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WWE NXT Deadline 2023 preview & predictions

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Sat., Dec. 9, WWE NXT is back on Peacock (here in the United States; internationally you’ll find them wherever you get WWE Network) with its Deadline premium live event. The show from Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut will officially start at 8pm ET, but there will also be a free pre-show one hour beforehand.

For the second year in a row, Deadline will feature NXT’s Iron Survivor Challenges. In men’s and women’s versions, five wrestlers will try to run up the score and earn a future title shot. The show will also have two title defenses, a Steel Cage match, and more — so there’s a lot to be excited about!

In this post, we’ll give you everything you need to get ready for the show, with a quick recap of how we got to every match, and thoughts & predictions from our motley crew of NXT-following Cagesiders on each.

Let’s get to it.

Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. Baron Corbin for the NXT championship

Using his win over Dragunov in a #1 contenders match and his recent victory over former NXT champion Bron Breakker as justification, Corbin lobbied for his latest title shot. He sealed the deal with a few post-match attacks on the Mad Dragon, and has spent the time since trying to get into Ilja’s head about the sacrifices he made to become champion.

Geno Mrosko: I don’t mind Corbin’s story since he came down to NXT ending with a title victory but I very selfishly don’t want them to take the title off Ilja. He’s a great deal of fun, and unpredictable in a way we aren’t used to from stars near the top of the card. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Sean Rueter: Corbin is perfectly fine as the guy with a little main roster cred that rising stars beat, but there’s no reason for him to be more than that — even though that puts an expiration date on his NXT run. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Claire Elizabeth: Corbin is at the high end of his cycle, where he elevates material and you go “ah this guy should get pushed better” except every time they genuinely push him as a top guy it’s disappointing and I won’t be fooled again. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Marcus Benjamin: This is an interesting story. Will Ilja crack or is Baron fooling himself? There’s a chance they go with Baron, thus giving Ilja a comeback story that involves working out his demons and working through his past. And a heel champ offers a different flavor on Tuesday nights. That said, I don’t think Shawn Michaels sees what I see. For him, Ilja defeating Baron is the thing, rather than setting up another thing. It proves Ilja’s sacrifices aren’t in vain. Pick: Ilja Dragunov


Dominik Mysterio (c) vs. Dragon Lee for the North American title

This was supposed to be Wes Lee’s shot to reclaim the belt, but he suffered a devastating injury while jumping through Dirty Dom’s hoops to get that shot. So the champ’s deadbeat dad recruited one of his proteges — someone the champ has plenty of his own history with — to come back to NXT and take Mysterio’s championship.

Geno Mrosko: All the best to Wes Lee. I can’t imagine they book a change, considering how this came about. Pick: Dominik Mysterio

Sean Rueter: Was poised to pick Lee here on the thinking that Dom’s NXT run is drawing to a close. I’m actually no longer sure he’ll disappear from Tuesday nights (given his unique come up, the experience he gets under Shawn Michaels’ learning tree is invaluable), but still think the NA scene could use a refresh. Pick: Dragon Lee

Claire Elizabeth: Late change babyface picks up the win, that’s the rule and I don’t see a reason to deviate from it when Dom can just whine his way into a rematch and get it back cheap again. Pick: Dragon Lee

Marcus Benjamin: I’m riding Dirty on this one. No disrespect to Dragon Lee, but that title stays on Dom for the foreseeable future with Wes Lee injured and out for a long time. Pick: Dirty Deeds Dom


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

Everyone qualified for the match this year, and the winner will get a shot at Dragunov’s title somewhere down the line. As a reminder, the rules (which, if you missed last year’s Iron Survivor Challenges, work better in practice than you’d guess by reading these) are:

• Five Superstars will compete in this unique 25-minute match as they battle each other and the clock.
• Two Superstars will start the match, and every five minutes a new Superstar will enter the match until all five are in the ring.
• The goal is to have the most falls when the clock hits 25 minutes.
• Falls can be won at any time via pinfall, submission, or disqualification.
• When a Superstar scores a fall, they will earn one point.
• However, when a Superstar loses a fall, that Superstar must pay the penalty. They are forced out of the ring and into a penalty box for 90 seconds.
• Once the 90 seconds are up, the Superstar can re-enter the match.
• The Superstar who has scored the most falls when the clock hits 25 minutes will be named the Iron Survivor and become the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship and NXT Women’s Championship, respectively.

Geno Mrosko: This is NXT, and they tend to take chances in ways you wouldn’t normally see on the main roster. I also don’t know that I see the right story for anyone else. Shrug. Pick: Josh Briggs

Sean Rueter: He’s mixed up in another big story, but the way I see it holding a shot at the belt Melo used to hold only strengthens that story. Ride the hot hand and whoop that Trick. Pick: Trick Williams

Claire Elizabeth: Still hate this TNA-ass match format but I guess we live here now. Sigh. Anyway yeah this is kind of a motley crew of fellows here but I’m going with Dijak— yeah he’s got some unfinished business with Eddy Thorpe, but surely we can work that in here somewhere. Pick: Donovan Dijak

Marcus Benjamin: I want Trick Williams. He’s got the crowd behind him and all the momentum. But he’s got a larger story with his best friend, one I predict plays a part here. No one else really has anything going for them, like Geno said. So, sure, let me just throw a dart and see where it lands. Pick: Tyler Bate


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

See above.

Geno Mrosko: The way they did the build to this, I really feel like it’s time to give a much bigger push to one star in particular. Pick: Lash Legend

Sean Rueter: No offense to Xia Li, but Lyra Valkyria needs a good feud to ensure they don’t squander the rub Becky Lynch gave her. There’s only one person here I trust to give it to her, and who they can put the belt on if they decide it’s best to have Lyra chase for a while. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Claire Elizabeth: Blah blah blah silly match blah blah blah Tiffany Stratton’s my girl and I’m sticking with her. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Marcus Benjamin: I already said my peace in my recap. It’s Lash Legendary all the way and if it’s not, I don’t know what we’re doing here. Pick: Lash Legend


Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James in a Steel Cage match

These two have been beefing for a while, and each cost the other a chance to qualify for the Iron Survivor Challenge on multiple occasions. Only one way to settle things...

Geno Mrosko: The babyface has to win the feud closer. Pick: Roxanne Perez

Sean Rueter: We all know steel cages don’t prevent interference, and you don’t need a QR code to see the return of Cora Jade coming. The new, more ruthless Roxanne can prove it against her former friend. A win here means more to James. Pick: Kiana James

Claire Elizabeth: Frankly I’m still annoyed that Kiana dresses like she bought Sexy Alexandra York (Redundant) Halloween costumes in bulk and that informs my pick more than logic or standings. Pick: Roxanne Perez

Marcus Benjamin: The final test in Roxanne’s new ruthless aggressive energy. Pick: Roxanne Perez


Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King

He says he wants to escape his old man’s shadow, and King’s trying to be more of a Machiavellian plotter than Loose Cannon as he works to convince Trick Williams his friend too him out. Hayes got this match booked so he can prove his innocence.

Geno Mrosko: This won’t change the match later. Pick: Lexis King

Sean Rueter: WWE is determined to make Brian Pillman, Jr. happen, and seeing as the story’s many twists and turns provide lots of why to explain how he could beat the former champ, they’ll give him a PLE win here. Pick: Lexis King

Claire Elizabeth: Melo should win and King should be banished to the land of wind, dust, and terrible facial hair, but I think Loose Cannon, Jr. is gonna pick it up here. Pick: Lexis King

Marcus Benjamin: I honestly have no clue and I’m still not even sure I have a true reason to care. But, my lawyers tell me I need a pick. And I do love Melo. Pick: Carmelo Hayes


Axiom vs. Nathan Frazer

The old rivals tried to renew acquaintances after Frazer won their best of three series last year, but the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge brawl crashed their party. Now they get to do it on the pre-show.

Geno Mrosko: This is a stab in the dark. Pick: Axiom

Sean Rueter: The masked man got to go to SmackDown, so he’s in for some Hard Hitting Home Truth. Pick: Nathan Frazer

Claire Elizabeth: Nathan’s fighting mad and ready to ruin his friend’s dashing good looks and also make me turn my TV on during the preshow, which is rude. Pick: Nathan Frazer

Marcus Benjamin: After the women ruined their latest bout, this is the makeup. Pick: Axiom


Now give us your picks! Then follow our coverage tonight and we’ll see how we all did.

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