Stand & Deliver! And the first night of NXT’s big WrestleMania Week show did just that—not that it stood still, but it certainly delivered! Indeed, the show was action-packed from start to exciting finish. You can tell the NXT crew don’t want to be overshadowed by Mania and on this showing, I don’t think they will be.
A quick note on the opening: Nina Strauss’ guitar rendition of the National Anthem was cool as anything. Also, the set for Stand & Deliver is awesome with a giant pirate skull dominating. It really gives the event a big show feel, which is something in the past the lesser TakeOvers have missed, the set sometimes looking a little generic.
Anyway, enough rambling. Check the results against our predictions: how did we do so far? Let’s get straight to the ring and straight into it!
Pete Dunne vs. Kushida
What a great way to start off the show! Dunne and Kushida did not hold anything back and brutalised each other in an excellent display of Strong Style wrestling. Both were equally matched in the early going, working each other’s arms and displaying innovative counters to each other’s attempts.
The difference-maker turned out to be Dunne’s sadistic side, as he cancelled out Kushida’s more aerial inclinations with just plain nastiness—stomping and bending the fingers of Kushida and hitting stiff kicks and strikes to the face.
Kushida nearly took the victory, getting the Hoverboard lock sinched in twice, but Dunne was able to get to the ropes each time. Dunne that turned to that sadistic side, hurting the fingers, kicking Kushida in the face and nailing the Bitter End for the victory. Dunne gave Kushida a very cocky glance afterwards, but I can’t blame him. What a great contest between these two!
Gauntlet Match For The Number One Contender Spot For The North American Championship
1. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff
Ruff didn’t make the entrance you would expect, as he crawled in on his hand and knees with Scott following him, having obviously attacked Ruff backstage.
The two meant went at it all around ringside, both using their surroundings to nail some pretty sweet aerial offence on each other, in particular an impressive twisting cutter from Scott to Ruff from the announce table.
As the two men fought on the top turnbuckle, the countdown began and Bronson Reed was announced as the next competitor.
2. Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff
Reed made his entrance cooly, and as Ruff attempted to dive on the big man on the ramp, Reed caught him like he was nothing and threw him back in the ring over Scott’s head! Oh my.
Reed dominated the two smaller men, even sitting right down on Ruff’s back at one point in a painful-looking moment before mixing it up and sitting down on Ruff’s chest as well. Scott and Reed tried to team up for a German Suplex, but Reed spun round and suplex the two at the same time in a moment of incredible strength. The countdown began once more and out came out Cameron Grimes.
3. Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff
The appearance of Grimes distracted Reed, who fell victim to a Scott dropkick and a Grimes moonsault. Grimes then gave a wad of dollars to a laughing Scott and the two men took it to the downed Ruff. The two worked on Ruff before Scott took it to Reed on the outside with a big pump kick. As Ruff sent Grimes into Scott, the lights dimmed and Dexter Lumis made his entrance.
4. Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff
As Lumis slowly made his way to the ring, Scott threw Grimes to the outside and quickly pinned Ruff to eliminate him from the match! I know it was a matter of pride, but I don’t think Grimes will be too happy about that…
5. Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
Ironically, considering the name, Lumis was moving as slowly and deliberately as Michael Myers as he nailed Bronson Reed with a DDT on the ramp before turning that cold gaze back to the ring.
Lumis cleared the ring, but Bronson Reed returned for a staredown. The two exchanged fists before Lumis clotheslined Grimes to the outside, leaving both men down on the floor. At which point, the final entrant in the match made his appearance.
6. LA Knight vs. Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
YE-AH! It’s LA Knight, and of course, he had a mic in hand as he made his way to the ring, stopping off to kick Bronson Reed in the head. This would go against Knight, as Reed threw Knight into the ring. Knight was able to pull Reed into the ropes and kick him but Reed dropped him and began to batter Grimes and Scott as well.
Knight sidestepped a Reed charge and nailed a neck breaker, before taking down Grimes and Scott as well. Lumis returned to the ring for a staredown but Lumis caught an ambushing Grimes and locked him in The Silence. Knight cleverly grabbed Lumis’ legs and rolled Lumis up to knock him out of the contest!
Knight’s mouth cost him, though; as he insulted Lumis, Scott, Grimes and Reed all nailed big moves on Knight, Reed landing a big senton for the 1-2-3. Knight was out as well! On the outside, Lumis put Knight to sleep with The Silence, just for good measure.
Back in the ring, all three men exchanged shots before Scott drove Grimes’ head into the mat and Reed fell on both of them so that all three were out flat on the canvas. On getting up, all three exchanged big moves, but Scott countered a Grimes roll up into a roll-up of his own to eliminate Grimes from the contest! Now it was just down to Reed and Scott.
Reed scaled the top but Scott stopped him with a running dropkick before flipping Reed onto the ring apron in a hard bump. Scott followed up with a 450 splash in the ring but Reed kicked out! Three big kicks to the head took the big man down but only got a two count. Reed would not be denied and a hard slap to the face, a reverse piledriver and a massive splash from the top were enough to put Scott out of the picture and book Reed into a shot against Johnny Gargano tomorrow. Speaking of Gargano, he came out afterwards to stare Reed down. Gargano didn’t look scared, but then, neither did Reed.
It wasn’t the result I was expecting, but it’s certainly one I can get behind. Meanwhile, this match was all sorts of fun and told a nice story throughout, which saw Grimes and Scott team up, only for Scott to be the one to eliminate Grimes, and Knight and Lumis become acquainted—painfully so for Knight. Great stuff all around.
NXT UK Champion WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa
From the fun to the vicious here at Stand & Deliver, WALTER and Tomasso Ciampa put on a clinic in brutality in what was, for me, the match of the night. Apart from the fact that both men were determined to beat the living hell out of each other, they told a great story here too.
Early in the match. WALTER went to chop Ciampa across the announce table but Ciampa moved, and the force with which WALTER had throw the chop was so great that not only did he break the table, he also hurt his own hand. This affected WALTER through the match as he was unable to apply a Boston crab and a sleeper as the match progressed. He was also down to one striking hand too. Ciampa almost got a submission with an armlock, putting extra pressure on the hand.
What WALTER did have on his side though was a size advantage. Ciampa struggled at times to take WALTER down, which led to a sequence where Ciampa continuously ran the ropes to come back and clothesline WALTER, seemingly inching closer to taking him over the top rope. It shouldn’t have been a compelling moment, but it really was. Just when Ciampa looked like he was going to knock WALTER over, the big man took Ciampa down with a chop. Ciampa just leapt straight back up and hit a clothesline to finally take the champ down. Brilliant.
In the end, Ciampa’s history of neck injury played into the finish, as a desperate WALTER twisted Ciampa’s neck with his feet, before hitting two powerbombs and a back suplex to put the hurt on Ciampa’s neck. That a chop was the move that finally put Ciampa down for the three count was maybe a little odd and a little sudden, but overall this was a stunner of a match. I can only hope for part two—maybe on UK soil!
NXT Tag Team Championship: MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma
This one was to crown the vacant NXT Tag Team Champions and was also a rematch of sorts from the finals of the Dusty Classic, which saw MSK defeat the Grizzled Young Veterans. The Veterans were none too pleased by that and broke Wes Lee’s hand. The injured hand would become a factor in this encounter.
As the match progressed, MSK and Legado Del Fantasma proved themselves to be up front and ready for the fight, whilst the Veterans were more opportunistic in their approach, picking their moments to put a hurt on their opponents. The strategy worked for them and built to a dramatic climax as Zack Gibson locked on Shankley Gates, putting further hurt onto Lee’s already damaged hand. Lee looked ready to tap but his partner Nash Carter put his hand out, preventing Lee’s hand from mapping the mat. That was close. Luckily for Lee, kicked Gibson right int he head to break the hold.
After the Veterans took out WIlde on the outside with a Doomsday Device and MSK saw off Mendoza on the other side, the Veterans and MSK squared off in the ring to a massive buzz from the audience. Nash Carter made an impact (pun intended) by nailing the Veterans with a double neckbreaker from the top, and a combination blockbuster/spine buster was enough to put Gibson down and give MSK the victory.
This was a really fun match. As much as I love the Veterans, the right team won here. Listening to that crowd though, maybe the Veterans should be the first challengers to MSK’s belts?
NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez (w/ Dakota Kai)
The video package for this one was awesome and really sold how important this match was. I like that the Women’s championship is headlining one night and the men’s the next. The Women’s title should be seen to be as important as the men’s. And in Io Shirai, NXT had one of their greatest champions, male or female, of all time.
That’s right. I said, had.
That’s right: Raquel Gonzalez finally did what she said she would and became the female figurehead of NXT.
The story of the match centred on the size difference between the two women. Raquel looked great, throwing Io around the ring (and into the ring post) and using her strength to try and break Shirai with an over-the-shoulder back breaker. But this was no Brock Lesnar squash special. Io was forced to rely on her speed and her cunning, reversing a choke powerbomb attempt with a hurricarana and a double stomp as well as locking Gonzalez in a crossface, reducing her size by taking the the challenger to the mat.
Io also tried to outsize Gonzalez by making herself bigger than challenger, taking to the air so she could soar above Gonzalez. She lannded a moonsault onto the ramp and a running kick before ascending the giant pirate skull on the set and dropping Gonzalez with a massive flying crosbody in a jaw dropping moment.
In fact, Io’s big mistake seemed to be taking the action back to the ground. On the floor, Gonzalez nailed the champ with a massive chokeslam before telling Io her actual mistake was not staying down. A one-armed powerbomb in the ring finally put Io away and we had a new champion!
This was a very good main event that saw a solid big woman–small woman story be told and featured some amazing, memorable moments like Io’s crossbody from the top of the skull. Gonzalez looked good and machine-like and will make a solid champion. My only complaint was that the match seemed to and end maybe a little quickly after the skull spot, but it’s a minor complaint that ultimately didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of the match.
Also, kudos to WWE for making the moment feel special as Gonzalez celebrated on the ramp aftwrwards surrounded by smoke and pyro. It was fine way to end the show.
NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night One was an outstanding show from top to bottom. When competing with WrestleMania, you have to put on your best. And while that might not be too hard this year, this was still an excellent show that put on not just exciting wrestling but told extremely compelling stories also. The injured hand of WALTER; the big woman-little woman grappling of Io and Raquel; the drama surrounding the prevented tap-out from Wes Lee—it did what WWE used to do exceptionally well. It made you care about what you were seeing.
Not that this is any surprise to NXT fans, of course. And this was only night one! If Stand & Deliver night two can match the quality of this event, we might be looking at a contender for best American supercard of the year so far.
That’s bold words, I know. But this show was that good.
Believe the hype.