By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne for an NXT Title shot: An excellent match. This was the best match on Wednesday night and should compete for best of the week even with ROH Final Battle and WWE TLC this weekend. O’Reilly going over to get the rematch with Finn Balor on January 6 was logical given that Balor hasn’t had a match since O’Reilly broke his jaw.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tyler Rust: Another hot match and the second best match of the night. In this case, Ciampa helped put Rust on the map in NXT. Rust clearly gained something in defeat and the broadcast team did a good job of putting over his performance. For that matter, so did Ciampa simply by looking back at him and acknowledging that Rust pushed him to the limit. The post match angle with Thatcher seething after Ciampa wiped his brow on one of his t-shirts was simple and effective.
Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm: A well worked match with a cheap finish that gave Storm a win while also working toward a Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzalez rematch. I can’t tell if they are setting up an alliance between Storm and Gonzalez while Dakota Kai is sidelined or if they just have a mutual enemy. Here’s hoping that 2021 is a bounce back year for Ripley. She was on fire heading into WrestleMania, and she’s had a rough go of it since then, thanks mostly to the booking.
Kushida and Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory: A good opening match. Fortunately, Ruff appeared to avoid a serious injury on that botched flip from the ropes to the floor. I was surprised that the finish spotlighted Theory, as I assumed this match would be more about setting up Kushida for an NXT North American Title match. If Kushida isn’t going to challenge Gargano, then I guess it’s back to him racking up more meaningless wins that never lead to anything.
Overall show: NXT is usually a solid to good show, but the last two episodes have been especially good. NXT won this Wednesday night battle from a show quality standpoint.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Indi Hartwell: A rough match. Perhaps it was just a rough outing, but Hartwell looks like she’s being asked to do more in the ring than she’s ready to at this stage in her career. And she broke the trophy. No!