The John Report: WWE NXT Deadline 2023 Review

wwe nxt deadline review 2023

This is WWE NXT Deadline featuring Ilja Dragunov-Baron Corbin for the NXT Title and two Iron Survivor Challenge matches.

It’s the sixth and final WWE NXT PLE of 2023 using the Deadline name for the second year in a row. Last year’s show had the Iron Survivor Challenge matches and they are back this year too. Here are the rules for the Iron Survivor Challenge matches.

The Kickoff Show match saw Axiom defeat Nathan Frazer using the Golden Ratio kick for the win. They shook hands and hugged after the match. It was an exciting match. I didn’t catch all of it, but I saw the end of it. They are great athletes. Let’s get to the main show.

NXT Deadline
From Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, CT
December 9, 2023

The NXT boss man Shawn Michaels made his entrance wearing a cowboy hat along with a suit. Michaels fired up the crowd asking them if they were ready like D-Generation X used to do.

CM Punk made his entrance to the “Cult of Personality” song with the fans popping huge for it. As CM Punk walked out there in the Bret Hart sweater, the fans popped huge for it.

Punk went up to Shawn saying look at them. Michaels mentioned Punk’s Bret Hart shirt and Punk said that he left his HBK merch at home. Punk said Shawn and Bret made up just like Punk made up with Triple H too! Punk said that he was backstage, quite a few people went up to him saying they grew up watching him and Punk took selfies with them. Punk said that he grew up watching Shawn and he took a selfie with Shawn.

Punk spoke about how he missed a flight today and so he came to talk to Shawn in person instead of a phone call. Punk had a line about forgetting their lines in there too, so maybe that happened as well. Punk mentioned that he could join Raw, Smackdown or even NXT. The fans chanted CM Punk’s name. They played CM Punk’s music there and it just sort of ended. Punk hugged Michaels in the ring. That was it.

Analysis: It was cool to see CM Punk on an NXT show although I don’t think anybody really thinks that he is going to choose NXT over the other shows. Punk will likely be a Raw guy. Anyway, the ending of this was awkward because Punk was standing in the ring with the fans chanting his name and Punk’s music hit to end it. I guess Punk forgetting his lines was likely true in this instance since it ended so suddenly. Punk wearing the Bret Hart shirt with Shawn in the ring was funny, but Punk was right that Shawn and Bret made up years ago, so it’s all good.

The opening video package aired to set up the matches for the show.

United States Championship: Dominik Mysterio vs. Dragon Lee

Rey Mysterio entered on crutches with Dragon Lee and Rey joined commentary for the match.

The fans chanted “Mami” for Rhea Ripley, but there was no sign of her with Dominik. Lee hit a running headscissors followed by a running somersault dive over the top onto Dominik on the floor. Lee hit a hurricanrana into the turnbuckle. Lee hit a slingshot dropkick on Dominik against the turnbuckle. Lee went for an armbar. Lee charged, but Dominik picked him up and sent Lee’s leg across the top rope. Dominik hit a DDT on the apron. Dominik whipped Lee hard into the turnbuckle and taunted his father on the commentary table. Dominik stomped on Lee’s head along with a few punches. Dominik did a slingshot sent from the apron onto Lee for a two count. Dominik grabbed a chinlock to slow it down. Dominik hit the two vertical suplexes, Lee tried to hit one of his own and Dominik hit a third suplex for the Three Amigos. Dominik picked up Lee at the two count although Lee may have kicked out on his own. Dominik tried something on the turnbuckle, but Lee knocked Dominik down and Lee hit a double foot stomp onto Dominik. That was a rough bump for Lee too because he hit his left leg on the apron before hitting the floor. They both got back in at the count of nine. They exchanged strikes, Dominik went for something off the turnbuckle and Lee hit a superkick to the face. Lee hit the running dropkick against the turnbuckle. Lee set up Dominik on the turnbuckle, Lee with a kick and Lee hit a double foot stomp again for a two count because Dominik got his hand on the bottom rope. Lee charged, but Dominik hit a dropkick. Lee sent Dominik into the ropes leading to a German Suplex and a knee to the face. Lee wanted a Powerbomb, Dominik got out of that and Dominik hit a Powerbomb with a pin for two. Dominik sent Lee into the middle rope with Lee facing Rey. Dominik went for the 619 kick, but Lee avoided it and Lee hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Lee hit his running move where he spins around and hits a reverse DDT slam for the pinfall win at 10:33.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT North American Champion: Dragon Lee

Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good. I thought a title change was possible, but I didn’t officially predict it because Dragon Lee is a Smackdown guy now although I guess it’s fine for him to win an NXT Title. Dominik Mysterio usually has members of The Judgment Day at ringside during his match, but there was nobody around here and Lee was able to beat him clean. The last couple of minutes were exciting with a bunch of nearfalls for both guys. Lee avoided the 619 and hit a couple of moves to get the win. They need a name for his finisher.

Dragon Lee celebrated with the NXT North American Title. Lee went over to Rey and hugged him. Lee continued to celebrate the win.

A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble on January 27th. That will be fun.

There was a video about GUNTHER and Imperium.

Ilja Dragunov, the NXT Champion, was shown arriving earlier in the day. Baron Corbin was shown arriving earlier in the day as well.

The Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge match was up next. No video package for them.

Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge Match: Tiffany Stratton vs. Lash Legend vs. Blair Davenport vs. Kelani Jordan vs. Fallon Henley

The winner gets an NXT Women’s Championship match at New Year’s Evil. The penalty box is by the commentary table. It’s a 25-minute match.

It was Fallon Henley and Blair Davenport up first. Henley and Blair each went or pin attempts repeatedly throughout the first two minutes of the match. There were probably a dozen or more two counts in the first two minutes. Blair kicked Henley for a knockdown followed by a sliding kick to the body. Blair sent Henley hard into the turnbuckle. Blair hit a high back elbow for a two count. Blair put her knee into Henley’s back and pulled back on the arms. Henley got out of that leading to a kick to the head. Henley hit an uppercut punch for two. The five-minute interval ended there.

The third woman was former NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton. Henley left the ring and Blair knocked Henley down. Stratton sent Henley into the barricade. Stratton sent Henley back into the ring leading to some punches. Henley fought back against both heels with chops, but Stratton hit a clothesline. Stratton and Blair each put armbars on Henley at the same time. They got back up, so Stratton and Blair continued to work over Henley a bit. Stratton hit a superkick on a running Blair to turn on her. Stratton hit an impressive cartwheel into a back elbow on both women. Stratton kicked Henley in the back for a two count. Stratton did an impressive flip leading to an Alabama Slam on Henley. Blair threw Stratton out of the ring and Blair covered for the pinfall win. Blair has 1 point while Henley went into the penalty box.

The fourth woman was Kelani Jordan and she was on fire with some unique offense including a double dropkick. Jordan kicked Blair down and hit a split-legged moonsault off the top for a two count. Stratton dumped Jordan onto Blair on the floor. Henley was out of the penalty box and on fire with strikes. Henley throws a good punch. Henley hit a blockbuster followed by a Slingblade and Shining Wizard knee on Stratton to get a fall. Henely has 1 point while Stratton was in the penalty box. Henley and Jordan exchanged nearfalls for about a minute. Jordan kicked Blair off the apron to the floor. Stratton got out of the penalty box leading to a kick to Henley’s back. Jordan and Blair battled by the turnbuckle while Henley chopped Stratton a few times. It was 15 minutes into the match at this point.

The final woman in the match was Lash Legend of the Meta-Four group with 10 minutes left in the match. Lash went into the ring and the other women were already set up for on the turnbuckle as Lash hit a Powerbomb on Stratton & Henley at the same time. Lash hit a double superplex off the middle turnbuckle on two women. Lash with a Chokeslam on Stratton and Lash hit a Powerbomb on Henley. Lash pinned Henley & Stratton at the same time to score two points.

Lash has 2 points, Henley & Blair have 1 point, Jordan & Stratton have 0 points.

Lash had Jordan and Blair on her back, so Lash rammed them into the turnbuckle. Lash sent Blair out of the ring. Jordan hit a top rope hurricanrana on Lash. Jordan hit a springboard moonsault on Lash on the floor and Jordan hit the commentary table hard. Ouch. Blair knocked down Jordan from behind. Meta-Four’s Noam Dar, Oro Mensah & Jakara Jackson blocked the penalty box from opening. Henley and Stratton climbed to the top of the penalty box and Stratton pushed Henley off the box through a table. Stratton hit a senton dive onto a few people on the floor, so the fans chanted “Holy Shit” for that! That was a great sequence.

Back in the ring, Lash hit two running splashes for two counts. Jordan jumped off the top, Lash caught Jordan and Jordan flipped over for a sunset flip. Stratton hit a double foot stomp on Lash and a double foot stomp on Jordan, but Henley broke up the pin. Blair jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on Jordan’s back and Blair pinned Jordan for her 2nd fall.

The fans chanted “this is awesome” as Stratton, Henley and Blair exchanged strikes. Lash picked up two women while Stratton hit a dropkick to end that. There were a couple of two counts. Lash elbowed Stratton for a nearfall with Henley making the save. Jordan was back out of the penalty box leading to a spin kick. Jordan hit a jawbreaker on Legend. Henley countered Lash’s power with a kick for a knockdown. Blair stomped on Lash and Henley clotheslined Blair to the floor. Jordan kicked Henley out of the ring. Stratton hit a rolling senton on Jordan onto Lash, so Stratton hit the Prettiest Moonsault Ever of the top to pin Lash.

Blair & Lash have 2 while Henley and Stratton have 1 point. Jordan has no points.

Kelani Jordan hit a 450 Splash on Blair & Stratton at the same time, but Henley broke up the pin. They were under one minute. Blair went after Jordan on the top rope leading to Blair hitting a suplex off the turnbuckle. Blair hit a running knee on Henley for the pinfall, so Blair had 3 points. Lash got out of the penalty box and Blair ran away from her. Blair got the win after 25:00.

The score was Blair with 3 points, Lash had 2 points, Henley & Stratton with 1 point and Jordan had 0 points.

Winner: Blair Davenport

Analysis: ***1/2 It took a long time to get going because it was a long match, but the last ten minutes were great. The fans chanting “this is awesome” tells you that they loved it towards the end of the match. I liked how there were a lot of pin attempts and close nearfalls throughout the match because the wrestlers need to get pin attempts to try to win. My pick was Lash Legend to win because I figured it would be a heel, but they went with Davenport and that’s fine. I think the spot of the match was Tiffany Stratton’s leap off the top of the penalty box after she sent Henley through the table. The fans got into it after that. Good job by all five women.

After the match, Blair Davenport bragged about how she is the Iron Survivor. Blair said that the clock is ticking and she’ll see Lyra Valkyria at New Year’s Evil. Lyra Valkyria arrived by the entrance and held up her NXT Title with Joseph noting that the title match will be at New Year’s Evil, which is the first NXT episode of 2024. As Lyra stood in the aisle, Cora Jade attacked Lyra with a running forearm to the back. Cora held up the title.

Analysis: I think Cora Jade will probably be the next champion. She didn’t wrestle that much in 2023, but I think she’ll have a big 2024 and she has a very bright future.

A video aired about Bobby Lashley.

Carmelo Hayes and his buddy Trick Williams had a quick chat in the dressing room. Melo wanted Trick to win the Iron Survivor Challenge and Trick wanted Melo to take care of Lexis King, so Melo said he would do it. Melo’s match was up next.

Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King

This is King’s NXT PLE debut. King wanted a handshake, but Melo refused that. Melo grounded King with a side headlock. King got back up and hit a hard slap to the face, so Melo fired back with punches. Melo did a headscissors along with an armdrag takedown and a dropkick to knock King out of the ring. They were out on the floor with King chopping the ring post since Melo moved out of the way. Melo hit a step up enziguri kick. Melo went for a move off the ropes, but King shoved Melo out of the ring. King hit a running dropkick on Melo on the floor. King sent Melo into the steel steps along with a kick into the steps. King hit a running corner splash on Melo along with a snapmare and a kick to the back. Melo stomped on the head again. Melo went for a move off the ropes, but King kicked the leg and King hit a stomp onto Melo for a two count. King hit a running knee to the ribs along with a running knee to the back for two. Melo missed a spinning kick, so King applied a half-crab submission. King picked up Melo leading to two straight backbreakers. Melo charged at King, who hit him with a running clothesline. King wanted a handshake again, Melo shook the hand and Melo did a middle finger salute. They battled by the turnbuckle where King hit a hard clothesline that knocked both guys off the apron to the floor. Melo was grabbing his left knee as they got back in before the ten count. Melo made the comeback with a clothesline followed by a springboard clothesline. Melo spun around the upper body leading to a slam driving King face first into the match. King hit a Jackhammer Slam for a two count because he’s not Goldberg. Melo slipped behind King for a hair pull takedown. Melo went for a springboard move, but King punched him and King hit a backbreaker. Melo hit double knees to the face. Melo jumped off the top with the Nothing But Net leg drop to the back of the head for the pinfall win at 11:15.

Winner by pinfall: Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: *** This was all about Carmelo Hayes getting some revenge on Lexis King for getting involved in Melo’s business of late. King got plenty of offense and a few nearfalls that worked, but Melo wasn’t really in any danger. It was fine although it wasn’t nearly as good as most of Melo’s PLE matches.

After the match, Carmelo Hayes was in the aisle. Lexis King did a promo admitting that it wasn’t him who attacked Trick Williams, but King thanked Melo for that PLE spotlight.

Analysis: That means we still don’t know who did the mystery attack on Trick Williams two months ago, but some people believe it’s still Melo who did it.

A video aired about Nikkita Lyons. After Lyons missed about a year with a knee injury, Lyons returned this past week to attack Blair Davenport. That rivalry should pick up again.

There was a video about Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. They are the NXT Tag Team Champions. I assume the Steel Cage was being set up for the next match.

Cora Jade was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid backstage. Jade said that she’s back and she has made her intentions clear. Jade she’s going to take this place to a whole new level. Jade said she’ll see us Tuesday.

There was a video about the NXT Vengeance Day PLE taking place on Sunday, February 4th, so that’s one week before the Super Bowl. It’s in Clarksville, TN.

Trick Williams was in the locker room telling Carmelo Hayes that he owed him an apology and said he never should have let Lexis King get in between them. Melo said it’s all good. Trick said tonight is his night.

Men’s Iron Survivor Challenge Match:Dijak vs. Trick Williams vs. Josh Briggs vs. Bron Breakker vs. Tyler Bate

The winner gets an NXT Title match at New Year’s Evil. It’s a 25-minute match just like the women’s match was. Most falls in 25 minutes gets the win.

The first two men were Dijak and Josh Briggs, so the two tallest guys in the match were up first. They exchanged some power shots early in the match including a double shoulder tackle. Briggs hit an impressive running hurricanrana. Briggs hit a running kick to the head along with a gutbuster. Briggs hit a running shoulder tackle to knock Dijak down. Dijak managed to get some offense going with punches along with elbows. Dijak hit a suplex into a slam across the ring. Dijak hit a sitout Chokeslam for a two count. Briggs came back with a boot to the head for two. Briggs went for something off the turnbuckle, so Dijak flipped him over leading to the Feast Your Eyes knee to the face for the pin. That was the end of the five minutes.

It was Tyler Bate as the third man while Briggs was in the penalty box. Bate hit a knee lift on Dijak. Bate hit an impressive overhead suplex on Dijak into the turnbuckle. Briggs exited the penalty box and hit a big boot on Dijak while also tossing out Bate. Briggs hit a running clothesline on Dijak for the pinfall.

Bate hit a running forearm on Briggs on the floor. Briggs hit an uppercut off the middle turnbuckle for two. Briggs slammed Bate followed by a splash for two. Dijak was out of the penalty box. Bate countered a Briggs move lading to a Tyler Driver 97. Bate hit a sunset flip on Dijak for the successful three count, so Dijak was in the penalty box again. Briggs used his power to get out of a sleeper hold. It was ten minutes into the match.

Dijak, Bate and Briggs had 1 point each.

Trick Williams was the fourth man with the fans popping for him. Trick was on fire for Trick while chanting “WHOOP THAT TRICK” for him. Trick was on offense with punches and kicks. Trick clotheslined Dijak, who did a catapult into Bate. Trick hit a double neckbreaker. Trick hit an uppercut on Bate. Dijak went for a move off the turnbuckle, but Trick jumped off Briggs’ back for a leaping clothesline. Trick got a two count on Dijak because Bate broke it up. Bate gave Trick an Airplane Spin, Trick got out of it and did an Airplane Spin again. Bate did a longer Airplane Spin on Trick and even put his arms down while he did it, which led to a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Bate hit a suicide dive onto Briggs on the floor. Dijak hit a necksnap on Trick against the ropes. Bate hit a bounce off the ropes clothesline on Trick. Bate hit the Tyler Driver 97 on Trick, who headed to the penalty box. Bate leads with two falls. Briggs gave Bate a hard whip into the turnbuckle.

Bate had 2 points while Dijak and Briggs had 1 point each. No points for Trick.

The last man was former NXT Champion Bron Breakker. Bron hit a Spear on Briggs and pinned him. Bron hit a Spear on Bate and pinned him. Dijak jumped off the ropes toward Bron, so Bron hit a Spear on Dijak and pinned him. Bron had 3 points already.

Trick and Bron exchanged strikes along with Trick continuing to punch. Bron went running off the ropes leading to a running clothesline. The penalty box was counting down and the guys were fighting in there. Trick hit a Rock Bottom on Bron, who rolled out of the ring. Trick hit an impressive dive onto a couple of guys on the floor When Trick went back into the ring, Dijak hit a boot to the face to pin Trick for his 2nd fall.

Dijak went up top, Bron hit him with a Frankensteiner and Bate caught Dijak leading to a Tyler Driver by Bate.

It was 3 for Bron & Bate, 2 for Dijak, 1 for Briggs and 0 for Trick.

The match continued with Bron holding Bate in his arms and hitting a fallaway slam for two. Briggs and Trick got into a right with Briggs sending Trick into the turnbuckle. Dijak and Briggs hit a double Chokeslam on Bate. Dijak clotheslined Trick down while Briggs clotheslined Bron as well. Dijak and Briggs each went up top leading to a double moonsault for both guys. Dijak and Briggs each got a fall.

Bate was back into it with a double clothesline on Dijak & Briggs. Bate hit a Tornado DDT. Bate hit a dive over the top onto Dijak on the floor. Briggs nailed Bate with a hard clothesline. Dijak was back in with a big boot to Bate and a superkick to Briggs. Dijak and Briggs hit eachother with boots to the face. The three guys were down while the other two guys in the penalty box. Bron Breakker threw Trick into the ring post. Bron hit a Spear on Trick through the barricade. Dijak picked up Bron and gave him a Chokeslam through the commentary table! That was awesome. The fans chanted “NXT” again. Trick got a rollup on Briggs for his first fall. Dijak hit a superkick on Trick and Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes on Trick, but Eddy Thorpe showed up at ringside to pull the referee out of the ring to stop the count. Thorpe kicked Dijak into Trick, who got a rollup for two. Bate got a twisting splash on Trick, but Trick came back with a jackknife pin on Bate. It was down to Bron & Trick as Bron charged and Trick hit a running knee on Bron for the pinfall win! Trick had 4 points to win the match!

Trick Williams got the win with 4 points while Dijak, Bate and Breakker had 3 points and Briggs had 2 points.

Winner: Trick Williams

Analysis: ****1/4 I thought it was an excellent match that was booked really well and executed perfectly by the wrestlers. That’s the kind of excitement you want to see out of a match like this with a lot of fast paced action in the last few minutes. Trick was sitting there with no falls for most of the match, but then in the last couple of minutes he got four pinfalls to get the victory. Bron Breakker was booked like a beast when he first got in there and then he was the guy that ate the final pinfall of the match. Dijak was my pick to win because I thought he deserved a big win after having so many awesome matches, but his past rivalry with Eddy Thorpe came back to haunt him here. Tyler Bate was terrific throughout the match and Josh Briggs had a nice showing since he was in there for 25 minutes with Dijak. I liked this match a lot.

Trick Williams celebrated the win since he gets a shot at the NXT Title at New Year’s Evil in January.

Dragon Lee was shown backstage getting nameplates on his NXT North American Title. Rey Mysterio handed Lee the title.

Josh Briggs was shown walking backstage where his friends Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henley encouraged him. Briggs was frustrated, but then he said sorry. Noam Dar and the Meta-Four group walked up to talk trash to them. It led to a fight.

Analysis: That will set up a six-person tag team match.

A video aired featuring businesswoman Kiana James in her wrestling gear walking out of WWE Headquarters and getting into a car so she was driven to the building.

There was a video package for the Roxanne Perez-Kiana James feud. James is jealous of Perez’s success, so that led to cheap attacks and costing each other matches.

Steel Cage Match: Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James

Perez was confident and smiling inside the Steel Cage. Kiana James was shown being driven up to the building and made her entrance with a bag since she’s a businesswoman.

It was mentioned by Vic Joseph during the match that you can only win by pinfall or submission.

James tried to attack with her bag, but Perez avoided it and the referee threw the bag out. James threw Perez into the turnbuckle. Perez gave James a catapult into the cage. Perez tripped up James leading to a running dropkick into the cage. Perez kicked James down. Perez went for a cross body block, but James caught Perez and threw Perez into the cage. James trapped Perez’s hand against the cage so James kicked the cage a few times. The fans were pretty quiet in the first few minutes of the match. James hit a spinebuster for a two count. James set up Perez against the ropes, Perez moved and James went bumping into the cage. Perez jumped off the turnbuckle with a Thesz Press. Perez hit a dropkick to knock James down. Perez sent James into the steel cage four times with James using her hands to hit the cage. Perez hit a Russian legsweep along with a running back elbow to the back for two. Perez climbed to the top rope and looked up to the top of the cage. The fans woke up a bit cheering for Perez going up top. James went up top as they fought by the corner of the cage Perez knocked James down and Perez kicked James back into the ring. James shoved Perez into the cage. James hit a Powerbomb off the bottom rope for a two count. The crowd wasn’t into the match even though the women were working hard. James picked up Perez with two Powerbombs into the cage, but Perez came back with Pop Rox to get a bit of an “ooohhh” reaction. Perez was slow to cover, so it was only a two count. James called for the referee to open the cage, so James reached under the ring and brought in a steel chair. Perez avoided the chair shot leading to a kick to the gut. Perez was by the door, but Izzi Dame was at ringside to slam the door on Perez. James used the steel chair for the Dealbreaker knee to Perez and James covered Perez for the pinfall win at 11:27.

Winner: Kiana James

Analysis: **3/4 They worked hard and did their best, but it was tough with this crowd that didn’t react to much other than a few spots. I thought that Perez might do a leap off the top. It was teased and then it didn’t happen, which was probably a smart move because it’s a risky move to do. The finish was very cheap to introduce Izzi Dane as an ally of Kiana James, so that might help James going forward to have an ally. I’m not going to call it a disappointing match because that’s unfair. It just wasn’t a hot match, perhaps because it followed a terrific match before it.

After the match, Izzi Dame went into the ring and raised Kiana James’ hand to show they are aligned.

This Monday on Raw: CM Punk chooses what brand he will sign with, plus Drew McIntyre vs. Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes vs. Shinsuke Nakamura as well.

A video aired about the NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament featuring eight wrestlers. They all did quick promos for the tournament starting on Tuesday.

This Tuesday on NXT:

* Dijak vs. Eddy Thorpe

* Meta-Four vs. Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henle in a 6-person mixed tag team match.

There was a video package for the Ilja Dragunov-Baron Corbin main event.

Baron Corbin made his entrance on a motorcycle. Ilja Dragunov was up next as the NXT Champion. They stood in the ring for championship introductions from Alicia Taylor, who doesn’t even say hometowns or the weight, which is strange. The fans weren’t that loud for it, nor did it have the feeling of a major main event level match.

NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin used his size advantage to knock Ilja down with a shoulder tackle. Corbin got a side headlock takeover to take control. Ilja hit a hard chop followed by a knee. Corbin came back with a running clothesline that sent Ilja out of the ring. Ilja was back in with a kick and a clothesline of his own to send Corbin out of the ring. Ilja hit Corbin with a German Suplex on the floor. Dragunov broke the referee’s count and was back out to the floor again. Corbin sent Ilja into the hood of the commentary table. Corbin gave Ilja a front suplex on the top of the commentary table. The referee checked on Ilja, who was selling the ribs. Back in the ring, Corbin gave Ilja a suplex ribs-first onto the top rope. Corbin stood on Ilja’s ribs. Corbin picked up Ilja and sent the champion into to the turnbuckle. Corbin whipped Ilja hard into the turnbuckle. Ilja came back with a headbutt and llja jumped off the top with a senton splash, but Corbin moved so Ilja hit the mat hard. Corbin hit a clothesline off the middle turnbuckle for two. Ilja tried a suplex, but Corbin got out of that leading to a DDT. Corbin picked up Ilja, gave him a hug and Corbin hit a spinning uranage slam. Corbin gave Ilja a gutbuster across the knee. Ilja got a bit of offense with a jumping kick to the back. Ilja hit a running knee to knock Corbin down. Ilja jumped off the top with a senton bomb splash leading to Ilja selling the ribs injury after.

They exchanged strikes a bit with Ilja managing to punch Corbin down. Both guys were down selling and slowly got back up. Corbin hit some repeated forearms, but Ilja hit a clothesline to send Corbin into the turnbuckle. Ilja delivered a barrage of chops to the chest. Ilja ran the ropes leading to a running kick to the face. Ilja hit a German Suplex for a two count. Ilja tried a lift, but he couldn’t do it because of Ilja’s rib injury. Corbin went to the apron, so Ilja hit a running kick to the head. They were battling on the top rope leading to Corbin hitting a unique Chokeslam off the top for two. Corbin grounded Ilja in a submission using a choke hold and a body scissors. Ilja broke free leading to a Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckle. Corbin came back with the Deep Six slam for two, which is what he usually gets for that move. Corbin hit a Death Valley Driver of his own followed by a brainbuster for two. Ilja flipped out of an End of Days attempt. Ilja tried a lift, but he couldn’t do it and then Ilja managed to connect with the Powerbomb. Ilja went up top leading to a Coast to Coast dropkick. This is a crowd that is not reacting to most of the match. Ilja charged, Corbin caught him, Ilja got out of that and Ilja hit a DDT. Ilja hit an H-Bomb forearm to the head two times in a row. Ilja hit a third running H-Bomb to the head. Ilja hugged Corbin and said something to him. Ilja hit a running Torpedo Moscow uppercut for the pinfall win at 20:55.

Winner by pinfall: Ilja Dragunov

Analysis: ***1/2 The match was pretty good with Corbin working over the ribs throughout the match and Dragunov sold it so well as usual. The key to Dragunov matches is his selling, which leads to the comebacks and Ilja finishing with his big moves for the win. One of the issues I had is that the crowd was quiet for most of the match just like the match before it. It is not necessarily the wrestler’s fault, but it is tough to have a great match when the fans are barely reacting or they don’t seem that interested. It really wasn’t close to the level of greatness as Dragunov’s title matches with Carmelo Hayes. It’s not like I expected it to be that good.

After the match, Trick Williams appeared in the aisle. Trick made the belt motion with his hands. Carmelo Hayes was right behind as the show ended there.

This show had a runtime of 2:55:18 on WWE Network.


Five Stars of the Show

  1. Trick Williams
  2. Ilja Dragunov
  3. Blair Davenport
  4. Bron Breakker
  5. Dragon Lee


Final Thoughts

I rate this show a 7 out of 10.

It was mostly a good show that never really felt great at any point. For comparison’s sake, I thought No Mercy from two months ago was the best NXT PLE this year and this one just didn’t come close to that level. I did think the Men’s Iron Survivor Challenge match was excellent, so that’s my pick for the match of the night. I’m happy for Trick Williams getting the win. As soon as Bron Breakker got in there, the intensity really picked up and all five guys did a great job.

The matches involving Ilja Dragunov and Carmelo Hayes just weren’t at that elite level that we are used to from them on PLE matches. It’s partly due to their opponents, but it’s wrong to blame people too. The Kiana-Roxanne Steel Cage Match just didn’t feel like a big deal and had a cheap finish. I liked the Dragon Lee win over Dominik Mysterio, who didn’t have any help from The Judgment Day, so Lee is the new NXT North American Champion.

As for the CM Punk-Shawn Michaels opening segment, that was very unorganized and Punk even mentioned how they forgot their lines. It ended awkwardly because it looked like they wanted to say more, but then Punk’s music hit so they ended it. At least they got a nice selfie together.

That’s all for WWE Premium Live Events in 2023. Bring on 2024.


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John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport