WWE NXT Stand & Deliver Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and More from Night 1
While WWE WrestleMania 37 may be this weekend, NXT had its own WrestleMania with NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver set for two nights on Wednesday and Thursday. Both nights had can't-miss cards, but Night 1 was sure to set a precedent that was tough for any show to follow.
In the main event, Io Shirai wanted to put down the one woman she had not been able to defeat yet: Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been dominant for months, but The Genius of the Sky has been dominant for the past year. Only one woman could stand at the peak of NXT.
For the first time since he won the title at NXT TakeOver: New York, WALTER stepped onto the NXT TakeOver stage to defend his NXT UK Championship. His opponent was one of the best NXT has ever seen, Tommaso Ciampa.
The NXT Tag Team Championships were also on the line as MSK, The Grizzled Young Veterans and Legado del Fantasma competed to crown the next leader of the tag team division.
Kushida and Pete Dunne had their own title to fight over. Both claim to be the best technical wrestler in NXT, but only one man can be the best. They would fight with everything in their arsenal to make the other man submit.
Looking forward to Night 2 of NXT TakeOver, NXT North American champion Johnny Gargano waited for the winner of the Gauntlet Eliminator. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, Leon Ruff, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis and LA Knight all had a chance to rewrite their legacies with a victory.
NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver had the air of something truly great. The black-and-gold brand talent did not just want to work as the opening act to WrestleMania weekend. They were looking to steal the entire week.
Pre-Show: Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm
The cocky Toni Storm wore down Zoey Stark early, but she refused to put the match away. She went to the top rope with a plan that was stopped cold thanks to a superplex from Stark. Storm just barely dodged a Shining Wizard only to get planted with a German suplex.
Stark connected on the Shining Wizard for two. After a near-fall counter from Storm, Stark hit a superkick for two. A series of suplexes set up Storm Zero, but Stark cradled her opponent for a surprise three-count.
Stark def. Storm by pinfall.
This was a strong opener that could have been on the main card, especially if it had any kind of build. The two still put on a match that should be a serious feud starter and showcased the talent of the women in every moment.
The closing stretch was especially strong and showed the two have far more in the tank for the future. Stark has been a house of fire since debuting in NXT, and especially if she keeps defeating talent like Storm, she is going to quickly become a household name alongside that level of talent.
Kushida vs. Pete Dunne
Kushida tripped up Pete Dunne early to showcase his technical prowess, but The Bruiserweight turned the fight quickly into a brawl. They battled onto the ramp, where the Japanese Superstar sent Dunne careening back into the ring with a long running knee.
The Bruiserweight snapped the fingers of Kushida to set up a Bitter End, but the Japanese Superstar countered into a fisherman suplex. The counters continued from the technical to the physical to the athletic as the men traded blows and holds all the way to the top rope.
Kushida flipped Dunne off the top rope right into the Hoverboard Lock. The Bruiserweight made it to the ropes twice as Kushida continued to shift holds. The Bruiserweight, though, caught the Japanese Superstar's fingers in his tight grip.
He snapped the fingers, landed a vicious roundhouse, then hit the Bitter End to win.
Dunne def. Kushida by pinfall.
This was smooth technical wrestling from two of the absolute best. The two just clicked in a way few can, building to a ferocious series of counters down the stretch. Honestly, the only disappointment was that these two did not get to compete longer.
The pacing was tight but did not quite reach the top gear. These men have plenty more to give before this feud should be over. Put these two in a submission match and give them 20 minutes or more to show what kind of viciousness they can unleash.
Dunne won this match, but hopefully it is not the end. If it is, it would be a shame, as Kushida can use this rivalry to finally reach the next level.
Gauntlet Eliminator to Earn an NXT North American Championship Match Night 2
Isaiah "Swerve" Scott attacked Leon Ruff backstage before the match could start, and the battle continued around the ring. Leon Ruff fought back, even hitting an emphatic spinning cutter off the announce table. "The Colossal" Bronson Reed arrived and threw both around with strength the two men could not match.
No one was put away in this match before Cameron Grimes arrived and bought the assistance of Swerve. The Technical Savage took out The Colossal with a moonsault before isolating Ruff. As Dexter Lumis arrived and DDTed Reed on the ramp, Swerve pinned Ruff to eliminate him.
Grimes and Scott struggled against the methodical focus of The Tortured Artist before The Colossal got back in the ring. Everyone was laid out as LA Knight arrived and mocked the other competitors. Reed grabbed him by the hair and threw him into the ring.
Lumis caught Grimes in the Silence, but Knight slipped in and pinned The Tortured Artist for the elimination. All three remaining men attacked Knight, and The Colossal got the pinfall elimination off a running senton. Lumis then got revenge by knocking out the loudmouth with the Silence.
Grimes tried to roll up Swerve, but Scott reversed with a handful of tights to get the next elimination. Swerve planted Reed off the top rope onto the apron followed by a 450 Splash, but it was not enough. A trio of House Calls came next for a very close fall, but The Colossal would not lose.
Reed fought back to hit a powerbomb and reverse piledriver, then the Tsunami for the emphatic victory. Afterward, Johnny Gargano arrived to taunt the new No. 1 contender to his title.
Reed won the Eliminator Gauntlet, last eliminating Swerve, to become the new No. 1 contender to the NXT North American Championship.
The Gauntlet Eliminator format served the competitors well, but this was still an awkward match in moments. When it was on, it was electric. Everyone was clicking. When it was off, it was still fun. The action was fast and furious.
The true MVP of this match was Swerve. He and Ruff had the best sequence of the match in the opening minutes. He ran all the way to the finish, and he had a nearly-as-good final sequence with Reed. It was hard not to root for him.
Knight was also highlighted as an athletic loudmouth that only lost because everyone turned against him. Ultimately, Reed was the right man to win. Everyone tried to take him out, but he was unstoppable. The Colossal finally became the dominant monster he looked to be when he first arrived in NXT.
NXT UK Championship: WALTER (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Tommaso Ciampa's strategy early was mostly to survive. WALTER's chops made an impact on the challenger, but The Ring General missed with a chop that broke the top of the announce table in half. While impressive, it clearly injured WALTER, and Ciampa had an opening.
The Blackheart battered the NXT UK champion with running clotheslines that sent him into the ropes. This set up Ciampa to hit the Fairy Tale Ending for a shocking near-fall. WALTER was clearly rattled, not able to get up before an emphatic running knee.
However, WALTER caught Ciampa in the ropes for a German suplex and running lariat that nearly won. The Blackheart dragged The Ring General to the ground to batter him with fists. The two fought to the top rope from which Ciampa hit an over-the-shoulder belly-to-back piledriver for a near-fall.
The two men traded chops in the center of the ring before WALTER threw him to the mat and stomped on Ciampa's surgically repaired neck. He hit a pair of powerbombs and then a release German into a chop for the victory.
WALTER def. Ciampa by pinfall to retain the NXT UK Championship.
It may take some time to truly decide where this match stands among the best of WALTER's incredible NXT UK Championship reign, but there is no doubt that this was special. WALTER and Ciampa came to compete in a TakeOver main event, regardless of where they were on the card.
Ciampa was clearly outmatched physically in this intense battle of wills, but he used every tactic in his book, particularly wearing down the hand of The Ring General. The way the match slowly got out of hand for The Blackheart sold a story so much different from anything else on this card.
WALTER had to retain. His reign has carried NXT UK forward, a brand that can often be forgotten. Hopefully, he will continue to get chances to compete in NXT and NXT UK over the coming months and years.
NXT Tag Championships: MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma
This match was all action from the opening bell. The teams went after each other, unafraid to put their bodies on the line. In particular, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde dived onto the field to take over the match early.
Only Wes Lee and Nash Carter could change the momentum, going off in a flurry of action that was almost impossible to follow. MSK nearly got the win on James Drake, but Zack Gibson took Lee out of the action in the nick of time.
Gibson trapped the injured hand of Lee in the turnbuckle before Drake hit a dropkick into the turnbuckle. Gibson then locked in the Shankly Gates. Carter barely stopped his partner from tapping out. Legado del Fantasma went after Lee as well, nearly stealing the win.
Grizzled Young Veterans and MSK took out Legado del Fantasma individually to leave the rival teams in the center of the ring. Carter reversed the Ticket to Mayhem into a double cutter followed by an elevated blockbuster with his partner to give MSK the emphatic win.
MSK def. Grizzled Young Veterans and Legado del Fantasma by pinfall to become the new NXT tag team champions.
The tag teams knew what their role was on this night, and they all delivered on the adrenaline spike. Legado del Fantasma could have felt like the odd team out. Instead, the team dominated the first half of this match without ever slowing down.
Still, the core story of the match was MSK vs. GYV. The way the match boiled down to the two teams at the very end worked wonders. At the end, Lee and Carter got their revenge and earned what they should have had all along following their performance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
NXT Women's Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Raquel Gonzalez
Io Shirai immediately went after Raquel Gonzalez with headscissors takedowns and dropkicks, followed by a huge suicide dive. Dakota Kai attacked The Genius of the Sky, causing the referee to throw her out. Surprisingly, even then Gonzalez was not able to match the champion's tenacity.
Shirai nearly caught the challenger with a sunset flip powerbomb and then locked in a crossface. When Gonzalez escaped, The Genius of the Sky followed outside to hit a moonsault on the ramp and then running double knees into the stage.
Even that was not enough as Shirai hit a diving crossbody off the 20-foot skull on the stage. Finally, Shirai hit her signature moonsault, but Gonzalez still kicked out.
Outside the ring, the challenger hit a single-arm powerbomb on the floor to get back in this fight. The Genius of the Sky would not give in easily, but she was unable to kick out after a second single-arm powerbomb in the center of the ring.
Gonzalez def. Shirai by pinfall to become the new NXT women's champion.
Shirai is truly an all-time great even this early in her WWE run. She makes everyone look better. Gonzalez had a few miscues in this contest, but The Genius of the Sky pushed her through without missing a single beat along the way.
From the moonsault outside to the crossbody off the skull, Shirai brought it all, making Gonzalez look truly undefeatable when she survived. Even after everything, the historic reign of the NXT women's champion was emphatically ended by the most dominant woman in NXT.
This was the right move. It was time to take a new direction, and Gonzalez earned this opportunity with a year of clear unrelenting improvement. While she may never be as good as Shirai, she can certainly create her own legacy.