NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch def. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain in a Street Fight
Maverick and Dain were being positioned as a comedy tag team struggling to get on the same page for a while and they thrived in that role, but they needed to get serious in their recent rivalry with Lorcan and Burch and they stepped up. This was way more of a Street Fight than whatever the hell that main event of Monday's Raw was (except for the tagging in and out, what was that about?). Both teams brought the fight to each other, made great use of the stipulation, and kicked off the evening on a high note. I really hope Lorcan and Burch can have a meaningful reign as tag team champions and not hold the belts for the sake of holding them (i.e. Imperium, Breezango, BroserWeights, etc).
Isiah "Swerve" Scott def. Jake Atlas
Atlas beat Scott in their last outing, so Scott avenging the loss here made sense. I'm not usually high on wrestlers trading wins back and forth as 50/50 booking helps no one, but I was fine with it in this case because they're clearly telling a story with Scott getting frustrated with that first defeat and now acting like a sore winner. They work well together, so I would not at all be opposed to a third match. It's nice to see another feud in the Cruiserweight division outside of the title picture. Scott has always been super talented in the ring, but this is the most interesting he's been as a character since coming to NXT.
Rhea Ripley def. Dakota Kai
Kai has a win over Ripley from over the summer that doesn't get talked about enough considering Ripley doesn't get beat often. This match was Ripley's to win and it was entertaining to boot. I'm glad Kai got to look credible in defeat and now Ripley can fully focus on Raquel Gonzalez. Their brawl was a nice preview of what we can expect in their Last Woman Standing matchup at New Year's Evil, which has the potential to be something special.
Bronson Reed def. Ashante "Thee" Adonis
I don't know what the hell happened to Reed and why he was off TV for so long, but he was really catching fire over the summer before his hiatus. Hopefully he can reclaim that steam now that he's back. This was exactly what it needed to be with Reed making short work of Adonis. That's how he should be booked and I'd give him another squash or two to reestablish his dominance.
Mercedes Martinez Attacked NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai
Earlier in the evening, Toni Storm called out Shirai and announced her intentions to compete for the NXT Women's Championship. Fingers crossed we get that match at New Year's Evil. Shirai stormed to the ring and demanded Storm but got the returning Mercedes Martinez instead. Martinez's attack on Shirai was well done and got me excited for their eventual in-ring encounter.
Leon Ruff def. Timothy Thatcher
I get that Ruff is supposed to be the lovable loser of NXT and he plays the role well. I also understand that he needed a win before getting his rematch for the NXT North American Championship next week on the show. My problem is that Thatcher loses way more than he should. He literally loses every other week and eating defeat against Ruff is not a good look. Don't get me wrong, I'm pumped for his upcoming Fight Pit against Tommaso Ciampa at New Year's Evil, but he desperately needs to win that and become a real threat again like he was after beating Riddle back in May.
Tyler Rust def. Ariya Daivari
I love that Rust wasted no time in following up his standout performance against Ciampa last week by officially linking up with Malcolm Bivens this week and picking up a decisive win. Daivari is and has always been a heel on 205 Live, so it was weird that he was Rust's opponent and not a babyface unless the plan is to make Rust a babyface. Regardless, this was a standard showcase for him and I'm excited to see what he'll bring to the table with Bivens representing him.
Adam Cole def. Velveteen Dream
Dream had been off NXT TV for about two months, but he resurfaced backstage on this show by interrupting Cole and Roderick Strong. Speaking of Strong, he was attacked by Pete Dunne halfway through this match and those two will clash on next week's show. Cole vs. Dream was a solid main event but nothing overly exciting. They didn't have the best feud this year, so maybe that's why I wasn't enthralled by this. It doesn't help that Dream has been a glorified jobber for months, though I wouldn't change that seeing as how his stock has plummeted in 2020. There's nothing left for him to do in NXT as he's put over pretty much everyone. As for Cole, I'm interested what's next for him and if it will involve the NXT Championship picture. As I said going into TakeOver 31, him turning on Kyle O'Reilly would be the wrong call.
Although last week's show was stronger, this was still a productive two hours that effectively built toward New Year's Evil and even set up two notable matches for next week. That said, my favorite part of the entire episode was the A Very Gargano Christmas segments with The Way. Those were terrific comedy. The main event wasn't must-see by any means, but the rest of the show was top-notch and set a ton stuff forward. The next few weeks worth of shows are shaping up to be a ton of fun.