Just when tag team wrestling in NXT seems like a product of yesteryear, the annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament revives it for a short and sweet four weeks. The 2024 winners will be crowned at Vengeance Day on February 4, where the victor of tonight’s 20-women battle royal will face Lyra Valkyria for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams vs Malik Blade and Edris Enofe – First Round

Hayes’ theme song poetically cuts off “whoop that trick” chants, and Booker T reacts, “Oh, hell no!” The former is back from injury on Smackdown, not missing a step, and the much-improved Williams is right there with him. Blade and Enofe are supporting characters but wake people up with stereo outside dives, regaining control after picture-in-picture. Vic Joseph outright says, “Trick Williams is outshining Carmelo Hayes,” and it’s nothing but truth – even in-ring in this opening bout. The opponents hit some spectacular maneuvers – a spike blockbuster and floating elbow respectively, but a running knee from Williams gives Trick Melo Gang the victory.

Winners: Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes


Fallon Henley is interviewed about tonight’s 20-women battle royal: “When it comes down to four women, I have three words… yee-haw, bitch!” Surprisingly, nobody interrupts. After, a package recaps Oba Femi’s shock North American Championship win last week – and at only 22 years old, it’s just the beginning.

Footage from earlier coincidentally catches Tatum Paxley sneaking up on Lola Vice and Elektra Lopez, who show subtle tension over getting the NXT Women’s Championship together.

The numbers tell the story of North American Champion Oba Femi: the first NIL Athlete to win a WWE Championship with only five televised matches as mentioned by commentary. In-ring, Femi speaks succinctly about his Nigerian prophecy and collegiate dominance – “backed by destiny” – before previous champion Dragon Lee cuts him off. He offers to be Femi’s first challenger at Vengeance Day, and the champion “may consider it.”

Eddy Thorpe is inevitably met by Trey Bearhill, who thanks him for representing their Native culture. Sore loser Dijak – the best loser in wrestling with repeated bangers – spoils the meeting and threatens to put Bearhill on the shelf tonight.

Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams are finally on the same page until common enemy, NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov, steps in. The champ is medically cleared, apologizing to Willaims for letting him down but announcing their rematch for Vengeance Day. “That’s when we’re supposed to be in the Dusty Cup finals!” snaps Hayes, who may finally be justified in this instance.

Lyra Valkyria and Tatum Paxley vs Lola Vice and Elektra Lopez

Paxley has been stalking Valkyria for weeks, but it isn’t 2006, and it doesn’t hit the same. Meanwhile, Booker T compares Vice and Lopez to peanut butter and jelly and demands, “Give me the sandwich! Give me the sandwich!” Paxley takes a hit for the NXT Women’s Champion, falling into a pinfall for the unconscious three-count.

Winners: Tatum Paxley and Lyra Valkyria


Arianna Grace nonchalantly tells the women’s locker room that she’ll outlast them in tonight’s battle royal. Expecting applause, she finds the room emptied.

Ridge Holland vs Joe Coffey

Holland stoically walks to the ring, beginning the redemption arc against his injury-prone self. Commentary argues over the genuineness of his motives and apology, and it’s naturally an uncomfortable situation – especially for a blank-staring audience. Holland quickly gains the pinfall victory, but Gallus initiates a post-match assault. Empty shots of the entranceway emphasize that Holland is alone, and that The Brawling Brutes are officially no more.

Winner: Ridge Holland


NXT Anonymous catches a delighted Jacy Jayne after finishing her Chase University debt cancellation plan. She asks out Jazmine Allure, the next piece in the Chase cinematic universe.

Kehlani Jordan talks optimism with peppy Brinley Reece – who is so similar to Thea Hail it can’t be overlooked, down to the mannerisms and speech pattern.

“You said the interview starts at 9:30,” says a late Bron Breakker to partner Baron Corbin. He calls themselves “The Wolf Dogs” to Corbin’s disapproval, already doing comedy bits. Call this man up yesterday.

Chase University vs LWO – First Round

Jacy Jayne vetoed the titular Andre Chase and replaced him with newcomer Riley Osborne in the Dusty Cup, but competition is tough regardless with a hot LWO; people still talk about Joaquin Wilde’s viral springboard. Chase U’s Duke Hudson towers over everyone and hits his patented comeback, but Wilde completes a crazy one of his own, allowing Cruz Del Toro to hit a 450 Splash for victory.

Winners: LWO


“The rizz always takes care of bizz,” Stacks says to a nervous Adriana Rizzo. Tony D’Angelo sports a Marlon Brando t-shirt, who was as real a mafia boss as the NXT Tag Team Champion himself.

Footage from last week shows Von Wagner throwing his protective cup into Noam Dar’s Heritage Cup. Dar proceeds to explain Heritage rules to Wagner, who doesn’t quite understand the math.

Dijak vs Trey Bearhill

Joe Gacy joins commentary with the motif that he just hangs around. Dijak is picking on someone his size for once, talks trash to commentary, and runs into a headbutt from Gacy to Bearhill’s advantage. A spinning big boot from the former gains the victory before Gacy commits a blindside – and speaking of which, the slimy Lexis King enacts revenge on Bearhill for costing him the Breakout Tournament.

Winner: Dijak 


Now an official singles competitor, Josh Briggs is approached by JBL, who personally picked him for the Iron Survivor challenge. “I threw away the playing cards, and I showed the world that JBL is a wrestling god… I want you to show NXT, WWE, who you are.”

A gritty vignette for No Quarter Catch Crew showcases their grappling, conditioning, and training. Back from excursion in Japan, Charlie Dempsey could be a force in NXT.

Trick Williams apologizes for overstepping Carmelo Hayes and offers a solution: he’ll pull double duty at Vengeance Day and win both the Dusty Cup and NXT Championship in one night. If Deadline was a movie for Williams, this will be cinema.

20-Women Battle Royal

Commentary officially announces that Cora Jade has torn her ACL, putting her out of action for close to a year. Her opponent from that live event match, Wren Sinclair, takes her place – congratulations, Wren. Adriana Rizzo and Jaida Parker brawl and fall immediately, teasing future battles in The Family and OTM feud. Kehlani Jordan finds herself on the announce desk and attempts a Kofi Kingston… abruptly cut off by commercial break.

Lola Vice shows her true colors, eliminating Elektra Lopez before brawling away, and Blair Davenport takes out Gigi Dolin shortly after. Davenport herself is gone via Karmen Petrovich, who pays the price with a knee strike under the bottom rope. Unconscious, she’s eliminated by Arianna Grace – continuing the legacy of battle royal champions in the family.

Sinclair throwing Lash Legend over gets Orlando on its feet, but it comes down to Jordan, Fallon Henley, Kiana James and Roxanne Perez – beginning the fatal four way portion of the main event. Stakes are high, and the pace is quick with each competitor trading some shine. Izzi Dame pulls James out of harm’s way but isn’t fast enough for Pop Rox, granting Perez the victory and NXT Women’s Championship match at Vengeance Day.

Winner: Roxanne Perez


NXT 1/16/23

Orlando, FL

Whether good or bad, everything in NXT is meticulously planned out, which was very apparent with the storyline mixes in tonight’s battle royal. Both Dusty Cup matches were pretty electric, but that’s the short list of exciting wrestling for the brand in this episode.