Powell’s NXT Hit List: Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff for the NXT North American Championship, Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong, Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah Scott, Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. Grizzled Young Veterans

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

NXT Hits

Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly: A strong verbal exchange heading into their NXT Championship rematch. O’Reilly showed good intensity while talking about what winning the championship would mean to him, and Balor was good in his rebuttal in threatening to make O’Reilly suffer for breaking his jaw. The interruption by Karrion Kross and Scarlett was a great reminder of the key role that Kross plays in the NXT Title picture, and his brawl with Damian Priest effectively set the stage for their match next week.

Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez: This was an excellent video package. Ripley telling the story of their friendship complete with photos from their early days at the WWE Performance Center and matching RNR tattoos added a new layer to their feud. It felt like a showdown match between the two powerhouses of the brand, but this video package upped the ante by making it feel personal. But why did NXT wait until now to tell this part of the story?

Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff for the NXT North American Championship: The curse is broken! I got a big kick out of the pre-match bit that played into the curse. Gargano’s current character fearing the curse was so much fun that part of me hoped it would continue. But there was no reason to turn back to Ruff as the champion. Ruff’s surprise title reign was fun and he’s a good underdog, but it was a feel good story that’s best kept short and sweet.

Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong: The match looked good on paper and did not disappoint. Dunne needed a win coming off his loss to Kyle O’Reilly and got it. Dunne’s brief exchange with Balor a short time later seems to suggest that we’ll be getting match between them in the near future.

Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah Scott: I was legitimately surprised to see Scott lose this match clean given that he’s in the midst of a feud with Jake Atlas. It felt like the creative forces could have booked Reed to beat someone else in his return match. That said, NXT booking is typically strong enough that I assume there’s a reason why they had Scott in this role. Either way, it was an entertaining match and it was good to see the big man back in the ring.

Legado Del Fantasma and Lucha House Party: Sure, it was a super rushed angle to set up the NXT Cruiserweight Championship match for next week. But Escobar facing Metalik in an NXT ring has the potential to be a gem of a match.

Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” James Drake and Zack Gibson: A soft Hit for a solid win for Drake and Gibson. I’m starting to get a kick out of the obnoxious antics of the Ever-Rise duo. More than anything, it was good to hear the announcement of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic returning in two weeks. NXT has plenty of heel tag teams and they really need to spotlight a strong babyface team. It seems like the perfect way to introduce “The Rascalz” Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Valentina Feroz: A good spotlight win for Martinez.

NXT Misses

None: This felt like a go-home show for a big Takeover event. In fact, the New Year’s Evil card looks like a strong Takeover card. Wednesday night should be a lot of fun.



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