NXT TAKEOVER STAND & DELIVER NIGHT 1 HITS & MISSES: Gonzalez vs. Shirai, Ciampa vs. Walter, MSK vs. GYV vs. Fantasma, Gauntlet Eliminator, Dunne vs. Kushida.

By Nate Lindberg: PWTorch Contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

PEACOCK

You can’t pause, rewind or fast forward live TV. I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I write this column as I watch the show live, before jumping on PWT Talks NXT. Not being able to pause was horrible.

No commercial breaks, no ability to pause. You want to grab a snack? Tough, you’re gonna miss something.

Verdict: Peacock – It’s for the birds. MISS.

NITA STRAUSS NATIONAL ANTHEM

Nita has appeared in NXT many times, and is a clear friend to the show. She absolutely shredded that guitar and as far as I’m concerned, nailed the anthem. It was just the right vibe to kick off a major show.

Verdict: HIT

KUSHIDA VS. PETE DUNNE

Kicking off one of the biggest events in NXT history, Kushida and Pete Dunne tore it up. For a feud that was only built up over the last week or two and a match thrown on the card last minute, this match was explosive from the get go. I’m the type of person who wants story behind the matches on the card, that’s what helps build my investment in the in-ring action.

Kushida and Dunne are both talents who are able to get into the ring with minimal story, and use their technical ability to continue that story. This was a battle of submission artists. Dunne more of a submission/brawler specialist, Kushida a mix of submission and high flyer. This made for a great mix of styles and varied offense that made the match flow incredibly well.

If you’re a fan of high work rate, you’ll enjoy this contest. If you enjoy submission and mat wrestling, you’ll at least appreciate what these two men pulled off.

While it made sense that Dunne won, as his character has been very strongly pushed lately, what exactly does this mean for Kushida? While awesome and charismatic, he’s always on the losing end of his feuds. Kushida is far too talented to be a mid to upper-mid card babyface gatekeeper and I’d love to see them pull the trigger on something bigger with him.

Verdict: HIT

GAUNTLET ELIMINATOR – ISAIAH SWERVE SCOTT vs. LEON RUFF vs. CAMERON GRIMES vs. BRONSON REED vs. LA KNIGHT vs. DEXTER LUMIS

Before Leon Ruff even made it to the ramp, Swerve attacked him from behind. Both men were kicking off the gauntlet anyway, which was clearly just a way to continue their feud outside of this North American gauntlet eliminator. I did think it was an interesting way to kick off the match, and Ruff pulled off some unexpected offense against Swerve. Bronson Reed and then Cameron Grimes came in next with Grimes bribing Swerve for his services. Grimes and Swerve dominated the two babyfaces until Lumis entered the match. Lumis and Reed had their obligatory big man stare down and back and forth offense. Ruff was elminated by Swerve before LA Knight had his turn down the ramp.

Knight had a mic in hand the whole time, at least until Reed attacked him from behind to cut him off. Knight actually knocked Lumis out of the match, which shocked me. I had Lumis slated to win this with Knight as a close second. But then Bronson Reed eliminated Knight, throwing off all of my predictions. At this point, I knew we were going to be seeing a Reed victory as he was the last face left in the match. With Gargano a heel, the likely hood of a heel win was low. Grimes was out next, leaving Swerve and Reed.

Swerve began dominating Reed, which almost solidified in my mind that Reed was going to win. Sure enough, just as it looked like he was down and out he came back and took out Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, sending him to night two of Takeover to challenge the North American Champion, Johnny Gargano.

With Reed’s trajectory, I have a feeling we’re going to see a new North American Champion. Gargano and The Way has felt stale lately. Losing the title could send Gargano into a psychotic frenzy, spicing up the story between he and his faction.

Verdict: HIT

NXT UK CHAMPIONSHIP – WALTER vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA

My second most anticipated match of the two night event, Ciampa came into this match looking like a million bucks. He shaved his head, so he didn’t have the grizzled old vet look anymore. No, no. He looked like the psycho killer of 2017/18. He even wore trunks and his old colors to sell the idea that he was his old self reincarnated.

Walter seemed mostly unfazed by this, focused on retaining his title. At one point, the two were fighting on the outside and Walter went to chop Ciampa with one of his deadly knife-edge chops. He missed and hit the announce table cover, which tore in half. Such an amazing visual for such an impactful move.

Ciampa worked the arm and hand of Walter, crippling that massive chop and possibly tilting the odds in his favor to win the title.

This was everything that I had hoped for, bar none. An incredibly hard hitting, brutal, technical contest between a massive hoss in Walter and one of the faces of NXT, Tommaso Ciampa. False finishes, drama, storytelling. I can’t say enough about this. Ciampa took an absolute beating from Walter and ultimately fell in the end. But outside of the final few moments of the match, Ciampa had me believing that he wouldn’t give up.

Verdict: As big of a hit as I can give it. HIT.

NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS vs. MSK vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA

From one of my most to perhaps my least most anticipated match of the night. The words “Six Man Tag” will hardly ever excite me. I want to see two tag teams fight to see who is the best, not three teams sort of fighting one another, two at a time. The fact that only two of six men are legal in this match-type at any given time is just stupid. Either keep it a 2 vs. 2 or have three men in the ring at the same time, one from each team. Oh, and did I mention that since this is a “triple threat” match, it’s no disqualification? So, why do the competitors follow the rules and tag in and out in the first place? They wouldn’t be doing anything illegal.

Not to mention, the entire match shouldn’t have happened in the first place. If Danny Burch was hurt and Oney Lorcan needed to find a new partner, why not sub in Pete Dunne like the Undisputed Era has done in the past with their members during injury. They were technically in a faction together, so why not. Have them drop the belts at this exact show and move on with whichever team you wanted to push. Instead, Dunne and Kushida wound up in a meaningless, yet entertaining match and we wind up with a convoluted match type.

The talent in the match worked hard enough and kept me entertained enough where I feel like I can’t give it a miss due to bad booking, and following Walter/Ciampa was not an easy feat. But, this only gets a hit by the skin of its teeth.

Verdict: HIT

NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP – IO SHIRAI vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ w/ Dakota Kai

A match months in the making, arguably starting even before Gonzalez pinned Shirai clean during War Games. Easily my most anticipated matchup of either night. The build between both women has been great, Shirai is one of the best wrestlers of our generation and Gonzalez is one of the rising stars looking to make a name for herself. Gonzalez has come such a long way over the last year and seems so much more comfortable as the monstrous character than she did during her debut.

Like Walter vs. Ciampa earlier, this was everything I could have hoped for. Gonzalez looked like such a dominant challenger. Shirai looked like a valiant, fighting champion, throwing herself off of the skull set and sacrificing her body to try and retain her title.

Raquel Gonzalez ultimately dethroned the 300+ day Women’s Champion. Does this mean Shirai is main roster bound? Or will she attempt to recapture the gold? That’s the big question right now surrounding the division. I think Shirai is absolutely ready for the main roster, but I also worry about how she’ll be used as we do with just about every call up. She is far too talented to not be featured as the star she is. The chances of her getting paired with Asuka in a tag team is far too high for my liking.

The NXT Women’s Championship is one of the most, if not the most, protected title in the company. Seeing Raquel Gonzalez’s name on the list of champions does seem a little out of place to me, even as she wins the title. Even though she’s come such a long way there is still something her that doesn’t scream main event player like Rhea Ripley did just a year ago.

While I think she was worthy of the title shot tonight at Takeover, I wonder how strong of a champion she is going to be with this win. She has a bit of work to do to sway me in her favor to make me see her in the same light as Shayna Baszler, Sasha, Bayley, Asuka and Charlotte to name a few. But, I’m in her camp rooting for her.

Verdict: HIT

1 Comment on NXT TAKEOVER STAND & DELIVER NIGHT 1 HITS & MISSES: Gonzalez vs. Shirai, Ciampa vs. Walter, MSK vs. GYV vs. Fantasma, Gauntlet Eliminator, Dunne vs. Kushida.

  1. So I take it that the pre-show isn’t left on Peacock to view if you miss Takeover and want to watch it later? Why?

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