New Year’s Evil is finally here. There were some dream matches on paper, as Damian Priest and Karrion Kross squared off, Santos Escobar and Gran Metalik went at it, and Xia Li returned at long last. There was also a surprise appearance from the Gargano’s, a colossal Last Woman Standing match, and a main-event that had all the makings of a classic. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Damian Priest vs Karrion Kross W/ Scarlett

Both men locked up in the ring, with neither man letting go. They started trading, with Priest connecting a big kick to the side of the head. Kross ended up getting an advantage with some well-placed strikes, then clotheslined Priest to the outside. He shoved Priest into the steel steps and went to hit him with them, but Priest stopped him. Back in the ring, Kross punched Priest in the stomach and the face, but Priest started to smile. Priest fought back and landed some more blows to Kross, then hit a flatliner.

Priest hit a flying elbow into the corner and a clothesline to knock Kross down, following it up with a broken arrow. Priest continued to beat down Kross with some impressive kicks, then locked in a submission on his arm. Kross managed to break out. They traded kicks until Priest hit a springboard elbow, but Kross knocked the wind out of Priest with an impressive lariat. Kross put Priest into the tree of woe as he rolled down one of his kneepads and charged into his ribs, planting the exposed knee into them.

Kross tried to land a Doomsday Saito off the top turnbuckle, but Priest broke free. He then tried to land the Razor’s Edge on Kross and connected, but only managed a two-count. Priest hit a cannonball over the top rope on Kross. Back in the ring, he hit a spinning heel kick off the turnbuckle, followed by South of Heaven. Kross fought back with an overhead suplex and a powerbomb, but couldn’t get the winning pinfall. They fought outside for a bit which saw Kross ram Priest into the scaffolding and then the steel steps.

He threw Priest into the ring and landed a Doomsday Saito followed by a huge blow to the back of the head and picked up the victory. With Priest knocked out in the middle of the win, Kross and Scarlett stood tall. Priest dominated for quite a while in the match, but Kross’ deadliness and power won out in the end.

Winner: Karrion Kross Rating: 7.5/10

NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Gran Metalik W/ Lince Dorado vs Santos Escobar (C) W/ Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde

Metalik connected with a couple of grounded hurricanranas and one off the top rope. Escobar slid to the outside which allowed Metalik to land a moonsault off the top rope. As Escobar lay in the ring, Metalik connected with a senton, but only managed a two-count. Escobar blocked a hurricanrana off the apron by grabbing Metalik and throwing him into the barricade. After the break, Escobar dropped Metalik’s ribs into the top turnbuckle and locked in a submission, but Metalik broke free.

Metalik almost rolled up Escobar for the win, but he kicked out. Metalik hit a superkick and a sling blade, followed by a dropkick off the ropes. The momentum continued as he landed a flawless tope con hilo to Escobar outside. He hit a splash off the top rope in the ring, but could only get a two-count. As Metalik flew off the ropes, Escobar hit a huge knee into Metalik’s face, then knocked the wind out of him with a suicide dive outside.

As Metalik stood on the top turnbuckle, Escobar pushed him off, but he got back up there and landed a hurricanrana off it as Dorado took out Medoza and Wilde. In the ring, Escobar connected with the Phantom Driver to pick up the victory. What a fantastic match. Both men gave it everything, but it was the leader of Legado Del Fantasma that managed to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.

Winner: Santos Escobar (Still Cruiserweight Champion) Rating: 8/10

Xia Li W/ Boa vs Katrina Cortez

Xia Li and Boa finally returned to NXT with an incredibly impressive entrance as the mysterious leader watched on from a throne on the ramp. Li hit a pinpoint spinning kick into Cortez’s face. She drove some crisp strikes into Cortez. After a brutal jumping knee and a spinning kick to the face, Li picked up the victory. After the match, they went back to their leader and honoured her with a bow of respect. Alas, it looks as though we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out who she is.

Winner: Xia Li Rating: 4/10

Last Woman Standing Match: Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez

Ripley started off with a dropkick followed by a Lou Thesz press. Gonzalez reversed then hit a clothesline and belly-to-back suplex. She hit another two on Ripley, but the Nightmare fought back with a few strikes and a basement dropkick. Outside the ring, Ripley hit Gonzalez with a kendo stick. She then went for a dropkick off the steel steps, but Gonzalez swung a steel chair at her. Gonzalez then launched her into the barricades, followed by an attack with the kendo stick. She drove Gonzalez into the barricades, then attached her wrist to the chain fence on the barricade with some handcuffs.

Somehow, Gonzalez ripped the handcuffs off the chain fence and struck Ripley’s back with them. Ripley grabbed the hammer for the ring bell, but Gonzalez stopped her from connecting and drove her head into the ring bell instead. Gonzalez dropped Ripley into the announcer table, then covered her up with it, along with various chairs from ringside. The referee counted to eight, but Ripley got up. After the break, Gonzalez had the steel steps in her hands as both women stood on the ramp. She rammed them into Ripley, then booted her in the face.

Gonzalez rammed Ripley’s head into a metal shelf. Ripley speared Gonzalez through a glass door backstage, then rammed her into the doorway. Ripley continued to smash Gonzalez’s face into various places, the set her up on the catering table. Ripley climbed up onto some nearby lockers and launched herself off them into Gonzalez with a cannonball. Dakota Kai ran out and hit Ripley with a barrage of strikes with a kendo stick, then booted her in the face. Ripley got up and attacked Kai, slamming the locker doors right into her face. She then stuffed Kai into one of the lockers and blocked it with a metal crate.

As Ripley climbed back up to the ramp, Gonzalez caught her with a steel chair. She went to ram Ripley’s head into the chair but ate a headbutt instead. Ripley locked in the inverted cloverleaf whilst using the steel chair to choke her. Gonzalez broke out and knocked Ripley into the stage scaffolding. Gonzalez ran at Ripley, but Ripley hit a Death Valley driver into the big NXT logo which saw Gonzalez fall awkwardly on her neck. Ripley climbed onto the steel steps that were still on the ramp, but Gonzalez pulled her feet from underneath her. Gonzalez then picked up Ripley and drove her through the actual stage with a chokeslam. Gonzalez just got up before the ref counted to ten and picked up the win. This was an incredible match, with both women putting up one hell of a fight.

Winner: Raquel Gonzalez Rating: 9/10

A Celebration Turned Sour

We saw The Way arriving to the arena in a cavalcade of cars. They walked through the arena and into the ring. Gargano started off by mocking a fan about not having a girlfriend. He then said he had reversed the curse and the only thing he was cursed with now was being the best, being handsome, and being a sweet dancer. LeRae then presented Johnny with a plaque. Theory and Hartwell pulled off a black velvet sheet from a framed picture in the ring to show a comic book picture of them. Gargano announced that he and Theory would be entering the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

Shotzi Blackheart interrupted and asked Candice if she’d forgotten about her. Theory called her Mike Wazowski and said she wasn’t going to ruin their celebration tonight. She launched the missile off her tank right into Theory’s “wedding tackle,” then ran to the ring and went after LeRae. Gargano got on the apron, but Kushida ran down and wrenched him off. Dexter Lumis rang the bell and pointed to something he’d drawn. It showed a mixed tag match with Blackheart and Kushida against LeRae and Gargano.

Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae W/ Austin Theory & Indi Hartwell vs Kushida & Shotzi Blackheart

Shotzi hit an enzuigiri and a cannonball on LeRae. After the break, Blackheart tried to tag, but LeRae knocked her to the ground. LeRae tried to lock in a sleeper, but Shotzi dropped her on the mat. Kushida tagged in and went straight after Gargano with a flurry of attacks. He locked in an armbar, but Gargano reversed into the Gargano Escape. Kushida then reversed into an armbar again, but Gargano broke free. Kushida landed a huge right hand into Gargano’s jaw. He ran at Gargano but LeRae got in the way. He hit another right arm into Gargano’s jaw.

Blackheart and Kushida mirrored each other’s moves in the ring. As Kushida stood on the middle rope, Shotzi dove through the ropes and took at LeRae with a suicide dive. Theory got involved, but Kushida brought him into the ring. As Theory sat in the corner, Kushida hit a drop toe hold on Gargano which saw him headbutt Theory in the privates once again. Kushida then locked up Gargano with a pin to pick up the victory.

Winners: Kushida & Shotzi Blackheart Rating: 6.5/10

NXT Championship Match: Kyle O’Reilly vs Finn Balor (C)

Balor and O’Reilly locked up, with O’Reilly wrapping his legs around Balor’s neck. Balor got him in a headlock but O’Reilly reversed into the same headlock as before. Both men tried to use ground submissions to gain an advantage. Balor locked in an abdominal stretch, but O’Reilly reached the rope with his mouth, only for Balor to boot the rope and hurt O’Reilly’s jaw. Balor then locked in a headlock, but O’Reilly got out. He hit a charging knee into Balor who was lying on the mat, then wrenched his arm twice into the top rope. Balor used the ropes to hurt O’Reilly’s injured jaw.

Balor stomped on O’Reilly and hit a basement dropkick, but only grabbed a two-count. He locked in a crossface on O’Reilly, but he managed to get a foot on the bottom rope. He then chopped O’Reilly’s chest as he stood in the corner, using his forearm to grind into the injured jaw. Balor was in control, grinding his forearm into O’Reilly’s jaw as he lay on the mat. As Balor ran into the ropes, O’Reilly hit him with a knee. He used his impressive footwork to attack Balor, but Balor kneed him in the head as they lay on the mat. Balor hit a Pele kick, but O’Reilly locked in a leg submission followed by a kick which sent him outside due to the sheer force of it.

O’Reilly went for the guillotine submission and transitioned into the triangle choke. Again, he transitioned into a leg lock, but Balor punched him in the jaw. Balor continued to attack the injured jaw. He dropped O’Reilly with a side slam, then transitioned into a crossface. Somehow O’Reilly broke out of it. O’Reilly hit a succession of kicks but got caught with a sling blade. He double stomped O’Reilly in the chest and dropkicked him into the corner. Balor climbed the ropes to go for the Coup De Grace, but O’Reilly stopped him and landed a superplex. He hit a brainbuster, but couldn’t get the victory over Balor. O’Reilly went for an armbar, but Balor got his foot on the rope.

O’Reilly got caught in the stomach with a boot, and Balor locked in a Koji clutch to make O’Reilly tap. The Prince is still the NXT Champion. It’s a real shame O’Reilly didn’t get the win, but credit to Balor who was excellent. As O’Reilly sat in the corner with the UE boys checking on him, Balor walked up to him and stared him down. As his face was bloody, he looked at the camera as the show went off the air.

Winner: Finn Balor (Still NXT Champion) Rating: 9/10

What Else Went Down

It was announced that Undisputed Era, Ever-Rise, Breezango, Curt Stallion & August Grey, Drake Maverick & Killian Dain, and Imperium were the first entrants in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which starts next week on NXT.

– Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were being interviewed backstage about facing Breezango in the first round. Cole said they were going to fulfil the golden prophecy once again in 2021, with it starting again tonight when Kyle O’Reilly beats Finn Balor.

– Mercedes Martinez featured in a video package where she said she wanted to challenge Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship.

– William Regal said Timothy Thatcher had suffered an injury and wasn’t cleared for action tonight, so the Fight Pit match wouldn’t be happening.

– Bronson Reed was being interviewed and said 2021 would be a colossal year for him. He then said his money was on Rhea Ripley tonight.

– The next NXT TakeOver was announced for Valentine’s Day.

– The first two matches were announced for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic next week. Undisputed Era face Breezango, and Ever-Rise face Grizzled Young Veterans.

– William Regal was backstage to announce we would soon be getting the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

After The Bell

New Year’s Evil was a great show. Ripley vs Gonzalez and Balor vs O’Reilly were exceptional, but I have to say that the Last Woman Standing match edged it for me. Ripley and Gonzalez put on a phenomenal performance, and I think it was a great decision to have Gonzalez win. I’m gutted for O’Reilly as I think he would make a great champion, but full credit to The Prince who showed just why he wears the gold.

It was great fun having The Way appear. Gargano is comedy gold, and Theory is really growing on me. Damian Priest and Karrion Kross had a decent match. I’m surprised just how dominant The Archer of Infamy was, but the sheer power of Kross won in the end. The Cruiserweight match was a fun watch, and it’s right that Escobar retains as it seems as though the Lucha House Party aren’t staying in NXT. As for Xia Li, she looked very impressive in the ring, even if it was against an unknown. Overall, it was enjoyable all-round, and with the next TakeOver, and the men’s and women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classics on the horizon, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Star of the Show: Raquel Gonzalez Overall Rating: 8.5/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

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