An hour or so after RoH Final Battle went off the air, it’s time for NXT Deadline. It’s a really busy day for wrestling fans, and an even busier day for me having to write about both shows. It’s a lot of fun, though, so I’m not complaining. Let’s get things going.
Indi Hartwell vs Cora Jade vs Zoey Stark vs Kiana James vs Roxanne Perez – Iron Survivor Challenge to name the #1 Contender for the NXT Women’s Title
Pros: – The popularity of Roxanne Perez. Just under ten minutes into the match, and there have literally been almost a dozen chants for her that have broken out. The NXT crowd loves her.
– The pace. Everyone in the match so far is wrestling as if something big is on the line. That’s how you’re supposed to act when you have a shot at the NXT Women’s Title on the line, especially considering that none of the five women in the match have held that title before. This could be a star-making opportunity for someone.
– The crowd. They were loud from start to finish.
– The right woman won. Roxanne Perez is the perfect choice to be Mandy Rose’s next challenger, and she’s also the perfect choice to end Mandy’s lengthy title reign.
– Urgency. Non-stop action from beginning to end, and all five women went all out. Tons of action, and all of it made sense.
Cons: – Convoluted match types. These Iron Survivor Challenges could end up being a lot of fun. Even if they’re great matches, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re overly convoluted, confusing, and unnecessary.
– Annoying fans. More specifically, one annoying fan. There was a “Let’s go, Roxy” chant from the fans, and it died out eventually. However, one super loud guy kept chanting it. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. It never picked up. Nobody joined him. He just kept chanting it like a drunken asshole, probably causing the people nearby to tell him to shut the fuck up.
Match Rating: 4 Stars. That was one of the best NXT women’s matches in a long time. All five women were able to overcome the convoluted rules, and they all worked their asses off. Good stuff here.
Alba Fyre vs Isla Dawn
Pros: – Hard hitting action. Lots of the physical NXT UK style from both women. It really stands out when you compare it to a lot of the women’s matches that we see in NXT, and if the action stands out, the women can then stand out, as well.
Cons: – The crowd. Not a surprise, but they aren’t quite as involved here as they were with the previous match. It makes sense. There’s still a lot of fans that have no idea who Isla Dawn is, as NXT UK wasn’t exactly breaking viewership records in America. Hell, fans have barely figured out who Alba Fyre is, and she’s been around in NXT a lot longer.
– Hocus pocus mumbo jumbo. As Fyre goes for the pin, the referee is hunched over and spitting black goo out of his mouth. It’s the same referee that was hit by Dawn’s poison mist on NXT television, so now, he’s suffering even more. It’s stupid. This isn’t Papa Shango creeping people out by doing that to The Ultimate Warrior in 1992. We’re mere days away from 2023, and that type of nonsense doesn’t really fit in the pro wrestling landscape anymore.
Match Rating: 3.25 Stars. The match was a good, physical affair until that ridiculous ending took away from it a bit. Back-to-back good women’s matches tonight, and they both shine in their own way.
Pretty Deadly vs The New Day – NXT Tag Team Title Match
Pros: – The crowd. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have brought the crowd back. They’re loud again. Even if we don’t get a title change here, it’s a big deal that New Day are in NXT, and the crowd is treating it as such.
– Heat magnets. I don’t think Kit Wilson and Elton Prince get enough credit for the heat they’re able to get. Their act translated perfectly from NXT UK to NXT, and they’ve been able to succeed in front of a completely different type of wrestling fan because of it. They’re great at what they do.
Cons: – Nothing. Good, good stuff here.
Match Rating: 4 Stars. I might even be able to go a little higher than that on a second viewing. That was a ton of fun. A great mix of fast-paced action, tag work, and some comedy spots sprinkled in. A little bit of something for everyone. Normally, I would be disappointed that New Day are the NXT Tag Team Champions, but with The Usos having a chokehold on the tag scene on Raw and Smackdown, it makes sense to give New Day something to do away from them. New Day should have a good run in NXT for a while, and then they can go back to the main roster once someone other than The Usos are holding the titles on Raw and Smackdown. Works for me.
Axiom vs Carmelo Hayes vs Joe Gacy vs Grayson Waller vs JD McDonagh – Iron Survivor Challenge to name the #1 Contender for the NXT Title
Pros: – The pace. Like the women’s match, the men’s match has started with non-stop action.
– Two people in the penalty box together. It didn’t happen in the women’s match, but we got a time where both Axiom and McDonagh were pinned within seconds of each other and had to be in the penalty box together. Of course, it led to a brawl in the confined space.
– The crowd. They loved every minute of this.
– Urgency. All five men treated this as the big deal that it was. Lots of looking at the clock to see how much time was left, and that figured into a lot of the strategy that we saw.
– The finish. After Waller got his third fall to take the lead with less than a minute left, he ran and ran and ran and ran, literally running the clock out and winning the match. It’s such a perfect chickenshit heel thing to do, and it fits his character really well.
Cons: – Convoluted match types. If I mentioned it for the women’s match, it’s only fair to mention it for the men’s match.
– Wrestling fans still not knowing how to count. We see it in the Royal Rumble every year, and now, we’ve seen it in both Iron Survivor Challenges tonight. Even though the countdown is RIGHT THERE on the screen for them to use, the crowd is still counting too fast, and they reach zero on the ten-second countdown while there’s still two seconds on the clock. It’s incredible.
– Too many falls. We’ve seen seven falls in 17 minutes, and with eight minutes remaining in the match, we’re not quite done yet. That’s a lot. Ironman Matches that end 2-1 are infinitely more entertaining than ones that end 8-7. I’m just saying.
Match Rating: 4.25 Stars. Another really good match that overcame the weird rules. All five men looked really good here, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Axiom was able to come across. The reason this match got a slightly higher grade than the women’s match was the high spots. There were more of them here, so it adds up to a slightly higher grade.
Bron Breakker vs Apollo Crews – NXT Title Match
Pros: – Physical traits. If there are people in wrestling who possess a better combination of size, speed, strength, and athletic ability than these two men, the list is a very short one. They’re incredible to watch.
– The pace. Usually, when I praise the pace of a match, it’s because the match went from 0-60 immediately. This time, I’m praising the slower pace. There has been a “feeling out” process so far. They’re being pushed as basically the same wrestler, and commentary is treating them like it. When one of them does something, the other knows what’s coming. I like it. Obviously, it would be nice if the pace picks up at some point, but this has been a great start so far.
Cons: – The ending. It wasn’t really a bad ending, but the Spear that Bron used to win the match was pretty weak. When you look at some of the Spears that he has won matches with, you see some brutally vicious looking ones. This one looked like it shouldn’t be a match ender, but it was.
Match Rating: 3.5 Stars. It wasn’t quite at the “great” level, but it was a fun match that featured two very evenly matched competitors who really looked like they wanted to win. I’m a little disappointed that Apollo didn’t win the match, but Bron keeping the title for a little longer makes sense. I still say we’re going to see Bron and Carmelo Hayes squaring off during WrestleMania weekend, and that will be where Bron drops the title, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
When a match gets 3.25 stars and is the “worst” match of the night, that’s a pretty good show. I really enjoyed Deadline. The Iron Survivor Challenge seems like it can work out, although it still might need a tweak or two to really perfect the formula. It’s rare to see new match types succeed, but this one worked, at least as far as providing entertaining matches goes.