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NXT recap & reactions (Dec. 5, 2023): These women want to make history

Carmelo Hayes looks guilty, Wes Lee delivers bad news, and Baron Corbin gets the shock of his life on this week’s NXT.

Murda 4 Life

Would Kiana James and Roxanne Perez focus so much on each other that they lose sight of the larger goal? That was the question going into this Last Chance Iron Survivor qualifying match.

The answer? No. Not even close. Emphatically no.

The match started with Roxanne & Fallon Henley setting their sights on Kiana. Roxanne hates her now but let’s not forget she’s not on Fallon’s Christmas card list either. With Kiana out the ring, Thea Hail, Roxanne, and Fallon battled but when Kiana stepped back in the ring, the temperature changed. And Roxanne’s whole mood shifted.

The big moment came when Roxanne and Kiana fought out the ring. They eventually fell through the commentary table and subsequently saw their Iron Survivor chances go bye-bye. Fallon took advantage and got the biggest W of her career after pinning Thea.

I dug it. It made complete sense because Kiana and Roxanne despise each other. They continued fighting in the training room! Ava, apparently now with booking power or just tired of the drama between these two, told them she’d make a match so they can finally tear each other apart. They get each other at Deadline in a steel cage match.

Fun opening match and made sense. I didn’t see Fallon winning but I’m a fan. This is a great spot for her and I’m looking forward to the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge. Mostly because it’s different women with contrasting styles. What looked like a hoss fight now feels like wrestling gumbo. I’m hungry, so let’s eat.

Speaking of the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge, Lash Legend better win. I don’t care what else happens, I don’t care if she’s not as “good” as the other women. I just don’t care. Give that woman the win and push her to the moon.

Okay, with that out my system, I had a lot of fun with this mixed tag match between Meta-Four and Alpha Academy. We got the serious wrestling bits between Chad Gable and Noam Dar, big spots for both women (Maxxine’s is below this sentence), and of course Otis’ comedy.

I do wonder about the ending though. Chad made Noam tap, again, but this time he got the W. Does that put him in line for another shot at the Heritage Cup? Or is this the end of Alpha Academy’s NXT run? I hope it’s not the latter because, well, duh, but also because I want that win to mean something. I’m not a fan of the Heritage Cup matches but Noam and Chad make beautiful music together.

More Iron Survivor Challenge material! All competitors partook in a summit. They showed their personalities, talked trash, and broke a promise to keep it cordial. My main takeaway is that clip though. Fallon slapped fire out of Tiffany Straton’s chest. It echoed throughout my living room. Yee-haw, b*tch indeed.

But wait there’s more! Nathan Frazer and Axiom wanted a match with each other. I thought about going into the ins and outs of why but it didn’t matter. Why? Because the brawl that started during the summit spilled over into their match.

Oh, and Nikkita Lyons made her official comeback. I say official since they already put her on television not too long ago, so the moment felt smaller than it should. And then they cut away from it quickly too. While I liked everything happening with the women this week, this is the one thing that felt weird and rushed.

She went right after Blair Davenport and left her lying on the floor while everyone else brawled in the ring. Nathan and Axiom did the only smart thing in that circumstance: They got out the way and watched.

The women dominated NXT this week and with good reason. Usually, I split all these into their own separate sections, but it was one long, interesting song that played for almost two hours. And it went a long way in making their Iron Survivor Challenge Deadline’s most intriguing match


B-Sides

Westside

I thought it was fake. One thing that sucks as a wrestling fan is staying on the lookout for the swerve. Unfortunately, that never came with Wes Lee. The former North American champ hobbled to the ring on a crutch, grabbed a microphone, and told the world that he can barely stand. The tears flowed like an Amazon waterfall. Wes won’t compete against Dirty Dom at Deadline. He won’t compete against anyone for a while. And it sucks. I kept waiting for the hustle but it never happened. Even when Dom hit the ring I figured it might happen! I hoped against hope. But alas.

Dragon Lee replaces Wes but that feels inconsequential here. I hope Wes’ surgery goes well and that he comes back with a vengeance. Whenever that is, I’m ready and waiting. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Strong Island

The men’s Last Chance Iron Survivor qualifier interests me less and isn’t as compelling as the women’s version. But we got some notable developments.

First, Tyler Bate is the final entrant. He pinned Joe Coffey while Melo tried breaking it up in vain. Joe took Eddy Thorpe out the match with a spinebuster on the steel steps! Which, ya know, is a bad thing for anyone with hurt ribs.

Secondly, more soap operatics with Melo, Trick Williams, and Lexis King. NXT Anonymous showed more footage from that fateful night where Trick got whooped, and Melo sent someone a text message after speaking with Trick. Combine that with the previous footage and it looks like Melo and Lexis are text buddies. Melo denies it and demanded Ava put him in the ring with Lexis. Once again, is Ava Shawn Michaels’ assistant now? I’m confused.

Anyway, I figure this factors into the men’s Iron Survivor Challenge. Trick’s emotional and a little unfocused, And I doubt Melo lets sleeping dogs lie based on Trick’s last words to him: Melo opens Deadline while Trick closes the show. That hurt me.

Lastly, we got the obligatory brawl when all the men hit the ring after Tyler secured his spot. They continued bashing each others’ brains in during Ilja Dragunov and Baron Corbin’s championship segment. And right on cue...

All for the Love

Ilja hugged Baron.

I kid you not. You can watch the clip if you think I’m lying. And it makes sense. This story centers around Baron doing any and everything to get under the champ’s skin. Baron took it a step further this week when he compared Ilja’s situation with his son to Ilja’s situation with his own father. And it’s different that the go home angle for the territory’s biggest championship involves a hug. But it’s based in character and felt completely right.


This show had so much energy and set the stakes perfectly for Deadline. Making the women the show’s spine was a fantastic idea and they executed flawlessly. The men represented well too, just not on the same level.

Who else is looking forward to Deadline and why?

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