Wrestling Review: NXT New Years Evil (2021)

The first NXT TV event of 2021 kicks off the year with a bang, as NXT presents New Years Evil. Headlined by a huge NXT Championship rematch from NXT TakeOver: 31, Finn Balor will once again defend his crown against Kyle O’Reilly of the Undisputed Era. Last time these two fought, O’Reilly broken several ribs and Finn Balor left with a broken jaw, so you can be sure these two will be looking to injure their opponents once again. Also on the show, the two powerhouses of the NXT Women’s division will meet in a very rare Last Woman Standing match, as Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez fight until one woman cannot answer the referee’s count of ten. Also on the show, Santos Escobar will defend the NXT Cruiserweight Championship against Gran Metalik in a first time clash of luchadors, while the long awaited return of Xia Li and Boa, following weeks of training, torture and being rebuilt from the ground up as something new, or something else. Plus, kicking off the show, two heavyweights will do battle as Damien Priest and Karrion Kross go face to face for the first time ever.

+ Finn Balor (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly (NXT Championship): first and foremost, no, this was not as good as their previous match. That said, this was still fantastic. I could have done without the call backs to their previous match, and instead made this something to stand on its own, but with these two as talented as they are, I can’t complain about any of the between-the-rope action. O’Reilly was one of the breakout starts of NXT in 2020, and it is clear that is going to continue in some form or fashion. Balor is of course great too, and there i no doubt that if and when he eventually goes back to Raw or Smackdown he’ll be given that top title to run with
+ Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez (Last Woman Standing): after these two’s awesome brawl at Halloween Havoc, there was no way I wasn’t going to love this match. And I did, because these two just beat the shit out of each other up to and including an ending which was by no means unique but pulled off perfectly
+ Damien Priest vs Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett): throughout the whole match Kross seemed nervous to land on his front or flat backed, and was landing on his knees or feet-first, respectively, each time. I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting to protect themselves, but it did just have the effect of making all of Priest’s big moves look clunky. Aside from that, both guys looked impressive and it’s a shame this first time affair happened with such little stakes

The Way (Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, Austin Theory & Indi Hartwell) did something, and it turned into another something, and that second something was kind of cool but frankly I’d have preferred more time be given to the main event and/or the Last Woman Standing match
Xia Li (w/ Boa) vs Katrina Cortez: this was a short match that was all story, and I am interested in where it’s going. But this match itself was not good
Santos Escobar (c) (w/ Joaquin Wilde & Rawul Mendoza) vs Gran Metalik (w/ Lince Dorado) (NXT Cruiserweight Championship): Gran Metalik is so, so good when given the chance to shine and of course Escobar is great. This was perfectly fine, as expected, but I felt the ending really fell flat and in a way ruined the preceding match

> This show was originally to feature a Tomasso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher “Fight Pit” match, and in some ways it’s good that did not take place, because without removing all three of the parts I’ve listed as negatives, that match would have been incredibly short. Save it for a TakeOver, please

Should you watch this event: The three big matches all delivered in a big way, with champions or contenders crowned in each case. Of the negatives, the only thing I personally would have not included was the Garganos segment, because this was almost a really tight, really well done 90 minutes or so of wrestling.

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