NXT’s latest live special is back at Full Sail University and should be one of the more emotional nights in NXT history. Not only will the semifinal and finals of the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team tournament take place, but Sasha Banks & Bayley will main event in a 30 minute Iron Man Match. Cody and Dustin Rhodes will also be on hand to present the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Trophy to the winners, so get your Kleenexes ready for one hell of a night.
DRTTT Semifinals: Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson vs. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe
Balor and Joe seem like an impossible team to beat, but you have to imagine that they were put together for one reason: to make Samoa Joe Finn’s next challenger for the NXT title. Kevin Owens is gone, Itami and Zayn are still hurt, so it makes sense to turn Joe (who is a natural heel) and they have to do it here. I think they decided not to have the NXT title defended at TakeOver for two reasons: to put the spotlight on the tag team tournament and the women’s match, and to sub in a title match for a major angle that sets up a title match. NXT does a lot of subtle things that separate them from the main roster, and this is one of them. Instead of rushing through an NXT title angle, they take the slow burn route and team up Joe and Balor. They have them advance to at least the semifinals of the tournament before Joe turns on Finn, which makes it sting just a little bit extra. Wilder & Dawson might be a secondary story in this match, but they are very good tag team wrestlers, and hopefully this match lasts a bit before the turn because you have four top notch athletes going at it.
Prediction: you can see it coming, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be great. Joe turns on Finn, giving us a new NXT title feud and a much needed bump to Wilder and Dawson.
DRTTT Semifinals: Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin
If you don’t watch NXT and you’re thinking of tuning in tonight, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable are the guys to watch. No offense to anyone else on the show right now, but these guys are on a different level. They’re like version 2.0 of Hass & Benjamin, except a million times better in the ring and entertaining as hell on the microphone. It seems like a foregone conclusion that they’re going to go over Corbin & Rhyno, because come on, who in the hell would book it any other way? The only suspense here is who will they face? As I said before, I think Joe and Balor feud after this show, and as much as turning on Finn in the finals of the tournament would be heelish, I think it’s also important to put over Dash and Wilder too. Plus, Dash and Wilder vs. Jordan and Gable is my jam and I need to see it.
Prediction: Ready, willing, Jordan and Gable.
DRTTT Finals: ? vs. ?
This obviously depends on who wins the semifinals matches, but I want Cody and Dustin to hand the trophy over to Jordan & Gable. They’re the best team by a long shot, and they have a legitimate chance to revitalize the tag team division throughout NXT and the WWE. I know Cody wants to finish out his Stardust gimmick, but I also wouldn’t hate it if he and Dustin teamed up for one last run against Gable & Jordan. And by ‘I wouldn’t mind’ I mean I would absolutely fucking love it.
Prediction: Jordan & Gable.
Tyler Breeze vs. Apollo Crews
This is Tyler Breeze’s biggest match on the NXT roster by a long shot. Crews is going to be a MAJOR player in NXT and on the main roster, but Breeze needs this win bad. NXT has done a great job of not letting us focus too much on wins and losses, but Breeze is at his breaking point. He’s watched all the ‘Indy darlings’ come in and sky rocket to the top, and now he’s even losing matches to ‘one and done’ guys like Jushin Liger. Breeze is so talented, and a win against a guy like Crews would be enormous for his character going forward. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the earlier Crews loses a match the better, because undefeated streaks in wrestling are storylines that never culminate how want them to. Plus, losing to a guy like Breeze who has been in NXT for awhile and knows how Full Sail works wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Prediction: I’m on team Prince Pretty tonight.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke
Oh poor Dana Brooke. Poor, poor Dana Brooke. Asuka is somewhat of a Japanese legend, and if you’ve never seen a Japanese women’s wrestling match, you should definitely brush up on it before tonight. They work stiff, and it’s kind of brutal. Dana Brooke is this legitimate weightlifting champion who’s in phenomenal shape and thus has an ‘I’m better than you’ attitude. While that might work on Billie Kay or Carmella, Asuka is a different animal. Just look at the look Asuka gave Emma & Dana Brooke when they ruined her first appearance in NXT. That was an ‘I’m going to kill you & there’s nothing you can do about it’ look. Dana Brooke the wrestler isn’t quite there yet, but Dana Brooke the character is great, and I have a feeling she’s going to take a very believable beating tonight.
30 Minute Iron Man Match For The NXT Women’s Title: Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks
This is the culmination of the Sasha Banks/Bayley feud and it should be a doozy. I don’t know how they’re going to top their match in Brooklyn, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. As special as Brooklyn was, Full Sail is a different animal, and they LOVE Bayley and Sasha. This is the first time women are in the main event of an NXT special and they couldn’t be more deserving. The NXT Women’s title picture has been the main event for a long time whether they went on last or not, and this match is vindication for a job well done. Bayley will probably win, because she’s the new face of the NXT women’s division, but this match isn’t about a win or a loss. Brooklyn was about the win for Bayley. Tonight is about proving she belongs in the spot she’s in, and Full Sail gets to shower Sasha with love one final time.