clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Deadline 2023 recap & reactions: Trick whooped everyone

CM Punk shows up, Roxanne Perez gets a terrible surprise, and Trick Williams does the impossible at Deadline.

It Gets No Rougher

The comeback story is one of the oldest tricks in storytelling. It’s particularly potent in pro wrestling because the audience understands pain. We see something that hurts and we feel it. We notice the anguish across someone’s face and watch them pull themselves out of hell for a few moments in heaven.

It works incredibly well in an Iron Survivor Challenge match because it’s all built on time. Twenty-five minutes sounds like a long time but it’s constant sudden death. It works even better when the person who executes said comeback is over with the crowd like Trick Williams. The crowd wanted this for Trick and he delivered like an 80 pound baby.

In any other sport, this is the type of comeback they whisper about in hushed tones. The kind they nickname and talk about remembering when. Like any story of its ilk worth its salt, it wasn’t easy.

Trick entered the match fourth. Tyler Bate, Dijak, and Josh Briggs banked one win each. Trick hit everything that moved when he entered, perfectly matching the crowd’s energy. This match handled the controlled chaos involved in an Iron Survivor Challenge incredibly well. That really started when Trick hit the ring. But then it went to 100 mph when Bron Breakker made his entrance.

The man got three pins in what felt like 60 seconds. Bron is that dude and his presence changes everything. Everyone reacted to him and got desperate. Josh and Dijak, two men who started the match tearing each other apart, even worked together in the latter stages just to catch up to Tyler and Bron.

But still nothing for Trick. With everyone on the board, the crowd favorite sat with a big goose egg in his pocket and the crowd saw no hope in sight. Any good comeback story needs the hero completely decimated before their triumphant victory. We got that here. Trick found himself confined to the penalty box a couple times and never found his momentum after losing it during his first few minutes in the match. Then, with a few seconds left, he did the impossible.

First, Trick took a high risk when he lept on top of his competition from the top rope once he finally got out of the box with only a couple minutes left in the match. Then he got not one, not two, but four pitfalls in succession. First Josh, then Tyler, then Dijak, and then finally on Bron.

Incredible. That’s some of the most effective and compelling match storytelling I’ve seen in NXT in quite some time. I have no criticisms at all here. I thought it wasn’t Trick’s night with the way it started, but that ending proved me wrong and told a beautiful tale. That his last pin came over Bron was the icing on top of the gluten free cake.


Friend or Foe

For those who came in late, Axiom and Nathan Frazer saw their recent match cut short. The gentlemen’s agreement bout barely got going before the women’s division spilled into the proceedings. At Deadline, they finished what they barely started.

Everything came into focus during the second act when their friendship paid dividends for both men: They simply know each other too well. They countered each other big move after big move during a sequence that saw Nathan counter Axiom’s kip up rope attack and Axiom counter Nathan’s somersault. The drama revolved around weather their friendship might erupt from the obvious pressure. Especially in a match that came down to Nathan making a lackadaisical cover and Axiom not making the same mistake.

Axiom got the W and extended his hand after the match. It almost went left or at least it felt that way for several seconds. Nathan shook his friend’s hand, despite his obvious frustration.

Good opening match between two guys who need more involvement on increasingly crowded Tuesday nights.


Well, I didn’t see that coming. I picked Dirty Dom because he’s dirty! That, and I didn’t imagine him losing after Wes Lee’s injury.

Surprise, surprise. Dragon Lee handled his business and finally won that North American championship. He proved that without mami, Dom can’t handle him. Good match with Dom working extra heelish since his dad sat ringside.

Mean Gene

I’m not doing well with my picks here. Which, as you know, is the most important thing. Lash Legend came in the match like a wrecking ball, no Molly Cyrus. She pinned two women at once and simply overpowered everyone. It looked academic.

But Blair Davenport and Tiffany Straton put one point each on the board before Lash even stepped into the ring. That proved prophetic as Blair eventually walked away with the victory. She pinned Kelani Jordan, who took so much offense this match, and then snuck in a pin on Fallon Henley. That last one is important to the story because it happened with Lash in the penalty box. She got out with about 15 seconds on the clock and that just wasn’t enough time. Kelani and Tiffany licked their wounds outside the ring, Fallon rolled out towards the penalty box, and Blair simply ran out the clock. Literally.

Everyone played their part well. Like I said, Kelani took the most offense. As I said repeatedly, she’s a fantastic babyface who works from underneath. She took her shots but she showed out as well. Fallon and Tiffany continued their battle and often focused so much on each other they forgot their opponents. Blair played the crafty veteran who took advantage of everyone else’s mistakes, while Lash was the powerhouse. We also got some Meta-Four chicanery:

Oh, and shoutout to Kelani for finishing the match. She went for a moonsault on Lash that didn’t quite hit the mark and her momentum took her into the commentary table’s edge. She held her lower back for most of the match but she kept taking punishment and dishing it out too.

This match lived up to my expectations, although I wish we got a different victor. I understand why it’s Blair though: She’s a stiffer test for Lyra Valkyria and not an entertaining heel. She’s no nonsense and to the point.


Cora Jade, who left the building months ago, returned.

Could we get a triple threat at New Year’s Evil? Possibly. Not sure how Cora worms her way to it but that’s why I don’t have the pencil. But this might just be an appetizer to Blair vs. Lyra since Nikkita Lyons still has hands for Ms. Davenport.

No Love 4 Me

This match played out exactly like I thought. It’s also the only other match where I picked the correct winner. Yay for me!

I don’t really have much to say about Ilja Dragunov vs. Baron Corbin. I expected a solid match and that’s exactly what I got. Two pros wrestling a sound match with some psychology mixed in (Ilja’s hurting ribs),and mind games. When Baron thought he had Ilja on his death kneel, he recreated their moment from the latest NXT episode and mocked the champ with a hug. The champ returned the favor while putting Baron away and whispered something to him. What did he say? I can’t read lips so I have no clue, but it came after the third H Bomb and before the Torpedo Moscow that ended the match.

The weirdest part came at the very end when they set up Trick vs. Ilja at New Year’s Evil.

I’m guessing he didn’t attack him since there’s no way they’d cut from that (would they?) but it came off abrupt and a bit sloppy.


Kiana James and Roxanne Perez didn’t wrestle the cage match I predicted; it was better in so many ways. They got physical, and I don’t mean the way cage matches usually are because duh, of course it’s physical. But they wrestled like two people who hate each other and simply using the cage as another weapon.

They punished each other. At one point, Kiana James said no mas and crawled to the door. She knew that wouldn’t stop the match but it didn’t matter; she wanted out. She also wanted a chair hidden under the ring but I completely bought the idea that it became too much for her.

Kiana keeps getting better and Roxanne’s new fury works for her. The cage proved a perfect battlefield for their beef and everything made sense.

Roxanne almost got the W too but, well, you saw the video.

Kiana has a new ace in Izzi Dame. How does Roxanne even the odds?

It Wasn’t Me

I didn’t mind Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King. I didn’t love it by any means since I saw no way that Lexis walked away with the W here. The hook was whether or not these two plotted together. After Melo got the victory, Lexis gave us the definitive (?) answer: He never attacked Trick, he just wanted a big spot on a big show.

Seriously? That’s it? And that’s the best they have after all these weeks? I’m over this. I wish I had more or anything remotely insightful to add but I don’t.

Very fun show that never dragged and kept its matches tight. The Lexis King stuff still irks me and this whole drama feels overwrought and too long, but Trick winning makes all that pain go away. Trick vs. Ilja should hopefully, finally, bring this thing between he and Melo to a head. No complaints about any match on the card. Oh, and CM Punk showed up!

Grade: A-

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats