We have arrived at the final NXT of 2020. I know some will say NXT hasn’t had the best year, those some base it on ratings, but I will say NXT has had a solid year. There are some good things to look forward to tonight with Ruff/Gargano for the North American Championship and Dunne/Strong in a match as well. There are other things to look forward to as well and it will be interesting to see how NXT closes out the year. It’s Wednesday. You know what that means. Let us see what the black and gold brand had for us this week.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Bronson Reed
This was quite the fun opening contest to start NXT this week. Swerve is embracing that heel persona and it is adding more to his character. You can see the swagger come off him during his entrance and his ring work. Bronson is someone with huge upside, Swerve also falls in that category, and this was a nice match from him. You can tell they must think the world of Bronson as well because Wade really put him over on commentary. Fun back and forth in this match and I loved that Swerve went for that sneaky headbutt again but it did not work on Bronson. Bronson would hit him with the Tsunami splash and pick up a nice win. Fun opening contest and I cannot wait to see what they have planned for Bronson in 2021.
NXT Breakout Star of the Year
I am actually not going to grade any of the award segments because they would be too hard to grade really. Shotzi Blackheart totally deserved to win this one because she has been the breakout star for NXT. She was getting over prior to COVID shutting everything down and she has been a star since. I liked the victory speech she gave from her backyard and her star will continue to grow in 2021.
Leon Ruff & Johnny Gargano Arrive To CWC
This was hilarious and that is just due to Johnny being fantastic as a heel. Ruff arrived with Jake Atlas and it wasn’t much of anything. It wasn’t until Johnny arrived that I felt the need to include this. The Way arrived to the CWC and Johnny was confident as ever until he spotted a black cat. He wanted that cat gone ASAP because he did not want any bad luck that it may cause. Johnny was great here and continues to thrive as a heel.
Breezango vs Grizzled Young Veterans
I did not know what to expect from this tag match but it was actually rather fun. Breezango are totally underrated with ring work and Grizzled Young Veterans are among some of the best tag teams right now. I know that is high praise but they really are that good. There was some fun back and forth in this match but GYV would gain control when Fandango would hit them with a dive from the scaffolding and injure his knee in the landing. They took advantage of that and Breeze would try to fight back towards the end of the match but GYV was too much and they picked up the win. Solid work from both teams in the match and then we got an appearance from Ever-Rise. They came out with a referee and it seemed like they wanted a match with GYV. The referee had enough since she didn’t know what they wanted and would leave. GYV looked to be ready for a fight but Ever-Rise would book it to the back. I really am digging the dorky and goofiness from Ever-Rise and would not mind seeing them in the Dusty Classic which was announced that it will be returning in 2021.
NXT Tag Team of the Year
Regal came back out to announce who would win tag team of the year. I honestly had no idea who would win but it would be the Undisputed Era. They are the faces of NXT right now, so it does make sense that they would win it. Adam Cole would talk about how good the win is and that they would be entering the Dusty Classic. There was a twist to this though because Cole would say that he and Strong would be the ones participating and that really makes me wonder if Kyle is really going to beat Finn at New Year’s Evil.
Xia Li & Boa Training
We got another video of Xia and Boa training and it would appear that they have successfully completed their rigorous training that their sensei put them under. They were kneeling in front of her and she would mark each of them. The curtains would then open and a bright light would appear. Xia and Boa would leave with their sensei and they will be returning to NXT next week. Boy, is the episode next week becoming even more stacked by the minute.
Mercedes Martinez vs Valentina Feroz
This was your standard squash match and Martinez looked very strong here. This was my first time seeing Feroz and she didn’t look bad in there. She really sold the heck out of all the offense from Martinez. Martinez would end up winning in rather short fashion and it is clear they may be marking her as the next challenger for Io Shirai.
NXT Female Competitor of the Year
No surprise from me to see Io win this won. Io was the clear standout star of the women’s division and took the title from Charlotte Flair in that fun triple threat match from In You House. She was quick with her victory speech and thanked everybody. My oh my does Io have a beautiful smile.
NXT Male Competitor of the Year
It was the men’s turn and Adam Cole ended up winning this one. I actually wasn’t sure who would win this one but Cole is one of the faces of NXT right now so it makes sense that he would win. He would remind people that he said last year that he would win it again this year and he did just that. He then thanked his Undisputed Era brethren and would say that Kyle will bring the NXT Championship back to the UE.
Roderick Strong vs Pete Dunne
I was thinking this match was just “fine” at first but man did they really pick up the pace as the match progressed. This wasn’t on the level of the matches Dunne had with Kyle O’Reilly but this was still a darn good one. There was some nice stiffness from both men and Dunne did his thing of great joint manipulation. Strong would bust out some backbreakers too and this match really would get better the longer it went on. Really good back and forth and I was wondering if Strong would actually pin Dunne here. That would not be the case though as Dunne would hit Strong with the Bitter End for the win. I will say I like that commentary mentioned how Strong has not been wrestling in one-on-one matches for much of the second half of the year and the history between the two when Strong would turn on Dunne and join the Undisputed Era. Fun match between these two here.
NXT Match of the Year
Finn Balor versus Kyle O’Reilly from TakeOver 31 would win match of the year and I loved how Finn had no desire in accepting the trophy. He said he would go out to the ring to give it to Kyle himself and I loved how that irked Regal. Regal is great at many things and facial expressions are certainly one of them. Balor would end up bumping into Pete Dunne before making his way out and Dunne wants a piece of Finn. Finn told him to get in line because there are many challengers and I loved that.
Fight Pit Preview
This was a great hype package for the Fight Pit match between Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa. They had highlights from their previous encounter as well as Thatcher’s previous Fight Pit with Matt Riddle. Both men provided commentary on the Fight Pit and I am really looking forward to it.
Finn Balor In-Ring
It is always rare for me to grade an in-ring segment in NXT this high because the ring work is usually what generates the high grade but this was all around great. Finn came out to give the award to Kyle and Kyle wasted no time in getting out there. Finn told him to pick up the award and Kyle would do so. I loved that as Kyle picked it up that Finn told him he didn’t need that because he had the NXT title and that was just something that would collect dust. This is when Kyle would really come alive and cut a darn good fiery promo. He said he was proud of that trophy but that it was a participation award because he wants the NXT Championship. Both men really brought the intensity and had such a great back and forth during this in-ring segment. It seemed like this would end in a stare down but someone had other things in mind.
Scarlett and Karrion Kross would appear at the top of the entrance ramp and Scarlett would say that they do not care who comes out victorious next week because Kross is coming for the title. They want what they believe is rightfully theirs since Kross never lost the title. Kross would tell them that doomsday is coming and we would get a great shot of Damian Priest appearing right behind Kross. I loved how Kross slowly turned and then the two would have a brawl. They would fight all over the entrance ramp area and would eventually go through a table. Scarlett laughed as she saw the wreckage and I am wondering if their match will be a bit more competitive than we think it will.
Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez Hype Package
I was going to grade this lower but the more I thought on it, the more I realized how good this was. We got a rare peak into Rhea from her early days in NXT before her transformation and it was nice to see. She spoke about how she became friends with Raquel and how they grew their bond. She thought of her as her sister and the two even got matching tattoos. She then would say how Raquel would change because she was jealous of her success. This was just great because it then moved on to their current status as enemies and showed highlights of their encounters. The two spoke on their feud and this did a darn good job in building what has been one of the best feuds in NXT for 2020. Really great hype package here and NXT really nails it with these time and time again.
Legado del Fantasma In-Ring
Legado was in the ring and I liked that Santos wanted them to take a minute before he spoke about what they have done this year. He spoke about how they are bringing the prestige back to lucha libre and that he is champion. He also mentioned how William Regal is having a hard time finding challengers for him because he keeps defeating them all. He continued to talk about their bright future and what 2021 will hold for them when they would be interrupted by Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. I loved this interruption and was salivating at the thought of either Metalik or Dorado facing Escobar in a more lucha style match in NXT. Lince would make it known they want a shot at him and I liked that Mendoza would get on the mic to say how those two are part of the reason they had to come together to bring lucha libre back from the depths. A skirmish would ensue and a Teddy Long special would as well.
Metalik & Dorado vs Legado del Fantasma
This was a fun match and a nice reminder of how good Metalik and Dorado are in the ring. They are criminally underused and I would not mind a prolonged program with Legado in NXT. This was at a nice pace and that is expected considering the four men involved. Really fun back and forth and Dorado and Metalik really looked at home in the NXT ring. Metalik would end up picking up the win for his team and he clearly wants a shot as Escobar for the Cruiserweight Championship. It would be revealed lated by Dexter Lumis via artwork that Metalik will indeed be taking on Santos next week for the Cruiserweight title at New Year’s Evil. That card is insanely stacked and it basically a free TakeOver to start the year for NXT.
NXT Future Star of the Year
Austin Theory would win this award and all of the Way were with him to accept it. I loved that Indi was heartbroken over losing and that Candice would tell Austin to share and he did. He spoke about winning the award and would tell Johnny that he will finally break his curse tonight. Johnny did not like that and would throw Theory’s protein powder. Unfortunately, it would hit a mirror and break it. Johnny was beside himself and clearly did not want the bad luck that is said to happen when you break a mirror. He would walk off and Theory was going to say something more but Candice told his to stay quiet. Fun segment featuring the Way here.
NXT Competitor of the Year
William Regal would present the final award of the night and it would go to Io Shirai. She beat out Adam Cole for the award and she thanks everybody once again. I think the right person won this here and I like that Io kept her victory speeches short and to the point.
Johnny Gargano vs Leon Ruff (NXT North American Championship)
I was worried about how much time this match was going to get when I looked at the time but was happy when I noticed on the guide that they were being given extra time. This match was playing out a lot like their previous encounters except that Ruff look like a more credible threat here. Johnny wasn’t just simply running through him and Ruff was really putting up a fight here against the champion. This was actually a really fun match and Ruff really showed something here. The man clearly has talent and is only going to get better. Johnny is one of the best in the world right now so it is easy to see how good he was in this match. Really fun back and forth in the match and Ruff would hit Johnny with a cutter on the outside at one point that looked awesome. I still say that move should be his finisher but it probably won’t because of the fact that Randy Orton is still working. Fun match and Ruff looked like he had it at multiple moments but Johnny would kick out. Johnny would end up winning the match and the Way would celebrate his win.
After the match, Dexter Lumis was on a perch in the CWC and would unveil his artwork for the matches for New Year’s Evil. This is where he confirmed the Cruiserweight title match and all the other matches. Really fun artwork by Lumis and the card is so extremely stacked. I also love the animated devil running across the artwork as NXT would come to a close in 2020.
And That Is Undisputed
Overall, this was a fun final episode of 2020 for NXT. This had a good mix of fun matches and great promo work. The in-ring segment with O’Reilly and Balor was stellar and so was the hype package for the Rhea/Raquel match next week. The Dunne/Strong match was fun and so was the main event. The award segments were nice too and it was nice to see Metalik and Lince make their way to NXT to get at Legado del Fantasma. All in all, good ending to 2020 by NXT and next week should be a ton of fun with the stacked card for New Year’s Evil. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all in 2021. Have a great new year everybody in the WRC!