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NXT recap & reactions (Dec. 26, 2023): It’s so hard to say goodbye

One tag team breaks up, one man gets his revenge, and one woman calls her shot on the final NXT of 2023.

Waiting for the World to End

I wondered why this match. If Josh Briggs isn’t defeating Noam Dar for the Heritage Cup, nor is he bringing his crew ringside for help, then was it purely an exhibition? We got our answer after the match and I like this entire bittersweet story.

Let’s cut to the chase: Briggs, Jensen, & Fallon Henley are no more. At least as a unit; they’re still breathing and walking amongst the living. But the match put the finishing touches on an entertaining and strong run for these three who came together and showed incredibly chemistry together.

Josh showed his goods as a solo wrestler here, while Noam showed his adaptability. Put him in the ring with any wrestler with any style and he shines. Even though the Heritage Cup format doesn’t quite work for me, Noam impresses me every time.

And also, before I forget: Jakara Jackson. IYKYK.

Back to the match before I say something that gets me fired, Josh showed his mettle against stiff odds getting the first victory. And they told a pretty easy story here: IF Fallon & Brooks stood ringside, Josh probably wins the Heritage Cup. The only reason he lost is because he lost his cool and retaliated after Meta-Four’s shenanigans got the better of him. I don’t love the DQ finish here, however. Yes, Noam’s crew got to the big man, but it made him look a little foolish. Lash Legend hit him with the spit bucket but he somehow kicked out of Noam’s pin attempt. Then he stops Noam from hitting him with said bucket only to use it himself? For a guy who wanted this match so bad he tasted it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack, throwing it away like that makes little sense. Especially since he had time on his side with a 1-0 score in his favor.

That aside, liked the dueling styles and how Josh carried himself. Not my favorite Heritage Cup match, but it served its purpose.

B-Sides

Life is Like a Dice Game

“I got this!”

Those four words sealed Chase U’s fate during their match with Out the Mud. The match’s flow put Andre Chase & Duke Hudson in prime position for the W, along with wiping out Andre’s debt. But Andre put everything on his shoulders and made a win his sole responsibility.

Admirable. But mistaken. Shoutout to Bane.

The match itself got very physical, as most Out the Mud bouts do. That matched Andre’s desperation; less of a wrestling match and more of a fight. And he loss that fight because of said desperation. It’s pretty poetic for a simple opening tag match.

Where does Chase U go from here? That’s the big question. And I’m genuinely curious about the answer.

Broken

Weird follow-up to last week’s big angle that left a terrible taste in my mouth. But maybe that’s for the best. Trick Williams deliberated with Carmelo Hayes about pushing back his match with Ilja Dragunov if the champ can even lace up a boot. Melo disagreed with pushing it back and said in five years, no one will care or mention that Ilja wasn’t 100 percent during their match if Trick wins. And he’s got a point. Once again, I can’t figure out what’s going on with them. Sometimes Melo seems apprehensive about Trick getting a title shot, other times, like this week, he’s Trick’s biggest cheerleader.

The drama ended with Ilja showing up to the building and meeting Trick in a dimly lit, seemingly very small room with the world’s smallest table for a contract signing. And that was that. That can’t be the final thing before New Year’s Evil can it? Well, yeah, it is. I have no idea what’s going on here nor do I have the foggiest when it comes to expectations for their match. This didn’t even leave me with questions so much as it left me scratching my head wondering why.

Jewelz

Short but sweet. That’s the term that comes to mind for Cora Jade vs. Karmen Petrovic. Karmen didn’t look as smooth as Cora, but she held her own with someone truly coming into her own. Cora got the clean W, which I didn’t expect considering she went head to head with a rookie white meat baby.

BUT, Cora went a little extra after winning the match, putting sympathy back on Karmen’s side and initiating Gigi Dolin’s interference. Gigi vs. Cora feels natural. But I’d like to see a tag match that elevates Karmen too rather than just focusing on Gigi’s beef with Cora.

Chairman’s Intent

I didn’t see this coming but it makes sense. Riley Osborne defeated Lexis King in the Breakout Tournament. But with Trey Bearhill sitting ringside, of course that happened. For those playing along at home, Lexis took Trey’s spot after a sneak attack. Trey rightly took umbrage with all that, so now he wants static with the guy who always puts himself in the middle of everything.

I dug the match too. Lexis looks more comfortable in the ring now that he’s found his character which is, ostensibly, his dad. I’m not sure if that was always the plan given those early vignettes, but it works.

Riley plays the underdog really well, so Lexis controlled most of the match. That’s where Trey came in, distracting Lexis when it looked like he had the match in both hands.

Riley gets the W, which also boosts Chase U, while Trey and Lexis set up their inevitable clash.

High Powered

Speaking of Riley, he gets Oba Femi in the finals. Oba dominated Tavion Heights for the most part. Just raw, unadulterated, not stepped on power. It didn’t last long and it while Tavion got some nice suplexes in, they made this outcome clear early.

Watch Yo Nuggets

Poor Nathan Frazer. The guy just can’t catch a break. The last time he ran his mouth, Ilja almost beat him to a pulp in the ring. This time? He popped trash about Bron Breakker. You know what happened next even without reading the rest. Oh, and Axiom is now the funniest man in NXT. Nathan asked why didn’t he tell him about Bron standing behind him. Axiom’s answer? “I winked.” Bruv....classic.

I got into the match a bit even though I initially felt withdrawn. If I have one criticism, it’s that they never truly put Bron in jeopardy. I never envisioned Nathan defeating Bron and, shocker, he didn’t. But I wish they made Bron work a bit more for it and really get in the mud. No pun intended.

Nathan can go with anyone; that’s obvious at this point. And Bron keeps getting better as a heel who takes shots but always prospers. Just need to see how he works as a heel teetering on the verge of losing.

Keep it Underground

I don’t know where to begin with this or what to even say. Dijak vs. Eddy Thorpe in an NXT Underground match equals violence, chaos, and calamity.

Just watch the match. That’s the best I got here. It’s one of those times where seeing is believing.


An interesting night of television leading into New Year’s Evil. I’m not sure how I feel about it as a whole. Maybe it’s the Holiday hangover speaking too, so it’s possibly a me thing more than an NXT thing. I do wish that last bit with Trick and Ilja did more though. It felt rushed and like an afterthought. The NXT championship should never associate with either of those ideas.

What say you, Cagsiders? And how do you feel about New Year’s Evil?

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