12/16 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a No.1 Contenders Match, Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm, Karrion Kross in action, more

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


DECEMBER 16, 2020

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett


– The show opened with Kushida and Leon Ruff already in the ring for their match against Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory. All four members of the new Gargano stable entered together.


Gargano tagged out almost immediately, leaving Theory to face Kushida. Theory and Kushida went back-and-forth with chain wrestling. Kushida missed a clothesline attempt from Theory and hit Theory with an inverted atomic drop and a knee. Kushida tagged in Ruff who used his almost parkour-style agility to keep Theory at bay. Ruff was amped up until Theory landed a suplex and tagged out to Gargano. Gargano was too busy giving attention to Kushida and Ruff capitalized with a Pele Kick for a two-count. Gargano recovered and sent Theory into the corner. Gargano and Theory tagged in and out to isolate Ruff in the corner. The heels went for a double suplex but Kushida came in and broke up the move. Kushida and Ruff sent the heels over the top rope with dropkicks. Ruff went for a cannonball but lost his footing and fell badly. Theory covered by rolling Ruff back in the ring, where Ruff hit a DDT for a two-count. Theory sent Ruff into the ropes and Gargano hit a slingshot spear for a nearfall as the show went to commercial. [c]

Back from commercial, Theory had Ruff locked in a combination chinlock and arm hold. Ruff managed to get out of the hold and dropped Theory with a clothesline. Ruff tagged out to Kushida as Theory tagged out to Gargano. Kushida ran wild on the heels with a fast strike combo. Kushida hit the cartwheel dropkick on Gargano. Gargano went for a kick, but Kushida ducked and hit a kick of his own. Gargano hit Kushida with a dropkick, but the faces came back soon after with a pair of enziguris. Gargano took Ruff down and tagged out to Theory. Ruff fought out of a powerbomb attempt but Theory was able to hit a Blue Thunder Bomb instead. Theory tagged Gargano and they hit Ruff with stereo superkicks. Kushida entered the ring and all four wrestlers went at it. Kushida got sent to the outside while Ruff hit a superkick followed by a corkscrew cutter. Ruff covered Gargano but didn’t realise that Theory had blind-tagged Gargano earlier. Theory hit a Flatliner as he yelled “we are the way!” and covered Ruff for the victory.

WINNERS: Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory at 13:35

– As Gargano’s stable celebrated in the ring, Dexter Lumis was shown in the crowd.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A good match that got Gargano’s stable established, while also protecting Kushida. It seemed like there were a few teases for a Gargano/ Kushida program, but then Dexter Lumis seemingly entered the dynamic post-match. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that Kushida will yet again be forgotten about. I’m also not sure where to next for Ruff, although maybe his story has run its course.

– Toni Storm was featured in a video package to hype her upcoming match with Rhea Ripley. Storm recalled winning the NXT UK Women’s Championship from Ripley and claimed to have her number. Despite losing to Ripley at World’s Collide, Storm says it’s her time and that she will end things with Ripley on her terms.

– Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne were shown backstage being psyched up by their respective stables as the show went to commercial. [c]

– Shotzi  Blackheart was interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell about the fall out from War Games. Blackheart was proud of her team even though they lost.  Blackheart took aim at Candice LeRae for mocking Blackheart with the Shotzi doll and vowed revenge by taking out LeRae’s friend. Blackheart did her signature howl to close out the interview.

– Tomasso Ciampa made his entrance, with Tyler Rust already in the ring. Ciampa set up a chair at ringside and placed a Timothy Thatcher shirt on it, seemingly challenging Thatcher to come and watch Ciampa’s match.


Rust stared intently at Ciampa and they exchanged hard shoves as the match began. Rust and Ciampa went back and forth with chain wrestling and Thatcher turned up at ringside. Ciampa threw Rust to ringside, landing in front of his mentor Thatcher. Ciampa fronted up to Thatcher and ducked when Rust tried to hit Ciampa with a kick, taking out Thatcher instead. Referees came between Ciampa and Thatcher and ushered Thatcher backstage. Rust attacked the distracted Ciampa as the show went to commercial. [c]

Back from commercial, Rust had Ciampa in an abdominal stretch. Ciampa escaped the hold and laid Rust out with repeated clotheslines. Ciampa scored a two-count after an Air Raid Crash. Rust halted Ciampa’s momentum with a bicycle kick and covered him for a two-count. Rust went for an armbar, but was blocked by Ciampa. Rust tried to lock in the hold again as Ciampa tried to get up, but Ciampa stomped at Rust’s head. Ciampa tried for the Fairy Tale Ending but Rust avoided it and dropped Ciampa with a Yakuza Kick. Rust hit a twisting snapmare variant for a nearfall. Rust applied an armbar again, and prevented Ciampa from reaching the ropes by transitioning into a modified scissored armbar. Ciampa managed to get a foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Ciampa went after Rust with a flurry of strikes and hit a running knee. Ciampa scored with the Willow’s Bell for the win.

WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 12:20

– Ciampa wiped his sweat with the Thatcher t-shirt and taunted Thatcher, who was still being restrained by the referees, as he made his way to the back.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Rust has been around the traps, notably with New Japan and a brief time in ROH. He looked really good here, and that he was given such a good showing against a top star on NXT would indicate that there are plans in place for Rust. Ciampa lost nothing by taking so much offence from Rust, and really – his trajectory is obviously still with Thatcher.)

– The Grizzled Young Veterans cut a promo backstage, putting themselves over for nearly winning the Dusty Classic tournament. GYV declared they would become the number one tag-team in NXT.

– Pete Dunne and Kyle O’Reilly were shown walking backstage toward the ring area as the show went to commercial. [c]

– A hype video for Karrion Kross aired. Doomsday is coming and Kross is returning to action tonight.

– Unaired footage from after the Rust vs. Ciampa match was played, where Malcolm Bivens came out and praised Rust as a “star”.

– Dexter Lumis was shown again in the crowd. He was drawing on a tablet and had created a logo for next month’s New Years Evil special

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Maybe Lumis wasn’t in the crowd for Gargano after all. I’m guessing he’ll be the “host” of the upcoming special in the same way that Blackheart was for Halloween Havoc.)

(3) KYLE O’REILLY (w/Adam Cole & Roderick Strong) vs. PETE DUNNE (w/Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch) to determine the No.1 Contender for the NXT Championship

Vic Joseph announced that there would be no commercial breaks during this match. As Lorcan and Burch began to interfere, Drake Maverick, Killian Dain, and Breezango ran out, with all the tag teams eventually brawling to the back. O’Reilly and Dunne tussled on the mat with jujitsu. The action spilled to ringside and the two brawled, only just making back in the ring to beat the ten-count. O’Reilly kicked Dunne and sent him back to ringside as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]


O’Reilly took control as the picture-in-picture commercial played out. Dunne tried for a Bitter End but O’Reilly reversed the move into a chokehold. O’Reilly hit a running knee. Dunne reversed a suplex attempt into a X-plex. Dunne worked over O’Reilly’s arm with a double stomp and joint manipulation. O’Reilly tried to fight out with kicks but Dunne got O’Reilly up and dropped him with another suplex. Dunne locked in a headlock with O’Reilly’s legs grapevined. O’Reilly scored with a running kick to turn the tide. O’Reilly hit another kick and unloaded on Dunne with a combination of strikes. O’Reilly hit three successive DDT’s and covered Dunne, who kicked out at the last moment. O’Reilly was back in the corner and Dunne charged at him. O’Reilly got out of the way, which sent Dunne crashing into the turnbuckles. O’Reilly propped Dunne on the top rope and launched Dunne with a Super German Suplex. However, Dunne managed to land on his feet which saw O’Reilly get tangled upside down in the Tree of Woe. Dunne went after O’Reilly with kicks as the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: I know the “bills need to be paid” so to speak, but when a match is billed as being with “no commercial interruptions”, surely P.I.P commercials should also be left aside?)

Dunne kneed the jaw of O’Reilly and hit a powerbomb for a two-count. Dunne worked over O’Reilly with shortarm curb stomps, which O’Reilly sold viciously. O’Reilly escaped an armbar by reaching the bottom rope for the break. O’Reilly twice tried to apply a Juji Gatame but Dunne avoided the hold both times. O’Reilly changed tactics and went for an ankle lock, which Dunne countered into a guillotine with a body scissors. Dunne rocked O’Reilly with a big headbutt. O’Reilly countered a powerbomb attempt and scored with a brainbuster, as the crowd chanted “fight forever”. O’Reilly sent Dunne’s mouthguard flying with a kick and hit a fisherman suplex for a two-count. Dunne reached out for his mouthguard but had his hand stomped on by O’Reilly. Both wrestlers went back and forth trying to synch in submission holds. O’Reilly got up and rocked Dunne with a running PK. O’Reilly went at Dunne again but was met with a wishbone finger break. O’Reilly countered a Bitter End into a suplex from the apron to ringside. O’Reilly brought Dunne back into the ring and hit a big running knee to pick up the victory.

WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly at 22:45

– Rhea Ripley was interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. Ripley said that she respects Gonzalez but said that Gonzalez will be all alone when they meet next. Ripley brushed off Storm’s comments from earlier and said that Storm is still trash – as she was in NXT UK. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Simply a fantastic match, that wasn’t a step back from their recent ladder match at all. I equally expect the forthcoming O’Reilly vs. Balor match to similarly match their previous encounter. In the same vein as the crowd’s “fight forever” chant, I could watch plenty more matches between Dunne and O’Reilly.)

– The latest footage from the mystery torture location with Xia Li and Boa aired. It turns out that Li has been being instructed to beat up Boa with a kendo stick this whole time. Li and a bloody and bruised Boa begged for the torture to stop.


Blackheart got the jump on Hartwell, who was without her neckbrace this week. Blackheart sent Hartwell neck first into the top rope. Blackheart unleashed a stiff combo of strikes and drove Hartwell into the corner. Hartwell managed to avoid a running senton and stomped at the fallen Blackheart. Blackheart quickly regained control and succeeded in hitting the running senton. Hartwell careered over to the apron and was sent flying into the announce desk by a Blackheart dropkick. LeRae tried to cause a distraction to allow Hartwell to use LeRae’s trophy as a weapon. However, the referee turned around in time to see Hartwell hit Blackheart and called for the disqualification.

WINNER: Shotzi Blackheart via DQ at 4:00

– Candice LeRae hit Blackheart with the Wicked Stepsister, as the Gargano stable stood tall.

– Another Karrion Kross video package aired, focusing on his rise to the NXT Championship. Kross said he prays for the people who will get trampled on his path. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Even though Blackheart won, the purpose of this match was to keep putting heat on Gargano’s Stable. It was successful on that front, despite a substandard performance from Hartwell, who is yet to show her potential on TV.)


Kross destroyed Troy with a series of strikes and an Exploder Suplex. Kross rocked Troy with a roundhouse and finished him with a Doomsday Saito and the Kross Jacket.

WINNER: Karrion Kross at 1:05

– After the match, Kross looked into the camera and challenged Damian Priest to a match at the New Year’s Evil special next month.

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Isaiah Scott, who was unimpressed at losing to Jake Atlas. Scott challenged Atlas to a rematch next week. As Mitchell tried to wrap up the segment, Ever Rise gatecrashed the interview set and cut a promo claiming to be coming for Goldberg’s streak and yelling that Ever Rise rules.

– Dexter Lumis was shown again, this time with a completed drawing. He is, indeed, going to be the “host” of the New Year’s Evil special.

– Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm were shown walking backstage ahead of their match. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Standard squash for Kross, which he does quite well. It’s great to have Kross and Scarlett back on TV again.)

– A Finn Balor promo aired, where he put himself over for recovering from a broken jaw. He declared that his match at New Year’s Evil wouldn’t be Balor vs. O’Reilly II, rather it would be Balor vs. O’Reilly “The End”.


Storm tried, unsuccessfully, to take Ripley down with a shoulder tackle. Ripley responded with a shoulder tackle of her own. Storm and Ripley exchanged quick pin attempts. Ripley took down Storm with a pair of short-arm clotheslines and followed up with a crescent kick. Ripley went through the ropes to the apron but Storm recovered and drove Ripley into the ringpost, sending her crashing to the floor. [c]

Back from commercial, Ripley hit Storm with a running basement dropkick. Ripley covered Storm for a nearfall. Ripley went for the Riptide, but Storm blocked it. Ripley tried for a running boot which Storm ducked. Storm rocked Ripley with a big headbutt. Ripley recovered and hit a dropkick followed by the Prism. Storm eventually rolled through and sent Ripley into the ropes for a jumping clothesline. Storm hit a German Suplex for a two-count. Storm got Ripley into the corner and went for a running hip attack. Ripley countered the move with a facebuster into the turnbuckle. Ripley went for the Riptide again, but Storm blocked the move by grabbing the ropes.

Raquel Gonzalez appeared at ringside and climbed onto the apron. Ripley kicked Storm into Gonzalez. Storm caused a distraction, which led to the referee missing Gonzalez launching Ripley into the ringpost. Storm hit a running hip attack and the Storm Zero for the win.

WINNER: Toni Storm at 13:55

– Ripley stared down Gonzalez as the show went off the air.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A rock and a hard place situation here, as Storm needed a win to keep some momentum following her return and Ripley needed a win to maintain her powerhouse persona. Ultimately, the right outcome was achieved and the involvement of Gonzalez provides an out for Ripley as they work towards what would have to be their blowoff match.) 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A typically strong show which, whilst lacking the “pizzazz” that comes with AEW Dynamite’s star power and big moments (such as Sting), is still thoroughly entertaining, disciplined and purposeful. I hope that NXT stays the course and doesn’t try to do anything rash as a way of “keeping up with the Jones'” – that being AEW. O’Reilly vs. Dunne was the obvious standout and I anticipate seeing more from those two as key singles stars in the future for NXT. The build to the New Year’s Evil special should make for entertaining television.

Make sure to check out Kelly Wells’ report for his perspective on this show and make sure to check out the PWT Talks NXT podcast in the Audio section. You can find me on Twitter at @mattyhuss.

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