Continuing to prepare for NXT Deadline, we already previewed the men’s Iron Survivor Challenge match. Now, it’s time to focus on who will be the next contender to challenge the dominant Mandy Rose for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Earlier this week, Indi Hartwell punched her ticket into the Women’s Iron Survivor match by defeating Wendy Choo and Fallon Henley in a triple threat match. Hartwell joins Zoey Stark, Cora Jade, Roxanne Perez, and Kiana James in a match that will decide who will be the new number-one contender. All of these women have had a great year and have a tremendous opportunity to go into 2023 as Rose’s next challenger.
Let’s take a look at the five women and who has the best chance to win the Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge match.
5. Kiana James
Kiana James finds herself in the midst of an NXT Women’s Championship hunt for the first time in her career. She hasn’t had any great matches, but she did have brief feuds with Thea Hail from Chase U and, most recently, with Fallon Henley.
Over the past few weeks, James has showcased some improved skills in the ring and has solidified herself as one of the top heels on NXT. Using her combination of beauty and brains, James expects that to be her advantage. Unfortunately, it will take more than that to win this Iron Survivor Challenge match. But, this match should put her in the discussion for any future chances at the title.
4. Zoey Stark
After a recent heel turn, Zoey Stark has an all-new approach and character that could eventually make her an NXT Women’s Champion. She’s had an interesting year with its ups and downs. There was a ton of excitement for her return to NXT and she challenged Mandy Rose for the title back in August at NXT Heatwave. It felt like the elation was swept away due to her loss to Rose.
Adjusting quickly to her defeat, Stark began to team up with Nikkita Lyons and battled with Toxic Attraction’s Gigi Dolon and Jacy Jayne, along with the current NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, Kayden Carter and Katana Chance, for the titles. Quickly, it became clear that Stark would turn on Lyons. Since then, she has proclaimed she is now, “The Hunter.”
In hindsight, this new character could work perfectly for Stark going into 2023, but there’s no way she walks out as the number one contender. I envision some sort of interference from Lyons here and they continue their feud into 2023.
3. Cora Jade
Cora Jade owns the best heel turn of 2022 in NXT. Honestly, when Jade and her former “best friend” Roxanne Perez won the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship, I thought they would be the champions for a while. Instead, they held the titles for just a few weeks and lost them after Jade turned on Perez and ruined her chances at becoming NXT Women’s Champion. It quickly became noticeable that the heel turn would elevate Jade’s mic skills.
Jade’s match with Perez to end their feud was one of the best matches of the year in NXT. Although Jade lost her match with Perez, her character was able to grow and she will be champion one day. She likely won’t win the Iron Survivor Challenge since that would put two heels against each other, as she would battle Rose for the title, but keep an eye on her because 2023 is going to be a huge year for her.
2. Roxanne Perez
Of the participants in this match, Roxanne Perez had the best year in 2022. Winning the Breakout Tournament and winning the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships helped consolidate her case as one of the top superstars on NXT. Although she was backstabbed by her former “best friend” and tag team partner, Perez was able to get her revenge on Jade at Halloween Havoc and end that feud on top once again.
She is the clear-cut favorite to win the match and rightfully so. Her last shot at the title was stolen from her and she deserves another opportunity to end Rose’s reign as NXT Women’s Champion. That scenario may happen one day, but this time around I think we will see a new challenger for the NXT Women’s Championship.
1. Indi Hartwell
My dark horse pick to win the match is Indi Hartwell. Although she was the last to qualify to participate in the match, she seems more focused than ever to climb her way to the top.
Physically, she is the most intimidating in the match and has beaten every superstar in the match except for one. She is a former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion but has never held NXT Women’s Championship gold. She has put the time in and is a vet in NXT. She certainly deserves the shot at the title and after seeing this altercation with Rose, she is likely next in line for a championship match.
It will be a battle and likely will be the best match of the night at NXT Deadline. All of these women have their cases for why they deserve a shot at the title and will do whatever it takes to walk out as the Women’s Iron Survivor and number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.