Rising WWE NXT star Kelani Jordan offers warning to Iron Survivor opponents ahead of ‘Deadline’

Kelani Jordan made her way into the Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge match at “NXT Deadline” with a victory over Kiana James and is hellbent on showing the WWE Universe she’s a “force to be reckoned with.”

The former Michigan State gymnast-turned-pro wrestler, who performs on the NXT brand, will have a chance to showcase her abilities in the unique match that will also feature Tiffany Stratton, Lash Legend, Blair Davenport and one other opponent who will be determined Tuesday night. The winner of the Iron Survivor Challenge will become the No. 1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.

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Kelani Jordan, whose real name is Lea Mitchell, was a gymnast at Michigan State. (Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jordan, whose real name is Lea Mitchell, signed with WWE in August 2022 at the SummerSlam tryout. She was a standout gymnast at Michigan State before going down the pro-wrestling path.

She appeared on NXT house shows in October 2022 and then made her debut as Kelani Jordan this past May. She made it to the finals of the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament but lost to Lola Vice.

But since the loss, Jordan has racked up a win with Roxanne Perez in a tag-tea match and then against James. She’s also beaten Brinley Reece and Arianna Grace in house shows.

“It’s been a testament because I only started a year ago from scratch into (being on) a major PLE, even when my debut was only six months ago,” she told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “Words can’t describe how I feel going into that match. 

“I’m super excited, and I’m ready to continue to let people know Kelani Jordan is a force to be reckoned with.”

The Iron Survivor Challenge is one of the more unique matches NXT has to offer.

Kelani Jordan smiles

Kelani Jordan beats Kiana James to advance to the Iron Survivor Challenge. (WWE)

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Five wrestlers compete in the 25-minute match with two performers starting the event. Every 5 minutes, another wrestler enters the match, with the fifth wrestler entering at the 15-minute mark. The winner is the wrestler who has the most points at the end of the match.

To earn points, a wrestler must secure a pinfall, submission or be the victim in a disqualification. A wrestler who is pinned, taps out or commits a disqualification goes into a penalty box for 90 seconds. Should there be a tie at the end, the remaining wrestlers go into a sudden death overtime. The match debuted at last year’s “NXT Deadline.”

Jordan said she doesn’t exactly have a strategy pinned down just yet, and it will depend on when she gets into the match. But after losing to Vice in the NXT Breakout Tournament, she has a bigger chip on her shoulder going into the match.

“I think when I lost the breakout tournament, I was a little bit down because I really thought I gave it my all and I thought I was so close,” she told Fox News Digital. “I think that match gave me a lot of confidence to know I have what it takes, and I was close. Even to be in the finals is such an opportunity and really shows me that, ‘Hey, you have what it takes.’

“So, going into Iron Survivor this Saturday, I’m definitely going to be coming guns blazing because I’m ready.”

Kelani Jordan on the mat

Kelani Jordan puts her opponent in a headlock. (WWE)

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“NXT Deadline is set for Dec. 9 at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The premium live event can be seen on Peacock at 8 p.m. ET.

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