The second-ever Fight Pit match headlines tonight's episode of NXT.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher will face off inside the NXT Fight Pit tonight. The match was originally supposed to happen at NXT New Year's Evil two weeks ago, but it was postponed due to Thatcher suffering a minor injury.
Thatcher also took part in the first Fight Pit match, defeating Matt Riddle in May of last year.
The inaugural women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicks off tonight with Mercedes Martinez & Toni Storm facing Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter in a first round match. The full bracket for the women's Dusty Classic was revealed earlier today. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell, Gigi Dolin (Priscilla Kelly) & Cora Jade (Elayna Black), Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon, Marina Shafir & Zoey Stark (Lacey Ryan), Aliyah & Jessi Kamea, and Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez will also take part in the tournament.
Tonight's show will also feature two more first round matches in the men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Kushida & Leon Ruff will take on NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory. Imperium's Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner will face Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Beth Phoenix was back ringside at the announce desk alongside Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett.
The is opening with a first round match in the Dusty Classic
Leon Ruff & Kushida defeated Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory to advance in the Dusty Classic
Kushida pinned Gargano in a really good match. Not only do Kushida & Ruff advance to round two of the tournament, but Kushida also scored a clean pinfall on the NXT North American Champion.
After the bout got going, The Way began to work over Kushida. They got heat on him until he fell backwards into his corner, allowing Ruff to make a hot tag. Ruff into the ring with a springbaord missile dropkick and a Tito Santana flying forearm.
Ruff was cleaning house on The Way when Theory caught him in a Torture Rack. He the spun Ruff around and dropped him into a sit-out powerbomb. Ruff kicked out for a near fall as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial break. Now it was Ruff's turn to be the babyface in peril.
The Way with some nifty double-team moves on Ruff. He still was able to fake out Theory, and Ruff dropped him with a springboard cutter. That allowed for another hot tag.
Much like Ruff on the earlier hot tag, Kushida came into the ring off the top rope. He hit Gargano with a flying ax handle. Theory tried to make a save, but instead ate a handspring back elbow from Kushida. Gargano was knocked off the apron, and Kushida a moment later caught him with a flying tornando DDT off the apron.
Back in the ring, Kushida went for his armbar. Gargano countered him. Kushida with a counter of his own was able to apply a cross-armbreaker. Theory was able to make a save, breaking the hold.
Theory with a ushigoroshi and a superkick on Kushida, but he still kicked out. Ruff with a save by flying in out of nowhere to counter a double-team. He ran down the top rope, and Ruff dived onto floor. Meanwhile, Kushida is targeting Gargano's arm.
Kushida in the closing moments dropped Gargano with a punch, and then he hooked him for a suplex. Kushida trapped an arm in a hammerlock postion as he executed a snap suplex. Kushida then bridged up to score a pinfall.
Pete Dunne in a vignette cut a promo on NXT Champion Finn Balor.
Malcolm Bivens was backstage near the office of William Regal. He was there to lobby for Tyler Rust. McKenzie Mitchell was asking Bivens a question when Rust came out of Regal's office. Rust said he had a match later on with Bronson Reed. Bivens was clearly upset by this, but he tried to make the best of it.
Karrion Kross (with Scarlett) defeated Ashante "Thee" Adonis
Kross won a quick squash match. Kross twice with a Saito suplex, and then he smacked Adonis in the back of the neck with a forearm smash. Kross then covered Adonis for a pinfall.
Desmond Troy was in the ring checking on Adonis, so Kross choked him out with a Straight Jacket.
A vignette featured MSK. Formerly known as The Rascalz, Nick Carter and Wes Lee are now in NXT. This looked like a fresh act that is unlike any other team in NXT.
Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez cut a promo threatening Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter ahead of their match later on.
Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) defeated Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) to advance in the Dusty Classic
Dorado pinned Barthel for Lucha House Party to advance into the second round. Fun match.
No entrance for Lucha House Party, but they still won the match.
Mat wrestling at the start, until the lucahdores went to the air. Metalik did a swan dive off the shoulders of Dorado. Imperium fought back with high impact moves. Lucha House Party fired up again, but Dorado was caught on a dive. Aichner then smashed him into the ring apron, and Dorado took a scoop slam on the floor before a commercial break.
After the break, Dorado created separation with a tornado DDT. That led to a hot tag where Metalik flew into the ring with a flying crossbody. He then walked down the top rope, and Metalik springboarded into a hurricanrana. A double sprinboard into a quebrada netted Metalik a close two count.
Metalik was soon cut off, and Imperium with a spike DDT on him. Dorado jumped in to make a save. Lucha House Party with a combo made up of a missile dropkick/Code Red for a near fall. Another save, but by the heels this time.
Lucha House Party dropped with stereo power moves. Lucha House Party still came back with more flying moves. That led into Metalik doing an Asai moonsault off the top rope to the floor. Dorado was looking at the carnage on the floor when he was hit from behind by Barthel. Roll-up for a two count. Dorado answered back with a superkick. He followed with a shooting star press, and Dorado covered Barthel for a pinfall.
Lucha House Party in the next round meets El Legado del Fantasma.
Alexander Wolfe appeared after the match, which got the attention of Imperium. No follow-up though. The announcers threw to a weigh-in with Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. They had a pull-apart scrum.
Beth Phoenix in a speech introducing the Women's Dusty Classic.
Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro defeated Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez to advance in the Women's Dusty Classic
Catanzaro fought from underneath to pin Storm. The babyfaces also had help from the returning NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai. She attacked Martinez at ringside.
Heat on Catanzaro before a commercial break. Kaycen Carter after the break with a hot tag. Everybody jumps in the fray. The smoke cleared, and Storm punished Carter with a half crab.
Io Shirai ran in and she threw Martinez over the announce table. Storm was distracted, and she was outnumbered with Martinez out selling. Catanzaro with a multiple rotation dive, and she crashed down on top of Carter. Catanzaro then covered Storm for the pinfall.
Catanzaro & Carter were pumped up in a post-match interview backstage after the match.
William Regal and Finn Balor had a meeting that seemed straight out of The Sopranos. Balor needs a tag team partner. Regal said to keep your enemies close.
Bronson Reed defeated Tyler Rust (with Malcolm Bivens)
Reed pinned Rust after the Tsunami. Rust got in some offense, but Reed otherwise dominated the match.
Finn Balor was backstage saying some people around here owe him a favor. This is like an episode of The Sopranos.
After a commercial break, Balor was seen going into the Undisputed Era locker room. He confronted Kyle O'Reilly and asked if was in. O'Reilly said he was in. It's a deal. Balor and O'Reilly will team next week against Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar was cutting a promo about being the champ, and he began to explain what a true champion is. He put himself over all the other champs in NXT. Escobar kept putting himself over until changing the subject to Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza. That brought out Lucha House Party for a Gordon Solie Pier Sixer.
They were brawling when Curt Stallion ran in to helo even the odds for Lucha House Party. This might have something to do with 205 Live. Yes, that show still exists. I know, it's hard for me to believe too. I hear it's good so somebody somewhere watches it.
Stallion challenges Escobar for the Cruiserweight title next week on NXT.
Also announced for next week is Dusty Classic quarterfinal matches. Those bouts include Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Ruff & Kushida. Also, MSK meets Drake Maverick & Killian Dain in another tournament match. Besides tourney matches, the other tag match for next week is Balor & O'Reilly vs. Burch & Lorcan.
Timothy Thatcher defeated Tommaso Ciampa in the Fight Pit
Thatcher repeated as winner of a Fight Pit match. He submitted Ciampa in a match that was much different than the first Fight Pit.
The match started with them on the platform above the Fight Pit. This was basically a scaffold match for the first few minutes. They both dropped down into the pit during a picture-in-picture commercial break.
They took turns working over each other's shoulder. Ciampa whipped Thatcher into the side of the cage. Thatcher answered back with suplex, and he went back to targeting an arm. He snapped Ciampa's fingers.
Ciampa fought back, but Thatcher applied a rear naked choke. Thatcher with a low blow to break the hold. The referees was down on all fours as Ciampa dragged Thatcher over him for a draping DDT.
They traded strikes in the closing minutes. Ciampa rammed Thatcher's head into the cage, and then Ciampa executed the Fairytale Ending. Ciampa applied a sleeper, but Thatcher countered by ramming Ciampa's head into the cage.
They were figting in a corner when Ciampa's leg became trapped in the cage. With Ciampa hanging upside down, Thatcher applied a modified stretch muffler with Ciampa's leg still trapped in the ropes. Ciampa tapped out.