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WWE NXT No Mercy 2023 preview & predictions

Sat., Sept. 30, WWE NXT is back on Peacock (here in the United States; internationally you’ll find them wherever you get WWE Network) with its No Mercy premium live event. The show from Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield, California will officially start at 8pm ET, but there will also be a free pre-show one hour beforehand.

Five titles will be on the line at No Mercy, and one of them will be defended in an Extreme Rules match — 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.

Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov for the NXT championship

After a barnburner at Great American Bash, Dragunov fought his way through Trick Williams and Wes Lee for another shot at Hayes and the top prize in NXT. For his part, Melo’s decided to walk alone without Williams and survived a challenge from Lee in between dances with the Mad Dragon.

Geno Mrosko: A guaranteed banger of a main event match, but one I’m assuming has a relatively certain outcome. As good as Ilja has been, he’s not the guy you put the title on, he’s the guy who gives the champion a great match while doing the job for him. Melo is still HIM. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Sean Rueter: I hear what my compatriots are saying and they’re almost certainly right... except for when Geno says “Ilja’s not the guy you put the title on”, because — as my picking him repeatedly shows, he’s exactly who I’d put the title on. As for why they’d take the title off HIM? Melo’s angle with Trick can continue to play out with or without the belt, and simultaneously have one or both of them flirt with joining Bobby Lashley & the Suit Profits as part of a gradual call-up. Pick: Ilja Dragunov

Claire Elizabeth: Before Trick became #1 contender to the North American Championship I figured Ilja had a fair chance of getting the title here and sending the champ down a spiral as he realized he really didn’t win the Great American Bash match, but now that Trick Willy’s on a path to gold and Hayes is SO good at being human and selling these stories of respect and imperfection, I think this story of the two of them having a rocky time in their friendship as they begin to pursue different goals deserves a high spot of them both celebrating with gold at the end of the night tonight. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Marcus Benjamin: Since my senior year in college, my father wanted me in politics. I say that because my answer will do what any good politician knows how to do in their sleep: try to have it both ways. They made this interesting with Trick Williams’ emergence and the small but noticeable riffs between him and Melo. Traditionally, that means something breaks at No Mercy, most probably a friendship. If Trick loses, I see him costing Melo the title somehow. But there’s also a path where they both come out on top but Trick finds another way to confront his best friend about their rocky relationship. My heart wants the latter and I’m an emotional guy. Pick: Carmelo Hayes

Becky Lynch (c) vs. Tiffany Stratton in an Extreme Rules Match for the NXT Women’s title

During her reign, Stratton couldn’t keep Lynch’s name out of her mouth. The failure to do so led to The Man appearing, and taking Tiffy’s title on the Sept. 12 episode of NXT. Becky’s trying to use her new belt to shine a spotlight on some new & forgotten faces, but Stratton wants her championship back. And when she made that point with a lot of weapons, this rematch got a stipulation.

Geno Mrosko: I’m not sure why they would go right back to Stratton, especially considering it seems obvious she’s headed for the main roster much sooner rather than later. Pick: Becky Lynch

Sean Rueter: There are several reasons for this pick, but chief among them is the fact NXT is about to go head-to-head with AEW in a couple weeks. Pick: Becky Lynch

Claire Elizabeth: Stratton impressed the Man, but as the saying goes, impressing the Man doesn’t beat the Man, you gotta beat the Man. I do not think she can beat the Man. Pick: Becky Lynch

Marcus Benjamin: Tiffany doesn’t get the belt back here but she does put on another good showing. The stipulation, however, practically invites chicanery. Even jaded fans might want to pay attention to this one because the winner may be the secondary story. Pick: Becky Lynch

Dominik Mysterio (c) vs. Trick Williams for the NXT North American championship

The release of Mustafa Ali left Dirty Dom without a PLE challenger. Shawn Michaels & team audibled to a 4way #1 contender’s match on the go home, where Williams pulled out a win. Dragon Lee was part of that 4way, one night after Mysterio beat him on Raw. Lee will also be the referee for this one.

Geno Mrosko: WHOOP THAT TRICK! WHOOP THAT TRICK! Pick: Trick Williams

Sean Rueter: Normally, I wouldn’t pick a guy to win his first title in his first PLE match. But there will be shenanigans here, including ones involving a referee who’s got plenty of motivation to keep a tight reign on Dom & any Judgment Day-ers who might show up with him. Flipping who holds gold in the Trick/Melo friendship would be a really interesting change in their dynamic, too. Pick: Trick Williams

Claire Elizabeth: Trick has been a real ground-up success story, Dom can’t stick around NXT forever, and one of the main continuing story beats with the Judgment Day of late has been “what does Rhea Ripley do when one of her wayward boys lets the team down and loses his title” and I for one am very interested in seeing how she might make Dirty Dom, ah... apologize. Pick: Trick Williams

Marcus Benjamin: The heart wants what the heart wants. Pick: Trick Williams

Noam Dar (c) vs. Butch for the NXT Heritage Cup

He was on the verge of snapping without the Cup, but the rest of the Meta-Four helped Dar win it back from Nathan Frazer on NXT’s special Heatwave episode. The Global Heritage Invitational was announced before Noam’s party could even get started, though. And now that’s been won by a Brawling Brute whose asked his old British Strong Style mate Tyler Bate to corner him for this one.

Geno Mrosko: Maybe they continue the trend of main roster stars hanging around NXT and taking titles for themselves but the Cup is Dar’s thing. Pick: Noam Dar

Sean Rueter: If we’re right about the Dirty One dropping NXT gold, it’s a good time to give fka Peter Doone a reason to show up on Tuesdays. The Meta-Four pose a problem, but it’s one a B I G S T R O N G B O I can handle for his old frenemy. Plus, as a big fan of unhinged Noam Dar, I look forward to seeing how he melts down this time. Pick: Butch

Claire Elizabeth: It’s weird that Pete still doesn’t have his name back, isn’t it? That’s enough to give me pause, but who knows the vagaries of WWE’s IP lawyers and I think you want to make a round robin, even a truncated one like the Global Heritage Invitational, matter by having the winner go on to seal the deal. Plus Noam can get like two good months out of sad sack cosplay whining after losing this time! Pick: Pete “BUTCH” Dunne

Marcus Benjamin: I wrote recently that I don’t imagine they want the cup traveling to the main roster, despite the continued NXT integration. I stand by those words. Pick: Noam Dar

The Family (c) vs. The Creeds vs. Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo vs. Bronco Nima & Lucien Price for the NXT Tag Team titles

Tony D’Angelo called for a sitdown with three teams he thought might be worthy of a shot at his & Stacks’ belts. Benevolent Don that he is, he decided to give all of them the proverbial championship opportunity.

Geno Mrosko: If the talk of Garza & Carrillo being in line for a push is true, perhaps they score the win here and get their story kicked into high gear. But they haven’t done enough groundwork on TV for that just yet. I can’t really see a change here. Pick: The Family

Sean Rueter: There’s not enough build here for a change, but this should lay the groundwork for a more serious challenge (and also spin off a non-title feud). Pick: The Family

Claire Elizabeth: I am so sick of liveblogging three- and four-way tag matches I tell you what. Personal quibbles aside, you book a title match like this because you want the champs to retain but to signal the direction for the division going forward, and bada bing... Pick: The D’Angelo Family

Marcus Benjamin: The Family can’t lose these titles yet. They told a nice, if often convoluted, story about their rise. Keep the belts on them for a bit longer and truly build the teams around them. Besides the Creeds, everyone else needs more TV time and more emotion. Pick: The Family

Bron Breakker vs. Baron Corbin

The Lone Wolf just wanted to congratulate Breakker on smashing Von Wagner’s skull, but Bron’s got a bad attitude these days.

Geno Mrosko: This has been a fairly entertaining battle of two big fellas throwing heavy shots. Is Breakker still not ready for the big time? Pick: Baron Corbin

Sean Rueter: Expecting Mr. Stone to walk Von into the arena during this one, possibly with bolts on the side of his head to set-up some kind of Frankenstein’s Monster-themed match at the Halloween Havoc-themed episode they’ve got to be planning for Tues., Oct. 31. Pick: Baron Corbin

Claire Elizabeth: God, what a world where I think Bron Breakker is creatively flat and boring and Baron Corbin is the one with the relative gas? This like, ninja stagehand thing Bron is rocking doesn’t sell evil as well as he’d like, and it’s taken away what little flavor he had previously, and Baron’s gonna whoop his ass into another dimension. Pick: Baron Corbin

Marcus Benjamin: I’m going with Breakker all the way. Just pure violence and, hopefully, Bron’s NXT swan song. Pick: Bron Breakker

Blair Davenport vs. Kelani Jordan

Jordan’s mentor may be gone, but she wants to demonstrate what she learned from Dana Brooke after calling Davenport out for her beatdown of Gigi Dolin.

Geno Mrosko: Seems like an easy choice for a clean babyface win. Pick: Kelani Jordan

Sean Rueter: Appreciate the effort to continue Kelani’s “Ruthless Aggression” “Killer Instinct” storyline after they released her on-screen mentor, but she can continue that while taking a loss to someone who should be moving up the card before her. Pick: Blair Davenport

Claire Elizabeth: Yeah I like Marcus’ logic here, nice and tight and polishes off Kelani’s story while moving things along. Pick: Kelani Jordan

Marcus Benjamin: Kelani gets the W because Gigi Dolin has vengeance on her mind. Pick: Kelani Jordan

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

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