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2023 NXT Deadline Reviews

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

Reverse Hipster's 2023 NXT Deadline Reviews

Dominik Vs. Dragon Lee North American Title 7.7/10 C

The wrestling in this match was average. The story beats are what this match will be remembered for. Dominik looked dominant for the first time and lifted his opponent's shoulders to toy with him. Dragon Lee won his first title, and Dominik lost the title in front of Rey Mysterio. Then, to make matters worse, Dominik had to watch Rey celebrate his downfall with Dragon Lee like Lee was the son he never had. This match will definitely make Rey & Dominik highlight package.

Tiffany vs. Fallon vs. Kehlani vs. Blair vs. Lash Legend Iron Survivor 8.4/10 B

This match started slow, and for a moment, it seemed like maybe there weren't enough heavy hitters in this match. Tiffany carried the match, and then Lash Legend exploded onto the scene and started dominating. This was a fantastic moment for Lash. I watched her go from hosting a talk show to being an afterthought to joining Meta 4 to dominating in the ring. She's finally put all the pieces together and is ready to dominate. Lash Legend's power was incredible. She was throwing everyone around, sometimes even multiple people at the same time. Lash isn't just some brute, either. She was fluid in her movements, and they looked smooth.

Tiffany Fallon Blair

By the end of the match, everyone had their moment. Kehlani was backflipping off the top, Fallon was running off the ropes and kicking everyone in sight, and she even pinned Tiffany. Blair Davenport won the match, which I didn't like, but she is a heel, so you can argue it had its intended effect. Plus, NXT is capitalizing on the momentum she built from injuring everyone—another Solid Iron Survivor in the books.

Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King 7.8/10 C

Lexis King entrance

Carmelo, don't miss. We all know that. This match was about highlighting Lexis King, and in that regard, the match was fairly successful. Lexis King didn't have a star-making moment but went from a background character to someone who didn't seem out of place in the ring with Carmelo. Also, he was able to take it to Carmelo, injuring his back with backbreaker after backbreaker. Also, King's entrance is awesome. His persona is coming along fast. Storyline-wise, this match went in a predictable but interesting way. King didn't attack Trick Williams like he said he did. It turns out the drama king was just seeking PLE publicity.

Tyler Bate vs. Bron Breakker vs. Briggs vs. Dijak vs. Trick Williams Iron Survivor Match 9.6/10 A

This match was incredible. Instead of waiting till the end like the women, the men's Iron Survivor challenge started out hot just between Briggs and Dijak. Also, everybody falls in this match, unlike other Iron Survivor matches. The men just kept on raising the bar with the elaborate moves they were pulling off. Some highlights are Briggs and Dijak doing backflips off the ropes at the same time. Tyler Bate hitting a 360 backflip off the ropes onto Trick Williams. Trick Williams jumped off Briggs's back and hit Dijak in mid-air after Dijak jumped off the top rope.

Trick Williams

Bron Breakker looked like a beast in this match. He came in and got three pins in 40 seconds—spear after spear and then a spear out of the air. The ending of this extraordinary match is what really puts it over the top. In the end, everyone had 2-3 falls except for Trick, who had zero. Trick Williams got four pins in one minute, with the final one being on Bron Breakker, who he hit with a flying knee seconds before Bron could strike with the spear. This match was the excellence of execution. Trick started from the bottom, and now he's the number one contender.

Roxanne vs. Kiana James Cage Match 8.2/10 B

Roxanne Perez

Credit to these women, they knew they had to follow a banger. They got physically fast, throwing each other into the Cage and climbing to the top, but they didn't go all the way. They climbed to the top but didn't do anything up there, so it only served to remind everyone they didn't do a top-of-the-cell move. Then Kiana Jade brought her chair in from by the door after obviously waiting for Roxanne to stop her from escaping. Once again, they didn't actually use the chair, and it just reminded fans of what they could have done. Speaking of what they could have done, they could have tried some escapes in this match.

Kiana james izzy

But there was a lot of good in the match, too. There were some good cage spots, like Kiana ramming Roxanne into the Cage and then powerbombing her off the top rope. Roxanne also had one of the best spots of the night when she was thrown in the air, and she turned it into Pop Rox. Ultimately, Kiana showed that when it comes to business, she is a shark and doesn't leave anything up to chance. She got outside help from Izzy and got a big win over Roxanne.

Dragonuv vs. Corbin 8.3/10 B

Dragonuv is a powerful opponent. He's called the Mad Dragon. He's all about toughness, which is why Corbin is a good opponent for him. Corbin is a lot bigger than Dragonuv, a former football player and Golden Glove boxer. This match could have benefitted from a stipulation. You have two bruisers who are limited by the stipulation. Plus, you got your title match following two Iron Survivor matches, and a Cage match and a regular match is supposed to compete?

Corbin on bike

These two went pretty hard, and I would have been down for Corbin winning his first World Title, but it didn't happen. The Mad Dragon won in a mostly good match except for Dragonuv's selling. Dragonuv sells like he's going to die every match, and it waters down those moments because it happens so often. He's the Mad Dragon. It should take more to get him in such agony. But aside from that, it was a decent match, and Corbin looked strong even in a loss because it took multiple finishers to put him down.

Rob's 2023 NXT Deadline Reviews

Dominik Mysterio vs. Dragon Lee (North American Championship) 

This was a good not great match between the two stars. Dominik Mysterio had a fun run in NXT, but it was time for it to end. I wish this championship could have gone to someone who was fully in NXT, as it seemed like Dragon Lee was transitioning to SmackDown. Wes Lee was supposed to be that guy and was replaced by Dragon Lee due to injury. In a pinch, Dragon Lee can be a great North American Championship and transition the championship to an NXT star when they are ready.

Final Grade: 5/10 Average

Women’s Iron Survivor Match

It would be really easy for NXT to rest on their laurels and fill this match with proven women who are ready to be called up to the main roster. Instead, they did what a good developmental brand is supposed to do, pushing the boundaries of what their current stars can do and booking the match with Blair Davenport, Fallon Henley, Tiffany Stratton, Kelani Jordan, and Lash Legend. Stratton was still the star of this match for me, but I thought everyone looked good and the action was well-paced. Jordan showed off some great potential in-ring, and Henley proved to be one of the overlooked women in a stacked division. I’m happy with the booking to give Davenport the win. She has shined in every opportunity NXT has given her. This moment was, however, overshadowed by the return of Cora Jade. While I’m happy to see Jade back, I think it really killed the moment for Davenport. 

Final Grade: 7/10 Good

Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King

Carmelo Hayes

This was an okay match that dragged on kind of long and honestly could have been on a regular NXT card. Carmelo Hayes got the win, but Lexis King ended the segment by admitting to Hayes that he pretended to attack Trick Williams to get the spot on this PLE. Hayes got a predictable win, and King still didn’t prove anything in this match other than he is crafty enough to find a way to get on a PLE card. The best I can say about this is it created intrigue for future NXTs. 

Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average

Men’s Iron Survivor Match

Dijak trick williams

The Iron Survivor Match is begging for an interesting story to be told, and they had this moment with the Men’s match. This was a spotfest with lots of falls and lots to pay attention to between Dijak, Josh Briggs, Tyler Bate, Trick Williams, and Bron Breakker. Briggs didn’t look out of place in likely the biggest match of his career, opening the contest against Dijak. Trick Williams got an electric response from the crowd. The tone completely shifted when Breakker came out and quickly picked up three falls to put himself in the lead. Late in the match, Dijak, Breakker, and Bate were tied with three while Briggs wasn’t far behind with two. Williams was coming out of the penalty box with less than five minutes left and no points on the board. Such started his come back story, as he rolled up a couple participants to get himself in striking distance. He got his last fall clean on Breakker to win the biggest match of his career. The crowd went crazy as they slowly realized Williams still had a chance. This was a great moment, and the win went to the guy who got the biggest reaction from the crowd. Critiquing the booking, I have to say there were so many falls in this match they started to lose meaning. Dijak got pinned around four times in this match, and it was hard to see him as a threat after that. Williams got the win off of crafty rollups, but the narrative is enough to make me overlook that. 

Final Grade: 7/10 Good

Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James (Steel Cage)

Roxanne thrown by Kiana

This was another average match. The intensity of the steel cage brought it up a notch, but it is hard to follow those iron survivor matches. Roxanne Perez eventually lost to Kiana James because of interference by Izzi Dame. While this is a big win for James, the interference sort of negates any credibility it builds. 

Final Grade: 5/10 Average

Dragunov vs. Baron Corbin (NXT Championship)

Dragunov wins title

For me, the result of this contest was never in doubt, but they made it fun nevertheless. Ilja Dragunov brought an intensity to the contest that the feud necessitated. Baron Corbin did what he has done his whole career. Corbin was a solid in-ring performer to bounce off of and a hated heel that added to the meaning of the match. In the end, Dragunov won, and I’m more excited to see him defend against the white-hot Williams at New Year’s Evil. 

Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average

Rob’s Final Thoughts

This was a fun card, but it would be easy to skip if you’re looking at what to watch next in the wrestling world. For the second year in a row, Iron Survivor matches have proven they can have a place in wrestling (at least once per year). They are a fun way to spice up multiman matches and declare a new contender for NXT championships. However, I think this particular card suffered because of bad pacing. The Iron Survivor matches should go first and last, as anything trying to follow up those matches suffer, and nothing else on the card was as worth watching. NXT did a good job promoting new talent on this show, but they are also at a crossroads, as the stars of their program like Cora Jade, Carmelo Hayes, Bron Breakker, and Roxanne Perez take up valuable air time from promising new stars. They’re sent to repeatedly lose in spots like this while they wait for creative to free up on the main roster (see also the Creed Brothers). With all that in mind, it’s hard to grade the PPV overall. They did a good job building new stars, but the in-ring action overall is not on the level of WWE PLEs and AEW PPVs. 

Overall Grade: 5/10 Average

Reverse Hipster's Final Grade 83.3/100 B

This PPV was mainly about the Iron Survivor matches, and they delivered. The rest of the matches were enjoyable but nothing special. Special things that did happen were CM PUNK showing up to NXT and hinting that he could join NXT. Also, CORA JADE IS FINALLY BACK. Overall, I think this PPV should have started with the women's match and ended with the men's Iron Survivor challenge. These cards shouldn't need world title matches because it's all about number-one contenders. This wasn't the best PLE, but it was enjoyable throughout.

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