Bronson Reed def. Isiah "Swerve" Scott
I'm really digging this new heel character Scott has been doing lately and I'm glad Reed is getting back on tract following a long layoff. That said, these guys should not have faced each other because neither of them should have lost. Scott won't be too damaged by the defeat, but he shouldn't have lost decisively so soon after avenging his loss to Jake Atlas. On the bright side, this was a terrific showcase for two of NXT's most promising prospects.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Breezango
Grizzled Young Veterans are clearly on the ascent and it's great to see. They were clearly being built up for a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championship pre-pandemic, but it looks like they'll have to work their way back up the NXT tag team ranks. Breezango was a logical place for them to start considering they were NXT Tag Team Champions just a few months ago. It was a fun little match, though it's odd Grizzled Young Veterans would run through Breezango before getting to Ever-Rise.
Mercedes Martinez def. Valentina Feroz
Martinez should have never been called up to the main roster when she was because this feud with Io Shirai could have happened months ago had she stayed. This was exactly what it needed to be with Martinez completely dominating Feroz, who I hadn't heard of prior to this match. She put Shirai on notice afterward, though I still would like to see Shirai vs. Toni Storm for the NXT Women's Championship before we get Shirai vs. Martinez.
Pete Dunne def. Roderick Strong
These two have always worked well together dating back to their early battles in 2018, so the fact this was a damn good match was no surprise. Strong never ceases to deliver while Dunne's intensity makes his matches an absolute blast. They made the most of the time they had and Dunne went over as he should have considering he lost his last two major matches against Undisputed Era and Kyle O'Reilly. It was interesting that he crossed paths with Dunne backstage afterward, which tells me NXT is still planning on doing that match at some point.
Kyle O'Reilly Confronted NXT Champion Finn Balor; Damian Priest and Karrion Kross Brawled
NXT has built up the rematch between Balor and O'Reilly for next week so well that it has a big fight feel. Both men brought it on the mic here and O'Reilly is coming across like more and more of a main event player by the week. Kross and Scarlett emerged and said that Kross is coming for whoever is champion after New Year's Evil before brawling with Priest all over the Capitol Wrestling Center. It was a nice preview of what their match should be next week.
Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado def. Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza)
Santos Escobar was cutting a promo about how great his 2020 was when he was interrupted by the former Lucha House Party (sans Kalisto, who has hardly been seen on SmackDown since the group went their separate ways). Dorado made a joke about being sick of chasing a championship (obviously alluding to the 24/7 title on Raw), and he wasn't wrong. They've been criminally underutilized on the main roster, so regardless of whether this will end up being short-lived or not, I'm happy to see them back in NXT. This was a quality contest that set the stage for Metalik vs. Escobar for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship next week. By the way, what the hell happened to Curt Stallion being the number one contender to the Cruiserweight title?
NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano def. Leon Ruff
I know they made a big deal about the curse going into this match and how Gargano has never successfully defended a singles title prior to this point, but I still didn't think Ruff had a real shot of regaining the gold. That's why I don't think this worked as a main event. Sure, it was technically sound and I was happy that Ruff was able to look like an equal to Gargano throughout, but it didn't feel like a must-see matchup worthy of closing out the year with. That said, I'm looking forward to what should hopefully be a lengthy reign for Gargano as champ.
As I've said before, New Year's Evil has major TakeOver potential on paper. All five matches should be stellar and it's bound to kick off 2021 on a high note for NXT. As a go-home show of sorts, this was a super solid edition of NXT. There isn't anything you absolutely need to go out of your way to see, but the entertaining action combined with the strong video packages made this a thumbs-up episode.