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NXT Deadline 2022 recap & reactions: Waller stuns Breakker

The first-ever iron man calls his shot while the iron woman gets her revenge at NXT Deadline.

Tony Stark

Axiom wanted the number one spot and got it. JD McDonagh believes going 25 minutes is nothing for him, so he started the match with the masked man. Much like the woman’s match, they felt each other out. That became a bigger issue when Axiom dropped JD in the middle of the ring and...sauntered around and went to his next attack instead of going for the pin. That’s not saying Axiom gets the win there, but illustrating just how serious this is through cats taking advantage when they have the advantage is so necessary.

I say that now because the match found its second gear thanks to some violence between Axiom and JD. After Melo entered and got a pinfall, then Waller showed up and got two in a row, JD and Axiom hit the penalty box. While Waller and Melo battled it out, JD and Axiom got into a penalty box fight. A brutal one at that. It started when JD stopped Axiom from leaving the box. Axiom closed the door and they got busy. JD even got his face plastered against the glassing a very good shot that showed the pain and ridiculousness baked into the situation. They left the box (eventually) but that feud percolated throughout the match. Everyone fed off their violence, including Joe Gacy.

But the true story here is Grayson Waller. I know, I know, he’s not my favorite either. But Waller came in with a plan. Besides nailing that double stunner when he entered for two quick falls, he used that JD and Axiom beef to his advantage. At one point, he beat up Axiom near the penalty box and presented him as an offering to JD. JD happily obliged, not realizing the clock worked against him the more he focused on his rival.

Waller just lurked around and lurked around while Melo, Axiom and Gacy caught up to his two victories. In fact, Melo’s second victory came as Grayson tapped out rather quickly to Melo’s crossface. Why so quick? Because of the clock. Grayson understood the longer he fought the hold, the less time on his side to get that third victory. It was smart but not as smart as what he did after serving his time in the box.

Grayson went for a couple stunners on his way back into the ring to not avail and found himself summarily dismissed. Eventually, it boiled down to Axiom and Melo. Melo nailed the Nothing But Net as the hour glass emptied, but Waller found his second win and interrupted the pin attempt. He pulled Melo out of the ring and covered Axiom for his third victory. Then, he ran from an incensed Melo and pulled JD’s body out of the ring so Melo had no one to pin. Melo and Gacy chased Waller around the commentary table and the ring as time expired.

And that was that. It was Deadline’s best heel work and one fitting for Waller’s character. He’s a snake through and through, so everything he did worked for his personality.

This match felt very different when compared to the women’s match. The women wrestled for the most part and the men brawled. They used the penalty box to their advantage, took more risks with said box (Axiom hit a moonsault from the tippy top) and had more bad blood.

Good match although I prefer the women’s iteration.


RiRi Williams

Roxanne Perez and Zoey Stark christened WWE’s latest innovation. They basically felt each other out for the first five minutes, engaging in headlocks, feats of strength, and anything else that might weigh an opponent down. As a result, the first five minutes lacked a sense of urgency. Sure, we got one moment where Roxanne went for pin attempts like a rabid dog, but the rules didn’t match the approach both women took.

Business picked up when Kiana James entered at the five minute mark. James went on offense immediately, and eventually, went for pin attempts on both women at different intervals. But all of that was for not as Stark hit Perez with her signature move and got the first pinfall in the contest just before we hit the 10 minute mark.

Guess who showed up next with Perez in the penalty box? If you said Santa Clause, you’re a couple weeks early and watching the wrong program. The correct answer is Cora Jade. Jade beat her hands against the penalty box while her rival stewed, which I thought was a very dope touch. It’s not flashy, but it’s good character work. Fittingly, when Roxanne re-entered the match, she made a beeline towards Jade with a Lou Thez press and so much emotion.

But maybe that emotion cost her a bit because things went a little awry for Perez once Jade showed her face. She eventually found herself on the wrong end of an Indi Hartwell pinfall shortly after Indi stepped foot in the ring. Perez hit a sunset flip on Indi and attempted a jawbreaker but Indi countered with a stun gun. Yes, it’s still a stun fun to me. The boot followed the stun gun and Indi got the W.

Once Roxanne served her minute in the penalty box, she looked at the clock. Much like Cora earlier in the match, Roxanne got desperate for pins. She threw Kiana into the steel steps, went for a crossbody pin on Zoey, but, of course, Cora up the attempt. Everywhere Perez went, Jade followed and vice versa. I love the fact these two told their own story inside of this larger story. Roxanne eventually scored her first pinfall on Zoey after reversing her back suplex into a sunset flip.

The odd woman out, Kiana, just needed a W on the board so she went for anyone on the mat but only found two counts. Kiana never got going until the very end but we’ll get to that in a bit. Once Zoey left the penalty box, all hell broke loose with time running low. So guess who emerged with her second pinfall? Roxanne Perez thanks to a Pop Rox on...Cora Jade.

That put Cora back into the penalty box with only a few minutes left. Perez didn’t play keep away at that point, but she did dodge pin attempts from Kiana and Indi, while breaking up any other pin attempt. Kiana finally put herself in a position to score after hitting a beautiful Spanish Fly on Indi. And with Roxanne out of the ring thanks to the general chaos, Kiana had a chance to at least score a point. But her pin attempt coincided with Jade leaving the box, so of course she broke up the three-count.

Cora scrambled looking for her second pinfall and finally got her hands on her archival. Jade nailed Perez with a gorgeous DDT as the clock inched closer to 25 minutes but as the crowd counted down, Perez did the smartest thing anyone in the match did during the entire 25 minutes: She rolled out of the ring. That move left Cora incensed as the bell went ding and the match ended with Perez reveling in victory. She not only scored a pinfall on her former best friend, but outsmarted her in the end.

This started slowly but it really picked up an showed why it’s a brilliant concept. Roxanne survived from the first bell to the last, while also furthering her beef with Cora. Roxanne has a date with Many soon but I feel like Roxanne has something to say about that before we even get there.


Extracurriculars

Stunning

Three powerbombs. Three German suplexes. A vicious knee countering a top rope bulldog attempt, and a nasty moonsault onto the mat from the apron. Oh, and a DDT countering the military press slam. These are just a few of the things Apollo dished out against Bron Breakker. Apollo Crews vs. Bron felt like Superman vs. Shazam. Two of the universe’s most powerful beings just throwing bombs at each other. Taking each other’s best shot and begging for more. I’m surprised the Performance Center didn’t explode.

Apollo took Bron to his limits, including hitting his own military press slam. While the first two acts involved a lot of Apollo dominating and even Bron throwing a wrinkle in his game with a sweet senton dive over the top rope and onto Apollo waiting on the outside, the third act was all fisticuffs and a whole lot of barking. It really came down to one false move, which Apollo made when he tried lifting Bron over his head one more time. Bron quickly got out the hold, ran to the ropes, and nailed Apollo with a spear.

Bron stood tall and posed with his belt for a while until Waller snuck in and hit the champion with a stunner.

This match delivered on what they promised: Two powerhouses with similar movesets just figuring out the right combination for a victory. Bron figured it out first but the storytelling illustrated an even matchup that might go differently if they ever do it again.

Before we get to the idea of a rematch, we gotta talk about Waller. He called his shot and has the champ’s attention. This has potential because Waller is so different than anyone Bron’s faced and very different from Bron in skillset and temperament. It’s a brand new challenge for Breakker even if I don’t see Waller defeating him fro the championship.

As an aside, the moment where Apollo paused, the camera pushed in, he closed his eyes, and opened them wide? Let’s not do that ever again. It pulled me out of a match adding a hokey element to a match that didn't need it.

Weird, Wild Stuff

Earlier in the bout between Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre, Isla removed the padding on the second turnbuckle. The official didn’t see it, the camera caught it, and commentary spotted it but didn’t make it into a big deal. The match continued and these two showed why they work so well together. This was a really good match but the ending was a little much, even if it paid off several setups. The refreee for this match was the same ref Isla traumatized with black goo on the last NXT episode. Word? The same guy? I wonder if that black goo might play a role again.

With Isla on her back and Alba climbing the ropes, the ref checked on the downed Ms. Dawn. Isla did something to the poor guy so when Alba hit her top rope maneuver and went for the pin, that ref spat up the black goo. That episode left him in no shape for a three-count, which brought a replacement ref to the dance. Isla and Alba tussled and Isla tossed her opponent into that exposed turnbuckle from the first act that everyone forgot about thanks to all the nasty stuff dripping from the zebra’s mouth.

Isla got the W but there’s no way this is over. A really good match that didn’t need all the extra at the end, but I appreciate the thought that went into it. So there’s that.

Your Winners...and NEW...

Never saw myself writing this sentence: The NXT tag team championship match contained a twerk off. And Booker T noted that Kofi didn’t do it with “enough action.” As a quick aside, Kofi Kingston and Elton Prince both suck at twerking because you must have ass to twerk. And that’s all I’ll say about that before I get myself into trouble.

Pretty Deadly has fun but they’re vicious. They play around and twerk with New Day but possess a mean streak New Day lacks. That’s the match’s story: Would Pretty Deadly’s heel behavior mitigate New Day’s experience and greatness?

The one thing I really want to note about this match, besides the fact it delivered, is Xavier Woods’ dopeness in the ring. He got a hot tag in the third act and executed everything so smoothly. The dropkick, the DDT he hit while coming back into the ring from the middle rope, and even earlier when he missed with a roundhouse kick, ducked a roundhouse, and nailed a leg sweep all in one fluid motion. I know it’s a pipe dream but Xavier needs the big belt one of these days.

Of course, that day isn’t today since he is one-half of the...new NXT tag team champions. New Day essentially beat Pretty Deadly at their own game. Elton and Kit pulled an Eddie Guerrero: They got the tag belts and played hot potato with Xavier and Kofi but rather than fall prey to the oldest trick in the book, both men played dead in the ring. By the time the ref got his bearings, he saw all four men on their backs and a belt in the middle. He kept the match going and that’s when New Day took over. Xavier survived a cheap shot with the belt, kicked out at two, and Kofi prevented any Spilt Milk by grabbing Kit’s feet and dragging him outside the ring. Trouble in Paradise takes him out the game and New Day plays their tandem music Prince for a very big victory.

Good match with some fun shenanigans in between with a game-changing victory for Xavier & Kofi.

NXT told a little story with Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley at this “PLE.” In several backstage segments, starting with an Ivy & Tatum interview about Ivy’s love for the Brothers Creed. Katana Chance & Kayden Carter stepped in and gave Ivy & Tatum their props and sympathy. Ivy wasn’t really that sympathy part, but cooler heads prevailed. Toxic Attraction ran into the NXT women tag champs later on and dissed them for offering tag team championship matches to Ivy & Tatum, two women they consider beneath them. Ivy & Tatum were clearly in earshot as a fight broke out between them and Toxic Attraction. So, yeah. those four have a match scheduled for the next time NXT is on your television. I kinda dug it.


I expect varied opinions on the Iron Man Survivor Challenge concept and the matches. I liked both, with the women’s match working more to my liking than the men’s. The other matches delivered as well, but the Iron Man Survivor Challenge matches are the big talking points. Very good show from start to finish. Not perfect or always that exciting, but very good.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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