The opening video played… We were briefly taken into the Full Sail arena before they sent things over to Cathy Caruso at the WWEPC which was serving as the control center for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. She promoted that tonight, footage would be shown from all four of the second round matches, several of which took place on the recent tour of California. She opened up with TM61 vs. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. and sent things over to Tom Phillips and Corey Graves who handled commentary for the first featured match, which took place in San Jose, CA…
Inside the arena in San Jose, the ring announcer noted this was a Dusty Classic second round match before Roderick Strong made his entrance to a big reaction. Austin Aries was out next in street clothes and sunglasses. The commentators noted that Aries had taken a hard kick from Shinsuke Nakamura and there were questions about Aries’s medical condition. The crowd chanted for Aries and Strong once they were in the ring. TM61 was out next to a few boos, a few cheers, and a lot of apathy.
Aries took a microphone and said he could sense the disappointment in everyone because he wasn’t dressed to compete. He said that he suffered a broken eye bone a few nights ago, and then took off his sunglasses to reveal an eye that looked completely swollen shut. He said that the’s too valuable of a commodity to risk any permanent damage, so he has a proposal for TM61. He said that everyone knows he and Strong are the better team, so TM61 can forfeit now and save themselves the embarrassment of Roderick Strong beating them single-handedly.
NXT GM William Regal came out and confirmed that Aries was unable to compete tonight, but claimed he would be okay to compete by “next week.” Regal proposed instead that Roderick Strong face off in a singes match against a member of TM61 in a tournament match with the winner advancing his team. TM61 agreed, and the match was on with Thorne being the man to go for his team.
1. Roderick Strong vs. Shane Thorne in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic second round match. Corey Graves noted off the top that he saw the advantage in favor of Strong due to his success as a singles competitor, by comparison to Thorne who is mainly a tag guy. Thorne got the better of Strong with a dropkick around the minute-mark and connected with a standing moonsault for an early two-count a short time later. Thorne went to the top rope, but Aries distracted him long enough from ringside for Strong to connect on a wicked looking backbreaker across the top turnbuckle. [C]
Back in the ring, Thorne fought out of another backbreaker attempt from strong and hit a nice high dropkick, but he landed hard on his shoulder (presumably unintentionally). Thorne began to build momentum, but as he charged across the ring Strong caught him and delivered the backbreaker he was attempting shortly before. Graves called Strong “the messiah of the backbreaker” and said he has more variations than there are flavors of jelly beans.
Thorne managed to hand Strong up in the tree of woe and then came off the top with a big double stomp for a two-count, but his momentum was short-lived as Strong rocked him with a knee and then planted him with a kind of shot-put looking facebuster for a two-count of his own. Strong began to tee off with strikes, but Thorne hoisted him up and brought him down with the Falcon Arrow for a near-fall.
Thorne wasted no time following up with a high-impact sit-out powerbomb, but Aries jumped up on the apron to distract the ref. Strong was able to connect with a shot, but he wasn’t able to follow up in time to get the win. Strong hit a dropkick through the ropes to wipe out Nick Miller at ringside, but as soon as he re-entered the ring he was rolled up in a small package and pinned.
Shane Thorne (representing TM61) defeated Roderick Strong (representing himself and Austin Aries) in about 7:00 of TV time to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The bracket was updated with TM61 advancing to the semi-finals… The host then hyped that we would be going to NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival vs. #DIY up next… One of the Takeover Toronto themes was advertised… A contract signing between NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe for their match in Toronto was advertised for next week…
Back in the Full Sail Arena, another Dusty Classic match was set to take place as the duo of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, collectively known as #DIY, made their entrance. The music hit for the NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival, but they were slow to make their way onto the stage as Scott Dawson was using crutches.
Dawson asked for some common courtesy and said he had something important to reveal. He claimed o have just gotten off the phone with a doctor who told him that he’s “suffered a severe… uh… knee… injury…” He claimed it was near-career threatening and listed off a bunch of phony injuries that he obviously doesn’t have including a meniscus that’s snapped right in half. He said that would cripple a normal man, but but his doctor told him to just take a few ibuprofen and he’d be fine. He got melodramatic about the doctors begging him not to risk further injury and announced that they were going to have to pull out of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Gargano and Ciampa were visibly irritated by this revelation. Dash Wilder took the mic and said that #DIY should thank them like it’s a gift that they’re being saved the embarrassment of being beaten again. They clanked titles and declared “top guys: out.” before heading backstage.
#DIY beat The Revival by forfeit to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Backstage, Cedric Alexander was standing by with the interviewer when he was asked about his early impressions from his run in NXT. He said that he learned a valuable lesson from Andrade Almas, and he wants to give him a personal thanks in the ring any time and any place…
A brief, mysterious, and ambiguous return vignette aired…
Backstage, #DIY were walking backstage and were asked for their thoughts on what just happened. They mimicked an emoji appropriate for the situation and it was stone-faced because they weren’t surprised. They said that it reminded them that their goal is to win the Dusty Classic and then become the next NXT Tag Team Champions, “top guys: out…”
Back at the Dusty Classic control center, the host reacted to The Revival’s forfeiture and the bracket was updated with #DIY advancing. She then turned to the Authors of Pain vs. Rich Swann and No Way Jose and sent things back to San Jose…
Rich Swann kicked things off with his high-energy entrance, only to be followed up by No Way Jose and the two danced their way all around and into the ring. The Authors of Pain were out next with Paul Ellering alongside. Graves said that he had a “premonition” that Swann and Jose wouldn’t be advancing.
2. The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. No Way Jose and Rich Swann in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic second round match. Jose used his dance moves to goad one of the Authors into losing focus before tagging in Swann and helping him with an assisted ‘rana. Swann used his quickness and agility to avoid Rezar, but once it came time to fight Swann found himself greatly outmatched. Swann managed to stagger him with a high dropkick and then sent him toppling to ringside. Swann looked for a dive out of the ring, but both Authors caught him. Jose was right there with the assist as he came flying in on top of everyone and they all went toppling.
Once things settled down back in the ring, the Authors quickly established control on Swann and isolated him in their portion of the ring. Things got pretty slow going into the four-mute mark until Swann connected with his high rolling sole kick and an enzuigiri. He made the hot tag to Jose who came in rolling. Swann took out Rezar with a Phoenix splash to the outside while Jose connected on a TKO in the ring for an impressive near-fall.
Things were all downhill from there however, as Swann was sent crashing into the ring steps and a blind tag by the Authors allowed them to connect on their finisher, which they’re calling the Final Chapter, for the win…
The Authors of Pain pinned No Way Jose and Rich Swann in about 7:16 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The bracket was updated and revealed that the semifinals will pit the Authors of Pain against #DIY. The host then advertised that both semifinal matches would be taking place next week on NXT. She then turned to the one remaining question mark in the semifinals as Kota Ibushi and TJ Perkins vs. Sanity will be up next and will round out the second round of Dusty Classic action… [C]
A Mickie James vignette aired in advance of her looming match with NXT Women’s Champion Asuka. She said she’s coming for Asuka’s championship… A graphic aired to promote the match between Asuka and Mickie James at Takeover Toronto, as well as one to promote Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger… #DIY vs. The Authors of Pain was advertised for next week…
Back in the Full Sail Arena, TJ Perkins maddens entrance. Interestingly, at this show taped prior to Hell in a Cell, Perkins did not have the Cruiserweight title with him. Kota Ibushi was out next. The radio chatter filled the arena and the lights cut out before the single spotlight illuminated Sanity making their entrance.
3. Sanity (Sawyer Fulton and Alexander Wolfe w/ Eric Young and Nikki Cross) vs. Kota Ibushi and TJ Perkins in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match. Wolfe and Ibushi opened relatively slowly in the opening minute before Ibushi caught him with a series of kicks which gained him control for the time being. Perkins tagged into the match and used his quickness to get the better of Wolfe. TJ managed to apply the kneebar on the larger Wolfe, but Wolfe dragged him to the corner and tagged in Fulton. They repeated the exact same spot with Fulton before Ibushi came in and he and TJ laid into Wolfe with a sequence of kicks. [C]
Back in the ring, Ibushi was wearing down Fulton with shots in the corner. The babyfaces managed to isolate the significantly larger Fulton and even got the better of Wolfe when he tried to run in illegally. Ibushi hit the golden triangle moonsault to wipe out Wolfe out at ringside, but Fulton caught a dive attempt by Perkins and slammed him onto the edge of the ring.
Sanity took control from there and continued to wear down TJ with pretty uneventful offense. They used a combination knee strike and gutwrench suplex for a two-count shortly after the six-minute mark. Fulton settled into a bearhug from there and it went back to being uneventful. Sanity looked for a slam onto the knees, but TJ reversed and tagged in Ibushi around the eight-minute mark.
Ibushi rallied and hit a standing moonsault for two. He followed up with the Golden Star powerbomb and had the match on, but Eric Young and Nikki Cross jumped up on the apron to distract the referee. Moments later, Sanity hit their suplex/powerslam combination and scored the pinfall.
Sanity defeated Ibushi and Perkins in about 9:00 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The bracket updated and the show closed with Sanity on the stage doing Sanity things…
This show felt slightly more high-stakes than previous shows considering every match was a Dusty Classic match, but with one forfeit and two results which severely limit the match quality potential going forward, I can hardly call that a success. There are stories to tell coming out of the tournament, but as a whole it has been, and will go down as, a supremely disappointing tag tournament. I’m let down, but I’ll be back next week as always as this train keeps chugging along. Thanks for reading.
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