In the final NXT of 2020, we got some decent matches with a great main event as Johnny Gargano defended the North American Championship against Leon Ruff. Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly stood toe-to-toe in the ring, Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne put on a superb performance as they faced off, and we got some surprises along the way. First off was Isaiah “Swerve” Scott against Bronson Reed.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Bronson Reed
Reed was in full control early on. He clotheslined Swerve over the top rope, then charged at him from the apron to the ringside which sent him spinning. Back in the ring, Swerve got in some offence, being cocky in the process. He worked on Reed’s left leg. After booting it as Reed sat in the corner, he hit a flatliner, but only managed to get a two-count. Reed managed to drop his weight onto Swerve’s chest, and after a failed pin attempt, he began to charge at Swerve in the corner. He hit a huge chokeslam on Swerve, but only managed a two-count. Swerve hit a headbutt as Reed stood behind him, but it only angered him. He nailed a standing senton and followed it up with a big splash off the top rope to pick up the victory.
Winner: Bronson Reed Rating: 5.5/10
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Breezango
Breeze and Drake started things off. Breeze worked some submissions on Drake’s left arm, paying particular attention to his hand. Fandango tagged in and continued to wear him down. Gibson entered the match, but Fandango was still in control of the GYV. Drake tagged in and managed to gain some momentum, He powerslammed Breeze, then got in a headlock, but Fandango entered the ring to set the match on fire. Breezango showed off some great chemistry. After GYV were knocked outside, Fandango jumped off the scaffolding onto them.
After the break, Gibson held Fandango at ringside as Drake jumped over the rope to help drive Fandango’s knee into Gibson’s knee breaker. Gibson tried to get a few pinfalls, but Fandango kept kicking out. He slammed Fandango into the mat. Breeze managed to tag in which turned the tide of the match for a short time. Fandango jumped off the apron onto the GYV, but he ended up getting thrown into the steel steps by Gibson. Back in the ring, Gibson and Drake connected with the Ticket to Mayhem to pick up the win. After the match, Ever-Rise walked out and started to kick off. GYV set off to face them but Martell and Parker walked off as the cowards they are.
Winners: Grizzled Young Veterans Rating: 6.5/10
Mercedes Martinez vs Valentina Feroz
Martinez hit Feroz with a double chokeslam. She used her legs to choke Feroz on the rope, then landed a spinebuster. Feroz tried to roll her up, but Martinez hit an overhead suplex and an Air Raid Crash for the win.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez Rating: 3/10
Roderick Strong vs Pete Dunne
Strong and Dunne landed some strikes on each other until Strong tried to lock in a headlock. They ran the ropes and Strong hit a sit down clothesline. Dunne tried to control Strong with a headlock but ate a dropkick instead. Strong wrapped his legs around Strong’s head as he manipulated his fingers. Dunne threw Strong over the top rope, then booted him in the face. Back in the ring, Strong hit a backbreaker as Dunne rolled outside, then ran through the ropes to boot him as he stood outside.
After the break, Dunne launched Strong chest-first into the turnbuckle, then locked in a crossface. He dropped both his knees into Strong’s chest and after trapping him in the corner, Strong fought back with a picture-perfect dropkick. They got back to their feet and Strong landed a big knee into Dunne as he stood in the corner, followed by a succession of forearms running from rope to rope. He suplexed Dunne and went for the pin, but only got a two-count.
Dunne crawled outside, and as Strong followed, he got booted in the chest and rammed into the steel steps. Dunne tried to go for the Bitter End outside, but Strong reversed and hit a half-full Nelson slam onto the apron. Dunne hit an enzuigiri, but so did Strong. As Dunne tried to trap Strong with a triangle choke, he deadlifted him and hit a modified backbreaker on the Bruiserweight. Dunne stomped Strong in the chest and tried another triangle lock. He snapped Strong’s fingers then hit the Bitter End to pick up the win. A great match that saw Dunne reign victorious.
Winner: Pete Dunne Rating: 7.5/10
Doomsday Is Undisputed
Balor approached the ring. He said Kyle surprised a lot of people, but not him. He said O’Reilly deserved the award for Match of the Year, and as he continued to talk, O’Reilly interrupted. Balor said he didn’t need the trophy, he had the NXT Championship. He already had a reminder of the match with the steel plates in his jaw. O’Reilly said he gets that the award doesn’t mean much to Balor, but it means something to him. It’s proof he belongs at the top of NXT. O’Reilly said he doesn’t want the consolation prize or the participation prize. He’s been participating for 15 years, and he wants the gold.
He then said that this belt says the last 15 years have been worth a damn and that Kyle O’Reilly is worth a damn. Next week, the gold will be going home with him. Balor replied by saying very nice, but he would do everything in his power to make O’Reilly suffer. Balor said he was going to make him pay for breaking his jaw. This was a very heated confrontation, and both guys were delivering a superb promo. Scarlett and Karrion Kross then walked out. Scarlett said what is in that ring belongs to them, and it’s irrelevant what happens in seven days as their fate is already sealed. “Doomsday is here,” said Kross. “Tick Tock.”
Damian Priest then walked out and attacked Kross. Kross and Priest battled on the ramp. Kross rammed Priest into the scaffolding then charged at him as they both fell through the barricades. They continued to fight around the arena. Kross dropped Priest through a table in the tech area as Scarlett watched on and smiled. That was crazy. This was a perfect way to hype the two most exciting matches happening at New Years Evil, and we only have to wait another week.
Legado Del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) vs Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik)
Dorado and Metalik hit stereo dives to Mendoza and Wilde outside as the referee called for the match to start. After the break, Gran Metalik took out both guys. He tagged in Dorado and hit a hurricanrana on Wilde. Mendoza tagged in and got some momentum after Wilde held Dorado in place, which allowed him to hit a basement dropkick. Legado Del Fantasma double-teamed Dorado, but he managed to connect with a high crossbody and tagged in Metalik.
Metalik walked the ropes and landed a dropkick, but only managed a two-count. They got in some teamwork of their own, with Metalik hitting a flying dropkick and Dorado landing a big splash. Metalik hit a hurricanrana on Wilde off the apron to the outside of the ring and Dorado hit an inverted rana on Mendoza. Metalik then hit his signature elbow off the ropes for the victory. What a wonderful surprise and a superb match.
Winners: Lucha House Party Rating: 7.5/10
NXT North American Championship Match: Johnny Gargano (C) W/ The Way vs Leon Ruff
Ruff almost got a victory early on after connecting with a roll-up. Theory tried to distract Ruff, but it didn’t work as Ruff went for a crucifix pin. Ruff hit a big kick on Gargano as he rested in the corner, but Gargano took advantage after throwing Ruff outside. He chopped at Ruff’s chest, then slammed his head into the apron. Gargano threw Ruff into the barricades, and after trying to do it again, Ruff evaded him by jumping from the barricades to the steps, and back to the barricade. Ruff then hit a hurricanrana off the barricades. The Way surrounded Ruff, and as he was distracted Gargano hit a neckbreaker. He dived through the ropes into Ruff and slammed him into the steel steps.
After the break, Gargano wrenched at Ruff’s back with a backbreaker hold, but Ruff kept fighting back with a couple of flying armbars and a neckbreaker. Ruff then hit a German suplex and a corkscrew cannonball, but only managed a two-count. Gargano tried to fight back, but Ruff caught him. Gargano hit a superkick and slammed Ruff into the turnbuckle. Gargano hit another superkick as Ruff was on his knees then attempted a pin, only to get a two-count. Gargano landed a clothesline and a powerbomb, then locked in the Gargano Escape, but Ruff got a foot on the rope.
Outside the ring, Gargano tried to throw Ruff into the scaffolding, but he escaped and hit a flatliner off the apron. Inside the ring and Ruff landed a frog splash. He went for the pin, but Gargano kicked out at the last minute. Ruff was about to go for a hurricanrana off the top rope, but Gargano picked him up and dropped him headfirst into the top turnbuckle. He then landed One Final Beat to pick up the win. This was a fantastic match, with Ruff proving he can do it with the best. After the match, Dexter Lumis appeared and announced the final card for New Years Evil with his signature drawings which saw a new match added: Gran Metalik vs Santos Escobar for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Winner: Johnny Gargano (Still NXT North American Champion) Rating: 8/10
What Else Went Down
– William Regal announced that Shotzi Blackheart won Breakout Star of the Year.
– The Way were shown arriving at the arena. They saw a black cat backstage in the hallway and Gargano freaked out. He made sure no-one walked past it as it was a “thousand years bad luck.”
– It was announced the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament would be returning in two weeks time.
– After accepting the award for Tag Team of the Year, Adam Cole announced that he and Roderick Strong would be representing UE in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
– Xia Li and Boa were training in a vignette. As they knelt in front of their master, he marked their faces with black paint. The mysterious woman opened up some black curtains and they all walked into a bright white light. It was then revealed they would be appearing next week at New Year Evil. Finally.
– Io Shirai thanked fans for voting her the Female Competitor of the Year.
– Adam Cole accepted the award for Male Competitor of the Year and was very gracious. He said he couldn’t have done it without his UE boys, and that it would mean a lot more when O’Reilly beats Finn Balor next week.
– Finn Balor approached Regal after winning Match of the Year and said he didn’t need his award, but he would take O’Reilly’s and personally give it to him. As he headed to the ring, he bumped into Pete Dunne. Dunne said he wanted a shot at the gold, but Balor said a lot of people did so get in line.
– Tommaso Ciampa appeared in a video package talking about his match with Timothy Thatcher in the Fight Pit. It looks as though it is the same match that Thatcher fought Matt Riddle in. Oh, boy.
– We saw a promo about how Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez started off as friends when they arrived at the Performance Center. Ripley said how close they once were, and that they got matching R & R tattoos. She said they were there for each other until Gonzalez got an ego and left her side. It was an incredibly personal promo and did a lot to hype this match. I had no idea about their history. Ripley was superb here, and I can’t wait to see what transpires at New Years Evil.
– Legado Del Fantasma were in the ring. Escobar told his boys to look around and see where they are. He said they’ve had a great year. He said he’s not here to be popular, he’s here to dominate. Escobar said no-one can touch him, and that Regal can’t find anyone who belongs in the ring with him. As Escobar continued to run his mouth, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado came out. Dorado said it was nice being in a place where they didn’t have to chase champions. He continued and said Lucha Libre doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone. Lucha House Party ran into the ring, and the referee called for a match.
-Theory collected his award, and Candice LeRae asked him to share it with Indi Hartwell. Theory turned his attention to Gargano’s curse. Gargano said he couldn’t say the “C-word,” then threw Theory’s protein powder. Unfortunately, it smashed a mirror and again, Gargano freaked out.
After The Bell
NXT ended the year in style with some great matches, a few surprises, and the End of Year Awards. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong had a great match, and the showdown between Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly was incredible. Whoever wins at New Years Evil faces a tough few title defences as Dunne and Kross both want a shot at the gold.
Lucha House Party arriving to square off against Legado Del Fantasma was a wonderful surprise. Their match was a little short, but it was just as amazing as I had hoped. The fact we get to see Santos Escobar against Gran Metalik at New Years Evil was a nice addition to the card, too.
The video that aired of Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez was excellent. It was interesting to know about their relationship and it certainly adds to the hype for the match. Knowing Xia Li is coming back next week after weeks of vignettes is exciting, but I have no idea what she’s going to do. Could she interfere in Ripley and Gonzalez’s match?
Below, I’ve put together the full list of winners at the NXT End of Year Awards 2020 as well as the final card for New Year’s Evil. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has read my NXT reviews over the year. It has been an honour to write them for SteelChair. Hopefully, you continue to support the site into 2021. Happy New Year to all of you, and may this year be a much better one.
Stars of the Show: Lucha House Party Overall Rating: 8/10
NXT End of Year Awards 2020
Breakout Star of the Year: Shotzi Blackheart (Nominees were Pat McAfee, Damian Priest, Shotzi Blackheart, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, Timothy Thatcher, Raquel Gonzales, Santos Escobar, and Ilja Dragunov).
Rivalry of the Year: Adam Cole vs Pat McAfee (Nominees were Candice LeRae vs Io Shirai, Damian Priest vs Johnny Gargano, Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes, Shotzi Blackheart vs Robert Stone, Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez, WALTER vs Ilja Dragunov, Kay Lee Ray vs Piper Niven, and Adam Cole vs Pat McAfee).
Tag Team of the Year: Undisputed Era (Nominees were Undisputed Era, Breezango, Imperium, Gallus, Legado Del Fantasma, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch).
Female Competitor of the Year: Io Shirai (Nominees were Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Kay Lee Ray, and Tegan Nox).
Event of the Year: NXT TakeOver: WarGames (Nominees were UK TakeOver: Blackpool II, TakeOver: Portland, TakeOver: In Your House, Great American Bash, TakeOver XXX, TakeOver 31, Halloween Havoc, and TakeOver: WarGames).
Male Competitor of the Year: Adam Cole (Nominees were Finn Balor, Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Keith Lee, WALTER, and Tommaso Ciampa).
Match of the Year: Finn Balor vs Kyle O’Reilly from TakeOver 31 (Nominees were Fatal Four-Way Iron Man Match: Finn Balor vs Adam Cole vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano from Super Tuesday, Finn Balor vs Kyle O’Reilly from TakeOver 31, Walter vs Ilja Dragunov for the NXT UK Championship, Undisputed Era vs Team McAfee from NXT TakeOver: WarGames, and Io Shirai vs Charlotte Flair vs Rhea Ripley at TakeOver: In Your House).
Future Star of the Year: Austin Theory (Nominees were Austin Theory, Jake Atlas, Leon Ruff, Kacy Catanzaro, Kayden Carter, Indi Hartwell, Xia Li, A-Kid, Aoife Valkyrie, and Pretty Deadly).
Overall Competitor of the Year: Io Shirai (Nominees were Io Shirai and Adam Cole).
New Years Evil Final Card
- Karrion Kross vs Damian Priest
- Fight Pit Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
- Last Woman Standing Match: Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez
- NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Santos Escobar (C) vs Gran Metalik
- NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor (C) vs Kyle O’Reilly
All images and videos courtesy of WWE