Early on in the evening during the NXT “New Year’s Evil” broadcast, WWE pulled a fast one by revealing Ilja Dragunov, who was scheduled to defend the NXT championship in the main event against Trick Williams, was not medically cleared after what happened with Ridge Holland:
As a replacement, they did a segment backstage with Grayson Waller showing up to antagonize Williams and Carmelo Hayes somehow booking the two for a match with Trick’s title shot against Dragunov on the line.
This was, of course, yet more setup for Hayes and Williams to finally fully turn against each other.
On top of that, Shawn Michaels teased an appearance from a former NXT champion during the match later:
New Year’s Evil is off to a hot start. Just got a call from a former NXT champion who wants to stop by and watch the new main event.— Shawn Michaels (@ShawnMichaels) January 3, 2024
When it came time for the match, Hayes, who was asked to stay in the back, hit the scene late and provided a distraction for Waller. The only problem is Grayson had run into the man Michaels had teased — none other than Kevin Owens.
KO punched Waller in the face and that was all the assist Trick needed to score the pin and retain his status as the top contender to the NXT championship.
It looks like they could very well plan on dragging this story out all the way to Stand & Deliver.
Get complete “New Year’s Evil” results and coverage of this week’s show right here.