WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 30
It is that time of year again. For the final show of 2020, WWE NXT presented the NXT Year-End Awards. This was the time to celebrate the black-and-gold brand's greatest competitors over the past year.
Nine awards were to be given out, including Overall Competitor of the Year, Match of the Year and Breakout Star of the Year. Some NXT greats had impressive years, and it was time to recognize stars like Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley and more.
Pete Dunne still had a score to settle with Roderick Strong. The longtime rivals were set for another huge technical showdown in the continued clash of Undisputed Era against The Kings of NXT.
Johnny Gargano looked to exorcise his biggest demon when he faced Leon Ruff. The Rebel Heart has lost repeatedly as a champion, but he had a chance to prove he is a legendary NXT North American champion with a win.
Two likely future top stars on the black-and-gold brand, Bronson Reed and Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, were set to open the show. Mercedes Martinez was also announced to return to the ring.
From the Year-End Awards to the variety of big matches promised, this looked to be a fantastic show to close out the year.
The NXT Year-End Award Results
These were the winners of this year's WWE NXT Year-End Awards:
- Event of the Year: NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
- Rivalry of the Year: Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee.
- Breakout Star of the Year: Shotzi Blackheart.
- Tag Team of the Year: Undisputed Era.
- Female Competitor of the Year: Io Shirai.
- Male Competitor of the Year: Adam Cole.
- Match of the Year: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O'Reilly, NXT TakeOver 31.
- Future Star of the Year: Austin Theory.
- Overall Competitor of the Year: Shirai.
'The Colossal' Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah 'Swerve' Scott
To open the show, WWE showed a tribute picture to the late Luke Harper.
Isaiah "Swerve" Scott walked into this match far too confident for someone fighting a man nearly twice his size. While he managed to injure Bronson Reed's knee, The Colossal refused to lose in his return to action.
He fought through the pain and blasted Swerve with a standing senton followed by The Avalanche to pick up another impressive victory.
Reed def. Swerve by pinfall.
While both Reed and Swerve are immensely talented, this never worked. The dynamic was awkward, as Reed sold too much for Swerve despite their massive size difference. Scott needed to do more to sell that he could injure and defeat The Colossal.
The short run time for the match, coupled with a lack of drama and psychology, felt off for NXT's typical quality. This may have been a last-minute addition to the show because there is no doubt these two could work a fantastic match with time to prepare.
The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Breezango
It was announced early in this match that the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic would return on the following week's show, and the commentary team reminded fans that The Grizzled Young Veterans almost won the tournament last year.
Fandango kept the pressure off Tyler Breeze after Zack Gibson and James Drake isolated Prince Pretty early, but the electric dancer injured his knee on an impressive dive into The Grizzled Young Veterans. Gibson saw a target and went after Fandango's knee.
Breeze saved his partner, trying to fight back two-on-one. Prince Pretty caught Drake with an enzuigiri, but Gibson knocked Fandango off the apron to leave Breeze alone. The heels hit the Ticket to Mayhem to win. Afterward, Ever-Rise taunted Grizzle Young Veterans but ultimately backed off.
After winning NXT Tag Team of the Year, Undisputed Era announced Adam Cole and Roderick Strong would represent the group in the Dusty Classic.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Breezango by pinfall.
This was a fun encounter between two of the best teams in NXT today. Breezango played the underdog faces well throughout, even if the booking never allowed them to work together for long. This was a classic heel domination over a team that refused to quit.
The Dusty Rhodes Classic is always a fun tournament and one of the highlights of NXT. Grizzled Young Veterans have been set up as the favorites, even with Undisputed Era involved. That said, favorites in the Dusty Classic rarely win.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Valentina Feroz
Xia Li and Boa completed their torturous training, and the mystery woman led them into the light. NXT promised the group would arrive in NXT at New Year's Evil.
Mercedes Martinez barely gave Valentina Feroz room to breathe in this physical squash. The veteran dominated her opponent and hit the Air Raid Crash for the three. Afterward, she called out every woman in NXT.
Martinez def. Valentina by pinfall.
This was a straightforward reintroduction for Martinez. She has been gone long enough that a squash match had some merit. She was able to show her physical and technical style in dissecting her opponent.
That said, the squashes should not last long. She took out NXT women's champion Io Shirai last week, and winning the title should be her next goal. She is a veteran who deserves an opportunity to be treated like the best in the business.
Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne's joint manipulation of Roderick Strong was too much for The Messiah of the Backbreaker early, but few have the resilience and endurance of the Undisputed Era stalwart. Strong fought back until The Bruiserweight blasted him into the steel barricade.
The two men went back and forth as The Messiah of the Backbreaker pulled out his signature move in a few key situations, while Dunne gladly punished Strong for the smallest mistakes. The Bruiserweight broke Strong's fingers with a vicious catch, followed by an emphatic Bitter End for the win.
Dunne def. Strong by pinfall.
This technical showcase was everything one would expect of two of the best wrestlers in NXT. Strong got a chance to show he is still a fantastic singles wrestler, even if he has transitioned to tag team wrestling primarily.
In the end, this was about building up Dunne. The Bruiserweight is on the precipice of title contention, and a match with Finn Balor would remind the world how great he is. This was a great start, as Dunne pulled out the classics in this battle of smart technicians.
Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly Set the Stage, Damian Priest Attacks Karrion Kross
After winning NXT Match of the Year for his battle with Kyle O'Reilly, Finn Balor took his rival's trophy and headed to the ring. Pete Dunne caught him on the ramp, promising he was coming after the NXT Championship next.
The Prince invited O'Reilly to the ring to take his trophy. While his rival was glad to accept it, he wanted something greater. Both men promised to hurt the other until one remained standing with the NXT Championship.
Scarlett and Karrion Kross interrupted to tell the winner that he would see Doomsday soon. Damian Priest started his fight with Kross early, as the men brawled over the arena. The two crashed through a table as Scarlett laughed at the carnage.
O'Reilly and Balor have excellent chemistry when wrestling, but they are both limited on the mic. The segment was supposed be a fiery clash of top stars. Instead, the two came off as midcard competitors next to the brutal fight around the ring.
Kross and Priest did not need words to sell their rivalry. It was impressive how easily the two took over the moment to the point that it was easy to forget the NXT champion was just in the ring. NXT New Year's Evil may be set to be main-evented by Balor and O'Reilly, but Kross and Priest have more presence.
Lucha House Party vs. Legado del Fantasma
Rhea Ripley talked about her friendship with Raquel Gonzalez. She had opened up her heart to someone she considered a close friend who then turned on her. Gonzalez mocked The Nightmare, saying she had planned this from the start to take advantage of Ripley.
Santos Escobar mocked the cruiserweight division and the "sham" of the NXT Year-End Awards. He made clear he was not looking for praise or popularity, just domination. Lucha House Party arrived in a surprise appearance from Monday Night Raw and challenged Legado del Fantasma.
William Regal made the match official, and Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik immediately went after Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde. The luchadors ran over the heels, pushing the pace even before the bell.
Legado del Fantasma struggled to keep up. Dorado hit Mendoza with a reverse hurricanrana into a springboard elbow for the win.
Dexter Lumis announced that Escobar would fight Metalik at New Year's Evil.
Lucha House Party def. Legado del Fantasma by pinfall.
This was the best Metalik and Dorado have looked in months. From the opening bell, they looked spry and energized. While Lucha House Party remain members of the red brand, this proved the luchadors should move to NXT full time until WWE decides to use them on Raw.
Metalik is an ideal opponent for Escobar. An experienced performance with a wealth of in-ring talent, the luchador can bring out a new side of the NXT cruiserweight champion. Until Curt Stallion is ready to return, this is a perfect way for WWE to employ underutilized talent.
NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff
Johnny Gargano found a black cat backstage and freaked out, sure someone was mocking him. After Austin Theory won Future Star of the Year, The Rebel Heart accidentally broke a mirror with Theory's protein powder and then ran under a ladder.
Even with The Way on the outside, Ruff dominated early while Gargano was clearly off his game. However, the NXT North American champion managed to trip his challenger off the apron and then throw him into the barricade repeatedly to turn the tide.
Early confusion turned to overconfidence as Gargano beat down and mocked Ruff. The underdog battled through with an enzuigiri into a hanging neckbreaker and German suplex before a cannonball. This was only enough for a near fall, though.
The North American champion refused to get caught by anything more, battling through to connect on a powerbomb. He locked in the Gargano Escape, but Ruff made it to the ropes.
The challenger planted the champion with a flatliner outside and then a huge frog splash for a close near fall. However, Gargano ducked Ruff in the corner, bashing him face-first into the top turnbuckle before hitting the One Final Beat for three.
Gargano def. Ruff by pinfall to retain the NXT North American Championship.
While the build was mostly comedic, the in-ring action was worthy of an NXT main event. Both men gave it their all. Even with a few sloppy counters, Ruff had his best singles performance to date on the black-and-gold brand thanks to Gargano's giving work throughout.
In the end, it was the right time to end The Curse. The joke was fun for a moment, but The Rebel Heart deserves a long title reign. He proved he can make a star of anyone, and he has plenty more challengers on the horizon.