Just two weeks before NXT’s special New Year’s Evil episode, two huge new matches were announced on last night’s show. Both of these upcoming contests are continuations of ongoing feuds, and both feature brutal stipulations that will help the show live up to that deadly moniker of New Year’s Evil.
First up is the rematch between Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez, this time in a Last Woman Standing match. Previously, the two clashed in a belter of a semi-main at Halloween Havoc (review) which saw Rhea regain some of her lost momentum, following a slump after losing her NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania earlier this spring. After a winning effort this week against Gonzalez’ mentor Dakota Kai, Gonzalez pushed her way through several referees to get to the ring and confront Ripley, which ended up in a pull-apart brawl with even more NXT officials intervening.
Shortly after, the Tortured Artist and host New Year’s Evil made the artistic announcement that the two will face off in a Last Woman Standing match, which could rival that steel cage match “Battle of the Badasses” between Ripley and the recently returned Mercedes Martinez.
Check out clips from the Ripley/Kai match and the brawl between Ripley and Gonzalez:
Later in the show, Timothy Thatcher faced off with former NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff, with the perennial underdog Ruff scoring a roll-up win over the master of Thatch-As-Thatch-Can wrestling. After Thatcher took out some of his frustrations on Ruff outside the ring, Tommaso Ciampa, who beat Thatcher in a physical clash at TakeOver: WarGames, rushed down to nail the Willow’s Bell on his foe, before telling the downed Thatcher, “I’ll see you in the Fight Pit.”
The Fight Pit is an MMA-style match, in which the combatants are locked inside a cage, with victory only coming by way of submission or knockout. Back in May, Timothy Thatcher and Matt Riddle faced off in the first-ever iteration, with WWE Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle serving as special guest referee. This isn’t exactly the first time that WWE has played around with mixed martial arts, as they featured a Dungeon match and two Lion’s Den matches during the Attitude Era of the late Nineties. To learn more about the Dungeon Match, check out part two of my Cinematic Wrestling column from earlier this year.
See the closing moments of the Ruff/Thatcher match and Ciampa’s run-in:
The updated card for NXT New Year’s Evil, which will air on January 6th, 2021 on the USA Network, beginning 8pm EST, is as follows:
NXT Champion Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Damian Priest vs. Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett)
Last Woman Standing Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzalez
Fight Pit: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher