WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 25

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2019

WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 25

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    Austin Theory and Roderick Strong.
    Austin Theory and Roderick Strong.Credit: WWE.com

    For the first time since it debuted on USA Network on October 2, NXT did not air a live episode. Instead, WWE played six matches it taped last week at Full Sail University and The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, so everyone in NXT could have the holiday off.

    In between those matches, Sam Roberts, Cathy Kelley and Pat McAfee hosted studio segments. They recapped 2019 and highlighted a few Superstars between matches.

    Here is the lineup from Wednesday's show:

    • Roderick Strong vs. Austin Theory (North American Championship)
    • Isaiah "Swerve" Scott vs. Jack Gallagher
    • Dominik Dijakovic vs. Bronson Reed
    • Taynara vs. Candice LeRae
    • Shotzi Blackheart vs. Bianca Belair
    • Keith Lee and Lio Rush vs. Tony Nese and Damian Priest

    Let's take a look at what the Christmas Day episode of NXT had to offer. 

Roderick Strong vs. Austin Theory (North American Championship)

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    Roderick Strong.
    Roderick Strong.Credit: WWE.com

    The first match was Strong defending his North American Championship against a man who was making his debut in NXT, Austin Theory.

    The WWE Universe was introduced to Theory at Evolve 131 on WWE Network. The former Evolve and WWN champion is signed to a WWE developmental deal and management clearly wants him to get a strong start since he got a title shot in his first match.

    Theory is not considered a large man but he had the power and weight advantage. He used his strength to control the pace for the majority of this encounter. 

    The champion did not make it easy for him. This was a competitive exchange between two guys who pride themselves on their athleticism and endurance.

    The newcomer came close a few times but this was not his night. Strong retained the title and the crowd gave both men a standing ovation.

                               

    Grade: A-

                              

    Notes and Highlights

    • The NXT crowd gave Theory a nice welcome. 
    • Strong is The Messiah of the Backbreaker but his dropkick is just as good.
    • Strong used a nice modified surfboard submission that would make Daniel Bryan proud.
    • They were given quite a bit of time without any commercial interruptions.
    • People should not be able to recover from a superplex so quickly. 

Isaiah "Swerve" Scott vs. Jack Gallagher

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    Isaiah Scott.
    Isaiah Scott.Credit: WWE.com

    Scott came into this match with a rare size advantage over Gallagher but it wasn't enough to make the former cruiserweight champion into an underdog.

    They started with a technical exchange of holds and counters. Swerve showed off his speed and Gallagher matched him step for step.

    This match had a good pace but there wasn't a lot of psychology or storytelling. It felt like they were moving from one sequence to the next without stopping to let anything sink in.

    The crowd wasn't as vocal as it would have been had this been taped at Full Sail University but it eventually woke up as the match progressed.

    Both men put on a good performance but Scott ended up getting the win with The House Call. 

                             

    Grade: B

                             

    Notes and Highlights

    • Gallagher's robe looked more like something Hugh Hefner would wear than a prizefighter. 
    • Scott used the underrated short-arm scissor submission. 
    • Gallagher showed some surprising power when he lifted Scott off the apron to break a submission.
    • This match was filmed after SmackDown. Instead of putting the NXT logo on the LED aprons and ring posts, WWE just kept them blank. It made the ringside area look darker than usual. 
    • The exchange of armbars toward the end of the match was a lot of fun. 

Taynara vs. Candice LeRae

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    Taynara.
    Taynara.Credit: WWE.com

    LeRae took control immediately when she blocked a running kick from Taynara but the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner turned things around as the show cut to commercial. 

    We returned right as LeRae hit an enziguiri. Taynara pushed her buttons and LeRae responded with a flurry of strikes. It didn't take long for the bubbly babyface to score the win with springboard moonsault.

    This was a decent match. Both competitors looked good and they had decent chemistry, but it never felt like they left second gear. 

                            

    Grade: C+

                               

    Notes and Highlights

    • Taynara appears to be the latest Superstars to lose half of their name. 
    • The crowd loves LeRae. She is going to be a big star on Raw or SmackDown someday. 
    • Taynara should be getting more opportunities. She had the look, skills and personality to be a great heel. 
    • LeRae put her hair up to square up. Sonya Deville should sue for gimmick infringement. 
    • The video package for Arturo Ruas after this match was fantastic.

Dominik Dijakovic vs. Bronson Reed

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    Dominik Djiakovic.
    Dominik Djiakovic.Credit: WWE.com

    Dijakovic has built up a lot of momentum in recent months, so he came into this match with Reed looking to continue his winning ways heading into 2020.

    The Thicc Boy had a slight weight advantage but Dijakovic has him beat in the strength department. Having a significant height advantage helped give the powerhouse a slight edge.

    They started slowly with an exchange of headlocks and counters. Two super-heavyweights are not going to keep the same pace as guys like Strong and Theory but they did their best to keep this bout from being sluggish.

    While this was a decent performance, the slow pace made it the least exciting match of the night. Dijakovic scored the win with a chokeslam into a powerbomb. 

                              

    Grade: C

                           

    Notes and Highlights

    • Reed has almost the exact same body-type as Otis. That is a matchup we need to see someday. 
    • Dijakovic sells too much for his opponents. A man of his size should be shrugging off most hits and dominating his opponents. 
    • Seeing a guy the size of Dijakovic hit a moonsault will never get old. 

Bianca Belair vs. Shotzi Blackheart

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    Bianca Belair.
    Bianca Belair.Credit: WWE.com

    Another Superstar made their first appearance on this episode when Shotzi Blackheart made her highly-anticipated debut against Belair.

    The EST of NXT was not about to let some newcomer outshine her and she proceeded to dominate the early portion of the match with her size and strength advantage.

    Belair controlled most of the contest while Blackheart would occasionally come back with short bursts of offense. She looked like the underdog and played the role well.

    Blackheart put on a good show in her debut match but Belair put her down with the KOD for the win. These two probably haven't worked together much so any future encounters should see them develop better chemistry. 

                             

    Grade: C+

                         

    Notes and Highlights

    • Blackheart might have been a little nervous about her debut. She came close to botching a couple of moves she has performed many times in the past.
    • Sam Roberts pretending to hate Belair is not as entertaining as he thinks it is. He is unbiased about everyone but her for some reason.
    • Belair doesn't use her braid as a weapon often enough. 
    • The DDT Blackheart hit on the apron looked sloppy.

Keith Lee and Lio Rush vs. Tony Nese and Damian Priest

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    Lio Rush.
    Lio Rush.Credit: WWE.com

    The final match of the night was a mix of 205 Live and NXT as Rush teamed up with Lee to take on Nese and Priest in tag team action. 

    Priest tried to intimidate Rush by grabbing him by the throat but the former cruiserweight champion was not about to be disrespected. He slapped Priest in the mouth before tagging in Lee so the two powerhouses of their teams could do battle.

    There was no storyline behind this bout so all four men were able to play around without needing to service a bigger narrative. Sometimes, a match is more fun when it can just exist on its own.

    Nese and Priest made for a solid team but they weren't able to overcome the raw power of Limitless Lee or the incredible agility of Rush. The cruiserweight stood on Lee's shoulders to hit The Final Hour frog splash for the pin and the win. 

                           

    Grade: B-

                              

    Notes and Highlights

    • Rush came out in a green holiday jacket and Lee had a plate of Christmas cookies. 
    • WWE has a long history of tag teams with one big guy and one small guy. Rush and Lee would be an awesome addition to that list if they ever decided to work together on a permanent basis. 
    • The exchange of strikes between Lee and Priest was awesome.
    • Lee knocked Nese over the announce table and it looked like his foot hit Tom Phillips right in the face. 
    • The three matches taped in The Barclays Center suffered from having a crowd that wasn't familiar with a lot of NXT stars. Some fans tried to get some chants going but a lot of people were just sitting there like bumps on a log.
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