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STOUP’S NXT STAND & DELIVER REPORT
APRIL 2, 2022
DALLAS, TEXAS AT AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
STREAMED LIVE ON PEACOCK
NXT Commentators: Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph
-McKenzie Mitchell hosted with Beth Phoenix and Seth Roberts as fans began filtering in at noon, EST. They discussed the significance of many newer NXT wrestlers performing in front of an arena of thousands for the first time ever, as the last NXT event in a comparable building was TakeOver: Portland in 2020 prior to the enstatement of COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States. Kayla Braxton and Peter Rosenberg provided analysis from an outdoor stage. Each of the personalities’ voices echoed throughout the venue as they discussed the forthcoming card and made predictions amid hype packages and tales of the tape. They discussed whether Tommaso Ciampa’s match would be his retirement.
-Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams were shown standing atop Reunion Tower on April 1 as Hayes looked out and said “everything the light touches” would be his. Tom Castor was shown going over ladder match rules with Hayes in the locker room, then the members of Imperium and LA Knight were shown arriving separately. Malcolm Bivens joined the indoor panel to hype the men’s tag team triple threat as a “big money match.” Bivens appeared disgusted when the hosts picked against the Creed Brothers. Edris Enofé somehow interrupted from backstage, but his attention was immediately diverted when Malik Blade approached with a spring-themed gift basket to deliver to Mandy Rose. Blade entered a dressing room with a “Toxic Attraction” sign on the door, but as male voices shouted from inside Enofé laughed and removed the sign to reveal the dressing room was in fact Imperium’s. He said “April Fools'” as Blade sulked out. Grayson Waller was shown spouting his catchphrases from atop a horse statue with Sanga nearby.
-Santos Escobar sat in a VIP area, insisting to his Legado del Fantasma partners that he is going to win the NXT North American Championship for “familia.” The NFL’s Akbar Gbaja-Biamila replaced Beth Phoenix on the panel to help pitch to an InDex and Dusia video package featuring Indi Hartwell, Dexter Lumis, Persia Pirotta, and Duke Hudson at a tack and western apparel shop as they made sexual innuendo in anticipation of their “hottest couple” contest. The hosts encouraged viewers to vote for #InDex or #Dusia on social media, and Gbaja-Biamila enthusiastically claimed he’s voting for Index.
-Wade Barrett and Vic Joseph introduced the kickoff match from ringside.
(A) Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolan & Jacy Jayne) (c) for the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were all smiles for their entrance. Jacy Jayne jumped Gonzalez to start, then Gigi Dolan went after Kai. Gonzalez booted Janye from the ring and Dolan took over as her team’s apparently legal wrestler. Kai soon tagged in and hit an assisted double-stomp on Dolan for an early two. Kai rolled up Dolan for a subsequent two, then the two went pinning combination for pinning combination, kicking out of each. Gonzalez tagged in and cleared Jayne from the apron before tagging back out and nailing Dolan with an airplane spin literally kicked off by Kai. Kai covered Dolan for two, but Dolan escaped and tagged out as an enraged Jayne went after Kai and crotch-chopped at Gonzalez. Dolan tagged back in as Jayne hit a senton on Kai. Dolan repeatedly kicked at the ailing Kai’s head. She tagged out and Jayne dragged Kai away from Gonzalez but Kai rolled away then rolled back between Jayne’s legs to tag out. Gonzalez went for the Chingona Bomb but Jayne escaped, then suffered boot and a splash from the second rope for two. Kai tagged in and hit a release backdrop from the top turnbuckle on Jayne for two. Dolan rushed in and tried for an ankle lock on Gonzalez but Kai kicked her from the ring. Kai and Jayne simultaneously kicked one another and worked their way back up with back-and-forth strikes to “NXT” chants. Dolan tagged in and Kai weakly kicked out after suffering a German suplex from both she and Jayne. Kai then kicked out of Toxic Shock – a variation on the high-low. Commentary claimed Toxic Attraction puts everyone away with Toxic Shock. Wendy Choo appeared on the ramp and hit Dolan with a pillow before throwing orange soda in her face. Gonzalez nailed Jayne with a Chingona Bomb for the win.
WINNERS: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai in 7:52
(Stoup’s analysis: So the Kai/Choo relationship in fact continues, though it had seemed as though Choo may have been written off the show this past Tuesday. Despite the low ceiling on the Choo character, I’d become invested in Choo’s quest to teach Kai the value of friendship. Follow-through on Kai’s success with the friend she’d turned on in Gonzalez could be an intriguing addition to the wrinkle of Kai failing to win the Dusty Cup with Choo (even though through a silly turn of events, that loss led to today’s victory. The match was rocky but fun, as has been the NXT women’s tag calling card since the belts were introduced.)
-An uncharacteristically collected Cameron Grimes was shown walking through a park, promising that he would take the NXT North American Championship “to the moon” for his late father. Kayla Braxton and Peter Rosenberg were counted down as they promised to be on the WrestleMania kickoff show later in the day. Akbar Gbaja-Biamila predicted Bron Breakker would “kick Dolph Ziggler right in the Dirk Diggler.”
-Santos Escobar and Grayson Waller made their entrances for the ladder match as Sam Roberts made a final pitch to the main show.
-An introductory video package was shown.
(1) Santos Escobar (with Elektra Lopez, Raul Mendoza, & Joaquin Wilde) vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Carmelo Hayes (with Trick Williams) (c) vs. Solo Sikoa vs. Grayson Waller (with Sanga) – NXT North American Championship ladder match
Solo Sikoa’s entrance was not shown. Cameron Grimes was first to enter on the main show, followed by the champion Carmelo Hayes. Hayes tried to direct traffic while shushing Trick Williams. Williams wasted little time before yanking Sikoa from the ring, then hurling him into the transparent ringside barricade which showed an overabundance of give. Sikoa reentered to face off with Hayes, chopped him several times then whiffed on a kick before being cleared out by Santos Escobar. Escobar dodged a jumpkick from Hayes but was pulled out by Grimes, who slid in and struck Hayes back and forth with Sikoa. Escobar and Grayson Waller demanded ladders from their respective associates, but backed into one another then kicked each others’ ladders out onto the ringside assistants. Sikoa dove over the top rope into Sanga like a sack of potatoes being slung against a brick wall, then Escobar followed with a dive to the outside onto Sikoa. Grimes then tumbled over the top rope onto Escobar. Hayes then performed a high springboard moonsault onto Grimes. Back inside, Sikoa slammed Waller into a ladder Waller was trying to arrange. He trapped Waller in the turnbuckle with a ladder, and Hayes charged across the ring and into that ladder. Sikoa then trapped Hayes there with still another ladder, stacked Escobar in the way as well. He ran from the opposite corner and hip-checked the pile of meat and metal. Grimes stopped Sikoa’s subsequent ascent short, but had his own attempted to climb stunted by Hayes’ pele kick. Hayes folded the ladder and chucked it at Grimes, who used it to clear Hayes but was then dropkicked down by Escobar. Escobar drove the ladder into the seated Grimes’ groin then arranged it in the center of the ring. Waller – at first easily bopped away – leapt in and hit an impressive cutter on Escobar mid-climb. Hayes was back in to trade climbing attempts with Waller, then springboard into a flying uranage to clear the wannabe influencer. Sikoa took advantage of the situation to make a climb, but was met atop the ladder by Escobar. The two wrestlers pawed at the title before Escobar sunset-powerbombed Sikoa from atop the ladder and onto another that remained propped in a corner. Grimes was back in to trade strikes with Escobar then hit his midair rotation powerslam. Williams set up a short ladder for Hayes, but Sanga charged in, took Williams by the throat, and tore the ladder in half. Elektra Lopez sauntered in to distract Sanga as the other Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde hit stereo springboard dropkicks to his back. Lopez dove from the top turnbuckle to the outside onto Waller, then Sanga stormed over to Mendoza and Wilde. Mendoza and Wilde inexplicably trapped Sanga with ladders – the same kind we’d just seen Sanga effortlessly rip to pieces. Sikoa went for the belt once more, and Escobar met him at the top yet again. Williams shoved the ladder over and the competitors bounced off the top rope. Williams attempted his own climb on behalf of Hayes, appearing to be afraid of heights. Grimes cheekily waved to Williams from the mat and tipped the ladder over until Williams fell onto Sanga and Legado del Fantasma at the foot of the ramp. Hayes went after Grimes, slamming Grimes’ head into the arranged ladder. Hayes mimed a free throw but was beat to the top of the ladder by Waller. Grimes, Sikoa, and Escobar climbed other ladders and all five wrestlers brawled beneath the dangling championship. Sikoa and Grimes were the firsts to fall, then Hayes. Waller easily dumped Escobar, and debated leaping on him from the ladder or going for the title. He got his hands on the leather but Escobar was able to recover and impede that progress. Escobar pulled off a headscissors takedown fro the ladder, but was then taken out by a top turnbuckle splash from Sikoa who then found himself alone in the ring. Sikoa cleared the escess ladders and went for a climb before Grimes ripped him down. Grimes drove Sikoa’s shoulder into the ring post, then hit an apron Cave-In on Sikoa onto the ladders Sanga had been temporarily trapped under. Waller climbed a tall ladder on the outside, and tried to hit his slam-dunk elbow on a ladder-draped Hayes. Hayes got out of the way and Waller’s arm tangled in the warping metal. Escobar hit a Phantom Driver on Sikoa but very swiftly Grimes flew in with a Cave-In on him. Grimes scurried up the ladder and quickly pulled down the NXT North American Championship to win.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes in 21:01
(Stoup’s analysis: A standout compared to the spot-fest redundancy of other recent NXT North American Championship ladder matches, and complete with several memorable visuals for each key participant, though certainly not innocent of illogical moments questionable in their precariousness. The build’s focus on Grimes made him the expected winner, so we return to wondering just when his clear talent will get a main roster look.)
-Bron Breakker was shown strutting outside the arena, then Dolph Ziggler was shown arriving earlier in the day with Robert Roode.
(2) Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tony D’Angelo
Tony D’Angelo made his entrance with AJ Galante after the two arrived backstage in a car. Tommaso Ciampa entered following a video reverently looking back on his importance to the NXT brand. He snatched a bottle of water from commentary and paid tribute to the recently retired-from-the-ring Triple H with a spray of water on the apron. He then posed like Shawn Michaels before the bell. The wrestlers locked up with a collar and elbow, but D’Angelo took advantage when Ciampa released the hold in the corner. Ciampa responded with a spinebuster then paid further tribute to former “blueblood” Triple H with a deep bow. D’Angelo responded with punches and a shoulder block into the corner followed by a couple stomps. D’Angelo responded to the crowd’s derision by taking his focus off Ciampa and saying, “Boo you!” Ciampa kneed D’Angelo in the corner, coyly asked the crowd if they wanted more then delivered. He kicked D’Angelo on the outside, then sat on the apron and patted himself on the back before rolling under the ropes to break the official Darryl Sharma’s count. He pulled the protective padding away from the ringside concrete, but D’Angelo met him back in the ring with stomps. D’Angelo shouted to Galante, “You like that, pisan?” Galante applauded from his ringside seat. D’Angelo scored two on a side suplex. As Ciampa reeled, D’Angelo struck at Ciampa’s gut then worked a headlock. Ciampa rallied with corner clotheslines, then fired up with the crowd as D’Angelo went down. He whiffed on a knee and was caught in a falcon’s arrow for a near fall. He countered another suplex but had a Fairytale Ending attempt thwarted. He countered again into an Air Raid Crash attempt, but sufficed for a roll-up for two as D’Angelo wriggled away. Ciampa furiously chopped at D’Angelo in the corner in response to D’Angelo’s taunts, then hoisted D’Angelo to the top turnbuckle. Ciampa tried for a second rope Air Raid Crash but D’Angelo elbowed out and shoved Ciampa to the mat. D’Angelo was caught on the chin with a knee as he came down with an axe handle, and both men laid on the mat as Sharma counted. Ciampa got to his feet first, rewarded with the first shot of a back-and-forth slugfest. Ciampa switched behind D’Angelo and clocked him with a forearm. D’Angelo went for a crowbar he’d stashed behind the ring steps. Ciampa ducked and booted D’Angelo in the face, but as Sharma cleared the crowbar from the ring D’Angelo hit a low blow then a powerslam for a believable near fall. D’Angelo was furious with the bell ringer and grabbed his crowbar but got caught in a Willow’s Bell then a Fairytale Ending. D’Angelo somehow kicked out of Ciampa’s devastating finisher combination, but was then locked into a crossface. D’Angelo squirmed to the bottom rope for the break. A “Tommy Wrestling” chant broke out as Ciampa tried to German suplex Ciampa onto the exposed concrete on the outside. D’Angelo switched out of Ciampa’s grasp and hit a DDT on the concrete. He lugged Ciampa’s limp body into the ring, then stood over the NXT icon. He made cartoonish gestures, then pushed Ciampa’s head with his boot and covered to emerge victorious.
WINNER: Tony D’Angelo in 13:12
(Stoup’s analysis: Of course this is the result you’d traditionally want from such an occasion, but the somewhat arbitrarily selected D’Angelo – who should never have been turned heel when his face act was getting over organically – just feels so far below Ciampa’s station despite his arguable upside. D’Angelo’s signature crowbar never even came into play to put over his own method of winning; Ciampa instead defeated himself by falling on the concrete he himself had exposed. The match itself was also below Ciampa’s premium event standard, as D’Angelo’s focus on basic brawling prevented anything greater than an opportunity for Ciampa to get his signature spots in on NXT one final time.)
-Tommaso Ciampa kissed the canvas as he (somewhat easily) rose to his feet. The crowd chanted “Thank you, Ciampa” but the show faded to commercial without letting the moment breathe. When the commercial ended, Ciampa was still on the stage and Triple H’s music was playing. After only a second or two the show faded to commercial again. Vic Joseph, apparently aware of Ciampa’s farewell not being aired to all viewers, said, “Well if you were watching Peacock Plus you just witnessed quite the emotional moment.” A replay of Triple H embracing Ciampa on the stage was shown.
(3) The Creed Brothers (Brutus Creed & Julius Creed, with Malcolm Bivens & Ivy Nile) vs. Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) (c) vs. MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee)
Diamond Mine entered with rally towels, fully embracing their recent babyface leanings. MSK entered with a live DJ. Imperium entered to new music. Marcel Barthel, Brutus Creed, and Wes Lee started. Brutus chopped Lee away, and Lee responded with a kick that sent Brutus rolling out. Lee flew at Barthel and tagged out. Nash Carter hit a Bronco Buster on Barthel but was easily lifted away by Brutus. Barthel hit Carter with an uppercut then bounced Carter’s face off the middle rope. Brutus went for a German on Barthel but Fabian Aichner tagged in and clotheslined Brutus down. Lee tagged in but was thrown into a backbreaker by Aichner. Julius Creed tagged in and cleared Barthel from the apron. He whipped Lee against the ropes and Brutus tagged back in to check Lee across the ring. Brutus cut off Barthel’s own attack on Lee, then suplexed Lee into a tag to Carter. Carter blocked a ground-and-pound by Brutus, who seemed unphased. Brutus prowled after Carter and brutally kneed him into the Creed corner. Julius tagged in and took down Barthel. Back in, Lee scouted the situation and MSK took to both Barthel Julius with tandem kicks. Lee covered Julius for two. Barthel posed on the turnbuckle then flew into an uppercut on Lee. Aichner tagged in and eventually gained two on Lee with a massive clothesline. Lee needed Carter to save him from the cover. Aichner sank a deep chop into Julius, then caught a leap from Julius in a fireman’s carry. He squatted Julius then cleared him from the ring. Carter leapt onto Barthel on the apron and took him down to the outside wiht a headscissors. Lee leapt out onto both members of Imperium. Lee tagged back in, and hit a corkscrew for two on Aichner after Carter hit a Swanton. Aichner and Carter suplexed Julius Creed from the top turnbuckle onto Barthel and Lee, and every wrestler laid on the mat to a “NXT” chant. Brutus hit a cannonball off the top turnbuckle to the outside onto all of his opponents except Aichner. Wade Barrett said, “It certainly wasn’t high art, but it certainly was effective.” Julius slung a forearm into Barthel but continued flying forward, clocking his head against the ring steps. Imperium hit their team finish on Brutus from the apron. Vic Joseph worried the Creeds had just been “wiped out of the match.” Imperium went for their team finish but Carter flipped out. Carter and Lee then recaptured the NXT Tag Team Championships when Carter pinned Barthel after Lee heascissored Barthel off the second rope and into a sitout powerbomb from Carter.
WINNERS: MSK in 11:24
(Stoup’s analysis: So I was clearly seeing something that wasn’t there when I supposed the diminished presence of Nash Carter on Tuesday’s go-home was calculated due to the current abuse allegations against him. All told an exciting match that was anyone’s to win, though many of us were waiting for a furthering of the who-attacked-the-Creeds storyline that got Dusty Cup losers MSK in contention in the first place. Though MSK were the most obvious culprits to begin with, NXT UK’s Pretty Deadly has emerged as more likely as the story has gone on.)
-Joe Gacy was shown standing in Dealey Plaza (the infamous “grassy knoll”) relating Texas history to his own quest to unite people under his purportedly peaceful philosophy. Harland stood ominously behind him.
-Vic Joseph thanked 2KBABY and Marshmello for their NXT Stand & Deliver theme “Like Me” before highlights from the kickoff match were shown.
-A hype package for the women’s fatal four-way was shown.
(4) Cora Jade vs. Kay Lee Ray vs. Mandy Rose (c) vs. Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship
Cora Jade entered with the Devotion Skateboard Company. Kay Lee Ray entered looking like Casey Jones with her baseball bat in a sheathe slung over her shoulder. Mandy Rose descended to the stage from a podium. The wrestlers jawed at the bell, and the babyfaces quickly kicked Rose from the ring. Ray snapmared Jade into a dropkick from Io Shirai. On the outside Rose tried to taunt Jade but Jade took her by the throat before Ray and Shirai dove out onto them. Jade countered Ray’s whip into the apron, then slammed Ray into the commentary desk. Shirai dispatched Rose before going one-on-one with Ray in the ring. Ray and Shirai went counter-for-counter in a nice sequence of impact attempts and pinning combinations. Rose slapped Ray from the outside, then climbed in and gloated before Jade flew in with a wild Thesz press complete with wild windmilling strikes. Rose got the better of Jade’s blind rage with a spinebuster but was yanked off the cover by Ray. Rose dumped Ray onto Shirai on the outside then refocused on Jade, pressing Jade’s throat into the bottom rope. Rose hit a brainbuster for two, then charged at the recovering Jade who pulled down the top rope so Rose would tumble out. Jade followed but Ray then flipped out onto her. As Jade and Ray recovered, Shirai moonsaulted from the top turnbuckle onto Ray. Shirai’s ankles caught the commentary desk hard on the way down. Back in the ring Shirai hip-checked Ray, then rolled her into a double-stomp before hitting a feint kick. She nailed a missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle but Rose reentered to steal the cover. Ray kicked out at two, much to Rose’s frustration. Back in after a moment, Jade went for a springboard double-stomp on Rose. She nailed Rose with a forearm in the corner. Ray tried to kick Jade on the apron, but Jade countered into a Canadian destroyer and Ray flopped back to the ground. Wade Barrett suspected Ray was finished for the day. Shirai wrenched Rose into a German for a close near fall. Rose climbed to the top turnbuckle but Shirai stunned her with a palm strike, then hit a Spanish fly. Shirai went for the cover but Jade broke up the pin with a senton from the top that completely missed her target (but at least bounced the mat, one might suppose). Jade hit Sliced Bread on Rose, but Ray revived in time to break up the believable cover. Jade returned to raging windmills on Ray’s back, and Ray took her down with a KLR Bomb. Shirai shoved Ray from the top turnbuckle and Ray hit her face on the apron. Shirai nailed a big moonsault on Jade, but Rose hit her high knee finish on Shirai before she could go for the cover. Rose folded Shirai up for three.
WINNER: Mandy Rose in 13:23
(Stoup’s analysis: Due respect to Ray and Shirai but I would have enjoyed seeing what Jade and Rose could have accomplished on their own without relying on the more tried-and-true. The champion and original challenger have each been impressive in their own ways of late, but here Rose – whose title was never at risk – was cast as an ineffective non-factor while Jade came out looking like she’d lost herself the match through her emotions on top of whiffing the senton just like her fellow skateboarding wrestler did a couple weeks ago.)
-A Peacock commercial played over the event proper’s showing of the InDex vs. Dusia shopping spree. Backstage McKenzie Mitchell announced InDex the winners of the hottest couple fan vote – 89% to 11%. Duke Hudson took issue with this, and knocked Dexter Lumis’ hat off. Officials rushed in to separate the wrestlers as the show faded to Bron Breakker warming up in his locker room.
(5) Gunther vs. LA Knight
After some brief posturing, a strong collar and elbow landed in the corner and the grapplers were reluctant to break. Gunther slapped LA Knight as he backed off, and Knight fired up with strikes before he stomped a mudhole in the opposite corner. Knight then hit a flying clothesline on Gunther from the apron to the outside, and bounced his head off the apron. Gunther recovered and powerbombed Knight onto the edge of the ring before posing back on the mat. Knight rolled in and regained his footing rather quickly considering what he’d just suffered, and Gunther clubbed at the compromised lumbar. Gunther hit a bodyslam for two as Knight desperately shook his head and was then caught in a headlock. Knight rallied with a cutter, but had to support his back as he went for a follow-up and Gunther took the opening to swat him back down with a boot. Gunther rolled Knight over into a Boston crab. Gunther transitioned into a STF which quickly became a crossface. Knight worked his way to his feet but Gunther’s onslaught did not relent. After his lower back slammed the turnbuckle off a whip, Knight reversed a whip and hit a back body drop before Gunther again pummeled him down. Knight countered a suplex into a suplex of his own, but could not capitalize. Knight shoulder-blocked Gunther from the apron and stomped another mudhole as fans chanted “Yeah!” Knight hit a running knee to the reclined Gunther, but Gunther was soon clubbing him again. Knight ducked a chop and bodyslammed Gunther. Knight hit the Megastar Elbow and lifted Gunther to the top turnbuckle. Gunther slapped Knight down, but Knight stepped back up and superplexed Gunther for two. Knight tried for his finish but Gunther slipped out and the two went back and forth with strikes. Gunther’s strikes soon became his signature chops, and he again begain withering Knight with a headlock. Knight hoisted Gunther into an impressive burning hammer for two then nursed his back. Gunther caught Knight setting up on the second rope and crotched him with a chop to the back of the knee. He then viciously clotheslined Knight to the mat and hit a massive splash. Gunther yowled in anger and finished Knight off with his powerbomb.
WINNER: Gunther in 10:24
(Stoup’s analysis: It’s not news to anyone that Gunther is special. Knight – with his own large helping of main roster promise – did a fantastic job putting that over while getting in his comebacks. Follow that.)
-A hype package for the main event was shown.
(6) Bron Breakker vs. Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode) (c) for the NXT Championship
Bron Breakker entered with a chainsaw painted to fit the theme of his usual gear, and he sawed through a styrofoam model of the old NXT logo just like the first time he won the NXT Championship only this time the model was painted with 2.0 colors. Dolph Ziggler slapped Breakker during the formal introductions. At the bell Breakker immediately cleared Ziggler from the ring and followed out, but Ziggler rolled back in and took advantage when Breakker rendered himself prone while sliding back in. The wrestlers went move for move until Breakker caught Ziggler in a leapfrog and buried him in the canvas. Breakker sauntered confidently after scoring a near fall, then hit a sequence of three overhead belly-to-bellies. He announced “We’re done” as he set up for a spear, but Robert Roode grabbed his foot. Official DA Brewer ejected Roode and Breakker marched after Roode to ensure exit. Back in the ring Breakker foiled Ziggler’s attempt to regain advantage and achieved a backdrop. Breakker set up for a Frankensteiner but Ziggler slid out and left him crotched. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker on Breakker from the turnbuckle for two. Ziggler quickly climbed back on Breakker with a sleeper. Breakker stood up in the hold and elbowed out, but Ziggler stomped at his calf and hit another neckbreaker for two. Breakker held his neck as he winced in pain. Ziggler hit his heartstopper elbow for two, then swiveled into a chokehold. Breakker stood up again – slightly slower this time – but Ziggler punched him away. As he held his agonized neck Breakker tried to ward off Ziggler with elbows and fists but Ziggler got him back down in the sleeper. Dolph arched his back to put more torque on the hold, and demanded Brewer ask Breakker if he forfeits. Ziggler said, “This is it!” Breakker stood once again and fought out with body blows. Vic Joseph said Breakker is fighting for the NXT brand, pushing the reclamation narrative that was introduced on Tuesday’s go-home. Breakker caught Ziggler in a tilt-a-whirl slam for two, then winced due to his neck again, coughing. Breakker did a cartwheeling headscissor takedown from the top turnbuckle for a near fall, and soon set up for the spear. Ziggler kicked Breakker away, but Breakker bounced off the ropes and hit the spear on another try. Ziggler kicked out at 2 and 7/8ths for an exciting near fall. Ziggler kneed Breakker to the jaw for two, and Wade Barrett said “the tank is empty on Bron.” Ziggler motioned for a superkick, but Breakker caught it and hit a second spear. Instead of covering Breakker posed for the crowd. The crowd barked for Breakker. Breakker press-slammed Ziggler but Roode reappeared to yank his Dirty Dawgz partner from the ring. Breakker flipped outside the ring onto both heels, then slammed Roode into the ring steps. Joseph doubled down on Breakker’s promise to recapture the title. When Breakker reentered the ring Ziggler caught him with a famouser followed by a Zig-Zag, but Breakker kicked out. After replays Ziggler hit a flying elbow from the top turnbuckle for a close two. Joseph said, “The bar is being set for WrestleMania weekend in Dallas.” Ziggler again signaled for the superkick, but was more focused on the crowd than Breakker. By the time he turned, Breakker was on his feet. Breakker clotheslined Ziggler then speared him. Ziggler thumbed Breakker in the eye as he was up for the press-slam, then quickly hit a superkick to retain. Ziggler celebrated on the ramp, shouting, “I am the smartest man alive!”
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 16:12
(Stoup’s analysis: Even with Knight having rallied through selling a bodypart just one match prior, this title affair became an excellent main event as Breakker and Ziggler allowed their every move to breathe. Each strike and each counter meant something on top of Breakker’s sufficient selling of his neck. The Breakker-standing-up-for-NXT detail added just days ago had me safely predicting the main roster-bound newcomer would regain the title, though I’ve been outspoken on various PWTorch podcasts in my feeling that Ziggler winning – then going on to build up other challengers around him before getting destroyed by Gunther – would be the right move.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Regardless of how many tickets actually sold, the visual of a packed arena should go a fair way in rejeuvenating the perception of this developmental brand’s on-screen programming under the “2.0” reversion to something more closely resembling what NXT was originally intended to be. Though my previously stated logistical and booking quibbles exist, the 7-match event featured no full-on duds, and two great bouts in Gunther vs. Knight and Breakker vs. Ziggler. Overall this 2022 edition of “Stand & Deliver” met what is realistically the the general quality of what NXT’s “TakeOver”-branded events averages out to be, all considered.