SAM here and I am back with the first NXT review of 2021. This card is stacked and that is with the sad removal of the Fit Pit due to Timothy Thatcher suffering a minor injury. The bright side is that they plan on having the match at a later date so I hope it is sooner than later. Plenty of good stuff to look forward to with New Year’s Evil so let us jump right in and see how NXT starts off 2021.
Dexter Lumis Powers Up CWC
This was a fun way to start NXT. Lumis came out and played a bit with the lights and would then flip the power on for the whole CWC. He ended up having quite the snazzy jacket on as well and I love how he continues to convey everything without saying a word.
Karrion Kross vs Damian Priest
I was hoping that this would not be a squash match and my wish would be granted. I will also add that I think that both men may have the best entrances in NXT as well. This was actually a really physical match and both men brought it with the strikes. We have only seen Kross squash people so it was nice to see him face some adversity in this match. Priest definitely showed that he did not fear Kross in this match and it made for a really good story. Much has been made about Kross and how his matches have been the same but this was the total opposite of every match he has had in NXT. This was his best outing and really showed how he may be better than what fans have been giving him credit for. Really fun and physical match and Kross would end up winning this fun opener.
Adam Cole & Roderick Strong Backstage
Solid work from both here as they spoke about how they will win the Dusty Rhodes Classic this year. They both mentioned how they will be facing Breezango in the first round and that they are not taking them lightly. Good work and Cole would continue his support for Kyle O’Reilly and say that he will be bringing gold back to the Undisputed Era. I really am intrigued to see how Strong and Cole work as a tag team.
Gran Metalik vs Santos Escobar (NXT Cruiserweight Championship)
Vic Joseph mentioned that this would be the first time that Metalik and Escobar would be facing off and that is not entirely true. They had a short match in Mexico but they were both faces so they were not ever matched up outside of that short match. I will also say that I loved Lince Dorado’s Megazord inspired gear and it made my inner child smile. I was hoping they would give this match some time and it did have get that time that it deserved. This is probably Metalik’s best match in a long time and that is a bit of a sad thing to type. The man is really talented and he got to show it here in this match. Santos is great as well and both men got to show us what two luchadors are able to do in the ring. Really fun pace in this match and both men showed the NXT crowd how lucha libre is done. I was rooting for Metalik but Escobar would end up winning and retaining the title. I kind of hope that Lince gets a crack at Santos now because that could be just as good of a match.
Mercedes Martinez Promo
This promo was short and to the point from Mercedes here. She is back in NXT and she wants a piece of Io Shirai and the NXT Women’s Championship. She is just waiting on Io to recover from the beating she gave her so they can have their match. I must say that I am excited for this program and I think they have the potential to have a great match whenever it happens.
Xia Li vs Katrina Cortez
I usually grade squashes a bit lower than this but the entrance made by Xia for this match easily bumped it up. They are all-in on this new gimmick for her and Boa and it was amazing. He sensei, whoever she is, was sitting atop the entrance ramp and it really added to this. It honestly felt a bit like Mortal Kombat and I mean that in the best of ways. This match was one-sided and Xia made it look easy. I loved how she absorbed the offense of Cortez and the strikes she gave looked vicious. That final kick she gave looked great and I see good things coming for Xia and Boa in 2021.
Bronson Reed Interview
Bronson was at ringside for the next match and he gave a short interview about it and himself. He said he has big plans for 2021 and that he plans on making moves. I certainly hope that is true because there is huge upside with Bronson. He would then say that he is picking Rhea to win the match against Raquel. Nice to see Bronson on the mic here and he just feels so natural on it.
Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez (Last Woman Standing)
I have been wanting this match stipulation and these two did not disappoint at all. This match was fantastic and is a super early contender for match of the year. Yes, the year is only six days old but this was awesome. Both women brought it and did not let up at all. Rhea and Raquel brought the physicality needed for a Last Woman Standing match and the innovation as well. I loved how Raquel just ripped herself from the chain-link when Rhea had her handcuffed to it and the spot in which Rhea drove Raquel through a door and broke some glass. Rhea looked to be on the cusp of a win when she nailed Raquel with a Swanton Bomb through a table when Dakota Kai would come in to help her friend. Kai would pay for that though when she would get beaten up by Rhea and stuffed into a locker. Raquel would end up winning when she did her one-armed powerbomb through a part of the stage and would beat the ten count. Amazing match by both women here and this really cements Raquel as someone to watch in 2021. I also dug how they showed Rhea recovering through the commercial break in the picture-in-picture.
The Way Arrives & Celebrates
I just loved that the Way was arriving with a cavalcade because it just totally fits their character. They came in to the CWC and Johnny was out to celebrate how he finally broke his curse of defending titles in NXT. I loved how he bragged about it and how proud he was that he was able to break the curse. I also loved how he interacted with a fan and told him that he will get a girlfriend too someday. Candice would present him with a plaque to commemorate the achievement but that was not all he would get. Indi and Austin would present him with a gift and it was a poster of the Way drawn as superheroes. I will admit that it looked cool and I wouldn’t mind owning one for myself. Shotzi Blackheart would then come out to interrupt and Austin would take issue with that. He would pay for that though as Shotzi would fire a missile from her tank down low on Austin and disable him for the time being. She would rush the ring and get into a scuffle with Indi and Candice. KUSHIDA would come down and get into it with Johnny and then Dexter Lumis would appear. He would present a drawing and make an impromptu mixed tag match.
Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae vs KUSHIDA & Shotzi Blackheart
This match was actually a ton of fun and I think it got the amount of time it did because of the Fight Pit being taken off the card. I also loved that Lumis stayed on for commentary and Vic tried to engage him to say something and Wade had to remind him he doesn’t speak. I was dying seeing Lumis on commentary and it was done perfectly. The match itself was a ton of fun and it was nice to see Candice back in the ring. KUSHIDA was great in there with Johnny as well and it seems like they may be building towards a match between the two and I am all for it. I know some have wondered what NXT is doing with KUSHIDA and this could be what they have planned for him. Just imagine a match between KUSHIDA and Gargano and tell me that does not sound like a classic in the making. This was total fun and Shotzi would hit quite the dive onto Candice on the outside. Shotzi really goes all-out on her dives and that was another one. KUSHIDA would end up picking up the win for his team and could be the next in line for the NXT North American Championship.
William Regal Announcement
You are darn right I am rating this short segment this high. Regal spoke a bit about what is to come with the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and then moved on to the bigger news. Regal would announce that this year there will be a Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and I am so excited for it. I know Queen is too and she may be making some guest spots to review those matches. The NXT roster is stocked full of women and this is a great way to showcase them.
In fact, it reminds me of how there was another women’s tag team tournament last year. The thing about that one is though you may have missed it since it was on YouTube and not on tv like it should have been to showcase the women. Yes, that is a shot at AEW and they deserve it for how they have treated the division. NXT knows how to do the women right and this will be such a great showcase for the female talent that will be seen on tv and not relegated to YouTube. People have wondered if WWE was going to do another Mae Young Classic but this is just as good if not better because more eyes will be on them since they will be on tv and not the WWE Network.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Finn Balor (NXT Championship)
This match had plenty to live up to and it was quite the fun main event. It was also given the treatment of no commercials and that just added to it. Kyle has been on quite the streak of delivering great match after great match and he continued that here. He has great chemistry with just about everyone and he got a lot out of Finn once again. I will also be fair too in saying that Finn was great here and it wasn’t just based on who he had as his opponent because we all know Finn is great in the ring too. There was a nice level of physicality in this match too and it was a bit of a theme this week for NXT. Finn worked over Kyle’s jaw after seemingly injuring it and Kyle would work over Finn’s left arm. Both men did a great job in selling both and this was a great main event. It was a great story too as Finn was trying to further show to Kyle that he is great but not on his level and Kyle trying to continue to prove that he is more than ready for the spotlight. That really did add to the finish as Finn, who was busted open by this point, had Kyle in a submission and Kyle was forced to tap due to the pressure being put on his injured jaw. Finn stood tall and the rest of the Undisputed Era came out to check on their cohort. I didn’t like the outcome because I really wanted Kyle to win but Finn did need this to further cement his status as top guy. I feel like we may see Kyle get another crack at the title and the outcome may be different.
And That Is Undisputed
Overall, this was such a fun way for NXT to start 2021. Every match had something to offer and we had one legit possible early contender for match of the year with Rhea/Raquel. The main event was a ton of fun too and we got that great announcement for a women’s Dusty Classic. The Priest/Kross match was actually great and so was the Cruiserweight title match. Xia Li looks like a killer now and the impromptu tag match was fun too. Looks like we may be getting KUSHIDA/Gargano and I am all for that. All in all, great episode of NXT to kickoff 2021. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and make sure you join me next week for another NXT review.