NXT holiday flashback: Cookies, Rock T-shirts and a standoff with Santa
It’s that time of the year again. For some, the holiday season is about the anticipation of gifts; for others, it’s about quality time with loved ones. Most importantly, it's an opportunity to create memories that can last a lifetime. This week, several NXT Superstars grab a seat in the proverbial time machine and recount some of their most beloved holiday memories.
“I remember one Christmas, my parents bought my brother and I new bikes. I was so excited because not only was the bicycle my favorite color, purple, but it was also my first bike without training wheels. So, my brother and I tried to get on the bikes to pose for a picture, but we were super off-balance because the seats hadn't been adjusted. We both ended up falling into the Christmas tree, and the picture we were trying to pose for was actually on the video setting. So now I have a constant reminder of the incident, but it always brings a good laugh to the room when we play it.” — NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon
“One of my favorite memories on Christmas Day was waking up early to open my presents, then ordering a large pizza with my mom and watching basketball later in the day. We would always make cookies and cream eggnog shakes topped with gummy worms.” — Angelo Dawkins
“My favorite holiday memory would be the night I came face-to-face with Santa. One year my mother had gathered me and my sisters together, made us a nice warm meal and, afterwards, we prepared cookies and milk for Santa. I was really jealous of the fact that the cookies we left for Santa were the chewy Chips Ahoy! and hoped that maybe he wouldn’t like that kind because they were my favorite. Nonetheless, we went to bed after setting out the cookies and milk.
“I woke up in the middle of the night to see if Santa stopped by, but to my surprise, homie was by the tree reaching into his bag putting presents under the tree! Startled as I was, I didn't want to make noise, but a crack in the floorboard made Santa turn, and we had a faceoff. No one moved, and we just stared in silence. It was like an old Western movie with the 7-year-old version of me staring at a 1,727-year-old man decked out in his red suit, waiting to see who moved first.” — Montez Ford
“On Christmas Eve, my parents would take my brother and me to look at the fancy lights nearby. At the end of the night, as we drove across a long bridge on the way home, every year my mum would point to the sky and exclaim, ‘There’s Santa, he can’t beat us home or he won’t leave any presents!’ So, my dad would race home, and we would run to bed in hopes that Santa hadn’t tried to stop by yet. I would never be able to sleep because I was too excited. I’d stay quiet and try and listen for him. Sadly, I always fell asleep before I heard anything.” — Peyton Royce
“My favorite holiday memory is always Christmas morning. It’s my favorite day of the year. My family has a tradition that we have always stuck to since I can remember. Our tradition includes the same big breakfast every year that we all cook together, but right before we eat, we open the Christmas crackers and tell the bad jokes that are inside them. After our meal, we all sit down at the Christmas tree and hand out the presents one at a time. My favorite present was my first WWE shirt that I received, which featured none other than The Rock. I must have worn that shirt for like a year straight. Today, it doesn’t fit me anymore and it’s so faded, but I refuse to throw it out.” — Billie Kay
“My birthday is on Christmas Eve, so growing up it was hard to separate the two. Once I got into wrestling, I'd often find myself traveling on and around my birthday and Christmas. One particularly fond memory that sticks out to me is from a few years ago. I had finished up a tour of Japan with a big show in Tokyo on Dec. 23. I was able to have a Christmas party with close friends in Japan, and then I took a flight back to the U.S. on my birthday. Factoring in the time difference, I would technically have a 37-hour birthday capped off by a viewing of ‘Star Wars’ with my mom all the way in Dayton, Ohio. Ultimately, I succumbed to sleep, but I was able to reflect on a holiday surrounded by friends, family and the occupation I love before passing out 'til about New Year’s.” — Kassius Ohno
“Growing up, Christmas was always your one opportunity to get that one big gift you had your eye on all year. As a kid of the ’90s, before the prevalence of the internet or online shopping, your parents’ and Santa’s ability to get said gift was always up in the air. Some gifts were just flat-out impossible to find. My parents took full advantage of this childhood fear. They liked to employ what I'd later dub ‘The Christmas Story’ method. You know how Ralphie thought he didn't get the Red Ryder BB gun when he opened all his presents, only to find it behind the tree? Well, my parents did this to me every single year.
“And guess what? I fell for it every time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Subterranean Hockey? Santa fell asleep and left it on the unused top bunk of my bunk beds. Sega Genesis? Santa left it at the bottom of the steps of our back door when he let the dog outside. Green Ranger and Dragonzord action figure? Behind the tree. Okay, they straight-up plagiarized that one. Looking back at it, the toys were awesome, but it was really about that experience and moment my parents (and Santa) created for me. At the end of the day, that's what Christmas is really about. Those moments of pure unadulterated joy that happen once a year. It's a feeling and memory that I'll carry with me forever, and one day when I have a kid, I'll make him miserable for five minutes on Christmas morning, too.” — Johnny Gargano