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WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 16

Sana Ejaz Khan


    The December 16 edition of WWE NXT felt big, built on the back of the holidays rapidly approaching. WWE NXT promised NXT New Year's Evil on January 6, but first that card had to be set up.

    The big match of this show was a No. 1 contender bout. After both claiming a shot at the NXT champion Finn Balor, Pete Dunne and Kyle O'Reilly fought once again, this time for a main event spot at the post-New Year's show.

    Two future title contenders and former champions went to war in another big match as Rhea Ripley challenged Toni Storm. It would not the first time these two fought, but their attitudes have changed since they battled for the NXT UK Championship.

    Karrion Kross made a surprise return to action after warning of his arrival at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. No one was ready for the emphatic statement he made by injuring Damian Priest. This week, he stepped back in an NXT ring.

    Because of Kross' vicious attack, Leon Ruff was left without a partner until Kushida stepped up. Ruff and Kushida were set to work together to take on the new alliance of Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory.

    The black-and-gold brand wanted to set up fireworks to come, and some of the best NXT talent in the world went to war for big opportunities in 2021.

Leon Ruff and Kushida vs. The Way's Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory

1 OF 6


    Leon Ruff outmaneuvered Austin Theory, but Johnny Gargano outthought him. He managed to isolate the former NXT North American champion, keeping him away from the dangerous Kushida.

    The Japanese Superstar looked unstoppable when he got the hot tag. He was explosive and smooth against either heel. However, Ruff refused to wait on the apron, tagging back in to take more of a beating from Theory and Gargano.

    The Rebel Heart took Kushida off the apron to set up Theory to pull off a big victory in his return to action, hitting a unique new finisher on Ruff.



    Theory and Gargano def. Ruff and Kushida by pinfall.






    While this won't be a tag team match anyone will seek out down the line, this was smartly wrestled and booked. Austin Theory picked up his first victory since quitting at the end of a bad losing streak. Ruff looked resilient but outmatched.

    The biggest story was how well Kushida was protected. When he got involved, he was unstoppable. The only reason the Japanese Superstar could not do more was because Ruff was so insistent on staying in the fight. This sets up a future fight between Gargano and Kushida at the right moment.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tyler Rust

2 OF 6

    Tommaso Ciampa was hardly impressed with newcomer Tyler Rust, who tried to cost him a match against Cameron Grimes the last week. He was more interested in Timothy Thatcher, leaving a steel chair for the technical master at the bottom of the ramp.

    Thatcher arrived and sat down to watch his student compete. Rust accidentally booted his teacher in the face, setting off the technician. Rust took over in the ensuing chaos, pulling Ciampa's left arm hard down onto the apron.

    Rust turned this into a shocking comeback in the match, reversing the Fairy Tale Ending into a big boot followed by an impressive nearfall off a flipping backbreaker. The NXT newcomer showed his teaching, nearly making The Blackheart tap out to the Rings of Saturn.

    However, Ciampa fought back and planted Rust with the Willow's Bell. Afterward, he and Thatcher got into an argument on the stage as officials held the technician back. Malcolm Bivens talked to Rust about his loss.



    Ciampa def. Rust by pinfall.






    Ciampa vs. Rust went too long, but the overall effect was exactly what it needed to be. Rust looked like a star, challenging Ciampa blow for blow. He made the former NXT champion look vulnerable in a way few have, which sold him as a future major threat on the black-and-gold brand.

    Ciampa's feud continues with Thatcher in an interesting manner. The two have unique respect for one another. While The Blackheart won the first fight, if Thatcher defeats him in the second match, it could be a huge moment for the technician.

No. 1 Contender: Kyle O'Reilly vs. Pete Dunne

3 OF 6

    A video package was shown for The Grizzled Young Veterans, who promised they were the best in the tag team division.

    Roderick Strong and Adam Cole walked out with Kyle O'Reilly while Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch backed up Pete Dunne. Killian Dain arrived to attack the heels joined by Undisputed Era and the arrival of Breezango. Through it all, The Bruiserweight and O'Reilly never took their eyes off one another.

    These vicious brawlers went after each other from the bell. They almost got counted out early, so focused on hurting each other. Dunne took over, wearing down O'Reilly with kicks and a modified sleeper. The Undisputed Era member fought back barely before he got trapped in the tree of woe.

    Dunne took every opportunity to stomp on O'Reilly, focusing on the same liver shots that gave Finn Balor the win over the Undisputed Era member. No matter what though, O'Reilly refused to give up and caught Dunne in the ropes to set up a diving knee to win.



    O'Reilly def. Dunne by pinfall to become the new No. 1 contender to the NXT Championship.






    This was one of the best matches aired in NXT all year. These two men did not pull a punch. It was as physical and brutal as the clash between O'Reilly and Balor that left both men injured. There may not be anyone in the main event scene working at a higher level than these two.

    Hopefully, Dunne will get a chance to face Balor in 2021, but it makes complete sense to revisit the match that put The Prince on the shelf. Balor needs the chance to prove he did not just get lucky escaping O'Reilly's wrath.

Shotzi Blackheart vs. Indi Hartwell

4 OF 6

    Xia Li was forced to beat down Boa in an undisclosed location, kicking him until he was bruised and bloody.

    Indi Hartwell wanted to make a statement against Shotzi Blackheart while impressing The Way. Johnny Gargano handed Hartwell Candice LeRae's trophy, and she blasted Blackheart with it. This caused a disqualification.

    Hartwell beat down Blackheart then LeRae planted the tank driver with the Wicked Step Sister.



    Blackheart def. Hartwell by disqualification.






    This was a waste of time on a night where The Way had already been involved. NXT has already spent years dominated by a single faction in Undisputed Era. The Way should not take that same focus away from other stars on the NXT card.

    The trophy was an odd choice to start, but breaking it the next week felt like a wasted angle. It could have been interesting if Blackheart had destroyed it intentionally instead in the next couple weeks. This was all far too awkward.

Karrion Kross vs. Desmond Troy

5 OF 6

    Dexter Lumis watched the night, drawing a picture to declare that he would be the host for NXT New Year's Evil. A video package was shown to highlight the return of Bronson Reed next week. Karrion Kross also explained in a video package that Doomsday is still here in NXT.

    He dominated Desmond Troy from the bell. He beat him down and threw him around effortlessly. He landed a Saito Suplex then locked in the Kross Jacket without breaking a sweat. Kross then laid out a challenge to Damian Priest at New Year's Evil.

    In a backstage interview, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott explained that he has worked harder than Jake Atlas and should not have lost. He wanted a rematch next week. Ever-Rise took the interview over and said they were having their loss stricken from their record.



    Kross def. Troy by submission.






    This was a fun but forgettable way to get Kross back in a WWE ring. He has already squashed so many Performance Center hopefuls that the process is always the same. He dominates without even trying.

    What will be far more interesting is his match with Priest. The two men can test each other at the same level that Keith Lee took Kross to the limit. It will be a battle of heavyweight behemoths that has potential to finally show what Doomsday can be in NXT.

Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm

6 OF 6


    Finn Balor made an emphatic statement to Kyle O'Reilly, telling him that this second match would be the end of O'Reilly. Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley talked about the history between them in the NXT UK brand, both hating each other.

    It showed early as The Nightmare chopped Storm into the mat, only to be caught by the cheap tactics of her rival. Storm took over, wearing down The Nightmare with a headlock and a series of knees. Ripley started to get back on a roll until the women met in the middle with a headbutt.

    The Nightmare planted Storm with a dropkick then locked her in the Prism Trap. The heel fought out and planted Ripley with a German suplex for a nearfall. Raquel Gonzalez arrived to save Storm after a near-Rip Tide. Gonzalez then slammed Ripley into the steel post, and Storm Zero sealed the victory.



    Storm def. Ripley by pinfall.






    Ripley and Storm have history, but their chemistry has always been questionable. This was their best match, but both have looked much better with other top women in NXT. It is a testament to this women's division that this match was only good for NXT but would have been great for any other WWE show.

    In the end, the Aussie rockstar needed to win. She makes far too much sense as a rival to Io Shirai. The Nightmare is forever established with plenty of big victories. She helped elevate Storm without losing any momentum.

    Gonzalez vs. Ripley was a really good match at NXT Halloween Havoc, and it feels so much more intense now. The rematch will be one to watch


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