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January 2, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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It’s a special two hour episode to kick off 2019!

We start by going to Cathy Kelley to recap some of the best moments of NXT in 2018. Our first look is back at the NXT North American Title Ladder match. I have that at a cool ****3/4. The clip picks up from Velveteen Dream hitting the Purple Rainmaker off a ladder. Also involved in this match were Adam Cole, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain, and the debuting EC3 and Ricochet. Here’s what I had written from the live TakeOver: New Orleans report from that point on.

Dream hits a HUGE Purple Rainmaker on Dain from across the ring. He adds another onto Cole. Dream adds a third onto the back of Ricochet’s head. Lars traps Dream in the corner behind a ladder, so he throws it at Lars when he charges in. Dream climbs the ladder for the biggest Purple Rainmaker yet and hits it on Lars to a huge ovation. EC3 prevents Dream from getting the title with a powerbomb off the ladder onto another ladder in the corner. EC3 hits weird offense that gets no reaction on both Dain and Lars. He climbs but Cole pulls him down. They battle on the ladder and EC3 delivers a TKO off it. Dain stops EC3 from winning and hits a bicycle kick. Dain throws Cole to the corner and slams EC3 down. He puts a ladder on EC3 and crushes him with a BIG BOY SENTON. Dain wants a Vader Bomb but Cole stops him. He hops on Dain’s back, who still does the Vader Bomb. Time for Ricochet to go wild, as he hits everything moving. He’s in with Lars and Dain. Lars launches him across the ring. Not to be outdone, Dain grabs Ricochet and throws him back to Lars. Ricochet bumps wildly on it and falls outside. Lars and Dain collide. Dain wins out at first, but Lars catches his cross body with a powerslam. Ricochet returns to try and stop Lars from climbing. He gets him down adn kicks him in the head. Ricochet climbs. Lars tilts the ladder backward, so Ricochet just moonsaults off onto Cole and Dain outside. Ricochet and EC3 fight and EC3 gets laid out on a ladder. Ricochet hits him with a shooting star press. Ricochet climbs but Dream interrupts. He misses a shot with the ladder and it gets stuck in the corner. Ricochet delivers a right hand. They position the ladder as a bridge in between the turnbuckle and the open ladder in the middle of the ring. Dream drapes Ricochet on the bridge and climbs. Ricochet hits him as he gets to the top. Ricochet trips him onto the bridge but gets kicked in the gut. Dream puts Ricochet on his shoulders for the rolling DVD and they HIT IT. Outside, Lars clotheslines Dream. He lays Dream down on the bridge outside. EC3 tries hitting him, but Lars pulls him onto the apron. He hits EC3 with the Freak Accident onto Dream and through that ladder. Dain puts Ricochet on the other bridged ladder outside. Cole stops him and they fight on the apron. Dain does some kind of driver onto Ricochet and the  ladder, which also meant he sat on Ricochet as it broke. Lars comes close to winning but Dain is up top with him. EC3 stops both with a ladder of his own. He sets one up next to the big men and climbs with Cole. Dream tries getting involved and is sent back. He sets up a third ladder and Ricochet climbs with him. They all fight. Dream comes closest to winning. He wails on Ricochet, who responds with a huge neckbreaker. Lars then delivers an avalanche Freak Accident to Dain. Lars climbs but Ricochet springboards onto him and it causes the ladder to snap. Ricochet climbs, but the ladder gets knocked over by Adam Cole. He climbs and wins.

Winner and First NXT North American Champion: Adam Cole

TAKEOVER: BROOKLYN ~ Ricochet beating Adam Cole for the North American Championship is recapped.

That perfectly leads into the Breakout Superstar of the Year candidates. They are Ricochet, Dakota Kai, Lars Sullivan, Rhea Ripley, War Raiders, Lacey Evans, and Bianca Belair. Personally, I’d go with Bianca or Ricochet.

TONIGHT ~ Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle!

Now, we went to a special video package of the Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa match from TakeOver: New Orleans. I have that one at ****3/4. They included the video package hyping the rivalry and then gave us one recapping the match itself. That gets followed by clips of Ciamps winning the rematch in Chicago. That one got the full ***** from me.

The focus turns to the NXT Title. We see footage of Aleister Black winning the title from Andrade Almas at TakeOver: New Orleans. A ****1/2 match. Yea, that New Orleans show was incredible.

That takes us to July 25th. Tommaso Ciampa beats Aleister Black to become NXT Champion. Another video recap rather than most of the match. This one got ****1/4 from me.

The sneak attack on Aleister Black two weeks later in the Full Sail parking lot is touched upon next. ThatThe mystery surrounding it all is the next video package. Of course, that takes us to TakeOver: War Games II. However, we’ll get exclusive footage from that later tonight.

TAKEOVER: WAR GAMES II ~ Matt Riddle beating Kassius Ohno in six seconds is shown.

Time to look at the candidates for Tag Team of the Year. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. The Street Profits. Heavy Machinery. Moustache Mountain. War Raiders. The Undisputed Era. Yea, this is a no brainer.

We get a look at the Undisputed Era vs. Burch and Lorcan from Chicago. This is actually apparently going to be most of the match so I’ll include my report from the live Chicago show.

NXT Tag Team Championship: Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong [c] w/ Adam Cole vs. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan

The pop for Undisputed is insane. Lorcan and Burch barely get a pop. Uh-oh. Lorcan opens against Strong. Lorcan wins the first exchange and tags out. Roddy takes Burch to the corner and tags Kyle to a pop. Loud chants for Kyle. Kyle works the mat, but Burch escapes and levels him with an uppercut. Tag to Oney and they hit a double elbow. Roddy enters and eats a tandem suplex. The champs go to opposite corners and the challengers wallop them with shots. Their poses get boos. The champs regroup outside. Oney and Kyle begin trading loud chops in the corner. Kyle loses and takes a headlock. Oney wins out again with a knee to the gut. Burch gets tagged and works over Strong. He poses after a missile dropkick to boos. Strong sends him outside, where Kyle wants a soccer kick. Burch blocks but Strong takes him out with a baseball slide. He whips Burch into the LED board and tags Kyle inside. Kyle hits a back suplex into a kneebar. Strong tags in and stomps on Burch as Kyle releases the hold. Backbreaker from Strong gets two. Burch remains isolated as the champs hit running shots in the corner one after the other. Burch nearly gets an opening, but Kyle takes him down with strikes and kicks. Burch fights out with some forearms but eats a dropkick from Roddy for two. Burch fights out of an arm wringer and avoids a corner knee. He back drops Roddy, who tags Kyle. Kyle kicks Oney off the apron. Burch headbutts Kyle and both are down. Both guys tag out. Oney levels Roddy with shots. He turns him inside out with a clothesline and adds a running European. Kyle walks into some chops. Oney dropkicks Kyle outside to join Roddy. He follows with a wild somersault tope. Inside, Oney catches Roddy with a dragon suplex. A running European gets two. Oney hits both opponents with elbows in opposite corners. Strong catches one for a backbreaker. Oney escapes and sends Roddy into Kyle. Double running Blockbuster. Tag to Burch and they hit the assisted DDT they beat Undisputed with in the past. Kyle makes the save on the pin. Kyle is dumped out again. They get Roddy up for a Doomsday Device but Oney is knocked horribly off the top by Kyle. Burch levels Roddy but eats an enziguri. Tag to Kyle who fires off kicks, chops, and knees. Burch jumps over his sweep with a headbutt and knee. Kyle with a knee of his own. Brainbuster connects for a near fall. Kyle transitions into the armbar, but Burch locks his hands to block. Kyle finally breaks the grip and Burch struggles to the ropes. He makes it. Corner knee from Roddy and facebuster. Kyle with a PK and Roddy covers for two. Kyle becomes legal again, bu Burch fights off a double team move. Oney is up and hits the champs with a Blockbuster off the apron. He sends Kyle back in and the Doomsday European Uppercut connects. He covers, but Cole pulls Kyle to safety from a pin. The referee ejects Cole to a chorus of boos. The challengers have a shaky Kyle alone. Roddy trips Burch to cut off their finisher and throws him into the announce table. Kyle traps Oney in a guillotine in the center of the ring. Oney fights out and escapes by back dropping Kyle. Tag to Roddy. Oney uppercuts him but eats a knee. Oney escapes the Angle Slam and chop blocks STrong. Powerbomb with a bridge gets two but he goes right into a half crab. Kyle slides in and boots him but Oney refuses to let go. Kyle puts him in a guiolltine, but Burch pulls him down into a crossface. DUAL SUBMISSIONS! Kyle turns over and manages to kick Oney a few more times to break it. The teams stand across from each other and just start throwing bobms. Kyle takes down Burch with a knee. Oney slaps the taste out of his mouth, but Roddy knees him. Ax, Smash and a Roddy knee. They hit a sweep/lariat combo and retain.

Winners and Still NXT Tag Team Champions: The Undisputed Era in 16:02 [****1/4]

Rivalry of the Year nominees: Andrade ALmas vs. Johnny Gargano. Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa. Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream. Alestier Black/Nikki Cross/Gargano/Ciampa. Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler.

Future Star of the Year nominees: Matt Riddle. Mia Yim. Keith Lee. Forgotten Sons. Candice LeRae. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. Kona Reeves. Dominik Dijakovic. Io Shirai.

The full list of Match of the Year nominees aren’t shown. Instead, we get a sample. Check WWE.com for the full list.

Ahead of Bianca Belair’s NXT Women’s Title match at TakeOver, we get a look at her first time competing in front of a big crowd. She faced Donna Purrazzo in Brooklyn.

Bianca Belair vs. Deonna Purrazzo

Deonna got a nice pop. She works the arm but gets taken over in a headlock. Bianca kips up out when it gets counters. Deonna ends up in the same position, but surprises Bianca by doing a handstand to get free. Deonna takes a bow. Knee and headlock by Bianca. She leaps over in the corner, cartwheels, flips over Deonna and hits a dropkick. It’s time for Bianca to taunt. Deonna nearly applies her Fujiwara Armbar, but Biance blocks and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. She shouts for Deonna to respect her and works the midsection. Seated full nelson locked in. Deonna gets free but is put right back in the hold. Shots to the midsection. Bianca blocks a rollup and misses a stomp. Shoulder block sends Deonna to the mat. Three elbow drops from Bianca. She bows and the taunting is a problem because she misses a standing moonsault. They trade chops. Bianca kicks her in the gut, Deonna escapes a slam and hits a bicycle kick. Backflip and dropkick by Deonna. Deonna catches a boot and goes to the armbar. Bianca struggles and prevents her from fully locking it in. She sends Deonna shoulder first into the post. Torture Rack Driver ends it.

Winner: Bianca Belair in 5:38 [**]

Time for that look at Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black from War Games II. (****3/4). We also see how Gargano beat Black in a Steel Cage two weeks ago (***3/4) with help from Tommaso Ciampa. After that match, Gargano was asked if he was back with Ciampa. Gargano calls himself a nice guy, winning the match and absolving Black of his sins. When asked if working with Ciampa was the plan, he says the only plan was to beat Black in a cage. He remains the hero at the end of this story.

Male Superstar of the Year nominees: Adam Cole (BAY BAY). Pete Dunne. Andrade Almas. Ricochet. Velveteen Dream. Johnny Gargano. Aleister Black. Tommaso Ciampa.

Female Superstar of the Year nominees: Ember Moon. Nikki Cross. Kairi Sane. Bianca Belair. Shayna Baszler.

Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle

Riddle goes for the knockout knee again but misses. He still lights Ohno up with kicks in the corner. Two forearms follow, but Ohno tries to elbow free of an Exploder. Matt hits it anyway. Senton connects, followed by a knee to the ribs and axe kick to the back. Ohno comes back and wails on Riddle with boots. Snapmare and rolling senton gets two. Mad Hat Drop is next and Ohno uses the rope to knock Riddle back. Riddle greets Ohno with a series of kicks. Ohno catches one, levels him and gets two on a Cyclone Kick. Ohno steps on him but Riddle fires up and they trade strikes. Ohno stops him with a running boot and senton splash. Riddle catches the next sneton into a grapple with elbows. Bromission in and Ohno taps after chops to the chest.

Winner: Matt Riddle in 6:01 [***]

Post-match, Riddle wants a fist bump but Ohno declines. Ohno returns to the ring to “BroNo” chants. He gets down on one knee and offers the fist bump. Riddle agrees, only for Ohno to grab his arm and throw him into the ring post. Ohno throws him into the ring post and steel steps. “You still tapped” chants. Ohno yells “YOU KNOW WHAT I’VE DONE, BRO?” as he knocks him out with a forearm. Ohno then gives Riddle the fist bump as he lays in pain.

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NXT, WWE, Kevin Pantoja