WWE NXT 03/07/18 features the beginning of this year’s Dusty Rhodes Classic Tournament. Tonight, we’ve been promised some first round action between the Authors of Pain and TM61. Also on tap for tonight is the face off between Aleister Black and Killian Dain. One has to assume that the winner of this match will get the shot at Almas in New Orleans. Of course, there is still one final taping at Full Sail before WrestleMania weekend so anything can (and probably will) happen between now and then. Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 03/07/18 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a dramatic video package on the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament – featuring this week’s first round match.
Updated NXT opening credits (more Zelina Vega, Ciampa, Almas, and SAnitY than I remember) and we’re taped (originally taped early February 2018) from Center Stage. Mauro welcomes us to the show and we pan the crowd.
Later tonight? Aleister Black takes on Killian Dain in a match that should have NXT Championship implications.
Next, we see the brackets for the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
AoP’s music hits and they’re out first with Ellering. TM61’s music hits and they’re out next. Commentary puts this over a rematch of the 2016 Dusty Classic finals.
Match #1: Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. TM61 (2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Round One Match)
Nice red herring there building up TM61 recently, NXT. I almost fell for it! TM61 look okay here, but AoP end up being the team with their arms raised at the final bell. It seems inexplicable that AoP are still toiling in the NXT tag division – but here we are. TM61 get the expected hot tag sequence, but AoP are able to effectively shut that down. Thorne takes a sick looking bump as Rezar powerbombs him over the ropes onto the apron – effectively taking him out of the match. From there, AoP are able to easily hit the Last Chapter and advance to the semi-finals.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Not as good as their finals match back in 2016, but that was expected considering this is a first round match and all. I half-expected TM61 to at least get a first round victory after they played them up the during this taping cycle, but alas it was not to be.
“Earlier today”, William Regal is being interviewed by “the press”. Regal refuses to commit to a favorite or even a dark horse in the Dusty tournament and leaves. Pete Dunne happens to arrive at that very moment and says that the UK title is staying in the UK. Roderick Strong shows up and says that Dunne was the better man when they faced off and he can’t wait to do it again. Undisputed Era rolls up and Cole mocks Roddy by saying he’s just asking for another big match he can’t win. Dunne defends Roddy (!) and tells Cole he has no room to talk. Before the situation can become any more tense, Regal appears and calms everyone down.
Meanwhile, Bianca Belair is backstage getting ready. She’s got a match… next!
Back from break, it’s “fun time with SAnitY”. We get another inventive backstage promo with EY and Wolfe talking about their match in the Dusty Classic, Nikki Cross being seen with the faction for what feels like the first time in 2018, and Killian Dain calling out Aleister Black ahead of their main event match tonight. I really like how the change of scenery has caused NXT to mix up the “earlier today” and backstage segments. Here’s hoping that continues when the show moves back to Full Sail next week.
Next, Bianca Belair is out for a match. Already in the ring? Not named until the match starts.
Match #2: Bianca Belair vs. Drew Renee
There’s not much to this match. Belair does a pair of delayed vertical suplexes, then does a third but dumps Renee forward. Not long after that, Belair hits her fallaway powerbomb finisher and gets an absurdly easy victory.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m okay with these dominant squash matches. We saw the same kind of thing with Asuka and Nia Jax and they’re clearly building up Bianca in a similar fashion. However, there’s not much to the match when Bianca doesn’t even have break out the hair whip on her opponent.
“Last weekend”? Christy St. Cloud interviews Lacey Evans backstage. Lacey cuts a promo saying she’s more “classy” than Dakota Kai and implies Dakota hasn’t been the same since her match with Shayna Baszler. Shayna appears and Lacey quickly bails. Shayna cuts a promo on Ember Moon saying she’s been calling Moon out for weeks now and has only gotten silence in return. Baszler says that tells her what Moon’s answer to her challenge is.
Later tonight? Black vs. Dain!
Back from break, we get some Performance Center footage of Heavy Machinery working out, yelling, and sweating.
Meanwhile, Tommaso Ciampa wanders out (w/ crutch) to massive boos and at least one really angry guy yelling “You Suck!” at him. So, remember that time they had Roman Reigns go out and face a hostile crowd the night after he beat Undertaker at WrestleMania? Well, this is that, but at Center Stage and with Ciampa. We get an entire segment of Ciampa just soaking up his nuclear heat, never saying a word, and actually looking like he’s able to walk a bit better than he’s let on recently. Towards the end of this awesome segment, Ciampa notices a fan holding a “Johnny Wrestling” sign in the front row. Ciampa rips the sign in half, and then takes it into the ring and beats it with his crutch – bending yet another crutch in the process. Extremely solid heel work from Ciampa.
Up next? Main event time!
Next week? Pete Dunne defends the UK Title against Adam Cole (bay bay).
Also, next week? Not one, but two Dusty Classic First Road matches. SAnitY vs. Sabbatelli & Moss and Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery.
Back in the arena, Black’s music hits and he’s out. Dain’s music hits next and he’s out (sans SAnitY).
Match #3: Aleister Black vs. Killian Dain
What a brilliantly executed match. Dain leads off with a running dropkick and utterly dominates Black for the first portion of the match. He dominates Black to a degree we have yet to see in NXT. Aleister hangs in with some “stick and move” offense, but it seems extremely plausible that Dain is going to go over at several points in the match. Each time Black is able to get in a series of strikes, Dain is able to shake them off and hit a power move. Black manages to kick out of a Vader Bomb, which prompts Dain to go for the Ulster Plantation. Black escapes the Electric Chair set up for the finisher into a roll up for 2. Out of the roll up, Black connects with a Black Mass out of nowhere to squeak out the victory.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Extremely well done. Dain loses zero shine here since he manhandled one of the most unstoppable singles wrestlers in NXT. It also shows that Black isn’t invincible and that the right opponent on the right night could conceivably get a win over him. Excellent story telling here.
We go off the air on Black selling the beating he took from Dain.