The first episode of WWE NXT in 2021 is a big one as the black and yellow brand presents NXT New Year’s Evil. There were five big matches advertised for tonight’s show, but now it’s down to four matches. They are not doing the Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher Fight Pit match tonight. It’s probably due to time and wanting to give more time for the other matches, which is fine. . It’s off WWE’s website preview for the show. Perhaps we’ll find out more later in the day or during NXT where they let will let us know if the match is happening next week instead.
Here’s a rundown of the four matches, plus what else is being advertised on WWE.com today.
Finn Bálor and Kyle O’Reilly to tangle for NXT Title at NXT New Year’s Evil
This is an NXT Title rematch from NXT Takeover 31 three months ago. That was also the last time Finn Balor has won a match. O’Reilly earned this title shot by beating Pete Dunne and these two also won the fan-voted NXT Award for Best NXT match last year. I rated that Takeover match at ****1/2 out of five, which means it was outstanding.
I expect them to go 20+ minutes here and it should be another awesome match. I really have high expectations for it. Here’s hoping they don’t injure eachother since Balor had a broken jaw and O’Reilly suffered damage as well. It’s smart of WWE to do this match again. I think Balor retaining is the right call here because I think it would make a lot of sense for him to face Karrion Kross at the next Takeover (no date announced for that yet) since Kross was the champion before Balor with Kross relinquishing the title due to injury. If O’Reilly wins then that is fine and it could be a sign that Balor is heading to Raw or Smackdown soon, but I think Balor staying in NXT makes a lot of sense too. There are a lot of options here. I’m just going to go with Balor although if I’m wrong, that wouldn’t be a bad thing because I’m a big fan of my fellow Canadian Kyle O’Reilly as well. I’m looking forward to this match.
Prediction: Finn Balor retains the NXT Title
Damian Priest set for powerhouse collision with Karrion Kross to open NXT New Year’s Evil
It was announced by WWE that this will lead off NXT’s New Year’s Evil special with commercial-free action.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 6, 2021
This feels like a match between top contenders for the NXT Title. Priest is one of the biggest guys in NXT while Kross isn’t necessarily one of the tallest guys, but he is one of the most powerful wrestlers in NXT. I have liked the build to the match with a lot of brawling between them and a lot of intensity shown by both guys as well. I think Priest winning would be huge for him. However, as I alluded to above, I can see Kross going after the NXT Title in the near future and I think he needs to win this match to show he deserves a shot at the title that he never lost a few months ago. This might not be a great match compared to some of the other matches on this show, but I still think it will be fun to watch.
Prediction: Karrion Kross wins
Rhea Ripley to face off with Raquel González in Last Woman Standing Match at NXT New Year’s Evil
This should be a lot of fun. There are high expectations for the match. Here’s what NXT announcer Wade Barrett predicted about this match.
8/7c on @USA_Network 👊🏻
What the world’s been waiting for👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/KD9EtV4Eij
— Stu Bennett (@StuBennett) January 6, 2021
It’s a bold prediction to say this is a future WrestleMania main event, but Ripley is only 24 years old while Gonzalez keeps improving and she’s going to turn 30 years old in a few weeks. Gonzalez has been getting the big push in recent weeks including the win for her team in the WarGames match last month when she pinned NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. Gonzalez also beat Ember Moon on the December 9 edition of NXT, which again shows how NXT continues to build her up. When Ripley last faced Gonzalez at the Halloween Havoc edition of NXT in late October, Ripley got the win. This time, I expect Gonzalez to win the match. I think Gonzalez is also going to be the woman that beats Shirai for the NXT Women’s Title most likely at the next Takeover show.
This should be a solid match between two women that know eachother well. I think this is a rivalry that will continue over the next decade as well. Ripley is the better worker of the two even though she’s younger. I think Gonzalez has improved, though. They keep putting her Gonzalez in big matches and she’s doing well. Sure, she’s not at the level of the best NXT women like Shirai, Moon, Ripley and others, but I think Gonzalez is good enough as a taller, powerful wrestler that moves well in the ring. If Ripley wins I have no problem with that at all. I just think it makes more sense for Gonzalez to continue her winning ways to win this match.
Prediction: Raquel Gonzalez wins
Gran Metalik to challenge Santos Escobar for NXT Cruiserweight Title at NXT New Year’s Evil
There is not as much of a build to this match, but it should be an awesome match as well that might be better than some of the matches on the card. That’s because Santos Escobar is an incredible Cruiserweight Champion that always has great matches while Metalik is such a talented performer that is one of the most underused guys in WWE. Does it make sense that a Raw guy like Metalik is getting a Cruiserweight Title shot? Not really. They don’t like to explain things in WWE. However, I like that two awesome cruiserweights are having a title match like this.
I think Escobar’s title run will continue. I’m not sure who will be the one to take the title from him or when. Maybe Jake Atlas? I think that’s a possibility for sure. I just don’t think it will be Gran Metalik tonight. I am looking forward to the match.
Prediction: Santos Escobar retains the NXT Cruiserweight Title
Xia Li and Boa set to return this Wednesday night
I would expect a short match with Li dominating whoever the opponent is. They have spent a few months doing videos with Li and Boa to show they are now tough warriors ready to kick some ass after some training they have gone through.
The show is being hosted by the creepy babyface Dexter Lumis, who did these drawings for the four main matches.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 6, 2021
I’ll have a review of this week’s NXT on Thursday morning. I think I’ll be reviewing NXT first before AEW this week. I’m looking forward to it.