Updated: Feb 3
Women’s Iron Survivor Match
For the first Iron Survivor Match ever, the women put forth a good effort and proof of concept for the stipulation. Immediately, I was blown away by the graphics NXT put on the screen. Even if you didn’t understand the rules going in, it was pretty easy to learn them quickly by watching how people got points and a timer for superstars in the penalty box. This match showcased that there is still depth in NXT’s Women’s Division. Because of the new gimmick match and the inexperience of some of the stars, the timing of this match was a little off. Roxanne Perez was the right choice to win, and she is the best choice to dethrone Mandy Rose right now. It was awesome to watch Booker T get emotional for Perez’s big win.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Alba Fyre vs. Isla Dawn
I love Alba Fyre, but it feels like her time on NXT is done. She has done everything there is to do, and despite everything, this feud did not feel like it belonged on a premium live event. It was nice that this match had a different pace than the Iron Survivor matches, but the action was a little sloppy. It’s hard to fault NXT for trying to push a new star in Isla Dawn; however, it feels like they never gave Fyre her due in NXT.
Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average
Pretty Deadly vs. The New Day (NXT Tag Team Championships)
This match was like a house show match that worked perfectly in front of the smaller NXT audience and with the quirky teams involved. Pretty Deadly looked like they belonged in the ring with the New Day. The New Day looked like they were having the most fun they’ve had in a couple of years. New Day’s win was a bold choice, but an extended stay in NXT could pay off hugely for everyone. I would love to see the New Day do a slow heel turn as they gatekeep the championships from up-and-coming teams.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Men’s Iron Survivor Match
This really showcased the depth and diversity of NXT’s roster right now. McDonough and Axiom were the stars of this match for me. They were all over the ring and made some of the most memorable highlights. Everyone ultimately looked good in this match. Grayson Waller was a great choice to win. He has been a breakout star in the waiting for the last year plus, and he can finally have a chance at Bron Breakker. My only complaint is that the finish of this match was kind of anticlimactic to watch as Waller ran away from everyone. It made sense in the story of the match and the characters involved, but it didn’t make it entertaining.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Bron Breakker vs. Apollo Crews (NXT Championship)
The video package made this match feel like a main event, but the match itself never really got there. I was surprised at how quick the match was. I still don’t really understand Apollo Crews’s character in NXT, and that hurt this match too. When they started going, the sequences were really smooth, and both guys boast a unique mix of strength and speed. NXT should revisit this feud sometime in the future when Crews is more developed. For the main event of an otherwise excellent show, it was what it was. Bron Breakker is still the right champion for NXT, and it will be a big decision whether to go for something exciting and new (Grayson Waller) or let Breakker continue to be the standard bearer.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Rob's Final Grade
NXT Deadline introduced a creative new gimmick match, and I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen that on WWE TV. I thought it was a good proof of concept for the Iron Survivor match. I would love to see it again next year, and it’s a good stipulation to decide on a new number-one contender. The card overall was composed and built strangely. Some matches didn’t belong at all, while others didn’t live up to the hype. If the show ended with the better half of matches, this grade would likely be higher. Balancing expectations and all of that, I have to give the following final grade.
Overall Grade: 5/10 Average
Reverse Hipster's Reviews
Roxanne Perez vs. Zoey Stark vs. Kiana James vs. Indi Hartwell vs. Cora Jade, Iron Survivor Match 7.7/10 C
The Women’s Iron Survivor Match showed a preview of what the new stipulation could be. However, I don’t think the match was done particularly well. There was no match story outside of a few nods to Cora and Roxanne’s feud. There were too many pin attempts and not enough action. The competitors were so focused on quick falls that their offense suffered. There were a lot of punches and quick pin attempts. Kiana Jade was easily the MVP of the match because she pulled off the most exciting moves. Also, she was the only one who didn’t get a single pin.
Also, Roxanne feels like the wrong winner. Not only was she average in the match, but her push comes at the expense of Cora Jade, once again. She came to WWE as Cora's friend, but she has taken Cora’s place and forced Cora to go heel. Since Cora’s heel turn, she has gotten a lot of attention, but not much help from WWE. Roxanne beat Cora at Halloween Havoc. Now, Roxanne has leapfrogged Cora in the World Championship line and she has beaten Cora to do it in the match. Seems like the only reason Cora turned heel was to push Roxanne.
Alba Fyre vs. Isla Dawn 7.8/10 C+
This match was middle of the road in many aspects. The match was physical to speak to the grudge between these two. However, the match wasn’t overly physical or filled with story. The action was decent. The match had a nice supernatural moment where Isla Dawn poisoned the ref to save herself and do a dirty move while nobody was looking. However, even that wasn’t super memorable or overtly bad. It was just okay like the rest of the match. The best thing about the match is that Isla won and proved she is a threat.
The New Day vs. Pretty Deadly, NXT Tag Team Championship 8.7/10 B
This match was superb. In the early stages, The New Day took the reins with electric offense and Pretty Deadly was just along for the ride. Pretty Deadly did just enough to survive. Then, Pretty Deadly grabbed the titles to try and cheat, which led to an incredible sequence where all four wrestlers tried the Eddie Guerrero fake knockout spot. When the ref turned around, all four wrestlers were lying down as if they got hit by the title, but nobody had the title so the match continued. An opportunity presented itself for Pretty Deadly and they took advantage by hitting The New Day with the title. Just when it looked like Pretty Deadly was going to steal another victory, Xavier Woods kicked out. Pretty Deadly took control of the match, but The New Day fought back and won the match becoming the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Furthermore, they became Triple Crown Tag Champions. Plus, Kofi Kingston has now held more tag titles than anyone in WWE. It’s a New Day. Yes, it is!
Carmelo Hayes vs. JD McDonagh vs. Joe Gacy vs. Grayson Waller vs. Axiom, Iron Survivor Challenge 10/10 A
Where do I even begin. This match was incredible. Everyone looked good in this match. This was Gacy's coming out party. Gacy had a good title match with Bron Breakker in the past, but nobody knew he could wrestle like this. Gacy showed more athleticism and wrestling prowess than he ever has. He displayed finesse and dominance.
Carmelo displayed his signature athleticism and scored the first fall. Carmelo became a pseudo-babyface in this match filled with heels. Carmelo was all over the place, but his best moment was the Super Ax Kick with a nod to Booker T.
JD looked really good as well despite not getting a fall in the match. JD and Axiom fueled the story aspect of the match. JD was the one who injured Axiom and put him on the shelf a little while ago. During the match, Axiom went out of his way to punish JD. They even fought in the penalty box instead of coming out right away to get involved in the match. Axiom also had plenty of solo highlights, but none better than his moonsault off the top of the penalty box onto everyone.
Grayson Waller really stepped up and met the moment in this match. Right out of the gate, he jumped in and hit his finisher on two superstars. He got two pinfalls and took the lead. He performed well from then on. It felt like it could be his night. Waller had another standout moment when he called Booker T a bitch. The whole crowd got quiet and uneasy. Everyone was like was that planned?! Even I felt it at home. So if it was planned, it was a great way to bring the audience along for the ride and reinforce his character as a young, brash heel with no respect for the OGs. At the end, that young, brash heel Grayson Waller won the third fall. With little time left, he played keep away for the last 40 seconds and won the match.
I love this match because the wrestlers hit high-impact moves throughout it. Everyone looked good. Plus, the match did some storytelling. The wrestlers were able to have a fantastic match while showing urgency to reinforce the timing stipulation. If the women showed what the Iron Survior Match could be, the men showed what it should be.
Apollo Crews vs. Bron Breakker, NXT World Title
I think this match was pretty well-crafted. That seems to be a feature of Bron Breakker matches. The structure was as follows. They trade moves back and forth, but it’s just a feeling out process. Then, Apollo snaps and takes over. Now, I will say I didn’t love the awkward focus on Apollo when he snapped. WWE could have achieved the same effect with more subtle acting. However, Apollo's takeover was very convincing. He destroyed Bron. Apollo hit Bron with power bombs, German suplexes, and a Frog Splash. When Bron kicked out, I was surprised. Then, Bron Breakker came back and gave Apollo his best shot, and Apollo survived that. The last section of the match was just about who wanted it more. They met in the middle of the ring and just let loose all they had left. Bron won with a spear after a reversal. I dinged this match a bit because, while good, I didn’t think the action rose to the level of an A. Also, I thought the finish was too sudden and simple, and it didn’t do justice to the match.
Reverse Hipster's Final Grade 8.5/10 B
All the championship matches were really good. The new stipulation match was a huge success. Even the nontitle Alba Frye vs. Isla Dawn match helped with the pacing of the card and furthered a feud. This was a very solid show.