The January 2 edition of NXT was a recap show, highlighting the best moments of 2018. When it comes to WWE’s developmental brand, there were many memorable moments indeed.
The first highlight of the year came from Takeover: New Orleans during WrestleMania 34 weekend. The match in question was contested for the newly created NXT North American Championship. Lars Sullivan, The Velveteen Dream, EC3, Ricochet, Adam Cole and Killia Dain all went to war for the brand’s newest prize in a Ladder Match.
All six men had their share of huge moments in the match but for many fans, it was all about Ricochet. His arrival in NXT came with a tremendous amount of buzz and he delivered on every level. But could the human highlight reel take over and win the championship?
The first battle for the #NorthAmericanChampionship was total insanity. #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/rW0N0H7Pi7
— WWE (@WWE) January 3, 2019
Ricochet definitely had some impressive moments of offense against every participant in the match but in the end, Adam Cole was the man to win it all. Ricochet’s win over Cole for the title at Takeover: Brooklyn in August was also shown and Ricochet continues to currently hold the championship.
This highlight led to the announcement of nominees for NXT’s Breakout Star of the Year. That list includes Ricochet, Dakota Kai, Lars Sullivan, Rhea Ripley, The War Raiders, Lacey Evans, EC3 and Bianca Belair.
The rivalry between Johnny Gargano and current NXT champion Tomasso Ciampa was covered next on the program. Their history as best friends, DIY tag team partners and bitter enemies, was recapped. Gargano’s heel turn was mentioned as well.
The spotlight next fell on the NXT Championship match between Andrade Cien Almas and Aleister Black. Their match from Takeover: New Orleans was highlighted, including Black’s victory in the end. Black’s title defense against Ciampa in July was covered next and that match featured a surprising twist at the end.
That twist came of course thanks to Gargano’s interference, which ultimately cost Black the title. Ciampa became the new NXT champion and he may never have won it without the inadvertent assist from his hated rival.
You know the rivalry. @JohnnyGargano #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/E8NEf3UgA2
— WWE (@WWE) January 3, 2019
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Aleister Black’s parking lot attack was shown next, leading to NXT General Manager William Regal’s investigation of the event. Nikki Cross’s assertion that she knew the identity of Black’s attacker was called into question when Aleister confronted her in the ring.
This of course led to the shocking moment when Johnny Gargano laid out Black and revealed himself as the mystery attacker.
The history between Matt Riddle and Kassius Ohno was spotlighted next, leading up to the main event of the program.
The nominees for NXT Tag Team of the Year were revealed next. That list includes Oney Lorcan and Dany Burch, The Street Profits, Heavy Machinery, Moustache Mountain, The War Raiders and The Undisputed Era.
Lorcan and Burch versus The Undisputed Era from Takeover: Chicago was up next. Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong put the NXT Tag Team Championships on the line and the match was hard fought from start to finish. Lorcan and Burch came extremely close to wining the gold but The Undisputed Era found a way to once again overcome and retain the titles.
2018 was their Era. And that's Undisputed. #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/hw55VLwRH7
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 3, 2019
The NXT Rivalry of the Year nominees are: Gargano vs. Almas, Shayna Baszler vs. Ember Moon, Gargano vs. Ciampa, Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain, Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet, the angle featuring Black, Cross, Gargano and Ciampa and Kairi Sane vs. Baszler.The 2018 NXT Future Star of the Year Nominees are: Riddle, Mia Yim, Keith Lee, The Forgotten Sons, Candice LeRae, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, Kona Reeves, Dominik Dijakovic and Io Shirai.The list of NXT Match of the Year Nominees includes: the WarGames match, Ciampa’s NXT title win over Black, the North American Championship Ladder Match and The Undisputed Era vs. Lorcan and Burch. The rest of the nominees are listed on WWE’s website.
You've been re👏mind👏ed. @BiancaBelairWWE #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/kRQzdr3jYw
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) December 27, 2018
The match between Belair and Deonna Purrazzo at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn was next. Belair picked up the win over the favored Purrazzo. Belair’s upcoming NXT Women’s title match with Baszler at Takeover: Phoenix is then advertised.
Gargano’s betrayal of Black was once again covered, including his full heel turn. His match with Black at WarGames was next up, with Aleister getting the win in the end. Their steel cage rematch from NXT was then shown, including Gargano’s shocking assist from Ciampa. That assist gave Johnny the victory over Aleister Black.
The nominees for NXT Male Competitor of the Year are: Cole, Pete Dunne, Almas, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Gargano, Black and Ciampa.The nominees for NXT Female Competitor of the Year are: Moon, Cross, Sane, Belair and Baszler.
The main event between Riddle and Ohno closed out the program. Riddle got the win with the Bromission. Matt offered a fist bump to Ohno and Kassius refused at first. But Ohno then came back to the ring and tricked Riddle, running him into the post. Ohno then slammed Riddle into the barricade and steel steps. Kassius hit a spinning elbow and then mockingly bumped fists with Riddle.