This episode of NXT was mainly wrapping up some of the fallout from Deadline and setting up the #1 Contenders with their respective champions. At this moment, the men’s story is much more interesting as Trick is definitely going to be the “people’s choice” to walk out of New Year's Evil with the championship but Dragunov will likely retain with some interference involving Carmelo Hayes. The women’s title picture is looking to be very interesting after the Valkyria-Davenport showdown with Jade and Lyons ready and other potential opponents waiting in the wings. Other than the top two titles, the Men’s Breakout Tournament is starting and I am excited for those stories to develop over the next couple of weeks. Meta-Four continues to be a fun addition to the NXT brand as well as Dragon Lee’s (hopefully) weekly title defenses. I am hoping that NXT can continue to deliver these fun multi-faceted episodes throughout the build to New Year’s Evil and into 2024.
WWE NXT December 12 2023 is coming hot off the heels of NXT Deadline on Saturday. We will hear from our two new #1 Contenders and Iron Survivors: Trick Williams and Blair Davenport. Also, two matches are planned after what occurred on Deadline. Dijak will look to get revenge on Eddy Thorpe. Meta-Four collide with Briggs, Jensen, & Henley in a Mixed 6-Person Tag. We will see how the fallout of Deadline will impact the future of NXT.
ABOVE AVERAGE Cora Jade/Lyra Valkyria/Blair Davenport/Nikkita Lyons Promo (WWE NXT December 12 2023 Opening Segment):
The show opens with Cora Jade’s return promo. She is saying that the NXT Universe should be grateful that she is back. She continues to put over the NXT Women’s Division but she says that she stole the show. Lyra Valkyria comes out and welcomes Jade back but states that things have changed since she’s been gone because Lyra is the NXT Women’s Champion. Blair Davenport comes out next and reminds everyone that she is the Iron Survivor and the #1 Contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. Nikkita Lyons rushes the ring and starts a big brawl to set up a tag match later on in the show.
This promo wasn’t any woman’s best mic work by any stretch of the imagination but it got the message across that the NXT Women’s Division is stacked with possible title contenders. Davenport is obviously next up and both Jade and Lyons are waiting in the wings for Lyra. I actually wouldn’t be totally surprised if we see a Fatal 4 Way at Vengeance Day.
Austin Knight WR Star Rating – 2.75 Stars
GOOD Meta-Four (Noam Dar, Oro Mensah & Lash Legend) vs Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henley – Six-Person Mixed Tag Match:
Before the match can begin, Meta-Four jumps the faces and Legend starts over-powering Henley. Jensen makes the tag and starts working over Mensah. Oddly enough, when Jensen is on-screen, Tiffany Stratton is shown watching the match backstage. Legend press-slams Henley over the top rope onto Briggs & Jensen to take over. Jensen is getting worn down and eventually gets the hot tag but Jakara Jackson distracts the ref and he doesn’t see the tag and makes Jensen come back in. Tiffany Stratton comes down and she and Henley brawl to the back. Dar hits the Nova Roller on Jensen but Briggs is able to make a blind tag and nails Dar with a big lariat to pick up the win for his team. Later in the night, Briggs claims that he is next in line for a Heritage Cup match which Jensen is hesitant to agree to.
This match was alright. There weren’t a whole lot of spots in the match but the characters and their relevant storylines were developed. Briggs is being built up as the bigger star of the tag team, Jensen is worried about being the Marty Jennetty, and Henley is still in her blood feud with Tiffany Stratton. I think a matchup with Dar would be great for Briggs because Dar can bump his ass off and make Briggs look amazing and still win via shenanigans.
Results: Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henley by Pinfall via Lariat
Austin Knight WR Star Rating – 3.0 Stars
Men’s Breakout Tournament Introduction Segment
Next we introduce the competitors in the NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament. Some of the highlights (in my opinion) are Trey Bearhill, Riley Osborne (with a Chase U shirt), Myles Borne (one of Drew Gulak’s No Quarter Catch Crew), and Oba Femi (who is built like a beast). Lexis King jumps Bearhill and it is revealed later in the night that King will replace Bearhill in the tournament.
With Lexis King being added, it does telegraph the winner a little bit but there still could be upsets. Oba Femi looks like a dominant monster and Riley Osborne being the redemption of Chase U could prove to be the major stories of the tournament. I am a little upset that my man Trey Bearhill had to be the one to take the fall for Lexis King though. I just want to support a fellow TU Alumni…
SQUASH Myles Borne vs Oba Femi – 1st Round Match in the Men’s Breakout Tournament:
This match begins with Borne trying to out-maneuver the much larger Femi. Borne hits a double stomp to the back for a close nearfall. Femi is hitting big power moves like a Jackknife-style Back Suplex and a Powerslam as the crowd is doing chants from Black Panther. Femi hits a nasty looking Pop-Up Powerbomb (where he lays out with it) to pick up the first win in the Men’s Breakout Tournament.
I am very excited about the Men’s Breakout Tournament. I enjoy seeing the next crop of NXT Talent and this year looks to have some interesting faces. This year is one of the first years to be primarily filled with former collegiate athletes as opposed to recently signed indie-wrestlers. While the work rate of these matches might take a dip due to the lack of in-ring experience, I am optimistic that the future of NXT is bright.
Results: Oba Femi by Pinfall via Pop-Up Powerbomb
GREAT Dragon Lee vs Tyler Bate – North American Championship Match:
Dragon Lee comes out and issues an open challenge for the North American Championship. This challenge is answered by the “Big Strong Boy”, Tyler Bate. The match begins with both men trading counters and quick moves. Bate eventually gains control with a middle-rope European Uppercut into a big dive. Bate hits an Exploder Suplex and a standing Shooting Star Press for a nearfall. Lee takes advantage by nailing Bate with a superkick while Bate is handstanding in the corner and follows up with a tope suicida on Bate. Lee does a tribute to Tetsuya Naito with a Combination Cabrone and a hesitation dropkick for another nearfall. Bate catches Lee with a Pop-Up Airplane Spin that gets a nearfall and “This is Awesome” chant. Lee lands a Snap German Suplex and Bate counters with a rebound clothesline for another close nearfall. Lee hits the corner stomp and goes for a Liger Bomb but Bate counters into a Tyler Driver that Lee counters into Operation Dragon (Destino) to retain the title.
This match was really starting to get going near the end. The NXT Universe loved both of these guys and they wanted a competitive match and they got one. However, I think this easily could’ve been in the 4+ star territory if it was given 5 more minutes. As a huge New Japan fan, I will always pop when I see WWE guys use moves made famous elsewhere. Despite that, I will probably still call “Operation Dragon” Destino just out of sheer force of habit. I am excited for Dragon Lee’s reign. I would imagine that Domink Mysterio might try and regain his title (as well as Mami’s affection) soon. However, I think Lee should remain champion for a while so we can build up to the match between him and a returning Wes Lee.
Results: Dragon Lee by Pinfall via Operation Dragon
Austin Knight WR Star Rating – 3.5 Stars
SQUASH Dijak vs Eddy Thorpe:
This match starts hot when Dijak jumps Thorpe while he is making his entrance. Dijak gets whipped into the steps and gets a nasty cut on the side of his head and starts bleeding heavily. Once the match gets in the ring, Dijak slams Thorpe into the corner and the whole turnbuckle comes out of the post. Dijak takes advantage and hits Thorpe in the midsection with the turnbuckle to cause a DQ. After the bell, Dijak then drops Thorpe ribs first onto the middle rope turnbuckle as refs attempt to intervene.
Despite the non-finish, this match certainly brought the intensity in both intended and unintended ways. Dijak getting bloody on the outside only to beat down Thorpe more added to the feud as well as the creative spot with the turnbuckle popping out. The crowd was legitimately shocked when it happened and then even more surprised when it was used as a weapon. I am assuming that there will be some kind of “No DQ ” match at New Years Evil for the two men to blow off the intense feud.
Results: Eddy Thorpe by DQ
SQUASH Keanu Carver vs Riley Osborne – 1st Round Match in the Men’s Breakout Tournament:
Next up is the second match of the Breakout Tournament with Keanu Carver taking on Chase U’s Riley Osborne. Thea Hail and Jacy Jayne are in the Chase U Student Section to support their classmate. The match begins with Carver hitting big power moves like a stiff lariat and a big fallaway slam. Osborne is trying to out-speed Carver and tries a series of rollups to no avail. Carver hits a Monty Brown-like Pounce that sends Osborne flying but he can’t get a pinfall. Osborne avoids a corner splash and hits a Shooting Star Press to pick up the win.
Later in the night we see that Thea has a crush on Osborne and she’s a little awkward in talking to him. I think with that added story wrinkle of connecting Osborne and Hail. It makes Osborne a potential favorite of the Breakout Tournament. Adding more members of Chase U is certainly a good decision in my book. I am hoping they choose to go in the direction of making him the “Redemption of Chase U”. Plus who doesn’t love a cute little romance angle?
Results: Riley Osborne by Pinfall via Shooting Star Press
GOOD Nikkita Lyons & Lyra Valkyria vs Blair Davenport & Cora Jade:
This match opens up with Valkyria getting the better of both of the heels. Lyons tags in and is beating down Jade until Davenport distracts her and Jade takes control. The heels are wearing down Lyons through commercials but then Valkyria gets the hot tag. Valkyria hits the Fisherman Buster and her outside dropkick. Valkyria is climbing the top rope when Tatum Paxley emerges from the crowd. Paxley is caressing one of Valkyria’s feathers from her ring jacket which distracts Lyra enough to miss her crossbody. Davenport hits a Falcon Arrow on Valkyria but Lyons breaks up the pin. Davenport follows it up with a Kamigoye to Valkyria and makes a blind tag to Jade. Lyons takes Davenport out with a roundhouse on the outside but Jade makes the cover to win for her team.
This match didn’t have a whole lot to it despite the names involved. All four of these women are more than capable of having a stellar match but I am sure they wanted to give Lyons an easier return match before she is put to the test with a main event level contest. However, this match did it’s job with giving Jade a pinfall victory over the champion and showing that she is a truly dastardly heel. As mentioned above, I think this is setting up for bigger things down the road for all four of these women.
Results: Cora Jade & Blair Davenport by Pinfall via Kamigoye
Austin Knight WR Star Rating – 3.0 Stars
AMAZING Trick Williams/Ilja Dragunov/Carmelo Hayes Promo (WWE NXT December 12 2023 Main Event Segment):
Trick Williams is introduced and the crowd absolutely loves him. They are chanting “Whoop That Trick” and chant “You Deserve It” when he reminds everyone that he is the Iron Survivor. He claims he is like “Lebron in 2016” and includes a great homage to Dave Chappele with the “I’m Trick James Bitch!” line. Dragunov comes down and says that he is so proud of what Trick has accomplished. Dragunov says he respects his journey but that Trick won’t be NXT Champion. Trick says that he has grown a lot since their last match on August 28th and that he is ready for what Ilja has to bring. Carmelo Hayes comes out limping (selling the attack angle from the opening of the show) and he says he knows that Dragunov is the one who attacked them both. Dragunov denies attacking either of them but Hayes is insistent. The crowd (and Trick to be honest) don’t really believe Hayes’ claims. Hayes grabs Ilja’s title but accidentally nails Trick with it as the show ends.
This ending promo was done very well. Trick is loved by the NXT Universe for being so charismatic and having buckets of swag. He has grown so much since being the Diesel to Hayes’ Shawn. The crowd is clearly starting to turn on Hayes for desperately trying to deflect the blame of Trick’s attacker away from himself. While initially I thought this segment was kind of repetitive when compared to the Lexis King segment a few weeks ago, I think it did its purpose by being repetitive. Trick has continued his singles success and Hayes looks even more like a backstabbing bastard that is now trying to deflect in order to stay “the good guy”. I think if the turn was rushed, fans would still cheer for Hayes because he is “the better wrestler”. However, now that Trick has truly ascended to the main event, Trick is the face and Hayes is the heel holding him back. I would be very surprised if Hayes doesn’t cost Trick the NXT Title at New Year’s Evil to set up a Triple Threat at Vengeance Day which then sets up the implosion of the Trick-Melo Gang at Stand & Deliver.
Austin Knight WR Star Rating – 4.25 Stars
Overall WWE NXT December 12 2023
This episode of NXT was mainly wrapping up some of the fallout from Deadline and setting up the #1 Contenders with their respective champions. At this moment, the men’s story is much more interesting as Trick is definitely going to be the “people’s choice” to walk out of New Year’s Evil with the championship but Dragunov will likely retain with some interference involving Carmelo Hayes. The women’s title picture is looking to be very interesting after the Valkyria-Davenport showdown with Jade and Lyons ready and other potential opponents waiting in the wings. Other than the top two titles, the Men’s Breakout Tournament is starting and I am excited for those stories to develop over the next couple of weeks. Meta-Four continues to be a fun addition to the NXT brand as well as Dragon Lee’s (hopefully) weekly title defenses. I am hoping that NXT can continue to deliver these fun multi-faceted episodes throughout the build to New Year’s Evil and into 2024.
Matches: 0.5/1 Stars
Show Structure: 0.75/1 Stars
Atmosphere: 0.5/1 Stars
Storytelling: 0.75/1 Stars
Production/Theme: 0.75/1 Stars
Overall Rating. 3.25/5 Stars
Photo Credit: (wwe.com)
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