This week’s WWE NXT featured Gigi Dolin taking on Cora Jade, plus the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began.
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.
A video aired recapping last week’s NXT New Year’s Evil episode. It was okay, but normally NXT special episodes are better than that.
They showed Nikkita Lyons and Blair Davenport fighting in the parking lot before the show. The live shot showed them fighting into the arena, so they had a match. It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.
Nikkita Lyons vs. Blair Davenport
Lyons was aggressive early on with a suplex, a forearm and a spin kick for two. Blair came back with a double foot stomp to the back. After Blair applied a tight headlock, Lyons hit a suplex to break free. Lyons hit a suplex that almost looked like a DDT with a rough landing for Blair. Lyons hit a German Suplex after that. Lyons clotheslined Blair out of the ring. Blair avoided a kick on the floor so Lyons’ right knee hit the ring post. Blair did a chop block to the right knee and a knee strike by Blair got the win.
Winner by pinfall: Blair Davenport
Analysis: **1/4 A win for Blair after losing her title match last week. It was one of those matches where the loser Lyons was on offense for a lot of the match to make her look impressive before Blair got the win. I can see Lyons getting a push this year, but not yet.
A video aired about the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament that was narrated by Cody Rhodes. Eight teams will compete for the Dusty Cup and an NXT Tag Team Title shot.
Gallus was shown walking backstage while Bron Breakker and Baron Corbin were also walking backstage in another part of the arena.
Carmelo Hayes talked to Trick Williams in the locker room. Melo told Trick they don’t know when NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov will be out, so Melo got them the last spot in the Dusty Cup Tag Team Tournament. Trick said he didn’t know because he wanted to stay locked in for his match against Ilja. Melo said they would take this whole thing and win the Tag Team Championships. Melo said he’ll be Triple Crown Champion and they’ll call Williams by the name of Two Title Trick. Williams liked that.
Analysis: I don’t see them winning the tournament, but it’s a way to advance the story of their eventual split. I can see Melo accidentally hitting Trick in a match to cost them a win.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin vs. Gallus – Mark Coffey & Wolfgang (w/Joe Coffey)
They are heel teams with Bron & Corbin admitting they are both assholes, yet that’s why they are teaming together. Bron hit an impressive lifting slam on Wolfgang. Mark nailed Corbin with a running uppercut shot. Wolfgang hit a stun gun on Corbin and a senton splash on Bron.
Corbin hit a clothesline off the middle rope. Mark knocked Corbin down with a clothesline, but Corbin came back with a Deep Six slam. Corbin hit a Death Valley Driver slam on Mark, so Wolfgang pulled Mark out of the ring to save his partner. Corbin punched the ring post when Wolfgang moved, so Mark worked over Corbin’s right hand. After a couple of minutes, Corbin broke free and Bron was on offense with power moves along with a clothesline. Bron German Suplexed Wolfgang while Wolfie was holding Mark, so that was impressive. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that and Corbin tagged in even though Bron was on fire. Bron hit a Spear on Wolfgang and Corbin hit End of Days on Mark for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin
Analysis: *** Good match with the Bron/Corbin team standing out as a couple of jerks that somehow are getting along. Bron’s offense is fun to watch. Gallus are former champions and should be fine long term. It was the right move to put Corbin & Bron over. I think Bron and Corbin might win this tournament. It’s hard to predict, but I like the idea of them making the finals and getting a title match against babyface champions.
A video aired from “Earlier Today” showing Fallon Henley at the farm with horses. Stratton had to help Henley on the farm due as a Ranch Hand to losing a match last week. Tiffany Stratton arrived wearing her pink heels, shirt and attire showing off her body as usual. Tiffany thinks she had the perfect outfit. Henley had clothes for her, but Stratton said she wasn’t wearing those clothes. Henley told Stratton to pick up horse shit if she sees it. More to come.
Let’s Hear from Lyra Valkyria
Lyra Valkyria was in the ring as the NXT Women’s Champion saying she’ll finish 2024 as the NXT Women’s Champion. Lyra talked about beating Blair Davenport last week and that Blair will keep coming after her. Lyra announced that next week will be a 20-woman battle royal on NXT week. When that battle royal comes down to four women, it becomes a Fatal 4-Way match. The winner of that 4-Way match faces her at NXT Vengeance Day.
Lola Vice with Elektra Lopez made their entrance. Lola said she still has her NXT Women’s Breakout contract that allows her to cash in any time she wants. Lyra said she thought Lola would be the one to turn this place upside down, but all she sees is Lola talking about what she will do. Lyra said she’s not here to see Lola shake her ass on Instagram. Lyra said she wanted to see Lola the cage fighter. Lyra claimed that everybody wants to see this match happen. Lola claims the fans love her Latina Heat. Lyra praised Elektra Lopez and said Lola had no intention to go after the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Lyra wanted a match right now, but Elektra & Lola fought with Lyra. Tatum Paxley ran into the ring and punched Lola while Lyra knocked Lopez out of the ring. Lyra and Tatum were together in the ring while the heels were on the floor.
Analysis: It’s a way to build a tag team match while announcing the battle royal for next week. The promos were fine, but not interesting.
A video was shown of the Meta-Four group laughing at a video of Brooks Jensen being left alone after his group split up. Josh Briggs walked up to them and mocked them for thinking that they broke up Josh’s group with his friends. Briggs wanted a rematch against Noam Dar for the Heritage Cup. Briggs called Oro Mensah a sidekick, so they are having a match.
There was a video backstage with Luca Crusifino complaining to Ava about how Luca’s foot was under the bottom rope. Dragon Lee walked in with the NXT North American Title saying he was back and Lexis King arrived with a contract to have a match with Dragon. Lee signed the contract. That match was set for the main event.
Oro Mensah (w/Noam Dar, Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson) vs. Josh Briggs
Briggs overpowered Mensah with a body slam along with a powerslam. Dar held Briggs’ foot leading to Mensah kicking Briggs to stop Josh’s momentum. Mensah hit a springboard kick on Briggs to knock the big man down. Briggs caught Mensah and hit a Chokeslam-like move. Mensah charged, Briggs avoided him and Briggs hit a running lariat for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Josh Briggs
Analysis: ** An easy win for Briggs to keep building momentum as a babyface and possibly going after Noam Dar again. Mensah is talented, but he’s usually booked as the guy who loses a match before somebody gets to face Dar.
The OTM team and Tony D/Stacks were shown walking backstage for their tag team match.
It was back to the farm with Tiffany Stratton moving hay around and watering. A girl walked up to Henley saying that they needed to wash the horse, so Henley had to go wash the horse named Buttercup. Henley gave Stratton a bucket of water with a sponge, so Tiffany slowly washed him a bit while making faces to show her frustration. Stratton thought she was done, but Henley told Stratton she had to muck some stalls. Stratton looked into the stall and was grossed out by it.
Analysis: I give Tiffany credit for selling it well. Her reactions were a bit over the top, but she made it work.
NXT Tag Team Championships: Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo (w/Adriana Rizzo) vs. Out The Mud (OTM) – Lucien Price & Bronco Nima (w/Scrypts)
I’ll go play by play here. Nima knocked down Stacks with a shoulder tackle. Tony tagged in with a punch and a shoulder tackle on Nima. Stacks tagged in for a knee lift and shoulder tackle combo. Price tackled Stacks against the turnbuckle. Stacks worked over Price with punches. Tony D hiptossed Stacks onto Price for a two count. Stacks tagged in, so Tony tossed him onto Price for a two count. Nima kicked Stacks in the back, Stacks sent both opponents to the floor and Nima/Price did a double team slam on Stacks on the floor.
Nima was in control of Stacks with a chop to the body. Stacks shoved Nima into the ring post and kicked Price away, so Tony D tagged in. Tony D was on fire with two overhead belly to belly suplexes. Tony delivered some gut punches into a Jackhammer and then a spinebuster on Price got a two count. Stacks tagged in for an uppercut/suplex combo. Nima saved his partner with a running boot and Price kicked Tony to knock him down. OTM hit a double team slam on Tony for a two count. Price hit a powerslam for two. Stacks clotheslined Nima out of the ring and Tony sent Price out of the ring. Tony launched Stacks over the top onto both opponents on the floor. Tony & Stacks hit the Bada Boom Bada Bing slam for a two count because Nima tackled Stacks into the pile to break up the pin. Scrypts tried to get involved, but Rizzo shoved him off the top. Stacks hit a dive onto Nima on the floor and Tony D hit a Fisherman’s Buster on Price for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo
Analysis: ***1/4 It was an entertaining match that was pretty good, especially in the last few minutes. The champions retaining was fine with me because I think they needed a win like that. I think OTM are future champions, but it’s just not their time right now. That finish was booked like to put over Rizzo at ringside by stopping Stacks from interfering. That led to the champions retaining.
There was a video from NXT Anonymous showing Jacy Jayne & Thea Hail talking to Chase U students. Jayne said she had an idea to save the university, but she needed them to do what she tells them to do.
Oba Femi was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid, who asked when he wants to use this contract for a title match. Femi talked about when he might cash in. Lexis King interrupted saying that if it wasn’t Trey Bearhill, he would have been in the finals of that tournament against Femi. Lexis talked about his title match tonight. King said Femi might be the NXT North American Champion and King said that he’s the future NXT North American Champion. Femi asked if that match was the main event was tonight, Kincaid said yeah and Femi looked at his contract.
Cora Jade entered for singles action.
Gallus was shown talking backstage about their loss. Ridge Holland walked by them, so Joe Coffey told Ridge that his interview was very touching. They exchanged words with Ridge telling Joe that he has no fear. Joe said he doesn’t know how long Ridge will survive in NXT and teased that they will take care of Ridge. That led to Ridge saying he’ll be seeing them around.
Gigi Dolin vs. Cora Jade
Gigi got some offense early, but Jade stomped on Gigi’s back to take control. Jade hit a clothesline. Jade hit a running elbow into Dolin’s back followed by a running knee. Gigi connected with some strikes along with a running elbow and clothesline. Gigi hit a running dropkick on Cora against the ropes. Jade held onto the referee to avoid a move. Jade hit a double underhook DDT for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cora Jade
Analysis: **1/4 The rise of Cora Jade continues. Her offense isn’t the most impressive by any means, but she knows how to work as a heel. This match was built up for a few weeks and they only got about four minutes, so that’s disappointing. I’m not saying they are great technical wrestlers that should have a long match, but I figured it would be longer than this.
The team of OTM with Scrypts were walking in the parking lot while Jaida Parker was there telling them they are better than that. Parker said she is the missing piece to their group. Scrypts said they should talk business.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Hank Walker & Tank Ledger vs. Axiom & Nathan Frazer
Hank hit a boot to the face (sort of) on Axiom and Axiom sold it great. After Frazer tagged in, Tank got in there and Hank/Tank hit a combo move splashing Frazer. Hank hit Axiom with a couple of power moves sending Axiom into the turnbuckle along with a spinning slam. Tank tagged in leading to a splash on Axiom. Frazer was back in using his speed with a running forearm. Frazer hit a missile dropkick for two because Hank made the save. Tank hit a Full Nelson Bomb. Hank launched Frazer to Tank, who hit a belly-to-back suplex leading to a two count. Axiom and Frazer each hit dives onto their opponents. Hank nailed Axiom with a clothesline. Axiom nailed Hank with a knee. Frazer tagged in and hit a Phoenix Splash for on Hank for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Axiom & Nathan Frazer
Analysis: **1/2 Axiom & Frazer are exciting to watch, so I’m glad they won. Hank & Tank are still early in their run as a team. They are getting better, which is good to see.
Axiom & Frazer move onto the semifinals against Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin.
It was back to the farm as Tiffany Stratton tried to clean a stall. Fallon Henley and her friends were laughing about Stratton working in the stall. Stratton said she’s going to erase this day from her memory. Henley told Stratton it looked like she was done. Stratton said it was hell and it was the worst day of her life because for one day she got to feel what it was like to be like Henley. Stratton said she pities Henley if she thinks this is a good way to live. Stratton stepped on some poop and then landed in some water that was nearby, so Stratton was screaming about it. Henley laughed and told Stratton she was free to go.
Analysis: I will give Tiffany Stratton credit for selling it as well as she did. Like I said earlier, she made those segments entertaining.
Dragon Lee entered for his NXT North American Title match.
Edris Enofe & Malik Blade were shown walking backstage where they talked about the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match next week. They spoke about how they could beat Carmelo Hays & Trick Williams. A woman named Brinley Reece walked in to try to encourage them to work out and get in shape. She says they’ll have six packs. Blade and Enofe showed they have six packs. Brinley said if you need a program, hit her up.
Next week on NXT:
* Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade
* Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: LWO vs. Chase U
* NXT Women’s Championship #1 Contender Battle Royal
* Lyra Valkyria & Tatum Paxley vs. Lola Vice & Elektra Lopez
Lexis King made his entrance for the main event.
NXT North American Championship: Dragon Lee vs. Lexis King
Lee got a side headlock takeover. King applied an armbar on the left arm. King hit a shoulder tackle. Lee nailed a dropkick that sent King into the turnbuckle. King set up Lee on the top turnbuckle and King dropkicked Lee out of the ring. Trey Bearhill was at ringside with referees there to hold him back. Lee hit a somersault dive over the top onto King on the floor.
King was in control with a half crab submission, but Lee countered it into a pin attempt. King knocked down Lee with a clothesline. Lee hit an elbow smash along with a clothesline. Lee delivered a kick by the turnbuckle followed by a headscissors into the turnbuckle. Lee jumped over the rope leading to a kick to the face. Lee hit a running dropkick for two. They got into a chopfest. King hit a superkick, Lee hit a jumping knee and King hit a clothesline to the back. King hit a sitout slam for a two count. King applied a half crab submission, but Lee got to the ropes. Lee hit a superkick followed by the Operation Dragon slam for the pinfall win. It went about nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dragon Lee
Analysis: *** The match was okay. It didn’t feel like a big main event, nor did it feel like King had a shot to win this match. The fans weren’t into it that much compared to other title matches in NXT. I like King as a character, but in terms of matches, he hasn’t stood out that much. Lee is a talented in-ring performer for sure.
After the match, Lee celebrated with his NXT North American Title. Oba Femi’s music hit as Femi walked out with a contract and a referee with him. Femi said he was cashing in his Breakout Tournament contract right now.
NXT North American Championship: Dragon Lee vs. Oba Femi
Lee dove onto Femi on the floor. Back in the ring, Lee hit an enziguri kick. Femi hit a forearm to the head along with Femi launching Dragon across the ring. Femi charged, Lee hit him with a superkick and Lee hit a spinning DDT for two. Lee charged, Femi caught him and Femi hit a Popup Powerbomb for the pinfall win after just over one minute.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT North American Champion: Oba Femi
Analysis: * A dominant win to put over Femi as a powerful force with the Powerbomb for the win. I didn’t think that Dragon Lee would have a very long title reign anyway since he is already on the Smackdown roster. I don’t mind the cash-in main event story. It worked well in this case.
Oba Femi celebrated with the NXT North American Title in the ring. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I’m happy for Oba. They booked him strong in the Breakout tournament and it continues here. He’s an impressive athlete with a bright future.
Three Stars of the Show
- Oba Femi – Congratulations on his first championship.
- Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin
- Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo
This week: 6.75 out of 10
Last week: 7
Final Thoughts on WWE NXT
It was a solid episode of NXT that furthered some storylines and had some good matches, but none of the matches stood out that much. Oba Femi cashing in his Breakout Tournament contract win on Dragon Lee and becoming NXT North American Champion was a big deal. Clearly, WWE likes Femi a lot as a big, athletic guy. Putting a title on him after just two months on TV might be a bit too soon for some people. I don’t mind it. Why not? Dragon Lee is already on the main roster, so he’ll be fine long term. It puts Femi over in a big way.
I liked Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin as a tag team. They got along in this match, but it might not happen in every match, yet I can see them winning the Dusty Cup. There were a couple of women’s matches on the show that were kept short for the most part. I was hoping Gigi & Cora would get some more time. I think Cora is going to be a champion soon, so it’s smart to keep her strong with that win.
The last point I’ll touch on here is that Tiffany Stratton was pretty funny selling the “Ranch Hand” job at Fallon Henley’s farm. Stratton was a bit over the top at times. To her credit, she made it work. As I have mentioned many times, I think Tiffany is very ready for the main roster so I’m hoping she gets that opportunity soon.
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