Walter makes his long-awaited debut on NXT 2.0. Will der Ring General continue to dominate as he did in NXT 2.0? LA Knight returns with unfinished business with Grayson Waller. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic gets underway as several teams look to win the tournament. Tony D’Angelo addresses the NXT universe after his victory over Pete Dunne.
GOOD: the show started off hot with LA Knight returning to wrap up some unfinished business with Grayson Waller. Waller’s ears must have been burning, as he showed up to serve LA Knight with a restraining order. According to Waller, just as important for LA Knight’s safety as for Waller’s. Unfortunately for Grayson Waller, that order does not apply to Dexter Lumis, who attempted to put Waller to sleep. LA Knight then gave Waller an ultimatum: face off against LA Knight or Dexter Lumis.
GREAT: we did not have to wait long to find out Grayson Waller’s response to the ultimatum and he chose a match vs Dexter Lumis. Lumis kept the pace slow throughout the match, using his strength to wear out Waller. Waller played a more finesse-oriented game, targeting Lumis’ left arm in order to eliminate the silence hold. However, an attack from Grayson Waller’s “insurance policy”, aka his bodyguard, opened the door for Waller to deliver a stunner and gain the pinfall victory. The big story is what role the unnamed bodyguard will play in Grayson Waller’s storyline going forward.
Result: Grayson Waller defeats Dexter Lumis via pinfall
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 3.75 stars
GREAT: the Creed Brothers took on Briggs and Jensen in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes classic. Briggs and Jensen had momentum for much of the match but the strength and skill of the Creed Brothers was a lot to take on. Highlights included Jenses being suplexed out of the ring. Briggs nearly gained the pinfall via an impressive chokeslam but the pin was broken up. In the end, the dominance of the Creed Brothers was too much to overcome, as the duo combined for a slam and a clothesline to gain the pinfall victory.
Result: the Creed Brothers defeat Briggs and Jensen by pinfall
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 3.75 stars
GOOD: Imperium is now in NXT full time. “Walter” reminded the reigning tag team champions of their dominance in NXT UK and expected that run to continue on this side of the pond.
SATISFACTORY: Dante Chen vs Guru Raaj. Not much of a return for Chen as Duke Hudson interfered early in the match to launch a brutal attack on Chen.
Result: Dante Chen wins via disqualification
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 2 stars
AVERAGE: Harland and Joe Gacy talked over their failure to qualify for the Dusty Cup and how it was a moment to learn. Odyssey Jones didn’t buy the positive messaging but Gacy didn’t allow this to weigh him down.
AVERAGE: Santos Escobar interrupted a Bron Breakker interview to put himself forward as the next challenger for the NXT title.
GOOD: Tony D’Angelo held a very touching memorial for the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne. Tony D talked about how he took care of business and how the memorial signified he was moving on to the pursuit of the North American championship. Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes then showed up, promising that the next memorial would be for D’Angelo himself. Cameron Grimes also got involved, not wanting to lose his shot at the belt. Hayes told the aspiring challengers he may give a title opportunity to whoever won a match between Grimes and D’Angelo. Grimes dodged an attack by D’Angelo and struck Tony D in the head with the large memorial photo of Pete Dunne.
AVERAGE: Briggs and Jensen reflecting on their loss in the Dusty Cup receive a visit from Kacy Catanzaro and Kaden Carter. Things took an awkward turn when Wendy Choo (asleep atop the locker) pointed out the undefined relationship between Carter and Jensen.
AVERAGE: Valentina Feroz and Yulisa Leon interviewed about the upcoming Dusty Cup. Their excitement was disrupted by the arrival of Dakota Kai, again attempting to sow discord amongst other tag teams. Kai ended the segment by challenging Leon to a match later in the show.
GOOD: Kay Lee Ray vs Ivy Nile. This match was evenly matched throughout as both Ray and Nile gained near pinfalls. Ray attempted to put this one away with a KLR bomb but was distracted by Mandy Rose. Continuing her focus on Rose, Ray dropped Nile from her finisher and went after Mandy Rose. This proved to be her downfall as a second attempt at a KLR Bomb failed and Nile reversed it into a pin. Toxic Attraction continued the action post-match with an attack on Kay Lee Ray. Indi Hartwell and Persia Perotta came to Ray’s aid, driving off Toxic Attraction.
Result: Ivy Nile defeated Kay Lee Ray via pinfall
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 3.5 stars
AVERAGE: Apparently Harland is not as forgiving of insults as his mentor. We arrived at the aftermath of Harland attacking Odyssey Jones in the training room, as a smiling Joe Gacy looks on.
AVERAGE: in a pleasantly surprising move, Sarray, who reportedly was not going to return to NXT, announced her intention to return with a renewed sense of passion and energy.
GOOD: Legado Del Fantasma vs Malik Blade and Edris Enofe in a Dusty Cup match. Another match that was decided by what went on outside the ring. Santos Escobar interfered on behalf of Legado del Fantasma but Bron Breakker responded to Escobar’s earlier comments. Breakker pulled Escobar off of the ring, distracting Legado del Fantasma. This distraction allowed Malik Blade to roll up from behind and gain the pinfall victory.
Result: Malik Blade and Edris Enofe defeat Legado Del Fantsama via pinfall
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 3.5 stars
GOOD: Malcolm Bivens touting the in-ring success of Ivy Nile and the Creed Brothers. Roderick Strong, according to Bivens, would be the next member of Diamond Mine to gain a victory over Walter.
AVERAGE: Dakota Kai vs Yulisa Leon. Leon started off with some impressive offense, using her athleticism to slam Kai and gain a near fall in a roll-up. Kai’s strategy was to use her experience to avoid Leon’s strength and get in well-placed kicks in the corner. Leon regained the advantage outside the ring as her tag team partner, Valentina Feroz, distracted Dakota Kai. A fallaway slam by Leon back in the ring resulted in another near fall. A scorpion kick and a high kick in the corner were enough for Dakota Kai to get the pin. Kai was angry about the interference and attempted to carry out a beating on Feroz but Yulisa Leon managed to save her tag team partner.
Result: Dakota Kai defeated Yulisa Leon
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 3 stars
GOOD: Raquel Gonzalez used this interview to re-affirm her commitment to regaining the NXT women’s title. Cora Jade attempted to entice Gonzalez to team up with her to compete in the Dusty Cup, but Gonzalez was not interested. Jade ended the segment by saying she would convince Raquel Gonzalez to change her mind.
MUST WATCH: The wrestler formerly known as Walter made his debut against the last cruiserweight champion, Roderick Strong. Walter did not disappoint displaying his incredible strength and legendary chops. Strong used some chops of his own, including one that was very loud and elicited a response from the announce team. Walter responded with a powerful chop of his own, knocking Roderick Strong off of his feet. Walter’s ferocity was not limited to Strong, as he manhandled Malcolm Bivens to the ropes and looked to deliver punishment to the leader of Diamond Mine. Roderick Strong saved his faction leader from any damage with an attack to the back of Walter’s knee, causing Walter to go outside of the ring. Roderick Strong’s best moment came after he had Walter reeling on the corner of the ring. Strong accomplished the impossible and perplexed Walter. Even this, however, was not enough to defeat Der Ring General. Despite breaking out of a Walter powerbomb, Strong was unable to overcome Walter. A powerbomb put an end to Roderick Strong and allowed Walter to gain the pinfall victory. The major news of the night happened after the match, as Walter announced that he would now be known as Gunther. Imperium as a whole brawled with Roderick Strong and the Creed Brothers.
Result: Gunther (Walter) defeated Roderick Strong by pinfall
Matt Cookson WR Star Rating: 4.25 stars
Tonight’s show was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the superstar formerly known as Walter. The main event between the wrestler now known as Gunther and Roderick Strong was a barn burner. The opening matches of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic were good and featured an upset in the form of Edris Enofe and Malik Blade over Legado del Fantasma. Several superstars announced title aspirations including Tony D’Angelo, Santos Escobar, and Raquel Gonzalez. This week featured some great matches but the big story is Walter’s name change.
Show theme and presentation: 7/10
Storyline progression: 7/10
Crowd reaction: 8/10