The John Report: WWE NXT 09/12/23 Review

wwe nxt september 12

This week’s WWE NXT featured Tiffany Stratton defending the Women’s Title against Becky Lynch, Wes Lee against Ilja Dragunov and more.

I will do summary style for most of the show and play-by-play for two matches.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. My WWE NXT Review archive is here. Let’s get to it.

The opening video aired hyping up the key matches on the show.

It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.

NXT Championship #1 Contenders Match: Wes Lee vs. Ilja Dragunov

The winner gets to challenge NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes at No Mercy on September 30th. I’ll go play-by-play because I really like these guys.

Wes opened up with kicks. Dragunov came back with punches/strikes and then an open hand palm strike to the jaw. Wes avoided an attack leading to a dropkick to the back. Wes used his speed to avoid strikes, but then Dragunov came back with a hard chop with Wes doing a flip bump. Wes did a running kick knocking Dragunov out of the ring followed by suicide dive onto Dragunov on the floor. Wes hit a suicide dive sending Dragunov into the barricade. Wes tried for a suicide dive, but Dragunov dropkicked him. Dragunov got a hold of Wes on the floor and gave Wes a German Suplex on the hood of the commentary table. That led to a break.


Dragunov wanted a Powerbomb, but Wes countered with a hurricanrana into a pin for two. Wes and Dragunov exchanged strikes as Wes hit an uppercut punch and two kicks to the head. Wes hit a double foot stomp to the body for two. The fans were chanting “Bot These Guys” to praise them both. Dragunov blocked a strike by Wes leading to a hard chop. Wes hit a Spanish Flay slam for a two count. Dragunov blocked a headscissors leading to knees to the ribs. Dragunov wound up leading to a huge lariat for a two count. Dragunov went for a slam of some kind, but Wes swung around leading to a DDT. Wes hit a somersault dive out of the ring onto Dragunov on the floor. They were back in the ring fighting by the turnbuckle with Dragunov hitting a superplex off the top. Dragunov hit a running forearm smash into a pin for a two count. Dragunov charged, Wes caught him with a jumping knee and Dragunov bounced off the ropes with a forearm to the back. Dragunov laid on top while holding Lee’s arms down and covered for the one…two…and three! It went 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ilja Dragunov

The win by Dragunov means he will challenge Carmelo Hayes for the NXT Title at No Mercy on September 30th.

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great match as expected. It wasn’t that long overall, but it was exciting for the time given and I’m glad it was a clean babyface match instead of something with a controversial finish. Wes was great with so many high-flying moves and selling everything so well as usual. Dragunov is the best wrestler at selling moves while also looking credible when he’s on offense too. It’s not a surprise that they had such an excellent match to start the show. It’s also smart to put them in the opening match because they can set the show up on the right note.

Carmelo Hayes arrived with the NXT Title for some long distance staring at Dragunov.

Analysis: That’s going to be an amazing match at No Mercy just like their last match. I think the last Hayes/Dragunov match was my highest rated NXT match this year, so I look forward to seeing if they can top it.

Tiffany Stratton, the NXT Women’s Champion, was shown arriving earlier in the day.

A video recap aired of Bron Breakker attacking Von Wagner after their match last week. It was an injury angle, but there was blood and Von leaving on a stretcher, so it fooled a lot of people into thinking Bron hurt Von legit. Shawn Michaels was there yelling at Bron for going too far.

Analysis: It was just an angle after all. To the credit of the talent, they pulled it off really well. It makes Bron look like even more of a badass for what he did while Wagner will be more over as a babyface when he comes back.

The announcers talked about it with Joseph having a minor skull fracture. Due to Von’s history with head injuries, Von is getting looked at by leading specialists and the WWE medical staff.

Baron Corbin was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.

This Friday on Smackdown: John Cena is a guest on the Grayson Waller Effect show, plus The Miz faces LA Knight.


Let’s Hear from Baron Corbin

Baron Corbin made his entrance with a serious look on his face. Corbin said normally the fans don’t like him and he doesn’t like the fans, but tonight is different. Corbin spoke about how he was at ringside seven days ago to see the Bron Breakker-Von Wagner attack. Corbin said that after what he saw last week, he knows that Wagner will never be the same again. Corbin told Bron he wants him to come out there right now.

Bron Breakker made his entrance and was in the entrance area while Corbin was leaning against the ropes. Corbin said what Bron did last week…he doesn’t know how to put it into words. Corbin said it was “freakin’ awesome.” Bron got into the ring.

Corbin loved it saying he had never seen anything like it in his life. Corbin said it was amazing. Bron called Corbin an idiot for thinking that Bron did it to impress Corbin. Bron said that Corbin put him through a table, so Bron ended his career. Bron said he could still feel it and he loved it. Corbin said that Bron is meaner than evil. Corbin congratulated Bron for being amazing. Corbin said that he ended an Olympic Gold Medallist at WrestleMania (that’s Kurt Angle), he ended another Olympic Gold Medallist’s career (that’s Gable Steveson) and Corbin talked about how he got to wrestle The Undertaker at MSG. Bron said that he didn’t care or want Corbin’s respect. Bron said there’s only one thing left to do – have a match at No Mercy. Bron told Corbin to call his family, friends and his loved ones because Corbin will leave the building the same way that Von Wagner left last week. Corbin said you have a lot to learn and Corbin slapped Bron in the face. Bron slapped Corbin in the face. They exchanged punches and security showed up to break it up.

Analysis: It’s a heel vs. heel rivalry although they could make Corbin into more of a face if they want to. Bron is doing great work as a heel. The promo exchange was okay here.

They showed Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen and Myles Borne with Fallon Henley getting ready for their match up next.


Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen & Myles Borne (w/Fallon Henley) vs. Drew Gulak, Charlie Dempsey & Damon Kemp

The faces were in control early and the heels worked over Jensen for a bit. Borne tagged in with a neckbreaker on Dempsey, then Dempsey hit a suplex and they both tagged out. Jensen hit a spinning heel kick on Kemp. Borne moved Henley out of the way and then he was checking her out. Borne grabbed Jensen’s leg and swung him into the post. Kemp lifted up Jensen into a neckbreaker for the pin after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Drew Gulak, Charlie Dempsey & Damon Kemp

Analysis: *1/2 That felt very rushed. There was the story that Henley recruited Borne to team with her buddies, then we saw Borne checking her out in the match, but in the end it was Borne turning on his team to cost them the match. It’s not a great storyline by any means. The Briggs & Jensen team really doesn’t have a lot of momentum at this point.

After the match, the heel team of Gulak, Dempsey & Kemp celebrated with Borne while welcoming him into their group.

Analysis: I guess that means Borne is in the group too.

There was a Chase U vignette with Andre Chase telling Duke Hudson to reach out to Thea Hail, but Hudson had trouble reaching her.

A vignette aired featuring Jacy Jayne & Thea Hail hanging out. Two random guys were hitting on them, then they laughed at Hail needing Chase U permission. Jayne & Hail beat the guys up. Hail said next week she wants new clothes so they’re going shopping and Jayne was okay with that.

Analysis: It’s some more character development for Thea Hail since she’s a heel with Jayne now.

Dana Brooke entered with Kelani Jordan for Brooke’s match.


Lyra Valkyria vs. Dana Brooke (w/Kelani Jordan)

Lyra hit a running kick that knocked Brooke out of the ring. Lyra dropkicked Brooke on the floor. When Lyra went up top, Brooke pulled her by the legs and Lyra took a hard bump to the mat. Brooke got a bit of offense, but Lyra came back with clotheslines and a body slam. Lyra hit a huge spin kick to knock Brooke down. Lyra went up top and hit a Superfly Splash for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lyra Valkyria

Analysis: *3/4 They were both aggressive so that was good to see. Lyra picking up the win makes sense since Brooke is likely turning heel due to losing matches, so this adds to Brooke’s story.

After the match, Kelani Jordan checked on Brooke while Lyra wanted a handshake. Brooke went after Lyra when she walked away, but Jordan held back Brooke to stop it.

Analysis: Dana Brooke is obviously headed for a heel turn. It’s just a matter of when.

There was a graphic telling us the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament is coming soon.

Eddy Thorpe was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Dijak appeared outside in the wilderness where we had seen Thrope before. Dijak took his belt off and was striking a tree saying he was marking Thorpe’s territory. Thorpe left his interview saying we can pick this up another time.

Analysis: This feud is obviously continuing. I assume Thorpe will get the big win over the veteran Dijak.

Tyler Bate made his entrance for a match.


Dominik Mysterio, the NXT North American Champion, walked up to NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes for a chat. Dominik told Hayes that he can’t beat Dragunov. Hayes said we’ll see who is still champion at No Mercy. Dominik said that his title is the A Championship when Hayes said it and Dominik is now the A Champion. Hayes suggested they have a match next week. Dominik said he’ll talk to “Mami” aka Rhea Ripley.

Analysis: Good chat to set up a big match for next week.

Becky Lynch was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Lynch said being in NXT was about surviving and getting a seat at the table. Lynch said nobody thought she was championship material. Lynch is here ten years later, still as hungry and passionate as ever. Lynch said she’s ready to walk out as the NXT Women’s Champion. Kiana James said she doesn’t like Lynch here. Lynch said she’s taking that as an application for when Lynch is the NXT Women’s Champion because “The Man” is coming around to NXT more.

Analysis: Easy way to set up a match.

NXT Global Heritage Invitational – Group A: Tyler Bate vs. Axiom

The NXT Heritage Cup Champion Noam Dar and his Meta-Four group were watching on the stage while wearing outfits as if they were at a safari. Bate and Axiom exchanged some quick moves because they are great athletes. Axiom dropkicked Bate out of the ring. Axiom hit a moonsault onto a standing Bate on the floor. Back in the ring, Axiom hit a cross body block. Bate spun around with Axiom on his shoulders and slammed him down.


Bate hit an overhead suplex, then a rolling kick and Axiom hit a running kick. They did a running Spanish Fly spot to knock both guys down. Axiom countered a Bate slam attempt into a Poison Rana, but Bate came back with a brainbuster for two. They battled by the turnbuckle with Axiom hitting a Super Spanish Fly for two. Axiom got a hurricanrana for two. Bate bounced off the ropes with a clothesline and a Tyler Driver 97 for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tyler Bate

Analysis: ***1/4 That was an entertaining match between two great athletes. Bate gets pushed at a decent level in NXT while Axiom doesn’t seem to get the big wins. They are two shorter guys that have all the skills with Bate pulling off some power moves while Axiom is tremendous in the air. A lot of big moves by both guys toward the finish with

NXT Global Heritage Invitational Group A Standings right now:

  1. Butch 1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss for 3 points
  2. Tyler Bate 1-0-0 for 2 points
  3. Axiom 0-1-1 for 1 point
  4. Charlie Dempsey 0-0-1 for point

Butch was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid talking about how everybody knows that he goes way back with Tyler Bate. Butch said they had a match of the year in 2017, they had their tryout match together and Tyler’s first match at 15 moments was against Butch. Butch said nobody brings out the bruiser in him like Bate does. Butch said next week against Bate it’s fight night.

Tiffany Stratton was shown getting ready for her NXT Women’s Title defense.

The Creed Brothers made their entrance with Ivy Nile for tag team action.


A video aired featuring Schism’s Joe Gacy and Ava. Joe said their tree is rotten and they are more isolated than ever before. They put their hands on a tree leading to the end of the segment.

Trick Williams was seated in the locker room with NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes talking to him. Trick offered Melo to help him at ringside against Dominik Mysterio. Melo said Trick wanted to be on his own so he respects that. Wes Lee was in the background. Trick said outside these walls, they are still boys. They shook hands. Wes was frustrated and threw his nameplate into a garbage can.

Analysis: I don’t mind Melo and Trick being separated. I hope it’s a good thing for Trick as a singles star.

The Creed Brothers – Julius & Brutus Creed (w/Ivy Nile) vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade

Blade hit a Blockbuster on Julius and Enofe made the tag with an elbow drop off the top for two. Angel & Humberto were watching from the podium. The Creeds hit a double team slam leading to Brutus pinning Enofe for two. Brutus hit a senton splash for two, but Blade broke up the pin. The NXT Tag Team Champions Tony D & Stacks were watching backstage. Enofe and Blade hit a double team spinebuster/neckbreaker for two. Brutus powered back up and hit a running Pounce on Enofe to knock him down. Julius was back in with suplexes and a spinning slam. Brutus tagged in for a Brutus Ball/Powerbomb combo for the pinfall win with Brutus pinning Blade. It went about four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Creed Brothers – Julius & Brutus Creed

Analysis: ** A decisive win for The Creed Brothers. I like Enofe & Blade as a team, but they really aren’t being pushed much as a team. That finisher for The Creeds looks great. I hope they get a push leading to a title shot soon.

After the match, Angel & Humberto applauded from the podium. Hank & Tank arrived to have a staredown, but Lucien Price & Bronco Nima arrived to brawl with Hank & Tank. The referees showed up to break that up.

Becky Lynch was shown in the locker room getting ready for her match. Lyra Valkyria walked up to Lynch and they hugged. Lynch said that Lyra is making everybody at home proud. They touched knuckles and Becky left.


Roxanne Perez was shown talking backstage to three other women about winning the NXT Breakout tournament. Elektra Lopez and Lola Vice walked in talking about Perez causing issues. Perez said if Perez is looking for trouble, she just found it. Vice said she’ll deal with Perez and win the Breakout tournament too.

Analysis: I think Lola Vice certainly could win the Women’s Breakout tournament. It depends who else is in it too.

There are four matches official for NXT No Mercy on September 30th:

* Bron Breakker vs. Baron Corbin

* NXT Championship: Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov

* NXT North American Championship: Dominik Mysterio (c) vs. Mustafa Ali

* NXT Heritage Cup Championship: Noam Dar vs. Winner of NXT Global Heritage Invitational

NXT Global Heritage Invitational – Group B: Nathan Frazer vs. Akira Tozawa

Frazer hit a running dropkick. Tozawa got some offense with German Suplex and a Shining Wizard knee. Tozawa hit a missile dropkick off the top to send Frazer out of the ring. Tozawa hit a suicide dive. Frazer came back with a superplex off the top rope followed by a twisting neckbreaker slam for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Nathan Frazer

Analysis: ** An impressive win by Frazer, who is a star on the rise. Even though Tozawa is on the main roster, he is in this tournament to lose to the NXT guys.

NXT Global Heritage Invitational Group Butch Standings right now:

  1. Joe Coffey 2 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses for 4 points
  2. Nathan Frazer 2-0-1 for 4 points
  3. Duke Hudson 1-0-1 for 2 points
  4. Akira Tozawa 0-0-3 for 0 points

If Joe Coffey wins then he wins Group B and moves on. If Hudson beats Coffey there’s a three way tie, so there will probably be a triple threat match if Hudson wins.

Joe Coffey with Gallus was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. Joe talked about how he’s going to beat Duke Hudson. Duke said when he faces Joe next week he’s going to beat Joe and force a three-way tie in Group B. Duke said he’ll be the “Spoiler” as a new nickname.

Becky Lynch and NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton were shown walking backstage separately ahead of their big match.


Mustafa Ali was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell, who mentioned Ali is getting an NXT North American Title match at No Mercy with a questionable result. Ali said that the crowd was booing Dominik for his refereeing. Ali said he dropped Dominik and he’ll reclaim the NXT North American Title for all of NXT. Dragon Lee interrupted asking if Ali won the match. Dragon said that Dominik’s count was too fast. Ali said how he feels isn’t going to change it. Ali said when he wins the title from Dominik he’ll give Dragon Lee the first title opportunity. Dragon said he’s not done with this.

Analysis: It was a controversial finish last week with Dominik fast counting to cost Dragon Lee the match, so Dragon has every right to complain. Meanwhile, Ali is kind of a tweener that isn’t going to complain about a cheap win.

Wes Lee was shown leaving. Wes said that Ilja Dragunov was a better man tonight. Wes said he cleared his locker out and he’s going home. Wes kissed his wife and left. Wes said he’s done.

There was a backstage attack with Gigi Dolin attacking Blair Davenport. Gigi threw Blair into a garage door. It was broken up.

Next Tuesday on NXT:

* Carmelo Hayes vs. Dominik Mysterio in a Champion vs. Champion match. No titles on the line.

* Roxanne Perez vs. Lola Vice

* NXT Global Heritage Invitational – Group A: Tyler Bate vs. Butch

* NXT Global Heritage Invitational – Group B: Joe Coffey vs. Duke Hudson

Becky Lynch was up first as the challenger in the main event. Lynch has been gone from NXT for about eight years, but now she’s back and in the main event for a championship she’s never won. The fans popped big for Lynch, who had a big smile on her face. Tiffany Stratton made her entrance as the NXT Women’s Champion. Ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the championship introductions. They don’t announce hometowns for the wrestlers for some reason.

Analysis: Tiffany is 24 years old and has only been wrestling for two years in WWE with no experience before that. Becky Lynch is 36 years old with 20 years of experience, so there’s a big difference in experience level.

NXT Women’s Championship: Tiffany Stratton vs. Becky Lynch

The fans chanted “welcome home” for Lynch. Stratton with a shoulder tackle followed by a cartwheel to show off. Stratton tripped up Lynch for a pin, but Lynch slipped out and Lynch did her own cartwheel. Lynch went for the armbar, but Stratton pushed her way out of it. Stratton and Lynch exchanged forearms. Stratton with a kick to the gut followed by a suplex onto the top rope. Stratton with a running hip attack knocking Lynch off the apron to the floor.


Lynch was in full control with a running forearm along with an overhead suplex. Lynch went up top and hit a missile dropkick for two. Stratton got a rollup for two. Stratton hit a sitout spinebuster into a pin attempt for two. Lynch sent Stratton to the apron, Stratton with a necksnap on the top rope and Stratton was on the top rope. Lynch wanted a superplex, but Stratton hit a front suplex off the ropes. Stratton hit a picture-perfect Swanton Bomb for a two count. That looked so great! Lynch came back with a double underhook suplex leading to an armbar (not her finishing Disharm-her armbar) and Stratton rolled through to counter it. Lynch did a hurricanrana into a pin attempt for two. Stratton threw Lynch into the middle rope followed by a splash on the back. Stratton hit a running double foot stomp for a two count. Stratton went for something off the ropes, but Lynch met her there with a Russian legsweep off the middle rope for two. Stratton left the ring, caught Lynch’s foot and tripped her up on the apron. Stratton sent Lynch into the steel steps. Stratton cleared off the commentary table. Stratton lifted Lynch for a Powerbomb, but Lynch got out of it. Lynch jumped off the barricade and hit a leg drop onto Stratton on the table, which didn’t break. Back in the ring, Lynch hit a leg drop off the top rope for two. Lynch applied the Disarm-her armbar on the left arm, but Stratton got to the bottom rope to get out of it. Lynch with a kick. Lynch jumped off the top, Stratton avoided it and Stratton hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. They had a weird moment where Stratton went to trash talk Lynch and Becky must have told her to lay down because Stratton laid down again. Stratton got a rollup for two. Stratton hit a rolling senton and went for the Prettiest Moonsault Ever off the top, but Lynch avoided it. Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch

Analysis: ***3/4 I thought it was a great match. Lynch is so talented in the ring and Stratton met her every step of the way. There was that awkward moment near the end that I mentioned where Stratton got back up and then went down to sell again, but other than that they did a tremendous job here. The finish worked because it was Stratton going for her finisher, Lynch avoided it and Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam for the pinfall win. I really want to put over Stratton as well because she’s so talented considering her experience level and she definitely proved she can hang with somebody as good as Lynch. They got plenty of time, it was a very even match most of the way and they told the story that the veteran Lynch capitalized on Stratton’s mistake for the win. I liked how the match was structured.

Becky Lynch was handed the NXT Women’s Championship with the fans cheering loudly for her. They showed replays of the key spots in the match. Lynch celebrated with the NXT Women’s Title while the fans cheered her. Vic: “Big Time Becks is now The Man is NXT.” End show.

Analysis: I have no problem with the title change. I’m sure there might be some people complaining about a main roster wrestler winning another title in NXT (like Dominik Mysterio), but I don’t mind it. This will lead to more people watching the NXT product to see what Lynch is going to do next and who she might be facing in the future. Plus, whenever Lynch loses the title it’s going to a big deal for whoever beats her. I was asked by a few readers last week if I thought Lynch was going to this match. My feeling going into it is that she would win unless there was some random attack or a blatant DQ finish. There were no shenanigans here, so Lynch won clean. I think that was the right way to book it.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Becky Lynch
  2. Ilja Dragunov
  3. Tiffany Stratton/Wes Lee


The Scoreboard

This week: 8 out of 10

Last week: 6.75

2023 Average: 7.02


Final Thoughts

I thought it was a great show bookended by the terrific Ilja Dragunov-Wes Lee match that opened the show along with the Becky Lynch-Tiffany Stratton match. Both matches were outstanding around the four star level (out of five) and given plenty of time. Dragunov beating Wes fits that story with Wes being sad about losing while Dragunov gets to face Carmelo Hayes again.

The Lynch-Stratton match was outstanding with Stratton showing she belongs with the great Lynch. Becky winning the NXT Women’s Title is fine with me because it might lead to more people watching NXT and when Lynch loses that title, it’s going to be a huge deal for whoever beats her. Lynch is a 20-year pro while Stratton has only been doing this for two years and she is so talented already. Working with Lynch is going to make Stratton better too.

They advanced some of the other storylines really well like the Bron Breakker-Baron Corbin match being set up at No Mercy. That’s interesting with two heels, but I thought they set it up well. Some other things happened to advance stories leading to matches next week and going into the No Mercy PLE as well. It’s the second time in four weeks I’m rating NXT 8 out of 10, which shows the product is pretty damn good these days.

The next NXT Premium Live Event is No Mercy on September 30th. Here’s what we know so far:

* NXT Championship: Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov

* NXT North American Championship: Dominik Mysterio (c) vs. Mustafa Ali

* Bron Breakker vs. Baron Corbin

* NXT Heritage Cup Championship: Noam Dar vs. Winner of NXT Global Heritage Invitational

You can watch NXT No Mercy on Saturday, September 30, streaming live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport