SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed
Both Swerve and Reed have recently been repackaged, making it seem like neither man could really afford to take a loss just yet. Swerve is coming off of a series of losses for the Cruiserweight Championship, the catalyst for his character change. Reed is being booked to be a Bam Bam Bigelow-esque heel. A loss felt for either man felt like it would define them down a notch.
If either man needed to eat the loss, Swerve, unfortunately made the most sense. Reed was the most recently repackaged and is being pushed as an unstoppable force. Swerve, unfortunately, like he may be stuck in the lower mid card for a little longer.
While the match was fine, there wasn’t any major sizzle to it. Nothing really mattered here, it was an exhibition match. As much as I like both men, I just couldn’t get myself invested.
NXT 2020 Breakout Star of the Year Award
Nominees: Pat McAfee, Damian Priest, Shotzi Blackheart, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, Timothy Thatcher, Raquel Gonzales, Santos Escobar, Iija Dragonov.
Winner: Shotzi Blackheart
I think Shotzi was a fair winner for the Breakout Star, as she did have quite the successful year. If this is legitimately fan decided, then so be it. But, in a business where Kayfabe is technically king, who knows? I think the argument could be made for McAfee and Priest as well.
Breezango vs. Grizzled Young Vets X
Oddly enough the lesser tag team, Breezango, had the entrance tonight and the team they are trying to get over did not. Surprisingly this was a bit more of a high energy match than I had expected. I always seem to underestimate Fandango in particular, as every time he’s in the ring he really impresses me with his work. Yet he’s never somebody that I think of when I think of great workers. That includes using the scaffolding nearby to take out GYV before a commercial break. Dango sold his knee going into said break, setting the story for the rest of the match.
GYV worked Dango’s knee for the rest of the the matchup. GYV did a great job splitting the ring down the middle and keeping Dango away from his partner, Tyler Breeze. Once Breeze did finally get the hot tag, the match really kicked into an even higher gear with all four men pulling out all the stops. Ultimately the returning Grizzled Young Vets got the win.
The Dusty Classic was announced to return during this match, and I would assume that we will see both teams involved. Ever Rise also made a cameo after GYV’s win to cowardly yell at GYV before scampering away. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ever Rise involved in the Classic either.
NXT Tag Team of the Year Award
Nominees: Undisputed Era, Breezango, Imperium, Gallus, Legado Del Fantasma, Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
Winner: Undisputed Era
For the third year in a row, UE gets this award. They announced that Cole and Roddy will be representing them in the Classic this year during the segment as well. Honestly, other than Burch & Lorcan, I don’t think any other nominee came close. Gallus may have held the NXT UK Championships for nearly all of, if not all of 2020, but NXT UK was also not running for most of the year.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Valentina Feroz
Last week, we saw Martinez take out the NXT Women’s Champion, Io Shirai after a long hiatus from NXT. This week, we saw her destroy Valentina Feroz, Feroz, while a total jobber, kept trying to use traditional wrestling offense and escapes against Martinez. Which looked hilarious in contrast when Mercedes would just throw her around the ring and deliver forearms to the face.
Great showcase to remind the audience who Martinez is and how dominant she is. Nothing special about this squash match, but I think it was very effective in selling Martinez as a major threat to Shirai’s title.
NXT Female Competitor of the Year Award
Nominees: Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, Candice LaRae, Dakota Kai, Kay Lee Ray, Tegan Nox
Winner: Io Shirai
I think a case could be made for nearly any woman on the list sans Tegan Nox, who admittedly had a great year until sidelined by another injury. Shirai makes sense as she is one of the best wrestlers, male or female, in the world
NXT Male Competitor of the Year Award
Nominees: Finn Balor, Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Keith Lee, Walter, Tommaso Ciampa
Winner: Adam Cole
I wouldn’t have been upset with anyone on this list. Totally fine with Cole winning this.
Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne X
The rivalry between Undisputed Era and Pat McAfee’s faction continued with Dunne and Roddy in singles action. The match started with commentary reminding us that in 2018, Strong and Dunne were partners in the Dusty Classic when Strong turned on Dunne and joined the Undisputed Era. The rivalry between the two men in particular has been raging on ever since.
This was a great mid-show main event. While it’s not a marquee match, I think most wrestling fans would agree that if they saw this match on a card, they’d probably look forward to it. Both men have reputations for putting on incredible matches and tonight wasn’t any different. Even during the picture-in-picture commercial break, they stayed competitive. Most wrestlers choose to go to a submission hold, or one opponent would hold all of the offense for the entirety of the break.
Part of me thought that the UE member would get the win here. However, where this was Dunne’s first singles match in over six months, it makes sense for him to get the win. Makes him look like the threat that he should appear to be.
NXT Match of the Year
- NXT Super Tuesday – Fatal Four Iron Man Match: Balor vs. Cole. vs. Ciampa. vs. Gargano
- NXT Takeover 31 – NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly
- NXT UK TV – Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov
- NXT War Games 2020 – Men’s War Games: Undisputed Era vs. Team McAfee
- NXT In Your House – NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley
Winner: NXT Takeover 31 – NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly
This match was certainly an amazing contest and deserving of the win. However, how did the Fight Pit not wind up here? Balor refused his plaque but swiped KOR’s out of Regal’s hand. He said he would deliver it to KOR himself and marched to the ring. On the way, he and Pete Dunne crossed paths in gorilla. Potential foreshadowing for Balor’s next feud if he retains at New Year’s Evil?
Balor Addresses New Year’s Evil X
He first talked about his Match of the Year with KOR and put him over strong before KOR made his way to the ring. Balor said that he had the NXT title so that trophy was meaningless to him. KOR said it meant something to him and it’s nice to have, but he wants the NXT title. The real deal.
KOR cut an incredible promo against Balor, really playing up the babyface tones. Balor, clearly continuing to play the heel in this feud. The two men have amazing chemistry and they really hyped me up for the match. Scarlett and Karrion Kross appeared and said it was irrelevant who won the match next week. Doomsday is here and Kross will take his title back. Damian Priest appeared behind Kross, creepily as all hell before attacking him. This really just served as a reminder that the two were fighting at New Year’s Evil.
Priest and Kross had quite the brawl, knocking over part of the set in the process before Priest put both he and Kross through a table as Scarlett looked on like… she had just… well. Never mind. She really played up the sex appeal tonight, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Whether or not that is a good or bad thing is an entirely different discussion altogether.
Overall, this felt more like two segments. The latter of which interrupted the first and left it feeling inconclusive. They never cut back to Balor or KOR and focused on the Priest/Kross brawl.
That nitpick aside, I think this was a very effective segment.
Legado del Fantasma vs. Lucha House Party?!
The spotlight hasn’t been shown on this trio for a number of weeks now and it was great to see them back on TV. Escobar ripped the fans for voting against them for Tag Team of the year and he touted all of his faction’s successes. He said that they owned Lucha Libre.
All of a sudden, for some reason, Lucha House Party showed up. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. They said that nobody owns Lucha Libre, its for everybody. They stormed the ring and Drake Muertz followed suit. Muertz said that Regal made this a tag match.
Before I knew it, the match was underway with LHP dominating Legado into the first commercial break. While a fun match, and probably a better use of LHP than they have had on the main roster in recent memory, why was this a thing? Isn’t Survivor Series the only time per year that the rosters mingle? Who was asking for LHP on NXT? What was scheduled to take place during this timeslot in the first place?
Regal, what kind of shoddy ship are you running tonight? And why would you put Lucha Freaking House Party over Legado Fantasma?
At the end of the show, they announced Gran Metalik vs. Escobar for the Cruiserweight title at New Years Evil
NXT Future Star of the Year Award
Nominees: Austin Theory, Jake Atlas, Leon Ruff, Kacy Catanzaro, Kayden Karter, Indi Hartwell, Xia Li, A-Kid, Aoife Valkyrie, Pretty Deadly
Winner: Austin Theory
Out of everyone on this list, I don’t think anyone else would have made sense here.
NXT 2020 Overall Competitor Award: Io Shirai
Nominees: Adam Cole, Io Shirai
Winner: Io Shirai
Can’t argue with this. I think Adam Cole may even admit defeat if asked.
NXT North American Championship – Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff X
Johnny Gargano had crossed paths with a black cat, broken a mirror and walked under a ladder over the course of the night. Gargano has never successfully defended the NA title, even though he’s won it three times. Breaking the curse was a major theme surrounding this match. It even psyched Gargano out to the point of allowing Ruff to get quite a bit of offense in on him early on.
Even though the theme of the match was that the “curse” was working against Johnny, I never felt like he was in any real danger of losing the title. Leon Ruff, while charismatic as anyone, just isn’t somebody that I can buy as a two time North American Champion. Ruff showed a lot of heart, kicking out of a lot of offense and getting a rope break on the Gargano Escape. But, ultimately, this match just served to show that Gargano could finally defend the title.