The John Report: WWE NXT 01/02/24 Review (New Year’s Evil)

wwe nxt january 2

This week’s WWE NXT was New Year’s Evil and what was supposed two title matches on the show, but one of those matches did not take place.

It’s a new year and that means it’s the New Year’s Evil episode of NXT. I’ll do this summary style and play-by-play for one or two matches.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. My WWE NXT Review archive is here. Let’s get to it.

A video package aired to build up the matches coming up on this week’s episode of NXT.

The commentary team was Vic Joseph and Booker T as usual. It was commercial-free in the first 30 minutes this week.

NXT Women’s Championship: Lyra Valkyria vs. Blair Davenport

It’s a title match, so I’ll go play-by-play here. The women stood in the ring as ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the championship introductions.

Lyra did an arm wringer takedown and when Blair tried it, Lyra did a cartwheel. Lyra grabbed a side headlock, Blair got out of it and delivered a kick to the body. Lyra got a headlock takeover. Blair hit a necksnap across the top rope. Blair jumped off the top with a double foot stomp to the back for two. Blair hit a neckbreaker for two. Lyra hit a jawbreaker to get out of a move. Lyra hit two clotheslines along with a cross body block. Lyra delivered strikes to the body along with a step-up enziguri kick. Lyra jumped off the top with a cross body block, Blair moved and Lyra hit the mat. Lyra hit a suplex for a two. Blair nailed Lyra with a forearm, but Lyra blocked a kick and Lyra hit a German Suplex for two. Lyra went to the turnbuckle, but Blair stopped her with a jumping kick. Blair hit a Falcon Arrow slam off the turnbuckle. That was impressive. Lyra left the ring, so Blair threw Lyra into the barricade. Blair went for a knee strike, but Lyra moved and Blair’s knee hit the side of the wood commentary table. Back in the ring, Blair tried a suplex, but Blair’s knee gave out. Blair sent Lyra into the turnbuckle. Blair jumped off the top, Lyra moved and Lyra hit a spinning kick to the head. Lyra hit a spinning sitout slam off the shoulders for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lyra Valkyria

Analysis: *** A decisive win for the champion Valkyria keeping her title. The match changed when Blair hit a knee strike into the side of the commentary table and then Blair did a good job of selling the injury. Lyra capitalized to get the win. I figured the champion would retain here. No reason to take the title off her yet.

After the match, Lola Vice ran out with her championship contract and a referee, but Tatum Paxley attacked Vice to stop that cash-in attempt. Elektra Lopez ran out to go after Paxley. Lyra kicked Lopez to knock her down. The referees showed up to break it up. Paxley put her hand on Lyra’s shoulder and Lyra told her to stay away.

Analysis: Paxley has been a creepy follower of Valkyria for several weeks now, so in this instance, it was Paxley saving Lyra from a title match cash in.

It was mentioned by Kelly Kincaid outside of the WWE Medical room saying that Ilja Dragunov will not be medically cleared to compete tonight in his NXT Title match. Kelly said she’ll try to talk to Trick Williams.

No Quarter Catch Crew – Drew Gulak, Damon Kemp & Myles Borne vs. LWO – Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro & Carlito

Carlito is a surprise partner for the LWO replacing Dragon Lee, who is still in Mexico due to visa issues. Cruz was in control early for his team and then Wilde tagged in to get some offense going including a headscissors/armdrag combo at the same time. LWO sent the heels to the floor and Carlito/Cruz lifted the ropes as Wilde jumped off the middle ropes onto the three opponents. That was a cool spot that drew a huge reaction. After a cheap shot from Borne, Gulak nailed Wilde with a clothesline. The heels isolated Wilde for a few minutes. Kemp got a German Suplex on Wilde for two as Carlito made the save. Carlito got the tag for the first time with the fans popping big for him. Carlito hit a running knee lift and a double clothesline on Kemp & Borne. Carlito got a two count after a spinebuster. They did a sequence where guys did moves and then bailed to the floor leading to Kemp hitting backbreaker on Carlito for two. Wilde hit a twisting cross body block on Gulak/Borne on the floor. Cruz tagged in with a kick to Kemp, Carlito with a backstabber and Cruz went up top and Cruz hit a twisting 450 Splash on Kemp for the pinfall win. This went about ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: LWO – Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro & Carlito

Analysis: ***1/4 That was an entertaining match with the long build to get Carlito in there and the fans really liked seeing that. The LWO guys worked really well together with some athletic moves off the top. Gulak’s team did fine, but I don’t think anybody thought they had a chance to win.

After the match, Carlito bit into an apple and spit some of the apple in Gulak’s face. The fans popped for that.

Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes were interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. Trick said he wishes the best for Ilja and can’t wait for him to be healthy. Melo said that Trick was training with him, so Ilja wanted no part of it. Grayson Waller walked in to the locker room to mock them. Carmelo wanted Trick to face Waller, but Waller said he was on Smackdown now. Melo said that Trick is so confident he can win that he’ll put up his number one contender spot against Waller. That led to Waller saying he accepted while Trick wasn’t happy that Melo did that.


A video aired featuring Riley Osborne in the Chase U classroom talking about how he’s the underdog going into his NXT Breakout Tournament match.

There’s a new main event: Trick Williams facing Grayson Waller.

Roxanne Perez vs. Arianna Grace

Graces shoved Perez in the face, so Perez slapped Grace in the face. Perez ran the ropes leading to a cross body block. Grace hit a big move with a catapult sending Perez into the middle rope. After Grace was on offense for about a minute or two, Perez made the comeback with a running dropkick. Grace tripped up Perez on the turnbuckle. Perez hit an elbow to the head followed by Pop Rox for the pinfall win after five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Roxanne Perez

After the match, Arianna Grace said that Perez had issues and Perez needs help. Perez beat up Grace with punches and Perez applied a Crossface submission until three referees broke it up. The referee informed the ring announcer that Perez didn’t listen to the referee so Arianna Grace is the winner.

Winner: Arianna Grace

Analysis: **1/2 A win for Roxanne Perez made sense, but then her aggressiveness cost her the match. I guess it’s a case of NXT wanting to have Perez be more aggressive so she’s doing that and it cost her this match. Grace doesn’t win that often, so it can give her something to brag about.

Ava was shown walking out of Shawn Michaels’ locker room. Kelly Kincaid asked Ava about her role. Ava talked about getting advice from a wise man (hey Paul Heyman). Ava said that she has a unique relationship with the roster and she has ideas that work. Ava announced that next week is the start of the Men’s Dusty Tag Team Classic.

A video aired about the Tiffany Stratton/Fallon Henley match that has been building for a few months. That match was after a break. Toodles.


There was a commercial for the Royal Rumble on January 27th.

Nikkita Lyons walked up to Blair Davenport backstage. Lyons said she was showing Blair respect unlike when Blair attacked her from behind. They got into an argument, but it was broken up by officials.

Loser Is Winner’s Ranch Hand Or Servant: Fallon Henley vs. Tiffany Stratton

If Tiffany wins then Fallon becomes her servant and if Fallon wins then Tiffany become a ranch hand. Tiffany’s attire is…going to make her popular with some fans.

Henley was aggressive with strikes and a shoulder tackle. Henley was on offense for the first couple of minutes including a kick to the head. Stratton did a hair pull and sent Henley into the ring post.


The match returned with a double clothesline spot. Henley was in control again with a cross body block off the top for a two count. Henley got on Stratton’s back leading to a crucifix bomb pin attempt for two. Stratton hit a spinebuster. Stratton went for the moonsault off the top, but Henley avoided it. Henley used her legs to send Stratton over the top to the floor. Stratton brought in a chair, which would be illegal in this match. Henley kicked Stratton in the gut to avoid the chair shot, the referee took the chair from Stratton and Henley hit a running knee on Stratton to win. It went nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Fallon Henley

Analysis: *** A good match that felt like a fight from the moment the bell rang. I don’t really like the finish because it makes Stratton look foolish for even attempting to use a chair, but I get that it was a way to have Henley hit her with a running knee to get the win. They could have done that sort of finish in another way and been more logical. I’ve written for a few weeks that Stratton is main roster ready, so I’m not shocked that she lost another match here. I think Stratton will be in the Women’s Royal Rumble match and likely stay on the main roster after that. A quality win for Henley beating a former NXT Women’s Champion.

That win by Henley means that Stratton has to be a Ranch Hand on Henley’s farm. That should lead to some comedy segments with Stratton complaining about the mud and manure.

Baron Corbin walked up to Bron Breakker for a talk. Corbin mentioned that the Dusty Classic starts next week. Corbin said he thinks they would be a good team. Bron laughed about it. Corbin told Bron he’s a smug, arrogant, a-hole and Bron said Corbin is too. Corbin said they are both a-holes. Corbin said they could destroy everybody in the tournament and win the Tag Team Titles. Bron said he would lead the team with Baldy behind him. They agreed it would be fun and Bron touched knuckles with him after a bit of hesitation.

Analysis: That’s interesting that Corbin & Breakker will be a team. Breakker is another guy that is ready for the main roster. I thought maybe the Royal Rumble, but perhaps it will be after WrestleMania 40 or around the time of the WWE Draft, which could be in May again.

A video aired about Oba Femi going into his big match. Oba talked about standing head and shoulders above the rest. Oba said that Nigeria is the giant of Africa and he will be the giant of NXT.

An interview with Ridge Holland was up next.


Gigi Dolin was talking to other women in the locker room when Cora Jade walked in doing her mean girl routine. Jade was mad that Dolin was sitting in her locker. They exchanged words. Other women broke it up before there was a fight. That should lead to a Dolin-Jade match.

Ridge Holland Interview

Ridge Holland was featured in a sitdown interview with Sarah Schreiber. Ridge said he is no stranger to injuries, mishaps and accidents in the ring. Ridge spoke about how they were building to WarGames 2020 and then tragedy struck and he blew both of his legs out – a fractured left ankle, and a dislocated right kneecap/ruptured patella tendon. Ridge said his wife was pregnant with their twin boys at the time. Ridge spoke about how this was how he paid the bills to feed the family.

Ridge talked about the Brawling Brutes with Sheamus and Butch. Ridge said he appreciated the opportunity. At Day 1 2022 he got his nose smashed all over his face and he had surgery. They showed a picture of Ridge with his wife and three kids.

The recent NXT return of Holland was discussed up next going into his match against Ilja Dragunov two weeks ago. Ridge said he respects Ilja immensely. Ridge said that whatever happened is what happened. Ridge said he is a dad, husband, friend and he’s not a monster that tries to hurt people or take away somebody’s career. Ridge said he knows how fast it is to take that way. Ridge said he doesn’t have it in him to do that to somebody. Ridge said he’s there to prove to everybody and show everyone who he is. Ridge said he would go through the roster to prove himself and show the NXT Universe who he truly is with no exceptions.

Analysis: It was well done in terms of telling the fans more about Ridge Holland. I don’t think most people knew he was married with three kids, so that’s a way to give the fans more info about Ridge. They didn’t mention Ridge legitimately injuring Big E with a suplex on the floor in March 2022, but that’s the biggest mishap of his career. I’m also glad that they didn’t do an angle with Ridge saying he was glad that Ilja was (storyline) hurt because that would be in bad taste although I guess it’s something that could be done if they want to turn Ridge heel.

Oba Femi made his entrance for the NXT Men’s Breakout Finals.

Riley Osborne of Chase U was backstage walking for his match. Jacy Jayne pushed Thea Hail to go talk to him, Thea said she was supporting him and Riley gave Thea a high five. Riley left, so Thea told Jacy she was so happy about that.

NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament Finals: Oba Femi vs. Riley Osborne

The winner gets a contract that gives them a title match any time they want it.

Femi has the significant size advantage as a big dude while Osborne has the speed advantage. Osborne tried to get some offense going, but Femi tossed Osborne over the top to the floor. When Osborne tried a move on the floor, Femi slapped Osborne in the chest and it was a loud noise.


Femi was in control using a bearhug. When Osborne got out of it, Femi hit an impressive backbreaker. Thea Hail and Jacy Jayne were watching from the Chase U student section. Osborne finally got some momentum going when he avoided a charging Femi, who hit the turnbuckle. Osborne hit a standing Shooting Star Press. Osborne knocked Femi down with a kick. Osborne went up top, he jumped off with an SSP and Femi got his knees up to block. Femi tossed Osborne into the turnbuckle along with a belly to back slam. Femi hit a Popup Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall and NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament Winner: Oba Femi

Analysis: **3/4 They had a solid match with Femi using his power to get the win. Femi also moved around the ring well when he was selling for the smaller opponent Osborne. After the first time I saw Femi it felt like he was the best choice to win this tournament, so I’m not surprised by the result. Osborne is talented and will likely make some noise in NXT, but this was Femi’s time.

Oba Femi celebrated the win with the NXT Breakout Tournament contract.

A promo aired from the OTM team Bronco Nima and Lucien Price with Scrypts. They spoke about taking the NXT Tag Team Titles from Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. That match is next week.

Kiana James and Izzi Dame were interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. Dame praised James for having the best business mind. James said that Dame has unlimited potential and is not afraid to handle business. James said she sees dollar signs in Dame. James said they are friends and they are going to make some money. James said she’s a threat and everybody will know exactly who Izzi Dame is.

Analysis: There are a few women on the NXT roster who could be NXT Women’s Champion for the first time this year. I’d put Nikkita Lyons at the top of that list and I’d say Kiana James is near the top too. Since James has a “heater” in Dame with her, that will allow James to get some cheap wins in the future.

Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes spoke in the locker room. Trick didn’t like Carmelo putting his title shot on the line and Trick said it was crazy. Melo said he knows Trick could handle it while Melo suggested he should be there with him. Trick said he wanted to do this by himself. Trick said he needs to do this alone. Melo accepted that.


Jacy Jayne & Thea Hail talked about Riley Osborne nearly winning the match when Andre Chase & Duke Hudson walked up with Chase saying that Osborne represented Chase U well. Chase talked about him and Duke being in the Dusty Classic. Jayne said that Chase should focus on his debt only. Jayne said it would be Duke & Riley in the Dusty Cup. Jayne said she’ll get them the money and Thea will help her. Jayne said she’ll bring Chase U back to prominence.

Analysis: I don’t think Jacy Jayne has been a great fit with the Chase U guys because she was great in Toxic Attraction in 2022, but it gives her something to do. Maybe as the story progresses it will get better for all of them.

Lyra Valkyria was sitting backstage when creepy Tatum Paxley congratulating her as the champion. Paxley said as long as Lyra is the champion, all is right in the world. Paxley left.

Nathan Frazer & Axiom were talking backstage in the locker room. Axiom mentioned the Dusty Cup and Frazer was excited about them being a tag team. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade walked up behind them. They said they would show Axiom/Frazer in the Dusty Cup tournament. Axiom told Frazer they’ll handle it together.

They showed Tony D, Stacks & Adrianna Rizzo outside talking about their NXT Tag Team Title match last week. They were mad about Andre Chase. Tony D said that Adrianna Rizzo is the glue of the D’Angelo Family and Stacks said she gets the job done. When they opened the trunk, crazy Joe Gacy was in there. Gacy claimed he was in the trunk for a few hours. Gacy referenced a guy that was in there before him.

Analysis: Four straight backstage segments is a lot. It gets more people on the show to set up future matches and advancing storylines. It just feels like a lot when there are four in a row. The first two were in the same location so they were able to use the same cameras.

Next week on NXT:

* NXT Tag Team Championships: Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo vs. OTM – Lucien Price & Bronco Nima

* Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic begins

* Gigi Dolin vs. Cora Jade

It’s a decent lineup, but not that strong overall.

Grayson Waller made his entrance for the main event. Trick Williams got a big pop with “Whoop That Trick” chants along with Booker T inserting his comments during the Williams entrance as usual.

Trick Williams vs. Grayson Waller

Waller hit a suplex. Trick did an impressive leapfrog followed by a dropkick. Trick hit two body slams along with another dropkick and another body slam. Waller went to the floor, so Trick followed him there with a hard chop to the chest. Trick countered Waller and Trick tossed Waller over the commentary table. Back in the ring, Waller kicked Trick out of the ring. Waller hit a running clothesline to knock Trick down on the floor.


They battled over a suplex leading to Trick hitting a suplex on Waller. Trick charged at Waller against the turnbuckle, but Waller vaulted up and Waller put his feet on the back of Trick to drive Trick into the mat. That was a cool move. Waller wrenched back on Trick’s legs against the turnbuckles. Waller applied a half crab submission, but Trick managed to crawl to the bottom rope to break the hold. Trick worked over Waller with punches along with a leaping clothesline and a flapjack slam. Waller did a necksnap across the top rope, but Trick came back with a popup uppercut punch for two. Waller came back with multiple knee strikes. Williams hit a Rock Bottom/Book End off the middle turnbuckle for two. Booker shouted it that it was a Book End, which was his name for the move. Waller pulled on Trick’s arm across the top rope. Waller jumped back into the ring leading to the flatliner for two. That used to be a Stunner, but he stopped doing a Stunner on the main roster because of Kevin Owens most likely. Waller went for the elbow drop off the middle rope, but Trick avoided it and Trick hit a neckbreaker. Trick set up in the turnbuckle when Carmelo Hayes showed up and jumped on the apron. Waller was out on the floor when Kevin Owens appeared. Owens punched Waller with the cast/brace that Owens had on his right hand. The fans popped huge for that. The referee never saw it. Owens sent Waller back into the ring and Trick hit a jumping left knee on Waller for the pinfall win.

Winner by pinfall: Trick Williams

Analysis: ***1/4 A quality win for Trick Williams with a bit of an assist from Kevin Owens. There was no reason to have Trick lose a match like this. It’s a way to make fans happy after fans may have been frustrated about the Trick-Dragunov match not happening as advertised. I have high expectations for Grayson Waller in 2024, but I didn’t think he had a shot to win here. Trick getting the win was the right call. The one thing I would say about Trick is that as much as I like him, he needs a finisher that’s better than a jumping knee. It looks okay and it’s a safe move. I just think he could do something else that’s more impactful.

Trick Williams celebrated the win while Kevin Owens smiled at ringside. While Trick celebrated the win, Carmelo Hayes stayed on the floor and watched his friend celebrate. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: I think they might save the Dragunov-Williams match for NXT Vengeance Day PLE on February 4th. That might be when Carmelo Hayes turns heel on Trick to set up that rivalry and their match at Stand & Deliver during WrestleMania weekend. The other option is that Trick wins the title at Vengeance Day and then Melo turns heel right after, so that sets up the Trick-Melo match as a title feud. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how all of that develops.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Trick Williams
  2. Oba Femi
  3. Fallon Henley/Lyra Valkyria


The Scoreboard

This week: 7 out of 10

Last week: 6.5


Final Thoughts on WWE NXT

I thought it was mostly a good show with some solid matches. There wasn’t any match that stood out, but plenty of them were good. They didn’t have any matches that were too short also, which is nice. With that said, I don’t think New Year’s Evil felt like that big of a deal compared to some other NXT TV special episodes.

It was disappointing to see that Ilja Dragunov didn’t wrestle Trick Williams as advertised for the last couple of weeks. I know Ilja was storyline injured by Ridge Holland, but they could have gotten out of it in a better way. Trick got the obvious win over Grayson Waller to continue Trick’s momentum. The two women’s singles matches were good too with Henley beating Stratton and Valkyria defeating Davenport.

Congratulations to Oba Femi on winning the Men’s NXT Breakout Tournament. It’s easy to see why WWE likes the guy since he’s a powerhouse that moves around the ring well. If you haven’t seen him yet then that’s okay, but I’m telling you he has a lot of potential. Oba has a bright future for sure.


Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport