WrestleMania is a, so why can’t NXT TakeOver be one too? NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver Night 1 set a high bar for Night 2 to clear, featuring new champions and an absolutely fantastic match in Walter versus Ciampa. It’s the first of four major wrestling shows this week, with Night 2 on Thursday and then WrestleMania over Saturday and Sunday.
Night 1 aired on both Peacock and the USA Network, though Night 2 will be exclusive to Peacock. It. The main event saw Io Shirai lose her NXT Women’s Championship, and the match before that crowned the NXT Tag Team Champions.
Raquel Gonzalez is the new NXT Women’s Champion
In the main event of NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver, Raquel Gonzalez defeated Io Shirai to win the NXT Women’s Championship. Gonzalez ended Shirai’s 305-day reign as champion, the third longest ever.
These two women had less time than NXT TkaeOver main events usually get, but they used it well. Shirai is so awesome, and was in great form tonight with fun moves (they don’t call her Genius of the Sky for nothin’) and incredibly smooth counters. She’s much smaller than Gonzalez, but she’s so good her offense felt believable. The pace was relentless, and the action included plenty of flips and dives, submissions and brawling on the outside.
The high spot of the match came when Shirai hit a flying cross body off the giant decorative skull in the entranceway — a very high dive indeed. She then dragged Gonzalez into the ring, scored a moonsault but only got a two-count — which caused Wade Barrett to absolutely lose his mind.
Gonzalez rolled outside of the ring, then cut her off when Shirai followed. She then hit a brutal powerbomb on the floor. Back in the ring, Gonzalez floored Shirai with a clotheline and then hit another one-arm powerbomb for the win.
Rating: 3.75 stars. This was all Io Shirai, who is awesome.
MSK win NXT tag team titles
After a dazzling triple-threat tag team title match, Wes Lee pinned Zack Gibson to win the match for MSK.
This was put in something of a death spot. It’s tough to follow Walter and Ciampa, but these six guys did it in a smart way: With spot after spot. That’s usually an insult, but it’s not here. MSK and Legado Del Fantasma exchanging dynamic, high-flying offense was fun to watch. It didn’t require you to take in too much drama or story, just giving you pretty acrobatics to admire.
But as the match went on, there was less of that and more psychology. There was a great hot tag by Wes Lee, who smashed everyone with strikes and then hit multiple dives to the outside. After Wes Lee cleaned house, he ended up being double teamed by the Grizzled Young Veterans. They attacked his injured hand, then Zack Gibson locked in a submission. Nash Carter tried to make the save, but James Drake caught him with a rear-naked choke. Wes Lee tried to tap, but Carter was able to hold Lee’s hand off the mat for long enough for Legado Del Fantasma to interrupt the submission.
Moments later, the Grizzled Young Vets hit a Doomsday Device on one half of Legado Del Fantasma and MSK took out the other with tandem offense of their own. This led to a showdown in the middle of the ring between the Grizzled Young Veterans and MSK, ultimately won by MSK, who hit their finish for the win.
Rating: 4 stars. Great match in a tough spot.
Walter beats Ciampa
After one of the best WWE matches of the year, Walter pinned Tommaso Ciampa to retain his NXT UK Championship.
Just as it’s no surprise that this bout was excellent, it’s no surprise that this match was extremely hard hitting. Ironically, it was Walter’s chest that was welted and blood red by the end. The story was that Walter wanted the vicious, ruthless Ciampa, he wanted to fight Blackheart. Ciampa played his role perfectly, an underdog with a vicious streak. He fought tenaciously throughout — like a great spot where he tried for two straight minutes to knock Walter down with running strikes — and Walter played the dangerous big man.
That’s really why this match worked so well. The action was crisp and thrilling, but these two just played their parts so well. Walter is such an outstanding big man wrestler. He’s athletic but doesn’t do much acrobatics, and when he hits someone you wince because it looks like he just demolishes them.
At the beginning of the bout, the two brawled on the outside and Walter tried to slap Ciampa while the latter was strewn across the announcer’s table. Ciampa moved, and Walter split the top of the announcer’s table in half. For the rest of the match, he’d struggle to use that arm, selling the fact that he injured himself. That gave him a believable weakness, one with Ciampa was able to exploit.
But Ciampa could only evade the titan for so long. After an intense exchange for chest slaps, Walter blasted Ciampa with two wicked powerbombs, then hit a dragon suplex and a huge clubbing blow to the chest to score the pinfall. It’s a testament to how great Walter is that a blow to the chest is believable finishing move, but it sure was.
Rating: 4.75 stars.
Bronson Reed wins 6-man Gauntlet match
Bronson Reed will face Johnny Gargano for the North American Championship at Night 2 of TakeOver: Stand and Deliver, after he won a six-man gauntlet match for that opportunity. He won the bout by last eliminating Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.
Scott attacked Leon Ruff before the match began, but Ruff got the upper hand before throwing Swerve back in the ring. The match then began as we come back from a commercial break. They wrestle a high-octance few minutes, including a wicked flying cutter from Ruff to Scott off the announcer’s table, before the third man, Bronson Reed, enters the contest. The big man muscles down the two high fliers, culminating in a cool double german suplex on both. Cameron Grimes then enters as the fourth participant.
Grimes and Scott form an alliance — after Grimes pays him off — and they take out both Ruff and Reed. Ruff uses some awesome acrobatics to escape Grimes’ clutches, but he can’t outrun both and is caught with a suplex by Scott. Scott then hits a nice pump kick on Reed on the outside. Then, as Dexter Lumis enters as the fifth competitor, Scott pinned Ruff following an unseen move from Grimes. Lumis then clears house, including himself when he clothelines himself and Grimes outside of the ring and flies over the ropes in the process. LA Night then enters as the final competitor.
Night scored the second elimination of the bout by pinning Lumis. Lumis had The Silence choke on Grimes, but Night came in and rolled Lumis mid-submission for the pin. Night was quickly eliminated after that, as Scott and Grimes laid him out and then Reed hit a big splash and got the 1-2-3. As Night rolled out of the ring, Lumis choked him out with The Silence.
We got some awesome action with the final three — so much went on it’d be impossible to recap. But Scott got another elimination when he countered a roll-up from Grimes, pinning Grimes with a roll-up of his own. Scott and Reed were the final two. Reed scaled the turnbuckle, which led to an absolutely gnarly spot where Scott powerslammed the much-larger reed on the corner of the ring. He then rolled Reed inside the ring and hit a 450 Splash for a two count.
As Scott trash talks Reed and bltizes him with a barrage of kicks, Reed powered out and planted Scott with a powerbomb — and pinned him after a splash from the top rope.
Rating: 3.75 stars.
Pete Dunn pins Kushida
The grudge match between Pete Dunn and Kushida opened the show. It was a fantastic opener, with great submission wrestling and snug strikes, and was won by Pete Dunn after he hit the Bitter End on Kushida.
It started hot, with Kushida going for a flying armbar straight off the bat. That set the tone for much of the action: These two were trying to out wrestle each other throughout. There were constant submission attempts, and submission counters. A great spot came when Dunn tried a jumping Kimura lock on Kushida, only for Kushida to counter it with a Kimura of his own. Later, Kushida tried the same move on Dunn — a jumping Kimura, or in his case a Hoverboard Lock — but Dunn used his free hand to grab the ropes. Kushida then switched and attacked that arm with a Hoverboard Lock. Great spot.
It wasn’t just submissions though, as it also included plenty of hard-hitting shots. Both men tried to weaken the other’s arms — since armlocks were very hot in this bout — so snug kicks to elbows, arms and shoulders were common. Dunn also used his joint manipulation attacks a lot, and there was some brawling on the entrance ramp that saw Kushida nail a springboard elbow off the ropes.
The finish came after Dunn stomped both of Kushida’s hands. Kushida powered up and hit Dunn with a punch, but he was then stunned by this injured hand. Dunn then hit a Bitter End for the pin.
Rating: 3.75 stars.