Grizzled Young Veterans def. NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match (Non-Title)
A lot of fans figured Undisputed Era vs. Imperium in the finals was a lock, but I always assumed neither team would make it past the semifinals because of how they're already set to face off at Worlds Collide. Despite having a heel vs. heel dynamic, this was an entertaining opener and Imperium costing Undisputed Era the victory made sense. I'm not huge on distraction finishes, but NXT does so few of them that I didn't mind this.
Toni Storm def. Io Shirai by Disqualification
The commentators mentioned beforehand that Shirai likely would have been added to the NXT Women's Championship match between Storm and Rhea Ripley if she won here, which helped put the outcome more in doubt. Both women have come a long way since they last went one-on-one in the finals of the 2018 Mae Young Classic and this was a solid match. It could have been better had Bianca Belair not got involved, but I'm happy that they can now save it for down the line. In fact, it looks like they could be headed for a Fatal 4-Way over WrestleMania weekend between Ripley, Belair, Shirai and Storm.
Finn Balor def. Joaquin Wilde
As I've said before, Wilde has clicked with me as a babyface yet whatsoever. He seems like a genuinely good dude in real life and has a hell of a story (his roads to recovery from injury over the years have been inspiring), but he always comes off as unlikable during his matches and the dumb DJ noises don't help his cause any. Here's hoping NXT takes the hint and turns him heel at some point. This worked as a showcase for Balor ahead of his Worlds Collide clash with Ilja Dragunov.
Shayna Baszler def. Shotzi Blackheart
Blackheart pulled off one of the most shocking eliminations in recent memory when she took out Baszler in last week's NXT Women's Championship number one contender's Battle Royal. I didn't expect her to win here (especially so close to the Royal Rumble weekend where Baszler is considered heavy favorite), but I liked that she looked credible in defeat and pushed Baszler to her limit in the time they had.
The BroserWeights def. Imperium in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne have such bright futures on their own that I almost hate suggesting this, but their chemistry is so strong together that I wouldn't mind them continuing to team for the foreseeable future. This was another incredible effort from them as they worked wonderfully with Imperium, who never cease to deliver themselves. After Grizzled Young Veterans moved on earlier in the evening, The BroserWeights advancing was obvious, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of this at all (and Undisputed Era not advancing was a pleasant surprise). The post-match verbal exchange between The BroserWeights and Grizzled Young Veterans did a nice job of setting the stage for the finals of the tournament next week.
Keith Lee def. Roderick Strong to Win the NXT North American Championship
The NXT North American Championship hasn't been a focal point in almost three months, so it was cool to see it spotlighted in this week's main event. Lee had to overcome outside involvement from the rest of Undisputed Era as well as the knee injury he suffered last week at the hands of the faction. Surprisingly enough, he managed to conquer both of those obstacles. Strong was a fantastic foil for Lee, who had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish. Strong's offense was exciting as usual while Lee was a tremendous babyface. I'm very happy Lee has championship gold around his waist at long last, it's well deserved. Plus, that post-match brawl between Undisputed Era and Imperium was a cool preview of what we can expect from them on Saturday night.
NXT is almost always awesome, but it's settled into a certain formula in recent weeks that has worked very well between building toward Worlds Collide and TakeOver: Portland, furthering the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and featuring an above-average main event. The title change was obviously the most newsworthy aspect of this episode, but the whole show was worthwhile and filled with fun moments and matches.
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