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WWE NXT Battleground 2023 preview & predictions

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Sun., May 28, WWE NXT is back on on Peacock (here in the U.S. Internationally you’ll find them wherever you get WWE Network) with its Battleground premium live event. The show from Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts will officially start at 8pm ET, but there will also be a free pre-show 30 minutes beforehand.

Five titles will be on the line at Battleground, plus we’re getting a Last Man Standing match. So there’s a lot to be excited about.

In this post, we’ll give you everything you need to get ready for tomorrow afternoon’s 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.

Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT championship

Losing the belt to Hayes at Stand & Deliver broke something in Bron, so he broke bad on the new champ. He insists he doesn’t need the title, but that hasn’t stopped him from brutalizing Melo every chance he gets. And Melo wouldn’t be HIM if he backed down from a fight.

Geno Mrosko: The thing that’s tough with NXT is you can never really feel secure in anything because you can’t be sure if they’re thinking of calling someone up at any given moment in time. Breakker needs more work as a heel but does that include another title run? Probably not. But is Hayes working all that well as a babyface champion? He probably needs more time too. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Sean Rueter: As my esteemed colleagues point out, from a developmental perspective there’s no reason to do a change here. From a ‘booking 101’ perspective, there’s also no reason to hot potato the belt after they just had it change hands at Stand & Deliver. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Claire Elizabeth: Bron really needs to step up his generic heel game, hope he wears a boardwalk flea market print-on-demand t-shirt that says Carmelo sucks eggs or something over his singlet. Anyway I liked him as a babyface just fine but this character is flat and Melo don’t miss. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Marcus Benjamin: This story confounds me if only because NXT never really figured it out. But I’m confident saying that Bron still needs work as a heel. Also that Melo needs that belt a bit longer and deserved something better for his first major feud after winning the championship. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria for the NXT Women’s title

When injury and promotion forced Indi Hartwell to vacate the championship, a tournament was booked to crown her successor. Stratton beat Gigi Dolin in the first round & Roxanne Perez in the semis, Valkyria defeated Kiana James & Cora Jade in subsequent rounds, and here we are.

Geno Mrosko: For some reason, I assumed they would go back to Cora Jade vs. Roxanne Perez but it makes all the sense in the world to move on to who they clearly hope will be the next big thing in the women’s division. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Sean Rueter: At the start of the tournament, you could make the argument for at least half the field. Given this match-up, the choice is pretty clear. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Claire Elizabeth: I’ve been enjoying Tiffany Stratton’s work for some time (although the big “TS” graphics on her tron... I dunno about those) and I think now is as good a time as any to belt her. Lyra, on the other hand, has about all the intrigue of wet toast. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Marcus Benjamin: Lyra’s unpolished and “hurt.” Tiffany’s flying high and healthy. Pick: Tiffany Stratton

Wes Lee (c) vs. Tyler Bate vs. Joe Gacy for the NXT North American championship

Bate’s had Lee’s back while most of the roster was gunning for his title, but Gacy was planting seeds of doubt in the champ’s mind about his friend’s intentions. Once Tyler admitted he too wanted a shot at the belt, things began to disintegrate. Now it’s every man for himself at Battleground.

Geno Mrosko: I was waiting for Bate to turn heel on Lee for weeks but instead they kept them friendly and called it simple competition. If they believe in Gacy enough, it might finally be time to do something more with him. Pick: Joe Gacy

Sean Rueter: Seems like the Heartbreak Man (™ Claire Elizabeth) has Bate slotted in as a guy champions and card-climbers beat to pad their resume. And there’s no shame in that, especially since he’s constitutionally incapable of delivering a bad match. But you know what would help with that? Even a short run with this show’s secondary title. Plus, I can’t help but pull for our b i g s t r o n g b o i. Pick: Tyler Bate

Claire Elizabeth: Fighting Champion Wes has been great and I’d love to see his reign continue for another six months, but I really think it’s time to commit to ol’ Chainsaw Joe on some level, so let’s give him a shot. Pick: Joe Gacy

Marcus Benjamin: I’m disagreeing with Geno and Claire. Wes is really close to breaking the record for longest North American championship reign. While the story says he loses, I think NXT gives him the record first and then lets him lose. Pick: Wes Lee

Gallus (c) vs. The Creeds for the NXT Tag Team titles

Brutus & Julius Creed have been trying to get a straight up two-on-two title shot since the Pretty Deadly feud last year. Wolfgang & the Coffeys have been taking on all comers since becoming champs at Vengeance Day. Let’s get it on!

Geno Mrosko: The Creed brothers are a quintessential NXT style tag team, but there’s nothing about any of this that has suggested a title change is incoming. Pick: Gallus

Sean Rueter: Both are enjoyable acts I wouldn’t mind seeing as part of any show’s tag scene. But one sets up matches in a pub, and the other a gym. Advantage, and Pick: Gallus

Claire Elizabeth: Gallus bore me, the Creeds are always reliable for a good time, the choice is easy here. Pick: Creed Brothers

Marcus Benjamin: I’m picking the Creeds because Gallus snitched. That’s not cool. Pick: Creed Brothers.

Noam Dar (c) vs. Dragon Lee for the Heritage Cup

The Scottish Supernova’s been needling everyone since arriving in NXT Prime with the last remaining NXT UK prize, but no one more than the recently signed luchador. Now they’ll bring British Rounds to U.S. soil.

Geno Mrosko: Lee is the kind of talent who should cruise through the developmental brand on his way to the main roster, and he should do so without taking a loss. Pick: Dragon Lee

Sean Rueter: Can’t see any reason to have the one lucha libre free agent who picked WWE take a loss this early in his run with the company. But I am pretty excited we’ll be getting the occasional British Rounds Rules match on our screens again. And Noam, too (bring back Alicia for at least one more FAAAWWWWKKKKS)! Pick: Dragon Lee

Claire Elizabeth: Noam Dar is a weird adorable little man and he’s gonna have such a meltdown when he loses his baby. Pick: Dragon Lee

Marcus Benjamin: Dragon Lee, Dragon Lee, Dragon Lee! Pick: Dragon Lee

Ilja Dragunov vs. Dijak in a Last Man Standing Match

Dijak promised to give the Mad Russian some of his hard justice, leading to a series of run-ins and backstage attacks. The resulting singles match ended in a disqualification when Dijak took out Dragunov with chairs and steps, but Ilja made it clear he would never back down. Only one way to settle this...

Geno Mrosko: This is going to be one hell of a match, no question about that. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Sean Rueter: Proof that you don’t have to be a meaty man to slap meat, this is going to bang. Between the ropes big D never disappoints, and I don’t think there’s a wrestler working today I enjoy watching more than smaller D. Jeez, this got bawdy. Anyway... Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Claire Elizabeth: So like really the winner in this should be us, the fans, because it should end with Ilja and Tall Don making sweet, sweet violent love in the middle of the ring, but alas, they’re probably just going to have a dumb boring old fight. Still, Unbesiegbar means something... Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Marcus Benjamin: This is my pick for most violent affair of the weekend. That’s about the only thing I feel confident saying because I have no idea who gets the W. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

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

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