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New Year’s Evil 2022 recap & reactions: Holla if you hear him

Bron Breakker made one mistake that cost him the NXT Championship last time around. No such issues at this year’s New Year’s Evil

New Year’s Evil! No, not the fantastic 1980 slasher flick, but the NXT event to start their 2022. I’m your co-captain this evening while my compadre, Claire, holds you down with the best blog in the business.

Blow your noisemaker and let’s talk New Year’s Evil!


The Winner, and New...

For weeks, NXT made this generational battle the crux of NXT 2.0. At the front of the drawn battle lines were Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker. You remember Halloween Havoc? Bron does. It was his first shot at making a statement to the world that the new generation is legit and ready to rule the NXT roost. But Bron came up short. In his first big match, he made one mistake and relived that error for months.

Seriously, that was back in October 2021 and here we are in the first few days of 2022! It nagged Bron and haunted him, even after getting the pin for his squad at *clears throat* WAAAAAARGAAAAAMES. Bron wanted redemption.

Ciampa was the thing standing in his way. More importantly, he reminded Bron of his fatal mistake every chance he got. It’s just good mind games but it also indicates how he feels about his challenger. To Ciampa, Bron is a young pup who isn’t ready to hang in the nastiest part of the pound with the Pit bulls and Rottweilers.

If it’s possible to respect someone and dismiss them all at once, that sums up Ciampa’s approach to the man he dubbed “big bad booty nephew.”

When the ding ding happened this week in their New Year’s Evil main event match for the NXT Championship, Bron clearly had all of that on his mind. He came out throwing bombs and clearly caught Ciampa off guard.

The champion realized at that moment that he underestimated Breakker, so he pulled out all of the stops as a counterattack. A dropkick here, a corkscrew dive there, and anything else Ciampa had in his arsenal to keep the kid down.

As the match got to its conclusion, we saw echoes of their first encounter at Halloween Havoc. Ciampa lifted the mat on the outside of the ring, which was the start of Bron’s ending many moons ago.

Bron, clearly ready for it this time, countered Ciampa’s devious plan with a spinebuster through the commentary table. Last time, it was Bron who messed up. This time? It was Ciampa.

The last few moments were poetic. Bron found himself on the top turnbuckle, just like two earlier moments in this match and just like last October. Earlier in the match, his second thoughts got the better of him and he paid the price.

But this time, he found the confidence and the footing to leap from the middle rope and nail a Bulldog. One Steiner Recliner later, and Bron Breakker is your new NXT Champion.

And with one nod of approval from the former champion, Bron Breakker’s status was cemented. The new champion showed that he not only can hang with the big dogs, but that he’s the new dog face gremlin running the entire kennel.

Good match with an even better story of redemption, triumph, and a true changing of the guard. Whether you like it or not, Bron Breakker is your hook up...you know the rest.


One Shot Kill

You know what I love? Of course you don’t, how could you? Since you’re not a fortune teller, the answer is when a championship is on the line between evenly matched cats. One reason Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar are painted into rather large corners is because WWE tells us barely anyone is on their level. It’s a different story when it comes to NXT.

Carmelo Hayes is as credible as North American Champion as Roderick Strong is as the Cruiserweight Champion. The fact that Melo is legitimately seen as on Strong’s level in such a short time is a testament to his skills and NXT’s presentation. Of course it’s easy to think all of that is smoke and mirrors, right?

Yeah, but then they got in the ring together and the proof was in the proverbial pudding. Melo and Roderick put on a very dope show for the people in attendance and those of us watching at home. They told a story of two champions battling to a standstill until the last few seconds of the fourth quarter. Like most contests decided in the last few seconds, it comes down to who can get their shot off the best when the moment presents itself.

With that metaphor tortured beyond reason right now, it’s obvious the cat who says when he shoots he scores was going to splash the three-pointer with no ticks left on the clock.

For about 20 minutes, Strong was perfect. The Diamond Mine front man gave “the A Champion” more than he bargained for. A whole lot more than he bargained for, actually. But Melo returned the favor. Not saying Roderick took the North American champ lightly, but it’s easy to think Melo is all talk and no substance.

Especially if you’re the type of cat Roddy is where you let your fists do the talking. Strong found out early that Melo did his homework, countering some of Roddy’s signature spots and even doing his own version of the Stronghold.

Like most stories, the match turned on a simple mistake. Strong’s high risk maneuver from the top rope had a bit of a boomerang effect, with the Cruiserweight champ taking the brunt of the punishment. Sadly for the Mine, Strong never recovered from flying too close to the sun.

Melo shot his own shot from the top rope, and duh, he didn’t miss.

A few ding dings later and Carmelo Hayes is your winner. The Cruiserweight Championship, which had its highs in WWE, is once a again only a thing that exists in our memories. This was the best possible way for it to make its exit, as both men put on one for the ages.

Do yourself a favor and watch the match if you missed it. Also, why in the world did you miss it? It was the first match!


Extracurriculars

Bro-W

MSK needed to find their Mojo. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel needed to impress WALTER. Riddle needed to get on the right side of the ledger after losing to American Alpha earlier this week. WALTER just wanted to beat people up and show his crew how it’s done. Long story short, everyone had something to prove in this six-man tag.

And what a six-man tag it was. Unfortunately for Aichner and Barthel the General has nothing to celebrate on his way back across the pond. Aichner and Barthel did their best to impress and for most of the match they did. WALTER couldn’t get the job done either, but it’s not like him to accept blame for anything.

Plus, it was the NXT tag champs who were laid out in the middle of the ring when it was all said and done. MSK stepped up, Riddle got the pin courtesy of a Randy Orton shoutout, and the crowd loved it.

My only complaint here is that neither Nash Carter nor Wes Lee got the pin. The Shaman was there to help them and while they got the W, sure, it means more if one of them earn the three-count.

Roses

I’m not sure how good Mandy Rose is inside the ropes. She’s not bad by any means, but I’m not sure what her ceiling is because NXT puts her in positions like this one: A no DQ triple threat match where neither wrestler has to do everything. The match accentuates strengths and obfuscates weaknesses. Mandy’s strength is her character and viciousness. Mandy knows how to turn it on and look like a woman who is willing to go the extra 10 miles to get the job done.

Mandy is also often the smartest person in the ring, which is why she retained her championship. Both Cora Jade and Raquel González wanted the champ to themselves. When Cora finally got her moment to go solo, she gave the champ a little too much time to recuperate and play possum. Mandy took the challenger by surprise and got the W with a damn victory roll. The match was fine but I do agree with the outcome. Mandy is more interesting with the championship than without and she provides a different flavor.

AJ is the New Florida Man

AJ Styles showed up to New Year’s Evil to fight. Grayson Waller showed up to run his mouth. You know wrestling so you know how this goes. AJ challenged Grayson to a match, Grayson said sure but next week. Grayson threw a sucker punch, a scuffle ensued, and the heel ran away before he got what he deserved.

So yeah, AJ Styles wrestles on NXT next week unless Grayson Waller finds another excuse.

Step Up to the Challenge, if You Will

MSK, the Brothers Creed, Harland & Joe Gacy all threw their hats in the ring for the Dusty Rhodes Classic. January 14 for the men and sometime in the best month ever, February, for the ladies.

Elektra Says Pull Up

Elektra Lopez is tired of the triangle between her, Xyon Quinn, and Santos Escobar. Family first, sure, but it’s time for this to come to a head. Next week, Quinn and Escobar go one-on-one and Ms. Lopez plans on leaving with the winner.

Chase U Better Have Insurance

Andre Chase got beat up by Von Wagner. Wagner then “assaulted a member of the audience” and was escorted out of the building. They’re trying hard to push Von as a tough guy but it ain’t working for me.


New Year’s Evil was consistently good. With one fantastic opening, a good six-man tag, a fine triple threat, and a good closing match, the show was mostly on point. However, the AJ and Grayson stuff, along with Von Wagner goes to jail, threw the flow off for me and felt like noise around an otherwise very solid offering.

But as the late great Wes Craven once said, the two strongest points of your story need to be the beginning and the ending, and NXT delivered on both fronts.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.