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WELLS’S NXT TAKEOVER: STAND AND DELIVER NIGHT 1 REPORT
APRIL 8, 2021
LIVE IN WINTER PARK, FLA. AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
STREAMING LIVE ON PEACOCK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
-While there won’t be a live call-in show tonight, the PWT Talks NXT crew will be recording a VIP roundtable podcast immediately following the show, so feel free to send questions or comments on TakeOver to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-On the preshow, Killian Dain & Drake Maverick defeated Breezango in a match to determine MSK’s first challengers for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Samoa Joe sat down with Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole (separately) for interviews, like he did with Raquel Gonzalez and Io Shirai last night. Joe has a long future in wrestling after he hangs up the boots, but I’m not saying anything you don’t already know.
-I’m stuck watching on a phone tonight. I hope your situation is better.
-To open the show, Poppy performed a song called “Stand and Deliver.” What are the odds? The song was indeed a little poppy compared to what she did with Io Shirai some months back. As I said that, the band went in to a real screamer of a track to really get the place going.
(1) JORDAN DEVLIN (c) vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (c) – Ladder match to unify the two Cruiserweight Championships
Escobar entered first with his old mask and cape, then shed them when he got to the ring. A tall ladder was set up on the rampway. The two belts were lowered in the ring at the opening, and were raised as the two men met in the center of the ring.
Forearms to start. Back elbow by Devlin. The crowd is clearly pro-Escobar though he’s playing heel here. The crowd is already tiresome like last night, loudly cheering and booing for every small transition move. Armdrag takedown by Devlin, followed by a lot of reversals. Standing moonsault by Devlin. Escobar bailed and Devlin played to the crowd and got hugely booed. He may as well play heel tonight with the breakdown almost 100% against him. Devlin splashed Escobar outside and threw Escobar inside. Devlin grabbed a ladder, baited Escobar outside, and laid out Escobar with the ladder. Devlin entered the ring and went up the ladder (quickly!) and Escobar chased him down and yanked him to the mat.
Escobar leaned the ladder in a corner and set up a powerbomb. Devlin temporarily avoided trouble but Escobar slammed him into the ladder and action went outside. Escobar ran and put his knees into Devlin against the barricade. Escobar got a second ladder and set it up against the Plexiglass. Apparently that’s for a later spot as he then just went inside and moved to set up the other ladder. Devlin entered the ring and Escobar quickly dropkicked the ladder into him. Escobar shoved the ladder into Devlin’s midsection repeatedly, and then basement dropkicked it into Devlin. Escobar went under the ring for a third ladder (why?) and set that one up. He took one step and Devlin grabbed his leg, and Escobar stomped him repeatedly.
Escobar set up the other ladder in the ring over a corner on the top ropes. He jawed at Devlin and slapped him. He wanted an Irish whip but Devlin reversed and whipped Escobar into the ladder instead to some showy boos from the audience members desperate to be the center of attention. Escobar did a monkey flip to Devlin, but Devlin landed on the ladder steps and started up. Escobar caught him but Devlin hit a DDT. “This is awesome” chant. Devlin ended up outside and Escobar hit a tope to send Devlin into the ladder set up against the Plexiglass.
Escobar got up first and entered the ring. He grabbed the ladder, but Devlin entered the ring too quickly and he tossed the ladder away. Escobar continued to jaw at Devlin and kicked him a couple of times. He tried a powerbomb but Devlin reversed to a back bodydrop on one of the ladders in the ring. The two exchanged forearms in the ring, first on their knees, then on their feet. Escobar hit a jumping knee. Escobar charged and ran right into Spanish Fly by Devlin. Both guys sold for a moment.
Devlin set up a ladder near a corner. He headbutted Escobar when he started to get up, and then went up the ladder nowhere near the belts to set up something on Escobar. Escobar went up and Devlin punched him to the floor. Devlin went up and hit a moonsault from the top onto Escobar. “NXT” chant. Escobar got dumped and Devlin went up the ladder. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde charged the ring and very quickly shoved over the ladder and Devlin spilled out in a fairly dangerous-looking way, though I think the landing was fine in the end. They beat down Devlin and, their work done, they retreated to the back.
Escobar went up the ladder in the ring and Devlin managed to recover in time to toss a ladder at Escobar. Devlin set up another ladder next to Escobar. Devlin hit Spanish Fly from about two-thirds of the way up the ladders. Devlin slowly went up the ladder as Escobar recovered and went up the other side. The two threw hands near the top. Devlin beat Escobar’s head into the top a couple of times, but Escobar headbutted Devlin and he fell back and crashed through another ladder, splitting it in half. Devlin sold it like death as Escobar claimed both belts.
After the match, Escobar celebrated on the top of the ramp with his stablemates, and also a kid that I assume is his son, who put on the mask Escobar wore to the ring.
WINNER: Santos Escobar at 18:08.
(Wells’s Analysis: Wow. I did not see that coming. I thought Escobar was going to pivot to another division, but I have no complaints at all with this decision, as he’s really done great things for the championship when given the opportunity and the TV minutes. Now I guess we’ll see whether Devlin is going to hang around NXT US for a while and get into a feud or two, or if this was just to get the unification match out of the way. Good match, though not bound to be remembered by ladder match standards)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to MSK about their next challengers, Killian Dain and Drake Maverick. They were confident. Mitchell asked them to predict the outcome of the top two matches tonight, and Carter counted to three and the two disagreed on both.
(2) SHOTZI BLACKHEART & EMBER MOON (c) vs. CANDICE LERAE & INDI HARTWELL – NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Though the last match didn’t get formal intros from Alicia Taylor, this one did. Big brawl with all four to start. Blackheart had to high side pigtails in a tweak to her look. LeRae and Blackheart settled into being the legal ones to start. LeRae blocked Blackheart into the heel corner a few times and tagged Hartwell, who took her down and covered for two. Rope run and a back elbow by Hartwell. Hartwell put Blackheart’s head into the heel corner and tagged. Overhead neckbreaker by LeRae and a two count. Blackheart threw some shots to try to get in it but LeRae put her down with an elbow for another two. Armbar by LeRae. She yanked Blackheart to the mat by her hair. Tag to Hartwell who covered for another two.
Hartwell set up a boot on LeRae while tagging LeRae. LeRae leaned on Blackheart and then covered for another two. LeRae tried to use the ropes on a cover and the ref broke it up. LeRae kept Blackheart in the heel corner for a chop as the crowd tried to get Blackheart in it. Blackheart shoved LeRae to the heel corner but she quickly tagged and Hartwell dragged her to the heel corner. LeRae tagged in again and Blackheart hit a step-up enzuigiri and Moon made the hot tag and put he boots to LeRRae, then hit some lefts. Moon did a “suck it” which Vic said was for Road Dogg in the wake of his health issues and went up for the Eclipse but she got crotched there and LeRae tagged. The heels set up a double superplex but Blackheart got involved. Finally Hartwell was in the power position in the pile and she suplexed the lot and made the cover for two.
Hartwell ran Moon on the ropes and hit a powerbomb and endured a second “Indi sucks” chant. Indi tagged LeRae, and the heels were setting up a tandem move but Moon knocked them together and tagged Blackheart, who hit a cross-body from the top on both. She destroyed LeRae with a suplex and the heels spilled outside. Blackheart went for a tope on both but kind of overshot them and ate Plexiglass in a very scary moment. The camera moved away from it for a moment to ensure Blackheart was okay (she was).
Action went back inside and Blackheart stayed on the offensive and covered LeRae for two. She was going to make a tag but LeRae rolled her up for two. Tag to Hartwell and the heels hit a tandem bulldog and Moon made the save at the very last moment. Everyone was brawling for a moment and Moon tagged in and hit Eclipse on both atonce. Blackheart tagged in during the spot and hit a senton on Hartwell to finish.
WINNERS: Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon at 10:33.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very exciting tag match that probably should have gotten a longer and better build given that there aren’t a lot of readymade heel teams to challenge the champions in a big spot like this. So far we’re two for two with scary-looking spots in matches, but so far it doesn’t seem like anyone’s injured)
-Stephanie McMahon was sitting with Gable Steveson, NCAA champion wrestler. They didn’t explicitly say he was signed, but it was the suggestion. Stephanie clapped and smiled in a way so comically huge it looked like she was being sarcastic.
(3) BRONSON REED vs. JOHNNY GARGANO (c) (w/Austin Theory) – NXT North American Championship match
The screen had info packages on both guys during formal intros. Their listed “intangibles” were agility for Reed and adaptability for Gargano. Uh, agility isn’t an intangible, it’s a tangible.
Gargano ran to start. Reed hit a cartwheel in a Bam Bam Bigelow moment (called out as such). Reed caught Gargano on a block attempt. Fallaway slam by Reed. Reed pounded Gargano into a corner. They fought over the top rope and Gargano got the better of it, but he ran in and charged into a palm strike that laid him down. Another palm strike put Gargano down again. Gargano ran the ropes for a lariat that didn’t take Reed down. He struck quickly a few times and hit a cross-body to take Reed to the mat. He put elbows and boots to Reed and sent him outside on the announcer side. Gargano tried to splash Reed, who caught him, but Gargano slipped away and shoved Reed into the announce table.
Back inside and Gargano put Reed in the corner and threw some forearms. Reed backed him from the corner and put him down and missed a splash. Gargano splashed Reed from the second rope and covered for a one count. Gargano threw punches at Reed’s ribs and then worked a headlock.
Gargano grounded Reed with the headlock and added some knees. Reed fought to his feet and backed Gargano to a corner to break. Gargano tried something from the top but Reed caught him and hit a powerslam as the audience kept telling the story of Reed’s injured ribs. Reed splashed Gargano in a corner and chokeslammed him. The ref checked on Gargano (legitimately? The camera kept off of them for a second) before letting Reed close in. Reed hit Jagged Edge for two. Reed took Gargano to a corner and tried to deadlift him up, but Gargano crotched him on the top and then hit a backstabber and covered for two.
Gargano hit a superkick but Reed mostly absorbed it and hit a suplex. Both guys sold on the mat. Reed went up but Gargano rolled away. Reed closed in and Gargano rolled him up in a crucifix for two. After a few quick reversals, Gargano hit a poison rana, and then worked into a GargaNo Escape. Reed fought toward the rope and dragged Gargano to break it. Reed rolled out to the ramp side and Gargano tried One Final Beat but Reed caught him and hit a huge Razor’s Edge from outside the ring to the inside. Reed tried the Tsunami and missed. Beth called it “Tsu-Not so much.” Superkick by Gargano for two.
Both guys fought to their feet. Headbutt and a short-arm clothesline by Reed. Reed went up again but this time Theory got involved long enough to slow him down. Gargano crotched Reed on the top and then went up the corner with Reed. He tried a rana but Reed blocked and then hit a powerbomb in the ring. He got a two count but Theory put Gargano’s leg on the bottom rope at the very last moment to break. Reed went outside after Theory. Gargano tried to tope Reed, who caught him and tossed at Theory to lay both out. Reed hit a tope on Theory as Gargano moved. Gargano tried One Final Beat inside but Reed blocked and hit an impact move for two.
Reed tried to lift Gargano but his ribs were hurting. Two superkicks by Gargano. Reed hit one of his own. Reed went up for a moonsault, but missed. Gargano hit One Final Beat – then hit it again – to finish.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 16:22.
(Wells’s Analysis: At least Gargano cheated a few times at this TakeOver. This was the big vs. little(ish) match I hoped it would be and I hope the door is open for more challenges by Reed down the road, as I think a title run with this exact belt could do him some good. Unfortunately, this particular version of Gargano is tailor-made for the championship)
-We got a brief rundown of last night’s show.
-Recap of the Kross-Balor feud. It’s probably not a surprise to many that Cole-O’Reilly will go on last.
(4) FINN BALOR (c) vs. KARRION KROSS (w/Scarlett) – NXT Championship match
Formal intros by Alicia. We were reminded that Kross is undefeated in singles competition, while Finn is an insane 14-1 at TakeOver.
A few guys chanted “Kross is gonna kill you.” Amazing what a good entrance can do for someone. The two finally locked up after a staredown and reset. Balor grabbed an arm but Kross shoved him off. Balor worked an armbar but Kross fought out and threw a knee. Balor worked a headlock, but Kross fought it off. Balor smiled at him. Kross caught and bealed Balor after a Balor chop. Reset again and Balor slapped Kross. Kross lost his mind and took Balor to a corner and whipped him for a block. Another whip and Balor sidestepped the block. The narrative was about Balor baiting Kross into his more emotional side to get the advantage.
Balor grounded Kross with an armbar. Kross backed Balor to a corner and hit a few corner lariats. Suplex by Kross. Kross set up Balor in the Tree of Woe and threw a few shots and then hit a running knee. The crowd chanted “Finn” and Kross derisively motioned to the crowd. Kross walked right into an armbar submission. Kross tried to fight out with a slam but Balor hit a DDT on the arm he’d been working all match long. Balor continued torturing the left arm.
Balor took Kross to a corner and threw some kicks, then a knee. He chuckled at his work. Chop by Balor. Spin kick. Kross crumbled to the mat and Balor kept it up with kicks. He stomped Kross at a rope. Scarlett tried to inspire Kross back into it. Balor clubbed Kross’s midsection as he tied him up in the ropes. Balor ran the ropes but Kross hit a kick to finally get some separation. Kross powerbombed Balor into two opposite turnbuckles, but Balor laid out Kross with his lariat slam and both guys sold on the mat.
Kross grabbed an ankle but Balor stomped him away. Northern Lights suplex and a lariat by Kross. Powerbomb by Kross for a two count. Kross stalked Balor and yelled “DOOMSDAY!” but got blocked and Balor hit a double stomp and a PK. Balor put on an abdominal stretch and then clubbed Kross’s midsection with the free hand. Kross countered with a slam but ran right into a sling blade. Balor made the finger guns but Kross hit a lariat. Saito suplex by Kross. Kross set up something but Balor hit a Pele kick and a couple of shotgun dropkicks. Balor went up and hit Coup de Grace, as usual pronounced correctly by Wade and incorrectly by Vic, for two. Kross immediately was able to transition to his own submission but Balor reversed and hit a double stomp again.
Balor hit another abdominal stretch on the mat as Scarlett tried to scream Kross back into it. Kross broke with the rope and Kross clubbed Balor with repeated forearms. Release German suplex by Kross and Balor was selling death. Saito suplex by Kross again. Kross ran the ropes for a knee to Balor. Balor struggled to his feet and Kross charged for a forearm to the back of the head for the win.
WINNER: Karrion Kross at 17:06.
(Wells’s Analysis: I get that Kross was the plan back before his injury, but this once again guarantees there won’t be any real classic matches for the championship for a while, as Kross still just doesn’t have it in the ring to the level expected of an NXT Champion. I guess it’s a good a time for that as any, though, as the real main draw of the weekly show is likely to be the Adam Cole-Kyle O’Reilly saga for the foreseeable future.)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Legado del Fantasma. Santos Escobar put over Jordan Devlin, who just kept coming tonight. He closed by reminding her he was the undisputed Cruiserweight champion at last.
-Raquel Gonzalez was in the crowd with her belt.
-Recap of the Adam Cole-Kyle O’Reilly feud. Given that this match is likely to go 25-30, this will be much longer than last night’s show.
(5) KYLE O’REILLY vs. ADAM COLE – Unsanctioned match
These two are likely to have a lot of gimmick matches in their future, so they may as well get the silliest one out of the way first. O’Reilly entered first with a new guitar solo theme that I’m pretty sure I’m into, but ask me again down the road. Cole also had a new theme, so I guess nobody gets the UE theme anymore. His theme is fine enough, but not overly exciting (which I think is fine if they want him to be a heel, which is at times an uphill battle). He still did the “boom” moment, though it didn’t have an obvious moment with the music like the UE theme did.
Alicia Taylor did formal intros for this one, which I think is a first for non-championship matches.
The match started at three to the hour. The two charged at each other for forearms. They went to a corner and did the same. Big boot in the corner by Kyle. Another in another corner. Rope run and Cole hit a pump kick. O’Reilly dumped Cole and hit a plancha. The audience is probably 70% Cole tonight, which isn’t going to help the match and what it’s trying to accomplish. Cole shot O’Reilly into a barricade but O’Reilly recovered for some ground & pound and a monkey flip into the Plexiglass. O’Reilly shoved Cole into the glass again. O’Reilly grabbed a chair from under the ring and sat Cole on it, and gave him some kicks to the chest.Cole caught one and tried to piledrive O’Reilly on the floor but O’Reilly hit a backdrop.
Back in the ring, O’Reilly worked a guillotine but Cole put O’Reilly on a top turnbuckle and shoved him hard to the floor in yet another scary-looking spot. Cole whipped O’Reilly into the Plexiglass and went under the ring for another chair. He got a third chair and a fourth. He put one into O’Reilly’s midsection, then crashed one on his back. Cole picked up O’Reilly and shoved him into the steel structure near the announce table, then put him in the ring. Cole leaned down on O’Reilly with a chair to mostly boos. Irish whip by Cole. Neckbreaker onto the chair by Cole. Cole worked a chinlock and then clubbed O’Reilly. O’Reilly snapped on a double wristlock but Cole kneed his way out and hit an ushigoroshi for two.
Cole said “I made you” to O’Reilly as he booted him. Shot exchange. O’Reilly finally got the better of it as Cole ran into his knee. More knees by O’Reilly. “We want tables” chant?! This crowd…never mind. Wade called out the audience as well. The two both attempted figure fours and rolled to the outside. O’Reilly hit a dropkick from the apron to Cole on the ground and both sold on the floor. O’Reilly rolled Cole inside. Cole wanted a chairshot but O’Reilly kicked him. O’Reilly punched the chair into Cole and covered for two. O’Reilly went under the ring for a long chain and the announcers sold their disbelief. O’Reilly set it in the ring but immediately got caught by a hangman’s neckbreaker by Cole onto the chain for a two count.
Cole tied the chain around the top rope and eventually both guys grabbed parts of the chain. O’Reilly put down Cole with a forearm, then wrapped the chain around his boot and kicked Cole a few times. Cole blocked one and hit a figure four. O’Reilly turned it over. Both guys threw big forearms and they sold on the mat for a bit. They got to their feet and O’Reilly hit his combo kicks. O’Reilly ran the ropes and Cole held out the chain to clothesline him with it. Cole used the chain for a backstabber and he covered for two.
Cole set up a chair near a corner and another chair facing it. He reversed the chairs so they were back-to-back, setting up another ugly backbreaker. O’Reilly avoided a DVD and fought into it with some shots. Snap suplex by Cole. O’Reilly landed right on the chair and Cole hit a shining wizard and covered for two.
With O’Reilly down, Cole went out and separated one section of the ring steps. He tried to suplex O’Reilly onto it, but O’Reilly floated through and hit the guillotine and then a huge knee to the sternum. O’Reilly set up a move on the steps but O’Reilly showed second thoughts and let him go. Cole blocked O’Reilly into the Plexiglass but O’Reilly came back with a shot. O’Reilly cleared off the announce table and set Cole on it. The two went up on it and exchanged forearms. Cole got the better of it but O’Reilly reversed and hit a suplex on the table, which didn’t break. Cole’s momentum bounced him forward off of the table.
O’Reilly followed Cole through the barricade, but Cole was waiting with a TV monitor and he brained O’Reilly with it. Cole tossed O’Reilly into the ring and went under the ring for a tool box. He opened it and emptied the contents. He grabbed a wrench and smiled at it, then entered the ring. O’Reilly fought it off but Cole kicked him down. Cole grabbed a tire iron but O’Reilly kicked him again. O’Reilly did his rebound clothesline to fight back into it. Brainbuster by O’Reilly got two.
O’Reilly put a cross armbreaker on Cole with the chain applied, then transitioned to a triangle choke. The ref checked on Cole. Cole reached for the tire iron and put it to O’Reilly’s ribs to break the hold. That’s a weird spot to earn an “NXT” chant. Both guys set up chairs and sat in them across from one another. Cole jawed and O’Reilly hit him with a big kick. The two exchanged shots and Cole finally went with a low blow. Cole hit a superkick for a two count. Cole grabbed a chair and set up O’Reilly’s head in it as he was laid out on the mat. The ref tried to stop Cole from this spot and Cole laid the ref out with a punch. The vocal males chanted “You deserve it” because it’s gotta be all about them.
Cole hit Panama Sunrise, but because he’d laid out the ref, there was nobody to count. He shoved at the ref to try to wake him up. O’Reilly went out to the ramp and Cole followed and tossed a chair at his head. Cole went off of the ramp to follow O’Reilly and beat him into the Plexiglass, but O’Reilly reversed and put Cole into it. O’Reilly worked a guillotine but Cole shoved him into the barricade and both guys laid on the mat. Cole tossed O’Reilly up to the ramp. Again, O’Reilly hit a guillotine. The two crashed down through a section of the ramp as Cole tried to slam O’Reilly, and NOW we know why they made a new ramp for this show.
Cole crawled out of the pit and went to the side of the ramp, where he kicked hard at the side of the ramp to form holes in it and drag O’Reilly through. O’Reilly crawled to the ring and Cole followed. O’Reilly tumbled out of the ring as the announcers pointed out he was just on instinct. Cole went out and suplexed O’Reilly onto it. Cole rolled O’Reilly into the ring and covered. O’Reilly kicked out, though the visual was that he just barely moved out of instinct. Cole set up Last Shot but O’Reilly crumbled so he couldn’t hit it. Cole lifted O’Reilly and set it up but missed. O’Reilly put on a leg submission and fought off Cole’s kicks. Cole used the chain to punch O’Reilly to break the hold. Cole went for a Panama Sunrise, but O’Reilly caught him and hit an ushigoroshi. Running knee by O’Reilly. Last Shot by O’Reilly got a long two.
O’Reilly went to a corner and draped some chain there. He placed a Pillmanizing chair on Cole’s leg. O’Reilly went up the corner with the chains and Cole hit him with a chair to dump him. Cole put the chair on the floor in an awkward position and went up the ropes and jawed at O’Reilly, who eventually hit him with a low blow. O’Reilly wrapped the chain around his own right leg as he was up on the turnbuckle and he dropped a knee from the top through the chair to finish.
After the match, O’Reilly’s music played and he fought to the top of the ramp to hold up his arm in victory as the bevy of officials checked on Cole.
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly at 40:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: Well, I underestimated the time this would get even though I figured it to be long. I’m not sure a weapons match should ever go 40 – it would make more sense for it to go much shorter than a regular match, and not longer – but they did carry the crowd throughout this, so I guess I can’t argue with it. It did lose me at times as it felt not only overlong but also like the first in a series of many matches, but neither man can be faulted because both worked very hard throughout. Additionally, these two could have gone out and had a very pretty match, but they honored the blood feud and made the match feel intensely personal at all times. The next move for both will be very interesting. I think I’ve got Kyle as the next NXT Champion, in part because I can’t imagine who else it would be, unless Balor got back to that spot)
FINAL THOUGHTS: An irritating audience can really harm a show. It’s cool to cheer for your guy, but there’s a difference between fans genuinely backing the unlikely person and fans trying to make sure they’re the focal point of a match that deserves better. With that out of the way, it’s interesting – normally I’d have immediate thoughts on the entire show but when the main event is so long, it takes a second to remember what came before.
Karrion Kross is the new NXT Champion, and it’ll be very curious to see how TakeOvers are built now that the top two championships went to much lesser workers than those who had them before. Perhaps an even bigger mountain for Kross to climb is the fact that he’s a heel champion without a lot of believable babyface challengers on the show. Is it possible he’s a transitional champion and we’ll see a major event on the first-ever Tuesday night NXT? I don’t think I’d be shocked.
I’ll also add that it was refreshing to have this show without the simulcast with USA and the weird production moments that it created. Last night did a good job of feeling like a TakeOver, but tonight’s show was absolutely much better in that regard.
Well, that’s two big nights of wrestling down and a few more to go in WWE’s most important week of the year. Check out our VIP roundtable late tonight or tomorrow. Cheers.