DATE: January 4, 2022
VENUE: WWE Performance Center (Orlando, FL)
COMMENTATORS: Vic Joseph & Wade Barrett
NXT New Year’s Evil rings in 2022 with a bevy of championships on the line, including the big one as Tommaso Ciampa defends against Bron Breakker. WWE finally lets go of its latest attempt at a Cruiserweight division as it unifies the title with the NXT North American Championship as Roderick Strong takes on Carmelo Hayes.
- NXT CHAMPION: Tommaso Ciampa
- NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Mandy Rose
- NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION: Carmelo Hayes
- NXT CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION: Roderick Strong
- NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
- NXT WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jane)
- UNIFICATION MATCH: Carmelo Hayes [NA] vs. Roderick Strong [CW] for the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP (***3/4)
- Riddle & MSK vs. Imperium (***1/2)
- Mandy Rose [c] vs. Raquel Gonzalez vs. Cora Jade for the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (**1/4)
- Tommaso Ciampa [c] vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT CHAMPIONSHIP (****)
UNIFICATION MATCH (WINNER RECOGNIZED AS NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION)
Carmelo Hayes [North American] [w/ Trick Williams] vs. Roderick Strong [Cruiserweight] [w/ Malcolm Bivens & Hachiman] for the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Hayes and Strong jockey for position to start, countering one another’s moves as the crowd chants for both men. Hayes catches Strong with a dropkick, Strong stumbles to the ropes to regain his composure and reset. Joseph and Barrett talk about how much Hachiman has helped Strong train for this match, which is pretty funny considering he was released from the company like a day after this show. Hayes and Strong trade armdrags, Hayes kips out of a pinfall attempt into a kick. Nice. Strong escapes a headlock and lights Hayes up with chops; Hayes tries to escape to the floor but Strong follows him out and continues the chopfest. Back in the ring Strong pummels Hayes with rights, Hayes dodges a corner splash and connects with a springboard legdrop as Strong hangs off the ropes. Strong and Hayes counter each other, Hayes brings Strong to the apron and connects with a springboard DDT on the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Hayes rolls through a top rope attempt, Strong surprises him with a running kick for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out as the action goes to picture-in-picture. Strong drops Hayes with a stiff chop and lays into him with stomps as a helpless Williams watches at ringside. Strong with a snap suplex into a floatover lateral press for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out, Strong grabs a cobra clutch but Hayes escapes with a jawbreaker and connects with something (I LOOKED DOWN, MY BAD) for the 1…2…Strong kicks out and Hayes immediately muscles him into a top wristlock.
Show returns to full-screen in time for Strong’s offensive comeback, channeling his history as a Master of the Backbreaker by bending Hayes’ spine in all manner of ways, Bivens grinning at ringside. Hayes surprises Strong with a tilt-a-whirl into a faceslam for the 1…2…Strong kicks out, Hayes immediately locks in a Crossface. Strong escapes, Hayes sits out a slingshot attempt and applies a Boston Crab. Strong counters out and locks in the STRONG HOLD, bending Hayes in ways a human should not bend. Hayes escapes with a heel kick and charges, Strong turns it into a urinage backbreaker for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out! Strong connects with a series of running forearms followed by an Angle Slam for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out again! Strong rolls through a sunset flip, Hayes turns it into a suplex cutter for the 1…2…Strong kicks out. Strong surprises Hayes with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out and connects with a superkick. Hayes climbs the buckles, Strong stuns him with a jumping enzuigiri and a TOP ROPE INSIDE OUT PLEX for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out! Hayes comes off the top with a frog Ax Kick from the top for the 1…2…3!
Carmelo Hayes [c] defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall to retain the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP (15:30)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Helluva match and a big win for Hayes, who the folks in charge of NXT seem to think a lot of. I don’t watch a lot of the TV weekly so I can’t agree or disagree but I will say this match kicked a lot of ass. Hard-fought. Sad to see the Cruiserweight Championship go but tbh this is a better sendoff than the title has gotten the other times WWE abandoned it so at least it went out with purpose instead of just forgotten about. Locking titles behind weight limits don’t make a ton of sense in modern pro wrestling, but I’ll still miss it. I wonder what the f*ck 205 Live is even about at this point. (***3/4)
Hayes poses with both belts atop Williams’ shoulders on the ramp. Carmelo Hayes don’t miss.
–Tommaso Ciampa clutches his NXT Championship in the locker room when he’s interrupted by “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles. Styles says he’s here to take care of some business and tells Ciampa to defend his title. Well…yeah. That’s what he’s here to do.
-ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO: The Dusty Rhodes Classic returns this year, with the Men’s tournament beginning in two weeks and the Women’s tournament starting in February.
“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles makes his way to the ring, dressed and ready to fight. Music dies down and the NXT crowd chant his name, which he says he never gets tired of hearing. Styles thanks the fans for being amazing over his entire career, but he’d be lying to them if he didn’t admit to having regrets. Styles hypes up his WWE career, how he debuted at the Royal Rumble, but regrets not having started his career with the company in NXT because there’s something special about this place. Styles says it’s the passion the fans have and the passion the Superstars have for their fans; doesn’t care which version of NXT this is it’s the passion that makes it happen. Styles will be damned if he lets someone take that passion away from them, i.e. Grayson Waller (INSTANT BOOS).
Before he can truly launch into some shade Grayson Waller interrupts, dressed like a douchebag and amused at what’s going on. Waller gives Styles credit where it’s due for tugging at the heartstrings. Waller calls it a “Phenomenal” deflection and makes fun of Styles for losing to Omos the previous night on Monday Night RAW. Waller knows why Styles lost last night: he was too busy thinking about Waller and brags about living in his head rent-free. Styles says he’s never had a match in NXT and tries to challenge Waller right here RIGHT NOW. Waller puts a stop to that immediately, saying they’re on Waller time not on Phenomenal time. Styles tells Waller to grow a sack and do something, Waller removes his douchebag shirt and steps in the ring but says instead they should do it next week in the main event. Waller says it’ll be the biggest victory of his career, Styles responds and says it’ll be Waller’s biggest embarrassment. Styles & Waller brawl, Styles almost goes for the Phenomenal Forearm but Waller quickly escapes to the ramp.
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Good segment to hype a big match on next week’s show. Reminds me of the older NXT where main roster stars would show up for a match here and there, so I can’t help but be into this. Didn’t realize Grayson Waller became public enemy number one on this show, that’s interesting. He’s definitely got a punchable face, I’ll give him that. Last time I saw him he was on 205 Live doing nothing in particular, glad he’s found his way.
-VIDEO: Pete Dunne talks about Tony D’Angelo hurting his arm with a crowbar; Dunne says D’Angelo has poked the bear and vows to rip his arm right out of the socket. If D’Angelo is as bad as he says he is Dunne challenges him to finish the job he started next week.
–Amari Miller catches up with Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter backstage in the Performance Center gym. Catanzaro & Carter are gearing up to become Women’s Tag Team Champs this year, but get interrupted by Persia Pirotta & Indi Hartwell who think THEY’RE gonna be the next Women’s Tag Team Champs. Catanzaro, Carter, & Miller challenge them to a six-person tag team match. Hartwell and Pirotta initially try to get Tiffany Stratton as a partner but she walks off complaining to her Dad how ew they are, revealing a sleeping lady behind some production equipment. She introduces herself as Wendy Choo then goes back to sleep after asking why they’re looking at her like a ham sandwich. HEH? Well I guess this is a match happening soon. That felt REAL forced.
Riddle & MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) vs. Imperium (WALTER, Fabian Aichner, & Marcel Barthel)
Imperium defeated MSK for the Tag Team Championship at Halloween Havoc and the duo have been looking to find their way since, eventually bringing in their “Shaman” Riddle to get them back in gear. Probably a lot of weed jokes thrown in too because why not. This feud has gotten hot enough for WALTER to have been brought out of hibernation for a rare match, so that alone makes this worth checking out. He’s about to leave Randy Orton without a tag team partner. MSK & Riddle’s themes are played in by a random DJ on the stage, mixing their themes together and whatnot.
Barthel wrestles Carter to the ground immediately, trapping him in an armbar and straight up showing off. Carter uses his speed to throw Barthel off his game, tripping him up and connecting with a sliding dropkick. Aichner tags in and targets Carter’s left arm, sending him shoulder-first into the corner. Carter fights out with strikes and chops, Aichner fights off a crucifix but Carter counters with a rana. Lee tags in and connects with a headscissors, Aichner catches a backflip attempt but Lee escapes his grasp. Aichner catches a kick and pulls him right into a lariat, turning Wes Lee inside out. Hell yeah. Lee slides under a kick attempt and tags in Riddle for his first NXT match since 2017. Aichner responds by tagging in WALTER and now sh*t is going down. Riddle lays into WALTER with kicks, WALTER catches one and drops Riddle with a goddamn bearclaw of a chop. Aichner tags back in and connects with a slam followed by an elbowdrop for a one-count, then settles into a chinlock. Riddle flips out of a suplex attempt and MSK go into hyper speed with strikes to Aichner & Barthel, in comes WALTER who f*cks Riddle & Carter up. WALTER catches Lee in mid-air and connects with a chop, holding him in place so Imperium can connect with a double dropkick/baseball slide. Imperium pose in the ring as the match goes to picture-in-picture. WALTER tags in and grabs a double wristlock, bending Carter back with a boot to the spine. Carter tries to break out, WALTER chops some sense into him and tags in Aichner who slows it down with a leglock (despite Carter’s arm being the limb they were working on earlier but I digress). Aichner turns it into an STF, Carter quickly grabs the bottom rope to force a break. Barthel tags in and measures Carter for a flying European uppercut; Carter kicks out of the pinfall attempt and Barthel immediately slaps on a seated cobra clutch. Carter escapes, Barthel grabs him and connects with another European uppercut to prevent the tag.
Back to full screen we go as Carter starts fighting back, superkicking Aichner off the apron and dropping Barthel. WALTER tags in and stomps Carter before he can make the tag, staring down Riddle as he does so. Carter rolls under a clothesline and goes for a tag but Aichner & Barthel pull his partners off the apron. WALTER clobbers Carter and connects with a kneedrop for the 1…2…Carter barely kicks out. Carter surprises WALTER with a rana and Riddle gets the tag, lighting him up with kicks. Riddle grabs WALTER for an exploder and eats some elbows before finally connecting with the move, following up with a senton. Aichner & Barthel try to interfere, Riddle goes for a double hanging DDT but WALTER attacks from behind. Riddle hits WALTER with a PK from the apron, MSK take flight with stereo suicide dives and all six men litter the floor. Back in the ring Riddle muscles WALTER up into a German suplex for the 1…2…NOT YET. Riddle channels his RKBro partner by signaling for the RKO, Imperium wipes out MSK and WALTER drills Riddle with a powerbomb for the 1…2…Riddle kicks out! Aichner & Barthel take over on WALTER’s command, Aichner connecting with a deadlift suplex for the 1…2…Carter breaks it up in the nick of time. Riddle fights off Aichner & Barthel and connects with a release German to WALTER. Lee tags in and MSK hit a Hart Attack blockbuster, Riddle tags in and hits a twisting splash then hits an RKO on Barthel for the 1…2…3!
Riddle & MSK defeated Imperium via pinfall (13:50)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Always a treat when WALTER is brought in for a match; he’s the WWE’s real special attraction. Excellent six-man tag team match, MSK’s speed worked really well with Imperium’s more mat-based offense and I bought into a lot of the nearfalls. I hope this means we’re getting a Riddle/WALTER match or something because I need more WALTER. Don’t fly this dude in for a 14 minute six-man tag team match. Don’t do that to us. (***1/2)
–McKenzie Mitchell is standing by with Joe Gacy and Harland. Mitchell asks Harland to explain himself in regards to his attack last week on Andre Chase’s students. Gacy speaks for him, saying Harland has made great strides these past few weeks in controlling himself. Gacy makes it known that he and Harland want in on the Dusty Rhodes Classic, but doesn’t want any handouts. They will be happy to prove to the committee that they are a viable tag team and thanks Mitchell for her time. Cool?
-A helicopter flies over Orlando, transporting Mandy Rose to New Year’s Evil for her championship match.
-McKenzie Mitchell is standing by with Elektra Lopez. She asks Lopez about what’s going on with her and Xyon Quinn. She says she’s attracted to success and makes no apology to her family or anyone. Next week Mitchell will get her answer next week as Santos Escobar takes on Quinn; the winner of the match will leave with her. Word.
Mandy Rose [c] vs. Raquel Gonzalez vs. Cora Jade for the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Jade arrives on her tiny skateboard, Gonzalez arrives on an overcompensatingly huge motorcycle she can barely drive since the arena is so small, and Rose arrives via helicopter. Oneupsmanship all the way around. Rose beat Gonzalez for the Women’s Championship at Halloween Havoc, giving Toxic Attraction control of all the division’s gold in the company.
Gonzalez drops Jade immediately with a big boot and goes after the champ, hammer throwing her into the corner. Jade charges, Gonzalez hangs her out to dry and Rose attacks from behind, sending Gonzalez to the floor with a pump knee. Jade takes Rose to the canvas with a headscissors (awkwardly-timed), Jade tries the same on Gonzalez but she fights it off. Jade switches it up and rolls Gonzalez up for the 1…2…Gonzalez kicks out and gets baited into sending herself to the floor. Rose pulls Jade out and crushes her against the apron, Gonzalez runs in and drops Rose with a big boot, Jade flattens Gonzalez with a cannonball from the apron. Rose regains control and rolls Jade back in, covering for the 1…Gonzalez pulls Jade back to the floor, Rose kicks her away and rolls Jade back in for another cover. Gonzalez once again yanks Jade to the apron, Rose belts her with a forearm and shoves her into the ring steps, trying to take her out of the match. Jade wrestles Rose to the mat for the 1…2…Gonzalez breaks it up and seats Jade on the buckles. Rose attacks from behind, Gonzalez picks her and Jade up for a DOUBLE SAMOAN DROP but both ladies escape to the floor to avoid the pinfall as the show goes to picture-in-picture. Rose introduces a SURPRISE KENDO STICK to the match, Gonzalez wrestles it away and rubs it into her face, Jade rolls a distracted Gonzalez up for the 1…2…not yet. Jade gets control of the kendo stick and argues with Gonzalez, leaving her open to a pump knee from Rose. Rose shoves Gonzalez out of the ring and covers Jade for the 1…2…not yet. Rose locks Jade in a bodyscissors, trying to Xenia Onatopp her way to victory.
It doesn’t work as the show goes back to full screen, with Gonzalez getting involved to prevent a victory. Jade rolls Rose up for the 1…2…Rose kicks out and drives Jade to the canvas with a clothesline for the 1…2…Jade kicks out. Jade catches a charging Gonzale with a rana out of the corner followed by a rana to Rose that sends her into the ropes. Jade dazes Gonzalez with a knee, Gonzalez uses her power to muscle Jade into a backbreaker. Gonzalez picks Jade up and tosses her out to the floor, Rose getting out of the way to avoid disaster. Rose decides to make a run for it, Gonzalez stops her and tosses her back into the ring. Rose begs off, apologizing profusely but Raquel is out for blood. Gonzalez connects with a clothesline followed by a hammer blow, Rose rolls to the floor to avoid getting pinned. Gonzalez quickly rolls Rose back in, Rose catches her with a surprise Codebreaker on the way in for the 1…2…Gonzalez kicks out and the champ ain’t happy. Rose trash talks, Gonzalez dodges a pump knee and Rose sends herself face-first into the ropes. Gonzalez picks Rose up and plants her with a bomb for the 1…2…Jade breaks it up with a surprise top-rope senton! Gonzalez seats Jade on the buckles, Jade wiggles out and sends her crashing to the floor, leaving Jade with the Women’s Champ. Jade goes for a roll-up, Rose counters and jackknifes Jade for the 1…2…3! LOL.
Mandy Rose [c] defeated Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade via pinfall to retain the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (12:33)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: This was…rough in spots. Mandy Rose is trying and probably has gotten better since her main roster days but it was pretty obvious they were trying to wrestle AROUND her more than involve her. I did like Rose putting an end to Jade’s roll-up nonsense by countering it and stealing the win herself though. It was okay, I dunno. I feel like the Women’s division in NXT is better than this. (**1/4)
-VIDEO: Boa begs his inner demon for the chance to face Solo Sikoa as himself. Demon doesn’t seem too happy about that idea. GUY HE WAS WITH DIDN’T SEEM TOO HAPPY THO.
–Riddle and MSK celebrate their victory in the parking lot of the Performance Center. Riddle says the journey has been incredible but now it’s time for MSK to regain the Tag Team Championship themselves. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later and off Riddle goes on his scooter. The Creed Brothers confront MSK and declare for the Dusty Rhodes Classic, teasing a potential finals matchup.
Andre Chase makes his way to the ring, his Chase U section on their feet cheering their teacher. Chase says that last week was a TEACHABLE MOMENT, as one of his students risked life and limb to protect him from an attack. Chase says that’s the kind of bond Chase U has with its student body. Chase is grateful that Harland didn’t throw his student off the roof of the building because that would’ve been terrible for enrollment. Chase tries to honor this heroic student with the first-ever full scholarship to Chase U but before he can make his way to the ring Von Wagner interrupts. Wagner brags about how people want to see who he “tunes out” next. Wagner only needs to be liked by the people who matter and no one in the crowd does. Wagner tells Chase he’s everything he’s not. Chase tries to calm things down and teach, Wagner levels him with a lariat and Angle Slam for his trouble. Wagner turns his attention to the crowd, throwing the Heroic Chase U Student and other members around as officials and referees work overtime to break it up. K.
-FEUD RECAP VIDEO: Tommaso Ciampa beat Bron Breakker to retain the NXT Championship at Halloween Havoc. Breakker pinned Ciampa to win War Games for his team a month later at, uh, War Games.
-Security works on escorting Von Wagner out of the building but he stops momentarily to make fun of a recuperating Roderick Strong and The Diamond Mine.
-VIDEO: Cameron Grimes recaps his 2021 and sets his sights on some gold in the new year. 202-TO THE MOOOOON.
Tomasso Ciampa [c] vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT CHAMPIONSHIP
Breakker makes his entrance by break(ker)ingn some chains and break(ker)ing an old logo-style X to represent the dawning of a NEW ERA. Very subtle but also HELL YEAH I LOVE BRON BREAKKER. Ciampa, to his credit, is wearing gear to reflects the new color-scheme of NXT 2.0. No holding onto the black & gold for this man.
Ciampa connects with a corner clothesline, Breakker rolls Ciampa up into a delayed vertical suplex and the champ rolls to the floor to regroup. Ciampa tries to pull Breakker out to the ring but Breakker pulls him back in by leg strength alone, connecting with another suplex. Ciampa catches Breakker with a back elbow and chop, Breakker fights back with rights of his own. Ciampa connects with a kick and rakes Breakker’s eyes across the top rope. Ciampa rains down rights in the corner mount, Breakker counters out with an inverted atomic drop followed by a clothesline. Ciampa rebounds and floors Breakker with a dropkick, stopping to bow to the crowd. Ciampa sends Breakker off the apron with a running knee and follows up with a corkscrew plancha (!!!). Hell yeah. Back in the ring Ciampa continues wearing the challenger down, slowing things down with a rear chinlock. Breakker gets to his feet, Ciampa turns it into a backpack sleeper, Breakker falls back to break the hold and flatten his opponent. Breakker charges and counters a leapfrog into a spinebuster, following up with a corner spear. Breakker seats Ciampa on the buckles and teases a FRANKENSTEINER but Ciampa escapes and puts him in a tree of woe, stomping at his face as the blood rushes to his head, following up with a sliding dropkick. Breakker drops to one knee to block the Fairy Tale Ending, Ciampa lays into him with a forearm and charges, Breakker connects with a spinebuster followed by a STANDING MOONSAULT for the 1…2…Ciampa kicks out. Breakker climbs the buckles but starts having doubts, giving Ciampa the chance to send him crashing to the floor. Ciampa follows up with a running knee strike and rolls Breakker back in for a second pump knee to the temple. Ciampa, now bleeding from his brow, goes for a third but Breakker surprises him with a spear instead and both men are down.
Ciampa and Breakker trade bombs, Ciampa pummels Breakker in the corner until the ref forces a break. Ciampa charges, Breakker catches him with a Frankensteiner (!!!) for the 1…2…Ciampa kicks out. Breakker goozles Ciampa and picks him up for the powerslam but Ciampa escapes and counters into the Widow’s Bell for the 1…2…BREAKKER KICKS OUT. Ciampa quickly regroups and transitions into a single-leg Crab on the knee he hurt on the apron earlier in the contest. Breakker forces a rope break, Ciampa removes the protective mat from the floor. Ciampa pulls Breakker out, Breakker PUTS CIAMPA THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE WITH AN ALABAMA SLAM. Breakker rolls Ciampa back in and connects with the gorilla press into a powerslam for the 1…2…CIAMPA GRABS THE BOTTOM ROPE. Ciampa rolls to the apron and slingshots the middle rope into Breakker’s groin when he tries to follow. Ciampa exposes his knees and connected with THREE running knee strikes followed by the Fairy Tale Ending for the 1…2…BREAKKER KICKS OUT HOLY SH*T. Ciampa sits Breakker on the top buckle, Breakker shoves him off and connects with A FLYING BULLDOG RICK STEINER-STYLE YESSSS. Breakker pulls the straps down and locks in the STEINER RECLINER AND CIAMPA TAPS!!!
Bron Breakker defeated Tommaso Ciampa [c] via submission to win the NXT CHAMPIONSHIP (15:28)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: From his debut on the first episode of “NXT 2.0”, Bron Breakker has been far and away the best thing going in NXT and it was a matter of time before they did the right thing and put him atop the mountain. He just GETS IT already despite being a rookie, that Steiner blood coming in handy. Really great match, hard-fought from both sides, with Breakker having to really find it in himself to overcome Ciampa. Ciampa rocked as well, going to his bag of cheap tricks and pulling out some unexpected moves to seal the deal. As a longtime fan seeing Breakker pull out Steiner Brother moves to get the win popped me. I do hope he keeps his powerslam finisher though, he shouldn’t be stuck doing nostalgia trip stuff because of who his Dad and uncle are…even though I will pop for it all anyway every time it happens. Great match, right choice, I’m all about this Bron Breakker Era. (****)
Breakker celebrates with his newly-won championship, taking some time to share a knowing glance with Ciampa who gives him his nod of approval. Joseph closes out the show saying “the Pup has become the Dog-Faced Gremlin” WHICH ISN’T EVEN SUBTLE COME ON.
I dropped NXT back in the fall and have not been keeping up but after New Year’s Evil I may toss it back in my diet for a bit. This was a great show top to bottom, with a certified banger of a main event. I’ve got a front row seat on the Bron Breakker bandwagon and I’m so excited that they didn’t decide to wait very long to crown him as the new champ. Between Ciampa and Roderick Strong losing tonight it felt like more of a changing of the guard as NXT 2.0 heads into just becoming NXT at some point. I’m interested to see where it goes and who Breakker fights next. My vote is he beats Roman Reigns & Brock Lesnar to unify all the World Championships in WWE but i’m sure I’ll be outvoted by somebody.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Bron Breakker
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Breakker busts out a Frankensteiner, flying bulldog, and STEINER RECLINER to get the win. Very easy for WWE to be lazy and make Breakker just do a Greatest Hits of his family but goddamn if it didn’t work on me.