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WELLS’S NXT DEADL1NE REPORT
DECEMBER 9, 2023
BRIDGEPORT, CONN. AT TOTAL MORTGAGE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK
Commentators: Vic Joseph & Wade Barrett
Ring Announcer: Alicia Taylor
Torch subscribers can check out a VIP roundtable later as Bruce Hazelwood, Nate Lindberg and I break down our thoughts.
-On the pre-show, Axiom defeated Nathan Frazer.
-“Sexy Boy” played Shawn Michaels out to the ring to a good pop. He asked the audience “Are you ready?” in the old DX singsong voice. CM Punk’s music played, bringing him out after it was heavily hinted on X. Punk said he didn’t mean to step all over HBK’s gimmick and asked if he wanted to ask everyone to Suck It. HBK said “nice hoodie,” in reference to Punk wearing a Bret Hart hoodie. They said if Punk can make up with Triple H, anything is possible. Punk took a selfie with Michaels because he grew up watching him. Punk talked about whether he would be joining Raw or SmackDown, or if the newest NXT Superstar was named CM Punk. Punk’s music played, abruptly ending the scene. Not a bad moment for the crowd, though it came off as purposeless.
-A voice-over woman hyped the coming Iron Survivor Challenge matches.
(1) DRAGON LEE (w/Rey Mysterio) vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (c) – North American Championship match
Rey Mysterio’s music briefly played to hype the crowd before it transitioned to Lee’s. Dominik entered alone, prompting Vic to wonder if any of Judgment Day are here tonight. Rey sat in on commentary. Alicia Taylor handled formal intros.
Dom missed a right and Lee threw a few. Headscissor takedown by Lee, and Dom bailed. Plancha by Lee, who rolled Dom back into the ring. Lee hit a rana on Dom to send him into the corner, then gave him a boot to the face and covered for one. Big palm strike in the corner by Lee. Lee put down Dom with an armbar and Dom reached the rope to break. Lee went at Dom in a corner and Dom gave him a sort of dragon screw over the top rope that looked like a whole lot of no fun. Dom dumped Lee, then went out and posed to boos. Dom rolled Lee back into the ring, then went in and posed again for more boos.
Dominik charged Lee into a corner, then made a kissy-face taunt at his dad at the announce table. Lee tried to get back into it with some knees, but Mysterio yanked him back by the tassels to keep control. Mysterio stomped on Lee and did his Eddie Guerrero shimmy at the announce table for more boos. Dom clubbed Lee a few times and snapped on a headlock. Dominik went for Three Amigos and, after a tease by Lee, he hit the third. He covered for a two count. Rey said on commentary that Dom should create and innovate, and not steal moves.
Lee and Mysterio went up in the corner and jockeyed for position. Lee ended up stomping on a draping Dom on the outside, sending them both to the floor. “Holy shit” chant played at a moment that would throw to commercial on the weekly show. The referee started to count and he reached nine before both men managed to get into the ring. Rope run and Lee hit a couple of clotheslines, and then a thrust kick in the corner. He set up Dom on the mat in a corner for a strong corner dropkick. Lee put Dom up on top and draped him for a double stomp, this time in the ring, and he got two as Dominik grabbed the bottom rope to stop the count.
Lee sized up Mysterio, who hit a dropkick out of nowhere for a long two. Snap suplex by Lee and the two exchanged some power spots. Jackknife powerbomb by Dominik got two. Dominik monkey flipped Lee into a 619 setup. “I hope he slips,” Rey said. Lee slipped away and hit a powerbomb for two. Lee hit his finisher and won the championship that was always meant to end Wes Lee’s journey.
WINNER: Dragon Lee at 10:33.
(Wells’s Analysis: A strong enough opener with the result up in the air as it was clear Wes Lee would have won here, but less clear what they’d do in his absence. The championship leaves the hands of a main roster guy and goes to another who’s almost completely transitioned there, so I’m wondering if it’s out of the realm of possibility that Lee will relinquish the championship to “fulfill main roster commitments” or something and a new champion will be crowned. On the other hand, NXT has had enough title vacations for generations.)
-Royal Rumble spot.
-There was a long Gunther hype vignette, likely for those with Peacock Premium.
-Earlier today, Ilja Dragunov and Baron Corbin arrived at the arena (separately).
(2) FALLON HENLEY vs. KELANI JORDAN vs. LASH LEGEND vs. BLAIR DAVENPORT vs. TIFFANY STRATTON – Iron Survival Challenge match for #1 contendership
Alicia Taylor ran through the rules as they appeared onscreen. It was announced that the winner would face the champion at New Year’s Evil.
#1 – Fallon Henley
#2 – Blair Davenport
Booker T characterized getting an early entry as “the short straw,” which is where Vic should’ve countered the benefit of being able to score early falls before others were in the match. As if he was listening, Vic asked Book about it while I typed that. Mat reversals to start, as both will be in there for the full 25 minutes. They did some rollup exchanges for a lot of two counts. Book said the ref better get his cardio in to prepare for the 25 minutes ahead. The two got a little round of applause at the end of the longish exchange sequence.
Big boot by Davenport, followed by a running kick for two. Davenport took Henley to a corner for some rights, and then charged her into the corner again. She put her into the corner a third time, then hit a back elbow for two. Davenport worked the back some more, throwing forearms at Henley’s back. Davenport stretched back Henley’s arms, adding a knee to the back. Henley rolled her body forward and kicked up at Davenport to break, and then hit a dropkick to the back of the head. Big right by Henley. She covered for two. The audience counted down to the next entrant.
#3 – Tiffany Stratton
Henley wanted to make a beeline for old feud partner Stratton, but Davenport cut her off. The three brawled outside, trading shots, with the fresh Stratton not taking any of the big shots. Action went inside and the heels Davenport and Stratton put the boots to Henley, who fought back with palm strikes until Stratton laid her out with a lariat. Stratton worked an armbar on Henley while Davenport grabbed Henley’s other arm and did the same, creating a weird situation where she could tap and they wouldn’t know who should be awarded the fall. Stratton and Davenport made a pact to work together, but Stratton broke it quickly and hit Davenport with a thrust kick. There was a small “Tiffy Time” chant. Stratton set up both opponents in a corner and hit a back elbow, almost getting two much height and flying over and out. Stratton arm-dragged Henley and hit her with an Alabama Slam, then covered, but Davenport grabbed Stratton and shoved her from the ring and stole the fall. ONE POINT FOR DAVENPORT – HENLEY ENTERS PENALTY BOX. It was time for the next competitor.
#4 – Kelani Jordan
Jordan was now the lone babyface with Henley in the penalty box. She dominated for a bit and hit a moonsault on Davenport, but Stratton pulled her off during the cover. Jordan and Davenport got dumped. Henley was released from the penalty box and she charged in and dominated Stratton. She hit a blockbuster, then dumped Davenport when she tried to get involved. Henley hit a Shining Wizard and got the three. POINT FOR HENLEY – STRATTON ENTERS PENALTY BOX.
Jordan entered to face Henley and the two exchanged rollups. Davenport tried to enter again and got booted to the floor again. Henley worked an armbar on the mat. Stratton was released and went right at Henley. The two of them paired off as the others fought in a corner. Henley threw loud palm strikes at Stratton as the other two fought up a turnbuckle. Soon all four were up on the top as time expired. Guess where this goes.
#5 – Lash Legend
Lash entered and slammed Stratton and Henley, then hit a suplex on both others. Chokeslam for Stratton. Powerbomb for Henley. She stacked up the two of them, gaining two points in an innovative spot. TWO POINTS FOR LEGEND – STRATTON AND HENLEY ENTER PENALTY BOX. Legend carried around Jordan and Davenport on her back, then shrugged them off. Legend went to the outside and Jordan “hit her” with a flip to the outside, but went a bit too far and took a hard announce table to the rib. As the penalty box was about to expire, Meta-Four blocked it so the others couldn’t get out. Henley crawled up and out of the top, but Stratton threw her and broke her through the announce table, and then went up and hit a moonsault on the sea of people outside.
Inside, Legend took over with power stuff again. Bonzo gonzo as every woman got her shine with near-falls. Blair Davenport scored a fall on Kelani Jordan with under five minutes left. POINT FOR DAVENPORT – JORDAN ENTERS PENALTY BOX. “This is awesome” chant. Stratton got dumped and Lash carried around the other two until Stratton dropkicked the ball of humanity. Lash again battered the competition and covered Stratton. Another save. Jordan reentered and worked some quick spots on the field. Henley dumped Davenport, then got dumped by Jordan. Jordan hit a high cross-body on Legend, but Stratton tossed Jordan and hit a moonsault on Legend for three. POINT FOR STRATTON – LEGEND ENTERS PENALTY BOX. The active women worked a submission chain briefly. The others got dumped and Davenport took the lead with a fall on Henley. Legend exited the penalty box and gave chase, but Davenport ran out the final 15 seconds to retain victory.
WINNER: Blair Davenport (3-2-1-1-0) at 25:00.
Davenport made her intentions for New Year’s Evil known. Lyra Valkyria showed up and posed with the belt on the top of the ramp, but Cora Jade jumped her and laid her out, then posed with the belt.
(Wells’s Analysis: Davenport was my pick to win until she got tied up with Nikkita Lyons this last week, so I thought she might go straight to a feud there away from the title. The top of the division seems busy and murky after this, allowing for a lot of doubt about how it’ll shake out. There were a lot of good spots and new moments in this match, which greatly elevated Davenport in one night. Stratton honestly needs nothing more from NXT and was likely in this to bring some star power. Whether Jordan, Henley and Legend gain something from this remains to be seen)
-Bobby Lashley hype video for Peacock Premium subscribers.
-Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes hyped each other up near the lockers.
(3) CARMELO HAYES vs. LEXIS KING
King entered to a mild reaction. Hayes got the usual strong reaction as he entered, in a rare case, for the show’s least consequential match on paper.King had dreads on top to razz Hayes. The two locked up and Hayes shoved off King. Hayes went verbally at King and got angry he went for a handshake after what he tried to do to Melo and Trick. Rope run and a block by Hayes. King put down Hayes with a surprise right and Hayes lost his composure and wildly threw rights and lefts. King exited the ring. King reentered and Hayes hit a quick rana and a few arm drags. King bailed again.
Hayes slid outside and King sidestepped him. The two exchanged chops. Hayes ducked one and King smacked the post, making a sound loud enough that it was likely pretty painful. The two went back inside and threw more haymakers. Hayes got dumped and King dropkicked him from between the top two ropes. King charged Melo into the steps and then stomped him into them. The ref reached five as King rolled Melo inside and covered for two. King leaned on Melo’s back in a corner, then took him to another and worked him there. He covered for two. Hayes went up but King kicked him in the back of the legs to dump him. He covered for two.
King picked up Hayes and hit a clothesline from the rear side for two. King hit a couple of high-angle backbreakers as he kept the pace extremely slow. He lifted Hayes for another, but Hayes redirected for a splash for a quick cover. King took the power back with a slam. King said he wanted a handshake to show everyone who Hayes really was. Hayes reached out for a handshake, then flipped King off with his free hand. Action spilled from the top of the turnbuckle to the apron, and the announcers sold Hayes’ landing on the apron as dangerous. It didn’t look out of the ordinary, so it may figure into the story of the match.
Back inside, Hayes took control with quick offense and hit a knee for two. King hit a jackhammer for two. Hayes countered a suplex attempt and yanked King to the mat. He set up the Fade Away but King caught him for a backbreaker. Hayes hit a back elbow, then went up for Nothing But Net.
WINNER: Carmelo Hayes at 11:12.
King grabbed a mic and said “Melo! I’m gonna make this a lot easier on you. It wasn’t me who attacked Trick Williams, but thank you for that PLE spot, my friend.”
(Wells’s Analysis: Not actively bad, though it had little flow and the victory was kind of out of nowhere. King could have used the win here, but it’s more important that Hayes stay hot for his inevitable showdown with Trick Williams)
-Nikkita Lyons hype for Peacock Premium. I’d prefer commercials.
-Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo hype.
-Kelly Kincaid tried to interview Cora Jade, who shut them up and said she gave the division four months off but she’s going to take this place to a whole new level. She said “I’m sure you want to know my next move, don’t you, Kelly?” Kincaid started to say yes and Jade said “See you Tuesday.” It’s remarkable how much more confident Jade came off in this segment than in previous runs.
-Trick and Melo reconvened in the locker room. Williams said he owes Hayes an apology and he never should’ve let that dude get in his head. Hayes was muted during the scene but said all the right things.
(4) TRICK WILLIAMS vs. TYLER BATE vs. JOSH BRIGGS vs. DIJAK vs. BRON BREAKKER – Iron Survivor Challenge match for #1 contendership
This wasn’t the main event last year either, though I remembered it being so.
#1 – Dijak
#2 – Josh Briggs
Briggs, like Henley, gets a chance to showcase himself in a big way by working the whole match. Quick rollup by Briggs nearly got three. They shoved each other and worked a collar and elbow around the ring for a bit. Quick reversals and escapes. Boots by both guys. Stomach breaker by Briggs, who then hit a big tackle for two. More slams and tosses as the next minute passed. Dijak hit a big chokeslam for a near-fall. Dijak went for a discus forearm but Briggs booted him to the mat for two. They fought for control in the corner and Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes as time expired to gain a fall. POINT FOR DIJAK – BRIGGS TO PENALTY BOX
#3 – Tyler Bate
It went back to one-on-one with Briggs in the box. Bate tried to cut down Briggs. Dijak fought off an exploder but Bate got it on a second effort. He covered for two. Bate put Dijak up and spun him around and Briggs exited the box, booted Dijak, dumped Bate, and hit a big lariat to gain a fall on Dijak. POINT FOR BRIGGS – DIJAK TO THE PENALTY BOX. Briggs tossed Bate into the side of the penalty box. Action went inside and Bate took the control with a slingshot lariat. Briggs took over with power stuff and the penalty box opened. Bate hit Tyler Driver ’97 and covered, but Dijak broke it up. Instead, Bate rolled up Dijak for a fall. Amusingly, Dijak goes right back to the box. Bate laid out Briggs and had another visual fall but the ref was tied up with Dijak. POINT FOR BATE – DIJAK TO THE BOX.
#4 – Trick Williams
A big “whoop that Trick” chant rang out. Williams dominated Briggs and Bate. Dijak exited the box and went at Briggs. Things got chaotic as every guy hit a big spot. Williams sprung over a kneeling Briggs to hit a flying Dijak with a flying lariat in a very cool spot. He covered and Bate broke it up. Briggs and Dijak got dumped. Bate and Williams traded airplane spins. Bate released and slammed Williams and covered, at which point the other two sides of beef reentered and broke it up. Briggs and Dijak got dumped. More chaos and big moments led to Bate and Williams inside. Lariat and a Tyler Driver ’97 by Bate on Williams were good for a fall. POINT FOR BATE – WILLIAMS TO THE BOX. Briggs fought with Bate as Dijak was outside. They exchanged rights. “Free that Trick” chant.
#5 – Bron Breakker
Breakker speared Briggs for a fall. He speared Bate for another. He speared Dijak for a third. THREE POINTS FOR BREAKKER – BATE, BRIGGS AND DIJAK TO THE BOX. Williams faced off with Breakker and hit a lariat, but Breakker cut off the flurry with a block. An inset video showed us that all three guys in the penalty box were brawling. They were released in rapid succession, just as they had gone in. Four brawled outside and Williams came off the top with a splash on all four. Williams put Dijak into the ring but Dijak booted him and covered him. POINT FOR DIJAK – WILLIAMS TO THE BOX. Breakker hit a Frankensteiner on Dijak but Bate covered quickly for a fall. POINT FOR BATE – DIJAK TO THE BOX.
Breakker glared at Bate and the two paired off. They fought up in a corner and Williams was released just as Briggs got back into it also. Dijak was released shortly after as every guy was selling. With 4:30 left, crowd favorite Williams is scoreless, but something big is coming for him. Dijak and Briggs laid out everyone and agreed to each other to moonsault Williams and Breakker. They each hit it and covered for pins. POINTS FOR DIJAK AND BRIGGS – BREAKKER AND WILLIAMS TO THE BOX. Bate tried to pick the bones but Briggs laid him out on the outside and rolled him back inside. The three all sold on the mat and Williams was released, but so was Breakker, who blew him through the barricade. Dijak choke-slammed Breakker through the announce table. Williams scored a quick fall as he rolled up Briggs. POINT FOR WILLIAMS – BRIGGS TO THE BOX. Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes on Williams, but Eddy Thorpe showed up and yanked out the ref. He laid out Dijak, and Williams rolled him up for a fall. Williams rolled up Bate right afterward with a fall, and then Bron Breakker entered and Williams laid him out also for the final fall with two seconds left.
WINNER: Trick Williams (4-3-3-3-2) at 25:00.
(Wells’s Analysis: Ask me again tomorrow, but I think I strongly dislike the booking here (as in the how, not the who, as Trick is the right winner). Williams coming back big is exciting, but he really was the beneficiary of circumstance that allowed him victory. On the other hand, this always seemed like his match anyway, and the crowd was rabid for him from the beginning. Even at 3-3-3-2-0 I texted the PWT Talks NXT group and said Williams would take it in the last 90 seconds, as I just couldn’t see another finish to this. The big question is how long it takes for Carmelo Hayes to turn on Trick; I’m really feeling like tonight is the right time)
-Briggs, Henley and Brooks Jensen walked backstage. Jensen tried to hype them up but Briggs wasn’t having it. He apologized for snapping. Meta-Four showed up for a war of words and it devolved quickly into a brawl.
-There was a brief segment of Kiana James walking around the city with a blue handbag and getting into a limo. Bruce Hazelwood wondered in our chat if this was foreshadowing her jumping to Raw or SmackDown (if you want to go all symbolic, the blue handbag could be a clue, though I’m reaching here).
-As the cage lowered, a video recapped the Perez-James saga. It was a relatively long one.
(5) ROXANNE PEREZ vs. KIANA JAMES – Steel Cage match
Perez got a nice reaction. James, outside, exited a limo and slowly strolled to the building to make her entrance. James charged Perez with what’s likely a loaded bag and Perez ducked it. The ref called for the bell. James choked Perez on a rope, then tried to flip her into the cage, but Perez reversed and did that instead. James instead grabbed the ring to climb, but Perez dropkicked the cage to shake her loose. Bad fall for James. Reversals led to James catching Perez on cross-body and tossing her into the cage. James wrapped up Perez’s hand in the cage and booted it three times. James leaned on Perez against the cage. James wrapped up Perez in the top two ropes and dropkicked her from there into the cage.
James worked a chinlock briefly and Perez broke free, but James kept up the onslaught. The crowd seemed gassed from the Iron Survivor Challenge, so this match order is suspect unless we’re getting a big angle at the end of the main event. Perez finally fought off some offense and hit a dropkick. She screamed out for some support to get the crowd a little more into things again. Perez tossed James into the cage, then hit an uppercut and a forearm in the corner. Russian leg sweep by Perez in the center of the ring. Rear uppercut by Perez and a cover for two. Perez started up the cage, then smiled as she came up with a crazy idea. She got to the top of the cage, and James recovered and quickly joined her there. They exchanged shots for a “yay/boo” chorus. Perez was able to put James back into the ring but as she climbed down, James bombed her into the ring and covered for two. Considering they were just up at the top, the payoff was a little slight.
James picked up Perez and ran her into one side of the cage, then another. Perez hit Pop Rox but couldn’t immediately cover. She crawled over for the cover and James sold it like death until she managed a last-moment kickout. Perez went for it again and James went for the door. Vic said you couldn’t win by escape, so she’s just trying to get away. James grabbed a chair and tried to use it on Perez, but Perez caught it. She tried to get rid of it, but Izzy Dame showed up and slammed the door on her. Perez stared out at her and James hit her finisher on the chair for the win.
WINNER: Kiana James at 11:26.
(Wells’s Analysis: Outside of the final moment with Izzy Dame, that didn’t feel all that much like a cage match. The crowd was already pretty deflated after the one-minute high they were given by Trick Williams, and this further yanked the life out of them, but that’s why it was placed here, I guess. I get this from the standpoint of bringing Izzy Dame further into the mix and giving Roxanne something to overcome, but she’s had to endure a LOT of big-match losses for months now)
-Eddy Thorpe vs. Dijak was announced for this Tuesday, as well as Meta-Four (minus Jakara Jackson) vs. Briggs, Jensen and Henley.
-Peacock Plus subscribers got a rundown of the main event feud.
(6) ILJA DRAGUNOV (c) vs. BARON CORBIN – NXT Championship match
The pop for Dragunov was thankfully significant as the crowd came back. No cage here as I was hoping after the flat cage match preceding this.
Corbin took Dragunov to a rope, then down into a headlock. Dragunov got to his feet and escaped near the rope. He threw a chop and Corbin put him right back into a headlock. There was a dueling chant that gave Corbin way too much credit, though he was still behind Dragunov. Dragunov escaped and ran the ropes and Corbin once again worked the headlock. Dragunov escaped and threw a chop, then a knee. Dragunov ran the ropes but Corbin tossed him over the top. Dragunov immediately got back and dumped Corbin out the announce table side, though his momentum took him out as well. The two had some quick escapes before Dragunov hit a German suplex on the floor. Dragunov broke the count to go back out after Corbin, who caught him and put his head in the announce table. Corbin dropped Dragunov on his ribs on the table and Dragunov wailed in pain. It didn’t break and Vic said that for once, the table was reinforced.
Action went back inside and Corbin kept up the offense. Ilja had a small cut up on his forehead and was bleeding, though not significantly yet. Dragunov got back into it with some chops and uppercuts, and the two exchanged shots. Corbin dropped Dragunov on his head on a turnbuckle. He taunted with applause and got boos. The two fought in a corner and Dragunov shoved Corbin off, but missed a senton. Corbin hit a flying clothesline for two. Corbin tried to pick Dragunov up, but he fought back with back elbows and strikes. After a series of standing switches, Corbin dropped Dragunov with a DDT.
Corbin brought Dragunov to his feet and mocked Dragunov saying “You want a hug? You got it” and he brought Dragunov into a hug and powerslam. Stomach breaker by Corbin. He clamped on a dragon sleeper and Dragunov threw some knee strikes up at Corbin’s head to break. Dragunov evaded End of Days then fought off a chokeslam with a knee. Running knee by Dragunov finally gave him the advantage. Dragunov flew off the top with a senton, which connected, though he sold the intense pain to his worked ribs.
The two hit their feet and exchanged palm strikes and forearms. Both of them ended up on the mat. The crowd applauded and went with an “NXT” chant although they were still muted in comparison to earlier. The two exchanged big shots again. Dragunov chopped down Corbin in a corner and ran in with a face wash. German suplex with a bridge got two for Dragunov. Dragunov tried to lift Corbin but again sold the ribs and crumbled. Dragunov booted Corbin in the corner, took him up, and threw some headbutts. Corbin hit a chokeslam from the top, then crawled down and covered for two.
Corbin snapped on a dragon sleeper with a body scissors. Dragunov fought his way free, switched, and went for a German but Corbin fought it off. Dragunov hit a Death Valley Driver into the corner. He took a moment to sell again. He tried Torpedo Moscow but Corbin caught him with Deep Six for two. He suplexed Dragunov and hit him with a brainbuster for a long two. Dragunov rolled through End of Days and, on a third effort, hit a release powerbomb. Dragunov went high with Corbin all the way across the ring and nailed a coast-to-coast dropkick. Yet again he sold the ribs. Dragunov ran for Torpedo Moscow again, fought off an End of Days counter, then hit two H-Bombs, and another one running. Instead of covering, Dragunov pulled Corbin into a hug. He said something into Corbin’s ear and then hit Torpedo Moscow for the win.
WINNER: Ilja Dragunov at 20:55.
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s a rare thing for a Baron Corbin match to go north of twenty minutes. The story here worked, and I have no problem with the idea as planned, but the simple truth is that in a main event setting, it’s tough to buy the champion having so much trouble with someone who very, very rarely wins a feud at any level. When this was booked, it felt like a way to give Ilja a match on this show while not having to use it in a big spot, since there were two Iron Survivor Challenge matches to carry the show. It felt a little dead going on last, but apparently they wanted to end the show with…)
-Trick Williams’s music played and Dragunov looked to the ramp. About five to ten behind Trick, Carmelo Hayes walked. Vic didn’t actually bring up Hayes as he finished his outro, and the ending was all WCW as they faded out when there was clearly a story developing. I’m all for a slow burn, but fadeouts during unfinished moments are extremely cheap and fan goodwill runs out if the trope is overused.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Although I think most of the match finishes here could be accurately predicted by someone watching the show – outside of the cage match more than any other – some of the ways in which they got there felt a little strained. Dragunov having that much trouble with Corbin showcases his heart, but Corbin doesn’t win all that much. Trick Williams scored four pinfalls in around a minute, but he was largely picking bones and getting weak rollups. So, even in victory, the winning babyfaces could’ve used a boost. I’ll talk this out on our post-show roundtable – which will likely go up tomorrow if not late tonight – and I’ll see if I’m justified in the criticism or maybe overthinking things. In the ring, there was a lot to like on the way, though Melo-King and the cage match certainly won’t be remembered (even if the former is Lexis King’s best match so far). See you on Tuesday as we march toward New Year’s Evil and hopefully the show doesn’t fade out on another big moment.