By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Bron Breakker and Apollo Crews build: As someone who watches way too much wrestling, I enjoyed the unconventional build to a title match with two babyfaces who actually got along. I’m not sure how effective it was in terms of building interest in the match, but Breakker really benefitted from these segments allowing him to show off a calmer and more relatable side of his personality.
Axiom vs. Von Wagner vs. Andre Chase in a Triple Threat for the final spot in the men’s Iron Survivor Challenge: A good opening match with a nice clean finish win for Axiom over Wagner. Axiom got off to a rocky start, but things have improved since creative pulled back on the odd mathematical part of his character. This was Axiom’s biggest win and he should make the Iron Survivor Challenge match better.
Pretty Deadly and New Day: The bulging sacks talk finally made it feel like Christmas, but then the grinches known as New Day showed up and ruined the holiday fun. Bad jokes aside, Pretty Deadly vs. New Day for the NXT Tag Team Titles is a really good addition to the NXT Deadline card even if the match just sort of came out of nowhere. The Deadline card needed a boost and this match provided it.
Indi Hartwell vs. Wendy Choo vs. Fallon Henley in a Triple Threat for the final spot in the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge: A decent match. I was disappointed that Henley not only failed to qualify for the Iron Survivor Challenge but she also ended up taking the pin. Henley has something and it felt like the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge match needed another babyface. Oddly, both of the Iron Survivor Challenge matches have only one definitive babyface. I’m not sure what to make of Hartwell’s character these days, but she did cut a good promo on Mandy Rose.
Charlie Dempsey vs. Hank Walker: The build was simple and it worked. Walker is doing a really nice job in his common man role. The Seth Rogen of NXT has good facial expressions and a likable personality. Dempsey is off to a good start and it was intriguing to see Drew Gulak show up and watch his match. Will Dempsey feud with Gulak? Will they form a team and wrestle as the No Kneepads Express? Was Gulak was there to take Walker under his wing? Probably not the last two.
Tony D’Angelo vs. Xyon Quinn: A soft Hit for what was a spotlight match for D’Angelo in his return from a knee injury. Quinn was an afterthought in this match and it continues to feel like the creative forces bounce back and forth on him. The post match angle with Wes Lee and Dijak was solid in term of establishing the list of challengers awaiting Lee as North American Champion.
Isla Dawn vs. Thea Hail: A soft Hit for a quick win for Dawn heading into her Deadline match with Alba Fyre. Hail always brings over the top energy and gets the live crowd behind her.
Grayson Waller Effect with the male Iron Survivor Challenge entrants: It wasn’t all bad, but this segment failed to leave me more excited about seeing the men’s Iron Survivor Challenge.
Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen vs. Edris Enofe and Malik Blade: A brief and yet entertaining tag team match that just had too much happening at ringside with Kiana James’s assistant showing up and then Von Wagner attacking Odyssey Jones. That said, Briggs and Jensen have really grown on me after being one of my least favorite of the acts that were introduced early in the 2.0 era. As such, I’m holding out hope that NXT will eventually get it right with Enofe and Blade. If nothing else, Blade ditching the silly sweater vest was a start.
Scrypts: So are they going to expect fans to be shocked when Reggie eventually takes the Shriner’s hat mask off his head? Anyway, this was a good edition of NXT that served as a quality go-home show for NXT Deadline.