NXT – January 1, 2020 (Best Of 2019)

Date: January 1, 2020
Hosts: Pat McAfee, Sam Roberts, Cathy Kelly

It’s a special edition this week with both the Year End Awards as well as the unveiling of the NXT Matches of the Year. That means things should be interesting and showing some high quality wrestling since a lot of those matches are going to come from Takeover. I can always go for that so let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at the year, which saw huge growth in the form of the move to USA and everything else that went down. It really was an awesome year as NXT just never slows down.

Note that the matches presented here will be clipped but I’ll be posting the full reviews for each.

The hosts give us a quick welcome.

3. From Takeover: XXV

Tag Team Titles: Forgotten Sons vs. Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch vs. Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era

Ladder match for the vacant titles and there are no seconds. It’s a brawl to start as you had to see coming with the Era taking over early on. Blake gets low bridged to the floor and it’s time for a showdown with Lorcan and Burch. Lorcan chops away but Burch gets knocked down and the Era takes over again. It’s time for the first ladder but Blake suicide dives down to take the Era out. A bunch of people wind up brawling in front of the ring so Dawkins can dive onto all of them.

The Profits climb a ladder at the same time, allowing the Era to come back in for the save. Blake knocks the Era down again with O’Reilly landing back first on the ladder. The Sons put the ladder around their heads to clean house until Burch and Lorcan hit stereo release German suplexes, sending the ladder flying in a spot that could have gone a lot worse. The Profits are back in to take down Lorcan and Burch, with Ford hitting a heck of a frog splash.

O’Reilly is back in with a missile dropkick to break up a climb attempt but he bangs up his back even worse. It’s the Era loading up the ladder with Fish going up, only to have Blake toss powerbomb O’Reilly into the ladder for the huge crash, with Fish thankfully landing on O’Reilly. The big ladder is brought in and Cutler goes up….but stops to stomp onto Fish as Cutler hits a reverse DDT. There was absolutely nothing stopping him from getting the belts there.

Now the Sons go up again but Burch and Dawkins make the save with a Doomsday elbow/Doomsday Blockbuster each. O’Reilly starts going up but here’s Jaxson Ryker to buckle bomb him into a ladder. Ryker shoves Dawkins down and crushes him with a ladder in the corner over and over. Lorcan charges at Ryker and gets backdropped onto the edge of the ladder for a scary spot. Fans to Ryker: “WE DON’T LIKE YOU!”

Everyone gets together to beat down Ryker, who I don’t think got over as well as NXT would have liked him to here. About eight ladder shots to the back crush him for good and it’s back to “regularly scheduled hostilities.” Ryker is getting back up as the Era loads up a ladder so they hit him in the face with it instead. Ford adds a big running flip dive and it’s time for Burch and Lorcan to beat everyone up with the ladders.

They throw the ladder at the Forgotten Sons and go up the big ladder with the Era making the save. The four of them wind up on a pair of ladders but the Sons shove all of them over. The Profits come back in though with Dawkins spearing Cutler down and Ford springboarding onto the ladder to knock Blake off. Ford pulls down the titles at 21:19.

Rating: B. Ryker getting this much attention hurt things a bit as he almost had his own section in the middle of the match. What matters here though is they pulled the trigger on someone new and paid off their chase over the last few months. They were the right choice and they have a bunch of matches waiting on them, which is a great future.

The hosts are rather impressed.

It’s time for our first award with Tag Team of the Year. The nominees are:

Street Profits

Grizzled Young Veterans

Viking Raiders

Mark Andrews/Flash Morgan Webster

Undisputed Era

Winners: Undisputed Era. Kind of an obvious pick there.

The Era comes into the empty arena to accept the awards from William Regal. They aren’t impressed with Regal and want to know why there are only two awards for a four man team. Regal hands them their trophies and leaves the Era to celebrate.

Next up, Male Competitor of the Year:

Adam Cole


Johnny Gargano

Velveteen Dream

Tyler Bate

Tommaso Ciampa

Winner: Adam Cole. Again, could it be anyone else?

Cole and the Era come to the ring again to torment Regal some more but he leaves faster this time. Cole says they decided to do this at the beginning of the year and he’ll win it for years to come.

Now it’s Female Competitor of the Year:

Shayna Baszler

Io Shirai

Toni Storm

Kay Lee Ray

Bianca Belair

Rhea Ripley

Winner: Shayna Baszler. It was going to be her or Ripley but this is the right call.

Baszler and the Four Horsewomen accept the award with Shayna not being surprised.

The hosts praise Baszler for her win.

Rivalry of the Year: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole for Rivalry of the Year with no other nominees. You could go with Undisputed Era vs. Everyone Else but this was the best option again.

Gargano is proud to win two years in a row but Cole brings up that he won the whole thing. A challenge is thrown out to keep it going but Cole turns it down. Gargano: “Some things never change.”

2. From Takeover: WarGames.

Team Ripley vs. Team Baszler

Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai

Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray

Kai is Yim’s replacement in WarGames. The first two will face off for five minutes, followed by Team Baszler sending in a second member for a three minute advantage. After that, Team Ripley gets to tie it up for three minutes. The teams alternate entrances every three minutes until everyone is in, and then it’s first pinfall or submission wins. If you leave the cage, you forfeit the match for your entire team. Rhea and Io get huge reactions while Kai is seen as a big of a disappointment.

Shirai and LeRae get things going and they hit the right hands early on. Candice’s headscissors is rolled through as the fans are entirely behind Io. Shirai gets sent to the other ring but is fine enough to block a dive, setting up a 619 from both directions. A rope walk missile dropkick puts Candice down again and she gets sent head first into the metal board between the rings. LeRae’s face gets raked across the cage but she scores with some right hands as Bianca Belair is in to make it 2-1.

The release Glam Slam into the running shooting star have Candice down again but she scores with a reverse hurricanrana. Belair’s charge hits Shirai in the corner so she makes up for it with a triple powerbomb, with the third being a buckle bomb into the cage (Cage bomb?). Belair grabs a camel clutch so Shirai can run the ropes several times into a dropkick to a huge reaction (it’s not that hard to work a crowd up you know).

Rhea Ripley ties things up and it’s already time to bring in the weapons. Hold on though as Rhea pauses to slam the cage door onto Belair’s head before grabbing even more weapons. The fans want tables but have to settle for EVERYTHING else as Rhea goes under the ring at least six times to get weapon after weapon. A belly to back faceplant onto the trashcan makes it even worse for Belair and it’s time to set up some chairs.

Shirai saves Belair from a double suplex through the chairs to prevent a bad case of death as Kay Lee Ray makes it 3-2. She pulls out her own weapons, including a pile of chairs, before pulling out a table….which she slides back under the ring in a good heel move. Chair shots abound, including a tornado DDT to plant Rhea on one of the chairs. A lot of people head over to the corner above the open chairs so Ray folds them down, setting up the HUGE Tower of Doom to crush everyone save for Belair onto the chairs. That’s fine for Belair, who snaps off the gorgeous 450 onto Ripley.

Everyone is down so it’s Dakota Kai to tie things up….but she turns around and kicks Nox in the face before slamming her into the small cage so hard that the cage is actually rocking back and forth. The cage door is slammed onto Nox’s head (you could hear that one all over the arena) and then the knees over and over. Kai takes the brace off so here’s William Regal for the save. Kai shoves HIM and swears a lot as Regal orders her to the back. She comes back though and pulls on the leg again before shouting at a furious Ripley, who is watching from the cage (yeah the cage, which we haven’t seen in a few minutes now).

With Kai finally taken to the back, Baszler finally gets to come out to complete her team and doesn’t exactly seem in a hurry. Ripley is being held back but she breaks free to slug it out with Baszler, only to have the numbers get the better of her. Kai and Nox are officially out so pins and submissions are open. Candice gets in a shot to knock down Shirai and Ray but she has to save Ripley from being handcuffed to the ropes (something I couldn’t see at all watching live). The stereo two on one fights are on with Belair being sent into a trashcan in the corner.

Ripley blocks Ray’s DDT and suplexes her into the cage, setting up the Cloverleaf to Shirai on the top. Not to be outdone, Baszler grabs the Kirifuda Clutch on LeRae across the ring. LeRae slips out though and Ray makes a save with a kick to the head, followed by LeRae’s moonsault for two on Baszler. Belair gorilla presses LeRae over the top onto Ripley and it’s the Gory Bomb to leave LeRae laying. The moonsault gives Shirai two and there are the hair whips to Ripley.

LeRae is back with the kendo stick shots for the save but Shirai takes her down. Shirai goes all the way to the top but LeRae catches her, followed by the super reverse hurricanrana to Ray for the huge crash. LeRae and Belair stand up, only to have Shirai moonsault onto both of them (Mauro: “MAMA F’ING MIA!”) for an even bigger crash. Ripley loads up a trashcan onto two open chairs but stops to knock a trashcan into Ray’s face. That lets Baszler grab the Kirifuda Clutch but Ripley escapes and cuffs them together. Baszler’s big kick misses and it’s Riptide through the chairs to pin Baszler at 27:26.

Rating: B. This was definitely better on a second watch with the additional camera angles showing me a lot that I didn’t see before (including the handcuffs all together). Ripley continues to look like the star of stars and I don’t see how they can’t put the title on her soon. At the same time though, it’s going to take a long time for me to get my head around two women, including one who started the match, beating four, including two champions, at the same time. That’s a lot, and some of the villains just disappeared for long stretches. It’s not some horrible idea or completely unacceptable, but it’s going to take some time.

The hosts liked the match.

Future Star of the Year:


Xia Li

Bronson Reed

Tegan Nox

Dakota Kai

Ilja Dragunov

Isaiah Scott


Cameron Grimes

Winner: Dakota Kai. This was pretty much a pickem and Kai is a great choice. The future looks great around here.

Kai has known she was the future for a long time and everyone else is late to the party.

Here are the teams for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic:


Undisputed Era

Forgotten Sons

Matt Riddle/Pete Dunne



Grizzled Young Veterans



Flash Morgan Webster/Mark Andrews

Takeover of the Year: Takeover: WarGames. Yeah that works.

Breakout Star of the Year:

Damian Priest

Piper Niven

Dominik Dijakovic

Angel Garza

Joe Coffey

Keith Lee

Candice LeRae

Matt Riddle

Rhea Ripley

Winner: Keith Lee. It was him or Dijakovic.

Lee gets the award backstage from HHH and sings a bit because we haven’t seen anything yet.

1. From Takeover: New York.

NXT Title: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano

The title is vacant coming in and it’s 2/3 falls. Cole sends the Undisputed Era to the back so he can do this on his own. The fans are behind Cole and it’s off to the mat about a minute and a half in. Gargano works on a hammerlock but gets reversed into a headlock. Back up and it’s an armdrag into an armbar to to keep Cole in trouble. That’s broken up and Cole bails to the floor where he manages to catch Gargano with a jumping enziguri. A hard knee to the face rocks Gargano and we hit a chinlock.

Gargano fights up again so Cole pulls him right back down into a dragon sleeper. That’s broken up too and it’s a double crossbody for a double knockdown. They bring it up another gear with Gargano nailing a belly to belly, setting up the rolling kick to the head. The slingshot spear gets two and a tornado Downward Spiral is good for the same. Cole is right back with the Backstabber out of the corner for two of his own. They fight over a small package and it’s Cole up first with a jumping enziguri. Another exchange of rollups goes nowhere so Cole hits the Last Shot for the first fall at 13:54.

The second fall begins and it’s a German suplex into another Last Shot for a very close two. Gargano spears him to the floor but walks into the fireman’s carry backbreaker. Back up and Cole can’t get a superbomb so Johnny reverses into a super White Noise (Ciampa move) for two of his own. With that not working, Gargano hits a slingshot DDT onto the apron but breaks the count, allowing Cole to post him twice in a row. Back in and Johnny grabs the flipping armbar (Ciampa move) before switching over to the Gargano Escape for a very fast tap and the tie at 20:52.

We pause for a second as Gargano has a cut on his head but it’s not a bad one. Gargano’s discus lariat sets up a swinging kick to the head but the brainbuster to the knee gives Cole two. The Lawn Dart sends Cole into the middle buckle for two so it’s double enziguris and double superkicks for a double knockdown. Cole is up first with a straitjacket suplex but Gargano is back with a reverse hurricanrana. The low superkick sends Cole outside and Gargano is crushed again. He goes out to get him and it’s a wheelbarrow suplex into the apron to put Gargano down again.

Back in and Gargano’s slingshot spear is blocked with a superkick, setting up Cole’s middle rope Canadian Destroyer for a very close two and the fans are losing it again. Gargano rolls outside and Cole tells him that he fails so Gargano throws him over the announcers’ table. The table is cleared out but Cole hits a Fairy Tale Ending onto (not through) the table instead. Cole wants the countout so Johnny dives back in at nine, right into a low superkick for another near fall.

The next Canadian Destroyer is countered into the Gargano Escape and here’s Roderick Strong for a distraction. Kyle O’Reilly breaks the hold as Cole is tapping and the referee goes down. High/Low from Fish and O’Reilly gets an even closer two so Gargano backdrops Cole onto all three of them. The Era gets beaten up on the floor but it’s two more superkicks into the Last Shot from Cole….for two. Another Last Shot misses and the Gargano Escape makes Cole tap for the title at 38:15.

Rating: A-. Yeah it worked and while it needed to be Ciampa, this was the best ending they could have had given what they had. Gargano FINALLY overcoming the odds to win the title was the feel good ending that the show needed, especially with Gargano defeating the entire Era to win. Some of the near falls were a bit much and there were a few too many superkicks, but they nailed the ending and that’s what mattered most.

Candice comes out to celebrate and they go into the crowd to hug their parents. They walk to the stage….and it’s Tommaso Ciampa….to hug both of them to end the show.

Adam Cole wins Overall Competitor of the Year as the Undisputed Era all has trophies. Cole says they’re the best around with the trophies and the titles. This is just the beginning.

Overall Rating: A. Well what else was it going to be? Three great matches and a bunch of clips of other awesome stuff. It’s not a traditional show but for what it was, this was as good as it was going to get. The show isn’t supposed to be a regular night but rather a look back and it was a look back at an awesome year. If they can come close to doing this again next year, sweet goodness we could be in for some awesome stuff.

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