ll probably be a good match, but I fear this leads to the Forgotten Sons winning because of Ricochet and Black being on the main roster (unless they want Black and Ricochet walking around on Raw and Smackdown with title belts which isn’t completely out of the question).”

    Remember John, they don’t get title belts just for winning the tournament! I assume they will beat the Forgettable Sons but then lose to the War Raiders.

    On another note, nice to hear the crowd solidly behind Shirai against Belair, who is far more suited to being a heel. I have a feeling Belair will come out of the 4-way with the title, by pinning Sane.

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