Karrion Kross is back in in-ring action tonight for the first time since his injury. No information on his opponent, but despite him not being cleared, there’s a strong possibility of Damian Priest turning up after Kross attacked him last week. Priest was supposed to team with Leon Ruff to face Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory, but Kushida has stepped up to take his place. Rhea Ripley saved Ember Moon from Toni Storm last week, tonight Ripley and Storm go one on one in the main event of the evening. And Kyle O’Reilly faces Pete Dunne to decide who faces Finn Balor at New Year’s Evil on January 6th.
Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory def. Leon Ruff & Kushida
Tommaso Ciampa def. Tyler Rust
Kyle O’Reilly def. Pete Dunne
Shotzi Blackheart def. Indi Hartwell (DQ)
Karrion Kross def. Desmond Troy
Toni Storm def. Rhea Ripley
Leon Ruff & Kushida vs Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory
Straight into a match on this week’s NXT, which is always nice. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell accompanied Gargano and Theory to the ring. LeRae was still carrying the trophy Gargano gave her last week. A Leon Ruff tumble off the top turnbuckle looked more tumble than it should have been and Ruff took a nasty landing. He recovered from that, but got caught out by an unseen tag going into the break and took a spear from Gargano.
It was a fun opening match, very chaotic in places. The win came courtesy of another unseen tag between Gargano and Theory. If Gargano had still been legal, there’s a good chance Ruff would have got the pin, but Theory kicked him in the head and yelled, ‘This is the way’ before pinning him.
Dexter Lumis was shown watching the celebrations from a podium. He had an easel and was drawing the scene on a tablet.
Toni Storm said she’s the reason Rhea Ripley is in NXT, because she’s the one who ran her out of NXT UK. Their rivalry has been long and she knows Ripley better than anyone. And Ripley knows her usual tactics don’t work on Storm. Last time they met one on one Ripley won, but this a different Toni Storm, one who doesn’t care about approval, acceptance, or respect. All she cares about is that it’s her time, Toni Time, and she’s going to end their rivalry on her terms tonight.
Shotzi Blackheart is proud of her WarGames team. She’s not done with Candice LeRae. She broke LeRae’s arm in the cage and she’s going to break LeRae’s best friend when she faces Indi Hartwell later.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Tyler Rust
Tyler Rust attacked Ciampa in the middle of his match last week. Ciampa set a chair up and put one of Thatcher’s shirts on it before the match. Tyler Rust, we were told, is a 15-year veteran and a student of Timothy Thatcher’s.
Thatcher did turn up a minute or so into the match and stood by the chair. It didn’t take long for Ciampa to throw Rust out of the ring in front of Thatcher. Rust shoved Ciampa into him when he followed, but Ciampa ducked the kick Rust aimed at his head and it connected with Thatcher instead. Timothy Thatcher had to be removed from ringside by officials.
It was a much harder match than Ciampa would have been expecting. A big boot to the face nearly handed Rust the win, and a submission attempt forced Ciampa to struggle to get a foot on the ropes. That was the last straw for Ciampa. He destroyed Rust’s knee with a couple of blows, threw in some chops and a knee to the head, then finished it with Willow’s Bell.
Ciampa used the Thatcher shirt to wipe his face as he walked up the ramp. Thatcher appeared on the stage, still being held back by three officials. Ciampa threw the shirt at him and left.
During the ad break (shown to us later) Malcolm Bivens told Tyler Rust he’s a star. Looks like he’s trying to manage him. Rust did not appear interested.
Grizzled Young Veterans think they’re still the best of the best. They’re coming for the NXT tag titles.
Pete Dunne vs Kyle O’Reilly
Before they announced the Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley match as the main event, I was sure it was going to be this. They ran the match bell to bell with no interruptions (in the US with picture in picture), to make it special, because it deserves it. O’Reilly brought Adam Cole and Roderick Strong with him. Dunne brought Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.
It all kicked off before the match, with Killian Dain and Drake Maverick attacking Burch and Lorcan, Cole and Strong getting involved, then Breezango appearing to add to the chaos. They all brawled their way backstage, so it was truly one on one by the time the bell rang.
It was great. Obviously, it was going to be great. They nearly got themselves counted out because they were so absorbed in punching each other, but they took a long enough break to roll back into the ring on nine then picked up where they left off. There’s usually some weirdly painful-looking stuff in a Pete Dunne match. Notable this time was a knuckle ground into O’Reilly’s ear.
It was a long match too. Pete Dunne lost his mouthguard to a punch in the face and O’Reilly immediately selected Dunne’s face as a target. He also stamped on Dunne’s hand when he tried to retrieve the guard. The NXT cameras didn’t properly capture O’Reilly’s suplex off the apron that crashed Dunne into the floor and barricades, but it was the beginning of the end for Dunne. The actual end came one knee to the head from the top turnbuckle later.
It will be Finn Balor vs Kyle O’Reilly round two and New Year’s Evil.
Rhea Ripley said Raquel Gonzalez backed off last week. She’s known her for a lot longer than people realise, and Gonzalez is very different when she’s all by herself. Ripley and Toni Storm have a lot of history. And Storm might not be the same, but it’s not the same Rhea Ripley either and she’s sure Storm is still the same piece of trash she knew before, new or old version. She’s going to finish it tonight, once and for all.
Xia Li has been crying for three weeks now. She and Boa were still paying penance or being tortured or whatever is happening. This week it was Li being forced to beat Boa bloody while crying.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Indi Hartwell.
The rest of The Way accompanied Indi Hartwell to the ring. Shotzi Blackheart came alone in her bigger and better new tank. They were both looking to send a message to Candice LeRae in this match, but very different messages. Hartwell needed to prove her usefulness and loyalty, that she’s a key member of The Way. Blackheart wanted to prove to LeRae that it’s not over yet. I guess it was Hartwell who got her message across. LeRae got up on the apron and distracted the ref while Gargano passed Hartwell the trophy, but Hartwell got caught using it, breaking the trophy in the process, and got disqualified.
LeRae took the trophy off her when she saw it was broken and stomped on Blackheart a bit before Hartwell helped her get Blackheart in position for the Wicked Stepsister.
Karrion Kross, with Scarlett vs Desmond Troy
There were a couple of promos for Karrion Kross before the match, and Kross did his full entrance with Scarlett. It was a lot of hype for a short squash match which finished with a Kross Jacket.
Damian Priest did not show up, but Kross informed him to camera that they were having a match at New Year’s Evil.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott said he was frustrated about losing to ‘someone like Jake Atlas’. He corrected himself and said Atlas was a hell of an athlete who deserved to be there, but he’s been there longer and worked harder on his craft, so it’s frustrating. William Regal has agreed to give him a rematch with Atlas next week and
Ever-Rise have asked for their loss to be stricken from the record books. They were quite aggressive with McKenzie Mitchell.
Dexter Lumis’ drawing was finally revealed to be the announcement he is the New Year’s Evil host. Interesting, considering he doesn’t speak. Wade Barrett pointed that out on commentary but declined to talk to Lumis about it directly.
Finn Balor said Kyle O’Reilly proved he isn’t an underdog. He belongs in the main event and he proved he belongs in the ring with Finn Balor. He broke Balor’s jaw in three places and he still lost. New Year’s Evil, he’s going to make O’Reilly suffer. It won’t be Finn Balor versus Kyle O’Reilly Two, it will be Finn Balor versus Kyle O’Reilly The End.
Toni Storm vs Rhea Ripley
This was a main event worthy match, but it was tough for either of them to get any real dominance because they know each other so well. They took each other down with simultaneous headbutts, they were that kind of in sync and on the same page. It was going to take something out of the ordinary to make the difference.
Raquel Gonzalez was that difference-maker. She stopped Storm falling off the apron after Ripley dumped her over the ropes, but Ripley’s kick to Storm sent her crashing into Gonzalez, which put Gonzalez over the barricade. Ripley retrieved Storm with a grin over the barricade, but Gonzalez was up by the time Storm had been rolled back in. She grabbed Ripley by the leg and dragged her onto her shoulder to run her shoulder into the ringpost. The ref was checking on Storm and didn’t see it. Toni Storm capitalised with a hip attack then delivered Storm Zero for the win.
As it did last week, the show finished with Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez staring holes into each other.
New Year’s Evil is shaping up to be a great show already, and there are still three weeks to go.
Cameron Grimes has been added to the NXT injury list. He’s out for four to six weeks due to injuries suffered at the hands of Timothy Thatcher last week. It is unclear if the storyline is covering a real injury or not.
Next week we are being given ‘A Very Gargano Christmas’, whatever that might entail.