WWE NXT 2.0 #605
Image Credit: WWE

Best NXT TV Matches Of 2021

NXT underwent in biggest change in 2021 since the dawn of the Black and Gold era. Established veterans either moved to the main roster or left for greener pastures. News stars arrived on the map. The critically acclaimed TakeOver series bid goodbye.

Despite these unprecedented changes, NXT churned our Match of the Year contenders on free TV. While the old guard dominated the main event scene for the better part of 2021, new stars such as Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes started to put the locker room on notice.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best NXT TV matches of 2021:

Video Credit: YouTube

KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O’Reilly (NXT #582)

Kyle O’Reilly faced the indomitable KUSHIDA in the lead-up to the former’s match against Adam Cole at NXT: The Great American Bash. The non-title main event on NXT TV featured some great technical mat and chain wrestling from two excellent competitors.

KUSHIDA had a brief advantage by working on O’Reilly’s arm, but the former Undisputed Era star fought back with his impactful striking. The ending may have been a bit premature, but it was superb content nonetheless.

Image Credit: WWE

Bron Breakker vs. Johnny Gargano (WarGames Advantage Ladder Match, November 30)

Bron Breakker’s in-ring experience only amounted to a handful of matches by the time he entered the ring to face Johnny Gargano. The young star, however, proved he was much more than a rookie fighting to prove himself against the veteran.

The match featured a little more use of the latter compared to the Kay Lee Ray versus Dakota Kai opener. Gargano did his job well to make Breakker look good. This ended up being the Rebel Heart’s final NXT TV match as he’d embark on his first exit from WWE post WarGames.

Video Credit: YouTube

Adam Cole vs. Finn Bálor (NXT Championship Match, March 10)

This match may be the weakest of the epic trilogy between Adam Cole and Finn Bálor, but it is still (arguably) one of the best NXT TV matches of 2021. The match came nearly six months after the pair’s epic outing at NXT Super Tuesday II.

Bálor worked with a lot of aggression and purpose in this match. He had displayed the same intensity in his previous matches against Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne. The closing sequence was solid, which led to a win for the champion.

Video Credit: YouTube

Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa (Tornado Tag Team Match, June 15)

Tag team matches have always been among NXT’s greatest strengths. From Alpha Academy’s war with The Revival to DIY’s classic against Authors of Pain, WWE’s developmental system has mostly delivered with multi-man tag bouts.

The same can be about this tornado tag team classic between Grizzled Young Veterans and the team of Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa. On a card that already had some solid matches, this main event managed to stand out with its brilliant in-ring storytelling.

The tornado tag team stipulation meant all four men could beat each other senseless, and that is exactly what they did. Timmy Thatcher’s violent technical game complemented Ciampa’s superb in-ring psychology. James Drake and Zack Gibson were superb as always. NXT 2.0 really did the pair dirty with The Dyad gimmick.

Video Credit: YouTube

Roderick Strong vs. Ilja Dragunov (WWE NXT #590)

This match pitted two of the physical wrestlers in NXT at the time against each other. Strong was in the middle of his run as the leader of the Diamond Mine when this match took place. Dragunov, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to lose just days before his epic clash against WALTER for the NXT UK Championship at TakeOver 36.

Both men battered each other with stiff strikes. Dragunov busted himself open in the later goings of the match, but still managed to gather enough strength to put away the Messiah of the Backbreaker.

Honorable Mentions

  • Io Shirai vs. Toni Strom (WWE NXT – March 10)
  • KUSHIDA vs. Santos Escobar (May 11)
  • Pete Dunne vs. Ilja Dragunov (WWE NXT – August 10)
  • Ember Moon vs. Kay Lee Ray (September 7)

Also read: Best NXT TV Matches Of 2022