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NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 1, 2020): Memories

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NXT returned last night (Jan. 1) with an episode looking back at 2019, while handing out their Year-End Awards and revealing the Dusty Classic teams. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Looking Back

This was a clip show looking back at 2019. And because of that, it’s a tough episode to recap/review.

Honestly, if this weren’t my beat, I’d probably have skipped this one. I’m not the type of guy to sit through a recap show. There’s so much content out there that I’d probably have chosen something else I hadn’t already watched.

That being said, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad show. It means it’s an inessential show.

The show was anchored by the three best matches of the year. They opened the show with #3, the 4-way tag team ladder match at TakeOver: XXV. That was a great match, and they aired the vast majority of it. (I forgot how baller Montez Ford’s leap to the ladder was.)

They’d pretty much fully air the the second (Women’s WarGames) and first match (Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano in their first 2 out of 3 falls) of the year as well. In between, there was the studio portion of the show. Hosts Pat McAfee, Cathy Kelley, & Sam Roberts would chat a bit before revealing the other Year-End Awards. Those all had a video recap of all the nominees to eat up some time.

The winners of the awards received them at an empty Full Sail from General Manager William Regal. That gave us some fun moments such as Undisputed being jerks to Regal before they took their new hardware.

But as a show recapping 2019, it may have been wise to work in some top moments as well. Show us Finn Bálor’s heel turn or Tommaso Ciampa’s return or anything with Velveteen Dream. Because this show didn’t represent everything that was good about NXT this year, which was the whole point.

The Awards

For all intents and purposes, NXT got the rewards right this year.

Sure you can argue your faves, but all of these were solid choices. Probably the correct choices if there are correct choices. Given heels taking the tops spots, the fan vote wasn’t that influential. (Fan votes often skew babyface, and the deserving Shayna Baszler probably wouldn’t have won on fan vote alone.)

It was a bit surprising that they didn’t try to get NXT UK a win somewhere, the match of the year spot making the most sense. It wasn’t wrong in the grand scheme of the voting that they didn’t win, but if they weren’t going to win anything, maybe they should have had their own end of year awards.

The Dusty Classic Teams

The only bit of the news was the reveal of the Dusty Classic teams. It will be part of the NXT vs. NXT UK theme ahead of Worlds Collide this January.

On the NXT side you have Undisputed ERA, the Forgotten Sons, Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle, and Kushida & a mystery partner.

On the UK side, you have the Grizzled Young Veterans, Imperium, Gallus, and Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster.

The matches should all be great, and it fits with the theme of Worlds Collide. But given that Worlds Collide is mainly an exhibition show, it also feels like a tad of a let down. NXT’s main show is bereft of tag teams. They have Undisputed and the Forgotten Sons, given Fandango is unfortunately hurt so he can’t team with Breeze. (I’m not sure if Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan are still functioning as a team.)

The Dusty could have been a chance to introduce a couple new teams from some of the less used NXT talent and help revitalize the division.

It’s not some big deal. As mentioned, the matches will be great. It just may be a bit of a missed opportunity to help restock NXT’s tag scene.

Overall

So despite showing good matches, this was an episode you could skip without any issue. And when those matches weren’t playing, you’d have Sam Roberts being his obnoxious self in the studio (which is pretty much his character) and a bunch of clips setting up the awards.

This is a show for those who may have just jumped on with NXT later this year and want to see what they missed. But even with that, as a show it wasn’t particularly good.

Grade: C-

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