NXT 2.0 kicks off the new year with one of the biggest weekly events in its history: New Year’s Evil. In the main event, a rematch from Halloween Havoc will see Tommaso Ciampa defend his NXT Championship against his newest, and arguably most dangerous rival: Bronn Breakker. After that defeat to Ciampa, Breakker went on to lead Team 2.0 to victory at War Games, pinning the NXT Champion in the process. With champion and challenger at a record of 1-1, this tie breaker is the biggest match of Breakker’s career, and one of the biggest tests of Ciampa’s. The NXT Women’s Championship will also be defended when Mandy Rose faces not one but two competitors, the powerhouse Raquel Gonzalez and the sneaky rookie Cora Jade, in a triple threat match. Also, after losing their NXT Tag Team Championships to Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel of IMPERIUM, Nash Carter and Wes Lee went on a spiritual journey to rediscover themselves. Perhaps fittingly, they soon discovered the Shaman they claim helped train them to be who they are: none other than Riddle. Upon returning to NXT 2.0, MSK and Riddle were called out by none other than Barthel and Aichner’s Ring General himself, WALTER, and the two teams will come to blows in 6-Man Tag Team Action.
Meanwhile, following weeks of Grayson Waller calling out one of Monday Night Raw‘s top superstars, Waller will get his wish as The Phenomenal AJ Styles makes his way to NXT 2.0 to confront the brash upstart in Waller. The home field will hold no advantage for Waller, as he is despised by the NXT audience, while it is certain that Styles will get a phenomenal reception. And finally, in the opening contest, two championships become one as the man who calls himself “The A Champion” Carmelo Hayes and Roderick Strong of the Diamond Mine each put their NXT North American Championship and NXT Cruiserweight Championship, respectively, on the line in a Championship Unification Match.
+ Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs Bronn Breakker (NXT Championship): without any commercials, this really was a taste of what to expect from Bronn Breakker in his inevitable rocket push to the moon in WWE (and don’t be fooled, I’m all for it – Bronn is great). Ciampa has been a top favourite of mine for a very long time, and it is because of matches like this that that holds true today. Ciampa ended up bleeding from his left eye/forehead, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out when that happened. The ending to this was almost as shocking as anything you’ll see in wrestling, but dammit if that doesn’t make me love it more
+ Mandy Rose (c) vs Cora Jade vs Raquel Gonzalez (NXT Women’s Championship): this was better that I was expecting, except for one mid match story point that just made no sense at all. Cora is still very inexperienced, and it showed more often than not. I wouldn’t call Rose or Gonzalez particular great wrestlers, but both are now at the stage where they can do enough to pad the time between the more clearly rehearsed moments. There was nothing bad about this match, but it was hardly to the level of the matches Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch are having with women in their defences
+ MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) & Riddle vs IMPERIUM (WALTER, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner): this was good, but I admit I was expecting more. I knew deep down that we weren’t getting Riddle vs WALTER in the style of their PWG matches, but both men still felt neutered against those who are, in the story, still rookies on NXT. Wes Lee is the standout for MSK, but both of the IMPEROUM studs are just incredible. Aichner really could be a huge star on Raw or SmackDown if they wanted him to be
+ AJ Styles confronts Grayson Waller: short but effective. I said as much following War Games, but I really do think this Grayson Waller fellow has a huge upside; he talks well, he looks great and he is only going to get better in the ring, especially when it’s against people like AJ STyles. Surely I don’t need to put Styles over here
+ Roderick Strong (NXT Cruiserweight Champion) (w/ Malcolm Bivens & Hachiman) vs Carmelo Hayes (NXT North American Champion) (w/ Trick Williams) (Championship Unification Match): this was a really good match. Hayes is so strong for where he is in his career, and Roderick is so widely regarded as one of the best in-ring workers of the generation for a reason. There were a lot of people at ringside, and frankly I’m happy that this was allowed to be a straight up wrestling match, as both men really did their best. I don’t want Strong to go to any other company only to retread the same waters there, but it is a shame to not see him more prominently recognised as a champion coming into this match, though hopefully that will change on the way out
> I find Andre Chase hilarious, and I hope he stick around as a comedy LOSER forever. I wish him nothing but the best in his career
> for once, the match card and ordering of matches actually made a bit of sense. It’s common
WWE style to put a ‘cool down’ match between the bigger matches at the top end of the card, and I appreciate that they didn’t do that here
Should you watch this event: Although technically everything listed above was a positive, that’s not to say this was a must-watch show. My binary grading option shows its flaws on shows like this, because a score of only 51% would be a fail under any metric, but every match was better than it was bad. Seek out the opener and the main event, but don’t go out of your way for the rest.