Imported From A Little League Banquet (NXT Review)

NXT had plenty to look forward to this week from a match perspective. Pete Dunne was taking on Kyle O’Reilly with the winner facing Finn Balor for the NXT Championship at New Year’s Evil. Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley were set to do battle in a grudge match and we also had Karrion Kross making his return to the ring. There is also a tag match with KUSHIDA teaming with Leon Ruff to take on Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory. Plenty to see this week for NXT so let us see how the black and gold brand delivered with all that in mind. 

 

The Way (Gargano & Theory) vs KUSHIDA & Leon Ruff 

NXT wasted no time this week in getting to the action as KUSHIDA and Ruff were already in the ring waiting for their opponents. The Gargano group are going to be known as “The Way” from here on out and I am not sure how I feel about it. It does have a good ring to it but I will always think of the song by Fastball with the same title. It is a fun song from the 90s if you have never heard it before. The match itself was a lot of fun and I liked that Theory came out in matching gear with Johnny. Ruff was good too and he had some good chemistry with KUSHIDA in the match. There was one scary moment though when Ruff went for a dive to the outside and was barely able to save himself from really having a bad fall. It was still not pretty and the thud he made on the floor was something. Fun back and forth match and the Way would end up picking up the victory when Theory would hit Ruff with his finisher. It is a bit similar to the Bitter End by Pete Dunne so I wonder how long he will actually keep it. Speaking of finishers, that jumping cutter by Ruff should totally be his because it is so smooth looking and might be the best jumping cutter, I have seen someone use today.  

 

Dexter Lumis Looming 

Lumis was seen on a perch in the CWC drawing something on his tablet. They would show him again later drawing on it and would reveal he was drawing the logo for New Year’s Evil and it made me wonder if he was actually the one to design it. The man is talented and it would not surprise me if Triple H asked him to come up with something. Especially with the fact that he would go on to reveal he will be the host for that special show. I am interested in it and wonder what plans he has for that show. 

 

Toni Storm Promo 

Solid promo by Toni here as she spoke about her upcoming match with Rhea Ripley. She mentioned how Rhea got the better of her when they last met but that she has beaten her in the past. She is a different Toni this time around and she is ready to show Rhea what this version of Toni is all about. Solid work from Toni here and I am liking her more as a heel than a face.  

 

Legado del Fantasma Vignette 

This was a nice little vignette recapping what Legado has done so far in NXT and cliff notes as to who each member is. I think they have been kind of thrown on the backburner a bit in NXT and that is a shame because they can be quite the good trio. 

 

Shotzi Blackheart Backstage 

3.5* 

Shotzi is just so money that it is clear how much of a star she can become. She spoke about how she isn’t quite done with Candice LeRae yet and how she put her on the shelf in the WarGames match. She mocked the trophy Johnny got her for winning WarGames and is ready to put a hurting on Indi in their match tonight. Shotzi has all the tools to be a top star and she is certainly being given an opportunity. She has the look, the personality, the ring work, the gimmick, mic work and every other intangible needed to be a star.  

 

Tyler Rust vs Tommaso Ciampa 

 

I was fully expecting this to be a one-sided affair with Ciampa dominating but that is not what we got at all. Rust came to play here and this was a really solid match. Rust is going to be someone to watch in 2021 and that is always a good thing. One other thing I pointed out in the DD is how Ciampa will wear pants when he is a face and trunks when he is a heel. Little things like that are what can really make a great superstar. Back to the match and it was a really good one. Rust had some good spots and his chest was left a nice shade of red after the match. I guess that was Ciampa officially welcoming Rust to NXT by leaving him those marks. Ciampa left a chair for Timothy Thatcher to sit in prior to the match and he would come out. He would be kicked out though for possibly getting involved and the match would continue. This was a really good match and Rust more than held his own here. Ciampa would win the match and taunt Thatcher as he was being held back by referees by throwing his shirt at him. This feels like it may be leading to them teaming up and possibly during the Dusty Classic if they do it again next year.  

We also got another Malcolm Bivens sighting as he would appear during the commercial break and give Rust some words of motivation. Seems like Bivens is going to take Rust under his wing to elevate him to the next level and I am all for that. I know Botch will be happy too because he is such a huge fan of his and I can see why.  

 

Grizzled Young Veterans Promo 

3* 

Solid work from the Grizzled Young Veterans here as they believe they are the best team around right now. They made note of how many teams have emerged since their time away from NXT but they still feel like they are better than them. Good stuff here and I am enjoying seeing them back in NXT. Also, Gibson is someone that I feel can totally be a star and that is not to say Drake can’t be one but I see all the money in Gibson right now.  

 

Karrion Kross Vignette 

2.5* 

Simple vignette here for Kross as it is in the same style, we have grown accustomed to seeing from him. Some vultures and black and white aesthetic. They also played highlights from his time in NXT as well and we would get the same style vignette later in the night as well. Good job in hyping up his return to action tonight.  

 

Kyle O’Reilly vs Pete Dunne 

Match. Of. The. Year. Contender. Those five words are all I really have to say about this match. This match is so amazing that it really needs to be seen with your own eyes. I did love the chaos prior to the match with Killian Dain and Drake Maverick attacking Lorcan and Burch and how Cole and Strong got involved. We also saw the return of Breezango during this skirmish and the tag division in NXT is looking rather stacked. I will say that I love that Dunne and Kyle did not move and stay locked in looking at each other while the chaos happened outside the ring. Again, amazing match and one that was very back and forth along with hard hitting. There really is nothing I can say that will do it justice because this is one of the best NXT matches of the year. Kyle would end up winning and earns another crack at Finn Balor. Bravo gentlemen, bravo!  

 

Rhea Ripley Backstage 

Solid promo from Rhea here as she gave her thoughts on her upcoming match with Toni Storm. She said she isn’t the same person Toni faced the last time and that she is different. So, she echoed a bit what Toni said but also had some words for Raquel Gonzalez. She said she has known Raquel for longer than people think and that she knows who she truly is. They are clearly building up for something between them and I am all for either a cage match or last woman standing between them.  

 

Xia Li & Boa Training 

I continue to be intrigued by this training that Xia and Boa are enduring. I love the physical nature they are portraying with is and both do a good job in selling how intense it is on them not just physically but emotionally as well. Xia was seen beating down on Boa and neither wanted it to continue but reluctantly would continue. I have no idea where this is leading but I am digging it.  

 

Indi Hartwell vs Shotzi Blackheart 

This match was a bit strange but it did serve its purpose. Shotzi came out in her lovely new tank and I still feel like WWE will be missing out on a money-making opportunity if they do not make a version of her tank for kids to drive. The match itself was fine and dandy as it is more about furthering Shotzi’s feud with Candice than her beating Indi. Solid work from both women but Shotzi would win via DQ when Indi would hit her with the trophy that was gifted to Candice by Johnny. Indi and Candice would beat her down after the match and stand tall. I would be all for a street fight of sorts between Shotzi and Candice and if you have seen what Shotzi did in her match with Brandi Lauren at the EVOLVE Anniversary show, you know she would have something special planned.  

 

Bronson Reed Vignette 

Bronson is making his return to NXT and I am excited for that. He really came alive this year and showed he can be someone to watch in NXT. He has immense talent and was really having a bit of a breakthrough year. I think next year could be a really special one for him in they continue to invest in him.  

 

Karrion Kross vs Desmond Troy 

This was a squash match and there was no doubt who would win here. Troy did not get any offense off and Kross was as dominant as ever. He made short work of him and the notable thing is what happened after. Kross would challenge Damian Priest to a match at New Year’s Evil and we would find out later that the match will indeed be happening. That match will be interesting and I know some fans are speculating that will be the final match for Priest in NXT and he will be called up to either Raw or Smackdown after. Kross did look good in the match and he continues to look like a monster.  

 

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott Backstage 

It seems like we are getting closer to seeing Swerve as a heel based on what I saw here. He got Regal to give him a rematch with Jake Atlas for next week and he sounded very much like a heel here. He spoke about how he has been doing this longer than Atlas and you can see he is a bit annoyed at him. Swerve can totally work as a heel and this could be what he needs in NXT. 

 

Ever-Rise Backstage 

The backstage segment was not done though as Swerve would leave but Ever-Rise would enter. These two are such huge dorks and I just cannot explain it but I am becoming a fan of theirs. I think it is because they are so dedicated in their role that I cannot help but appreciate it and enjoy it. I love how McKenzie said they were trying to get a rematch with Grizzled Young Veterans but they want no part in it. They just want to remain undefeated and will do whatever they can to stay that way. I am all for Ever-Rise and I never thought I would be saying that. 

 

Finn Balor Promo 

Finn cut a promo on Kyle O’Reilly and how he will be facing him at New Year’s Evil. He spoke about how Kyle proved himself in their match from TakeOver 31 but that he still came out a loser. Finn has no plans on losing to Kyle at New Year’s Evil and he plans to keep Kyle as a loser. Nice promo from Finn here and he is really painting Kyle as a threat but one he can conquer.  

 

Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm 

This is probably the best match these two have had in NXT/NXT UK to date, I wasn’t a total fan of their encounter from Worlds Collide and I think this was far better. You can see how much they have grown and it showed in their chemistry. Solid back and forth in this match and both women looked to have chances at having the match won. Raquel Gonzalez would end up coming out to try and distract Rhea but Rhea would seemingly take care of her by sending her over the railing. That would not be the case though as Raquel would attack her and lawn dart her into the post while the referee was distracted. Toni would take advantage and pick up the win in the main event. Raquel and Rhea is building nicely and they will definitely have another encounter in some sort of stipulation match. 

 

And That Is Undisputed 

Overall, this was a darn good episode of NXT with no real lackluster moments. Dunne/O’Reilly is the 100% reason to watch this episode because it is a total match of the year contender for NXT. Both men simply tore the CWC down and left it all in the ring. The main event was good too and so was the opening tag match. The Rust/Ciampa match is a nice gem as well and I think Rust will be someone to watch in 2021. The promo work was good as well and this was just a really good episode from NXT. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all around the WRC.