1/5 NXT ON USA PRIMER: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT Championship, Priest vs. Kross, Ripley vs. Gonzalez, and more

BY AMIN AJANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NXT ON USA
JANUARY 5, 2021
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
REPORT BY AMIN AJANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

The black-and-gold brand is kicking off 2021 with a bang as NXT presents New Year’s Evil.  It’s a stacked show as Finn Balor will defend his NXT Championship against Kyle O’Reilly in a rematch from TakeOver: 31. Damian Priest will look for revenge when he takes on Karrion Kross. Plus, Raquel Gonzalez will take on Rhea Ripley in a Last Women Standing Match. It’s sure to be an action packed episode of NXT which takes place tonight from the Capital Wrestling Center in Orlando, Florida on the USA Network. Now let’s take a look at what’s currently advertised for the show.

  • Finn Balor defends the NXT Championship against Kyle O’Reilly
  • Damien Priest takes on Karrion Kross
  • Rhea Ripley faces Raquel Gonzalez in a Last Women Standing Match
  • Gran Metalik challenges Santos Escobar for the NXT Cruiserweight Title
  • Xia Li and Boa are set to return

ADVERTISED MATCHES & SEGMENTS 

Finn Balor defends the NXT Championship against Kyle O’Reilly 

The last time Kyle O’Reilly challenged Finn Balor for the NXT Championship he broke the champion’s jaw but didn’t come away with the NXT Title. Well, after defeating Pete Dunne in a number one’s contender’s match, O’Reilly will have a second chance when he challenges Finn Balor for the NXT Championship tonight in a rematch from the excellent encounter at TakeOver: 31. The question is will O’Reilly finally capture his first single’s gold in NXT or will Balor’s reign as champion continue on?

(Amin’s Analysis: This should be a tremendous wrestling match as both Balor and O’Reilly are terrific wrestlers. O’Reilly is just so great to watch. From his striking to applying various submissions, he always brings a different style to his matches. Balor has been terrific since returning to NXT and has shined as champion from cutting promos to working hard making all his opponents look great in the ring. As much as I would like to see O’Reilly win here, Balor seems like the right pick as they are teasing a big title match with Karrion Kross who also has a big match on this show.) 

Damian Priest takes on Karrion Kross 

After being away from action with a shoulder injury, the former NXT Champion Karrion Kross is back and made his presence immediately felt when he power bombed Damian Priest off the stage. Priest didn’t take kindly as he and Kross had an all-out brawl last week as both men went crashing through a table while Scarlett looked on. The question is, will Priest finally get his revenge and hand Kross his first loss since arriving to NXT?

https://twitter.com/WWENXT/status/1346653325245165573

(Amin’s Analysis: This should be a very good, hard hitting, and physical match as both Kross and Priest are great wrestlers. Priest has really shined since delivering his breakout performance against now NXT Champion Balor at TakeOver: In Your House. He fits his character perfectly and works really hard to put on a show for the fans in all his matches. Kross has been presented as a superstar since debuting in NXT and his pairing with Scarlett is fantastic. With this match kicking off the show, I expect Kross to pick up a big win here and then likely appear at the end of the show to challenge the winner of the NXT Championship Match.)

Rhea Ripley faces Raquel Gonzalez in a Last Women’s Standing Match

Raquel Gonzalez and Rhea Ripley will look to finally end their rivalry when they clash in a Last Women Standing Match. Gonzalez picked up a huge win for her team in the Women’s War Games match when she pinned NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. Gonzalez most recently cost Ripley a match against Toni Storm a couple weeks ago on NXT TV. The question is, who will be able to answer the referee’s 10 count when Gonzalez and Ripley collide.

https://twitter.com/WWENXT/status/1344471866283421696

https://twitter.com/StuBennett/status/1346611803556610053

(Amin’s Analysis: Rhea Ripley is a great wrestler and has star power but it seems like she has accomplished everything she needs to do in NXT as a former Women’s Champion. The timing feels right for Ripley to move onto Raw or SmackDown in the new year. The perfect way would be for her to make an appearance and have a strong showing in the Women’s Royal Rumble Match. Tonight’s match is perfect for Raquel Gonzalez to pick up another big win over a former NXT Women’s Champion and build her up as a strong challenge to potentially dethrone Io Shirai as champion. The match itself should be very good as both Gonzalez and Ripley are talented wrestlers.) 

Gran Metalik challenges Santos Escobar for the NXT Cruiserweight Title 

Gran Metalik made his presence felt when he and tag partner Lince Dorado confronted Legado del Fantasma last week on NXT. The team of Metalik & Dorado then picked up a win over Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza on last week’s show. Well this week, Metalik will look to pick up a bigger win when he challenges Santos Escobar for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. The question is will Metalik be the one to stop Escobar or will the champion’s dominant reign continue on?

https://twitter.com/EscobarWWE/status/1346297486353293312

(Amin’s Analysis: This is a great way to establish Metalik on NXT with a showcase match against Santos Escobar who has done a great job elevating the cruiserweight division and should leave this match as champion. The match itself should be very good as both are talented wrestlers and you can expect to see lots of quick action.) 

Xia Li and Boa set to return 

Xia Li and Boa were taken away by a mysterious man after Li came up short in several of her matches. Now after undergoing some grueling training, Li and Boa are set to return tonight on NXT. The question is will this grueling training help benefit Li and Boa in their return to NXT?

https://twitter.com/XiaWWE/status/1346294390583652352

https://twitter.com/WWENXT/status/1342274192935419908

(Amin’s Analysis: I will say the vignettes leading to Li and Boa’s return have been great. I’m interested to see how this goes because Li works hard and brings a completely different style to her matches. Hopefully this leads to her getting some big matches and wins on NXT. ) 

The Big Takeaway From Last Week’s Show

Johnny Gargano defeated Leon Ruff to retain the NXT North American Title. Adam Cole and NXT Women’s Champion were awarded NXT Male and Female competitors of the year which was the right choice as they were both successful in carrying their respective divisions as champions and with great matches.

Overall Thoughts

NXT New Year’s Evil should be a great show filled with potentially awesome wrestling matches from start to finish. This also feels like a show to pull in some big ratings to start the year which is smart and the right decision to make. The bigger question is can NXT continue the momentum if this show gets a large ratings boost?


CATCH-UP: 12/30 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff, Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah Scott, Mercedes Martinez returns, more

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