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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: NXT Deadline 2023

The final WWE PLE of the year comes to us from Triple H's baby now turned Shawn Michaels' toddler, NXT. It's been a pretty great year for NXT, turning around the damage caused by Vince McMahon's takeover and re-establishing itself as a developmental product worth watching. 7 matches tonight including 1 on the pre-show and of course the staple of the Deadline event, 2 Iron Survivor Challenges. A pair of number 1 contender's will be established tonight, who will it be? Will we see former champions regain an opportunity at recapturing glory, or will we see a new face rise up to the top of the NXT mountain. Let's find out. Let's review.


NXT: Deadline- December 9th 2023 @ Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT


Pre-show


Axiom vs Nathan Frazer

These two faced each other in the qualifiers to enter the Iron Survivor, but the match was thrown out thanks to interference from competitors of the women's Iron Survivor in a big brawl. They unfortunately missed out on tonights match, but they get a rematch again here tonight to see who would have won. These have had a friendly rivalry in the past but Frazer has been showing an edge to him recently. These two made the absolute most of their time on the pre-show, putting on a very good match that got the crowd extremely hot. That is a perfect pre-show bout. Lots of nearfalls and big offence, Axiom hits a Golden Ratio to win. They shake hands in sportsmanship.


Axiom wins via pinfall (10:49)

***1/2


I wanna take the time to say how insufferable the kickoff panel is. I'm sure I've commented on it in the past, but the panels sucks so bad now. Not like AEW's is much better though.


Main Card


-We open with a Shawn Michaels promo to hype, out comes CM Punk! What a shocker. He continues to tease where he's going. A nice little happy pre-show moment to hype the crowd even more.


Dominik Mysterio (c) vs Dragon Lee, NXT North American Championship

Dom defeated Wes Lee for the championship back in July. He briefly lost it to Trick Williams before winning it back. A rematch was initially set up between Dominik and Wes, but unfortunately Wes suffered a serious back injury as will be unable to compete. Dragon Lee has been revealed to be challenging instead, bringing Dom Dom's papi Rey with him in his corner. We haven't seen much on-screen interaction between Dom and Rey since Backlash so this will be interesting to see what happens. Rey is out on crutches because he's injured and joins commentary.


This was a solidly worked match, some scrappy moments due to Dom's inexperience but he has also shown he is improving a lot. There isn't really any interaction between father and son here, Dom taunts his dad a few times and that's it. Dragon Lee dethrones Dominik for the title, which seemingly continues to be hot potatoed around. Hopefully Lee has an extended run but I think he will lose it within a couple of months.


Dragon Lee wins via pinfall (10:34)

**3/4


Tiffany Stratton vs Lash Legend vs Blair Davenport vs Kelani Jordan vs Fallon Henley, Iron Survior for #1 contender for the NXT Women's Championship

In the qualifying matches, former champion Stratton defeated Hemley, Legend defeated Roxanne Perez, Davenport defeated Thea Hail & Jordan defeated Kiana James. A last chance fatal four-way saw Fallon Henley defeat the other 3 losers to gain entry to this match. I am backing Blair in this one for sure.


Fallon Henley draws number 1 and Davenport gets number 2. They wrestle in front of a pretty heatless crowd for 5 minutes until Tiffany Stratton enters the match. Henley fights the odds against two heels but struggles doing it. Stratton betrays Blair, obviously, and takes control of the match. Davenport steals a pinfall, throwing Tiffany out and pinning Henley. Henley is locked in the penalty box for 90 seconds as Kelani Jordan enters at number 4. Henley returns to the match hot and scores a pinfall over Stratton. Lash Legend enters and goes HAM on the opps. She pins Stratton & Henley simultaneously, earning two points and putting them both in the box. Legend's allies the Meta-Four come out and block Stratton & Henley from leaving. Smart. Henley tries to climb out, so Stratton pushes her through the announce table, then she does a swanton to the pile! Stratton is the best. Some great sequences as we enter the final 5 minutes. Blair pins James to level the score with Blair. Stratton pins Legend with her moonsault to earn a point. Daveport takes the lead with only 10 seconds left to go, winning the match. I'm very happy with that.


It was slow to start but once Stratton came in the ball rolled faster, the more people that came out the better the match ended up becoming. Stratton was the absolute MVP of this match, but I was very impressed by Lash Legend too. All women put in a big effort. Davenport winning was a great choice. Post match Blair calls out Lyra Valkyria, who comes out to pose but Cora Jade returns to attack her. Jade poses with the title. Interesting developments.


Davenport is the Iron Survivor (25:00)

***1/2


-Trick & Melo are backstage hyping each other up. Their relationship seems a bit on the rocks, Trick looks super laser focused.


Carmelo Hayes vs Lexis King

The artist formerly known as Brian Pillman Jr. is now Lexis King in NXT and he immediately inserted himself into a big place on the roster by trying to cause dissension between Hayes and his long time friend Trick Williams. Williams believed Hayes attacked him backstage, Lexis stirred the pot some more causing Trick to accidentally hit Hayes when lunging at Lexis. King got involved in Hayes' Iron Survivor qualifier, leading to this match being set up. I am excited to see King in his first PLE match for NXT, he is really being pushed into the deep end. We will see if he sinks or swims with HIM.


A rage fuelled start spills outside the ring, King hits his hand on the post which could play a role later on. Lexis gains control and maintains it for some time. The top turnbuckle pad came off accidentally, I hope that wasn't a planned spot later on, no one is trying to put it back on. Hayes finds an opening by accepting a handshake and flipping a bird but it doesn't last long. After a nasty double bump on the apron they're back in with a back and forth. Hayes hits a Nothin' But Net almost out of no where to win the match. A good match, Lexis King was very impressive with his work and his selling throughout. I would have gave him the win over Hayes, but he is only just getting started here in NXT. King grabs a microphone, and thanks Hayes for the PLE spotlight because it wasn't him who even attacked Trick. The saga continues. Was King lying? Is Hayes guilty? Or is there a secret third man to be involved?


Hayes wins via pinfall (11:13)

***


-Cora Jade interview, hypes her return and her intentions. Also, Trick apologies for letting King getting inbetween. Trick is in good spirits and is ready to win tonight too.


Dijak vs Trick Williams vs Josh Briggs vs Bron Breakker vs Tyler Bate, Iron Survivor for #1 contender for NXT Championship

In the qualifers, Dijak defeated Bate, Trick defeated Joe Coffey, Briggs defeated Hayes and Breakker defeated Thorpe. Bate won a last chance fatal four way to enter the match. Personally, I want to see Dragunov vs Bate on a PLE so that's who I'm supporting but I honestly could see any of these guys winning, except maybe Briggs.


Dijak and Briggs begin as 1 and 2. An even big man battle, Dijak gets a pinfall as the timer hits 5 minutes, he gains a point as Tyler Bate enters. Briggs re-enters with a huge lariat and a pinfall on Dijak. Bate reverses a finisher to pin Dijak to earn a point. Trick Williams enters, easily the most over man in the match. Trick with a very cool Briggs-assisted clothesline to Dijak for a nearfall. Trick and Bate duel airplane spin each other, Bate comes out on top. Bate hits a Tyler Driver 97 to Trick to gain a point. 15 minutes have gone, Breakker enters and hits a spear immediately for a pinfall on Briggs, then a spear to Bate with a pinfall, then again to Dijsk. 40 seconds, 3 points. Trick is back in for a brief singles. The 3 in box start fighting but the camera picks up none of it. Dijak knocks Trick out for a pnfall. A frankensteiner into a powerbomb, Bate steals Breakker's pinfall to level it up with him. Dijak & Briggs work together to both score falls. A three-way tie at 3 with Briggs trailing with 2. Breakker spears Trick through the barricade, Dijak chokeslams Breakker through the announce table. Trick rolls up Briggs for a fall, Eddie Thorpe comes out and costs Dijak a fall, attacking him. Trick rolls him up for another fall. He rolls up Bate for a third! Trick hits a big knee, a fourth fall! Trick wins!


Amazing booking there. Trick was great but struggled to get a single fall, but then comes from last to first with 4 falls in 2 minutes. Amazing work by all men in this match. Great action, well paced and awesome booking of everyone involved.


Trick is the Iron Survivor (25:00)

****


Roxanne Perez vs Kiana James, Steel Cage

A feud that's been burning since Halloween, Perez defeated James in a Devil's Playground match. James agreed with Stratton that Perez shouldn't be in the Iron Survivor, so James cost Perez her match. Perez returned the favour and their rivalry has accelerated from there. Former Schism member Ava was seen leaving Shawn Michael's office and she announced their steel cage match, throwing intrigue into what her role is backstage now.


This was a good match, they ran through the usual spots you would see. Perez is great at pulling out a code red whenever she wants. Perez seems to have it won until Izzy Dane helps her new ally James win, hitting a dealbreaker for the win. I thought it was Tiffany Stratton at first. This was good.


James wins via pinfall (11:27)

***1/4


Ilja Dragunov (c) vs Baron Corbin, NXT Championship

Ilja is 67 days into his first reign as NXT champion, a title he 1000% deserves right now for being NXT's greatest performer this year. After a successful defence against Hayes, Baron Corbin attacked and set his sights. Dragunov has tried to get revenge but keeps coming up short. Baron laid out the title challenge, Ilja accepts. Corbin enters on a big boy motorcycle, really demonstrating how macho he is. If he wins, we riot.


Corbin takes the early advantage but Ilja takes control as the action spills outside. Corbin drops Dragunov on top of the table, injuring the ribs ehich becomes a target in the match. A slow dismemberment of Dragunov who is in survival mode. Dragunov fights back into the match. We see a cool super chokeslam by Corbin. After 3 H-bombs, Dragunov hugs Corbin, speaks in his ear before dropping him with a Torpedo Moscow to retain.


A fine match but disappointing to me, I don't think these had brillianr chemistry. Corbin was in control for too long. I don't think Corbin should be doing 20 minute matches. The hug spot was weird. I'm glad Ilja retained at the very least. Trick comes out for a stand off.


Dragunov retains vis pinfall (20:53)

**1/2


Overall- 63.3%

A solid show, far from NXT's best of the year but it had some good stuff. A shame about the disappointing main event. However, both Iron Survivor matches delivered and we've set up some new feuds and stories heading into 2024.


MOTN- Men's Iron Survivor











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