By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT New Year’s Evil Hits
Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT Championship: Another killer match from Balor and O’Reilly. I have no doubt that these two could work a best of seven series and make every match feel different. My favorite spot in the match was when O’Reilly bit the top rope to break the hold and then Balor kicked the back of his head. The added touch of having the trainer check on O’Reilly after he took that kick was perfect. A jaw for a jaw? On a show filled with strong matches, NXT saved the best for last. O’Reilly did an awesome job after the match of selling the jaw injury while also acting dejected after losing the match.
Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzalez in a Last Woman Standing match: Weapons, handcuffs, and broken glass. The matches on this show each offered a little something different. This was the big brawl and it was a hell of a brawl. The handcuff spot was pushing it, but this match never got cheesy and cliche like most WWE hardcore matches do. This felt like a fight from start to finish. The stage spot was a creative finish that brought back memories of Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow in ECW, and Dakota Kai being stuffed into the locker was tremendous.
Santos Escobar vs. Gran Metalik for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: A very good match that left me wishing that the Lucha House Party duo could make a full-time return to NXT. In fact, the only thing that really worked against this match is that Metalik has been booked to be such a scrub on Raw and Smackdown that it was hard to view him as a threat to win the title.
Karrion Kross vs. Damian Priest: The show got off to a good start with a longer match minus any commercial interruptions. Kross had to win this match, but it was very competitive with Priest looking good in defeat. In fact, I felt like Priest delivered the better performance of the two. I remain very high on Kross, but he’s had better outings. Will Kross challenge for the NXT Championship at the Valentine’s Day Takeover or are they going to stretch it out until WrestleMania weekend?
Xia Li vs. Katrina Cortez: A nice showcase win for Li in the debut of her new gimmick. The production work on the entrance and the lighting for the mystery boss character was great. The vignettes that set up the new group were unconventional, yet kept me intrigued each week, and I remain interested in where this is going.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae vs. Kushida and Shotzi Blackheart: The Way’s arrival and the celebration over the end of the curse was fun. The impromptu mixed tag match was encouraging in that it suggests that we will be getting a Gargano vs. Kushida feud over the NXT North American Title after all.
NXT New Year’s Evil Misses
None: Wednesday was a top notch night for pro wrestling television. MLW, AEW, and NXT all produced themed editions, and each show delivered in a big way. It’s just a shame that the viewership counts will likely to be down due to the situation in D.C. If you missed any of these shows, I definitely recommend finding a replay.