TJR: WWE NXT Deadline 2023 Preview

wwe nxt deadline 2023 preview

This is WWE NXT Deadline featuring two Iron Survivor Challenge matches, plus Ilja Dragunov defending his NXT Title against Baron Corbin.

There are seven matches set for NXT Deadline with just two championship matches. That’s less than usual because of the two Iron Survivor Challenge matches. Even though there aren’t that many title matches, I like the card and how they got a lot of people on the show. I think perhaps maybe the lack of a tag team matches hurts a bit because it’s five singles matches and those might be a bit repetitive. Anyway, I do like the card for the most part because NXT has been very good in the second half of this year.

You can watch NXT Deadline this Saturday, December 9th at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Peacock or WWE Network. I’ll have a live review on Saturday night.

KICKOFF SHOW: Nathan Frazer vs. Axiom

They are two great athletes that will have a fast-paced match full of big moves and excitement. They were having a match on NXT last week and then it got interrupted by the five women in the Iron Survivor Challenge having a brawl, so the match got thrown out. When they had their Best of 3 series last year it was Frazer who won the rivalry at that point. I think Axiom is due for a pretty big win here. They should get 10-15 minutes to do their thing and it will be a fun match to watch.

Winner: Axiom

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

The winner of this match will receive a future NXT Women’s Title match.

Tiffany Stratton may be considered the favorite since she’s a former NXT Women’s Champion who you could say was the best woman on the NXT brand this year. However, I don’t think Stratton needs it as much as the others. Lash Legend has improved in the ring while being part of the Meta-Four group. Blair Davenport is a good heel, but she has issues with Nikkita Lyons, who may show up and cost Blair the match. Kelani Jordan is a star on the rise that is getting better every time I see her. Fallon Henley has been around for a couple of years and has never really been pushed, so maybe it’s her time.

I don’t think there’s an obvious favorite in the match, so that’s what I like about it. It could go several different ways. I think Stratton is a candidate to be on the main roster by the Royal Rumble next month, so I’m not picking her. I’m also not sure if the winner will beat Lyra Valkyria for the NXT Women’s Title too. Anyway, I’m going go to with Lash Legend because I think the NXT brand wants to see what they have in her. Giving Lash a big win here could help her a lot.

Winner: Lash Legend

Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King

It’s weird writing about a Carmelo Hayes match that isn’t a main event since he’s main evented most 2023 shows, but here we are. It’s a big match for King since it’s his first NXT PLE event. I think the build has been pretty solid with King playing mind games with Melo since King inserted himself into the Melo/Trick Williams issues. They could have King cheat to win and get a big win. I think Melo will be off his game a bit due to other issues and King will capitalize to win. I think Melo is going to be on the main roster in the first half of 2024 because there’s not much more needs to do in NXT.

Winner: Lexis King

Steel Cage Match: Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James

Roxanne and Kiana have had a rivalry for a couple of months now. They basically cost each other spots in the Iron Survivor Challenge match, so now they will settle it in a Steel Cage. It makes sense for the babyface Perez to get the win. That’s my pick. I am a bit concerned that it might not be a great match. I wonder if Roxanne will jump off the cage with a cross body block or something like that because using the cage for a high spot seems to be something that Perez will want to do.

There are strong rumors that Cora Jade is set to return at this show, so it wouldn’t shock me if she plays a role in this match. Jade has a long history with Perez as former best friends with Jade turning on Perez. That makes me think Jade will cost Perez this match somehow or maybe Jade will attack Perez after the match. Since it’s a Steel Cage Match, I’ll go with Perez getting the win and then just when you think she’s done with Kiana James, that’s when Jade returns to go after Perez as well.

Winner: Roxanne Perez

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

This was supposed to be Dominik Mysterio against Wes Lee, but we found out last Tuesday on NXT that Wes needs major back surgery that will cost him 8 to 12 months of action. That sucks for Wes. In his place is Dragon Lee because I guess WWE wanted a guy named Lee. It’s an interesting choice because Dragon Lee is on Smackdown now, but WWE has shown they are fine with putting an NXT title on a main roster guy since Dominik is a Raw guy.

We know that Rey Mysterio will be there to support Dragon Lee, but we have seen that before and Dominik still found a way to win thanks to Rhea Ripley. I think Dominik retaining makes the most sense because it should be a full-time, regular NXT guy that beats him. I like Dragon Lee a lot. He’s really fun to watch. I just believe that another babyface wrestler in NXT should be the one to beat Dominik in the first few months of 2024.

Winner: Dominik Mysterio

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

The winner of this match will receive a future NXT Title match.

This is tough to predict just like the women’s match. Bron Breakker is a two-time NXT Champion who doesn’t “need” to win. Plus, I think Von Wagner will show up and cost Bron the match. That leaves rising star Trick Williams along with Dijak, who I like a lot as a veteran heel, Briggs is in singles for the first time after being a tag team guy and Bate is the smaller guy who’s the clear underdog in the match.

The thing with Trick Williams is there’s that story with Carmelo Hayes, who might turn heel out of jealousy over Trick being one match away from a title shot. Maybe Lexis King is the one to cost Trick this match. I don’t know how it will go. Trick would be a good choice to win although I think his other story will keep him from winning. Briggs is unlikely just because he’s a tag team guy that they might try out in singles and I think he’ll do pretty well, but not win. That leaves Dijak and Bate, who is rumored to go to the main roster soon. I was leaning towards a Dijak win when this match was announced because he needs a main event push and perhaps to win the NXT Title too. I’m going with Dijak. It should be a lot of fun to watch.

Winner: Dijak

NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. Baron Corbin

I have to credit both guys for doing a nice job of making this feel like a personal rivalry instead of just a random title math. Corbin is the cocky heel that brags about how rich he is while Dragunov is frustrated because Corbin takes shots at Dragunov’s family not being in the US with him for whatever reason. It makes the viewer want to see Dragunov shut Corbin up by beating him in this match.

Corbin has done some of his best work as this heel character that was kind of a reset for him after years on the main roster where he didn’t really thrive that much. It’s back to more of a regular, jerk Corbin while Dragunov is a fighting babyface that never quits, so he’s easy to root for. Since Dragunov is so great, this might be one of Corbin’s best matches of his career. I’ll go with a Dragunov victory in this match.

Winner: Ilja Dragunov


And Finally…

The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most

Men’s Iron Survivor Challenge

The Match I Care About The Least

Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James in a Steel Cage Match. I’m not sure if the Steel Cage is a good idea. I think the cage could actually hurt the match.

Longest Match

The Iron Survivor Challenge matches go 25 minutes, so they will be the longest. Other than that, I think Dragunov-Corbin will go around 18 minutes.

Shortest Match

Dominik Mysterio vs. Dragon Lee around 12 minutes.

Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)

It’s 7.5 out of 10 for me. I rated last year’s Deadline show a 7.75 out of 10 because I liked the Iron Survivor Challenge matches. That’s the key to this show because they are going 25 minutes each and involve five people in those matches, so it’s important that they are pretty good matches. I don’t think the Dragunov-Corbin main event is as exciting to the casual fans, but I think they’ll tell an interesting and have a very good match. I’m hoping some of the undercard matches are great, but I don’t know which one will be.

I’ll have a review of NXT Deadline live on Saturday night on TJRWrestling as usual.


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John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport