New year, same NXT as the white-and-yellow brand builds to its first special event of 2023, New Year’s Evil. It features an interesting undercard with bouts like the Creed Brothers versus Indus Sher and Dijak versus Tony D’Angelo, but headlining next week’s show is an NXT Championship match between consistent highlights in Bron Breakker and Grayson Waller. While tonight’s episode opens with a recap package of last year’s biggest moments, those same recurrent figures like Breakker, Waller, and Carmelo Hayes look to carry the brand again in 2023.
Carmelo Hayes vs Apollo Crews
An NXT success story in Hayes competes with the opposite in Crews for the first NXT match of 2023, which will presumably kickstart the former’s rise into the main event scene. They trade strings of offense, and Crews gains control with his unique blend of athleticism and power preceding picture-in-picture. Trick Williams interferes ringside, allowing Hayes to capitalize on an injured left leg as an erratic Booker T on commentary calls Crews a “bird with one wing, dawg.” The latter makes a comeback hitting a nice Blockbuster-DDT combo, but a smooth set of reversals leads to the finishing top-rope leg drop in favor of Hayes. “When Melo shoots, he don’t miss,” and the motto remains true in the new year.
Winner: Carmelo Hayes
Axiom hits a diving crossbody out of nowhere, taking out both Hayes and Williams who he faces after commercial break. It’s another case of opposites when a gifted but goofy masked character battles the effortlessly charismatic “Trick Willy,” who has half the in-ring ability of his partner.
Axiom vs Trick Williams
Williams is in control proceeding commercial break and brings Orlando to its feet with a chop. Commentary outright mentions how Williams has “stepped up his game,” even describing the audience reception as “stunned” – although they’re amazingly more into this than the opener. One superkick from Axiom puts “Trick Willy” away, but the latter has never looked better with a much improved performance. The duo commences in a post-match attack, but Crews returns to make the save.
Schism approaches NXT Tag Team Champions New Day, who say they haven’t offered them a shot because the faction members “look like extras from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Joe Gacy goads Kofi Kingston into a one-on-one match, which looks to happen tonight.
Dijak supposedly hired a film crew Wednesday morning to witness his abduction of Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. NXT continues treating its product like a low-rent movie instead of a wrestling show, as Dijak threatens “Stacks” for his loyalty to Tony D’Angelo.
Drew Gulak is training Chase University students when Andre Chase comes in, arguing about Charlie Dempsey’s apparent injury. Dempsey claimed that Chase University students were “soft,” which Gulak wanted to test for himself before star pupil Duke Hudson took offense.
Dijak vs Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo
Continuing the theme of movies is Dijak’s entrance, which features a cinematic frame aspect ratio and a black-white filter. “Stacks” comes in hot sans his signature wifebeater, but Dijak begins targeting the ribs that he previously attacked. The former runs into a sick spinning boot and the finishing Feast Your Eyes to the dismay of Tony D’Angelo ringside, who sticks up for “Stacks” in an attempted post-match assault. “You wish you had half the heart this guy does!” D’Angelo says, challenging Dijak to a match next week at New Year’s Evil.
Always fun “Big Body Javi” interrupts Oro Mensah’s interview, a guy who just loves to have fun, Maggle. Javier Bernal introduces his “Big Body” Christmas album which includes songs like “Feliz Javidad.”
The remainder of Toxic Attraction, Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin, enter the ring with microphones to announce that they’ll continue to “push the envelope” in 2023 as if they ever did. They plan to enact revenge on NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez, but out comes Indi Hartwell, Cora Jade, Nikkita Lyons, Zoey Stark, and Wendy Choo from the stands like it’s The Price is Right to state their cases. “So many girls… girl fight!” shouts Thea Hail, and the entire women’s roster storms the ring for exactly that. Perez emerges from the podium to reveal a number-one contender’s battle royal next week, and the chaos ensues in-ring.
Alba Fyre vs Isla Dawn – Extreme Resolutions Match
The women’s roster chaos extends to a parking lot brawl between Fyre and Dawn, and this episode has admittedly done a great job connecting each segment. It quickly cuts to commercial, however, and following break the competitors attempt to smash falling objects over one another backstage. Dawn falls from a yay-high height, which cameras cut away from, and Fyre wheels her towards the ringside area in a wheelbarrow. The crowd is distractingly quiet amidst a battle over one steel chair, and after picture-in-picture, Dawn attempts to break her opponent’s fingers with a wrench. Orlando doesn’t chant for either competitor and instead chants for “table,” which is introduced before Fyre’s fingers are smashed between a toolbox. “I am the table,” says the table when Fyre bounces off a top-rope Swanton but thinks fast for a finishing Gory Bomb leading to the three count.
Winner: Alba Fyre
Grayson Waller is interviewed backstage coming back from a holiday vacation from Australia. “What’s up, Bronathan? I got your number, lad, and you may have ‘that dawg’ in you, but that doesn’t make you immune to the Grayson Waller Effect!” says the naturally captivating Aussie.
A well-done package previews the tag team match between the Creed Brothers and Indus Sher, who are evidently heroes in India for their baseball and acting careers. They’ve thankfully ditched the stereotypical foreign heel trope and embraced the suited, professional images they truly possess.
Oro Mensah vs Javier Bernal
“Big Body Javi” blindsides Mensah, and Booker T unfortunately declines the offer to listen to his new Christmas album. Mensah finally makes a comeback with some unique offense, and a lethal-looking spinning heel kick earns the pinfall victory,
Winner: Oro Mensah
Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs celebrate winning back the family bar until Kiana James comes in to congratulate Fallon Henley. “Brooks, text me later,” says James. “I love it!” adds Booker T.
An anonymous Twitter account posted stalker footage of a medical meeting between the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Katana Chance and Kayden Carter, which hopefully has a better payoff than whatever Scrypts is supposed to be.
Andre Chase vs Drew Gulak
Chase is of course flanked by students Thea Hail and Duke Hudson while Gulak is accompanied by newcomer Hank Walker. “Who’s the better teacher?” is what this match boils down to as an “injured” Charlie Dempsey watches the monitors backstage at a reasonable angle, throwing down his arm sling. Gulak unloads with aggression and ultimately makes Chase tap with the Gulock, holding it for a few extra seconds afterwards.
Winner: Drew Gulak
North American Champion Wes Lee gives a peppy response to the feud between Dijak and Tony D’Angelo and will have a “front-row seat” next week.
Kofi Kingston vs Joe Gacy
New Day’s entrance music contains the actual power of positivity because it’s impossible not to dance to it; the Performance Center turns into a groovy Baptist church. Contrasting that is the overhauled Schism entrance with cult masks and dark lighting as Xavier Woods joins the commentary desk, where the absolutely preposterous Booker T says, “Big E is finished, just like the New Day is gonna be by the end of this NXT run.” He downplays Gacy by stating, “What, 199 in Pro Wrestling Illustrated?” while the faction leader works down the veteran (out of curiosity, he was actually 206, but I digress). Schism interferes before Kingston hits an outside dive and Trouble in Paradise on Gacy for the heroic victory.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Charlie Dempsey approaches Drew Gulak and Hank Walker: “It’s on,” he says before facing the newcomer with an increasingly aggressive teacher.
New Day celebrates in the locker room, where Pretty Deadly is “done jumping through hoops” for a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championships. They offer a gauntlet match instead, as the list of prerequisite presents which include Big Boss Man’s stick and Ahmed Johnson’s kneepad were too impossible to locate.
WWE’s next big in-ring talk show airs again as Grayson Waller welcomes NXT Champion Bron Breakker to the Grayson Waller Effect. Charisma radiates from Waller, but Breakker remains cool and collected towards the host’s irreverence. Breakker gives props by listing Waller’s “viral moments” in NXT that amounted to losses, but the latter pops back with the cheap “father’s gimmick” insult. The champion assaults the challenger, hits an incredible outside dive unlike Top Dolla, and stands tall before New Year’s Evil.
Despite the very standard heel tactics, Grayson Waller is in another league on the microphone, and it showed against Bron Breakker tonight. It was regardless entertaining, much like tonight’s episode which panned out very well segment to segment.