SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
INDI HARTWELL vs. TIFFANY STRATTON
Was tonight the night for Indi Hartwell? That was the question being asked on commentary many times throughout the course of the matchup. The winner of this match would go on to Stand & Deliver in the Ladder Match for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Indi has had a strong year thus far, showing up in the Royal Rumble and showing a bit more edge to her character as of late. Seeing her challenge for the women’s title would be another feather in her cap. However, with Tiffany Stratton as a clear golden child for the WWE brass, it was hard to imagine Stratton staring at the lights for Hartwell tonight.
After a pretty decent opening match, it turned out that all the talk on commentary about Hartwell was just a red herring and my hunch about Stratton was correct. Stratton won with a beautiful moonsault off the top rope, sending her to Stand & Deliver in less than two weeks.
ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. JD MCDONAGH
The next chapter of their rivalry was written tonight on NXT, and what a treat it was. Dragunov and McDonagh are phenomenal talents in the ring, so any time we get to watch them mix it up is a delight for me.
Both men started the match in high gear, and it just continued as time went on. Amazing chemistry together.
Earlier in the night, Dragon Lee debuted to ask his brother Wes (I couldn’t resist the low-hanging bad joke) for a spot in the North American title match at Stand and Deliver. McDonagh interrupted and made his entrance for this match, then invited Dragon Lee to sit ringside and watch how it’s “really done”. Dragon Lee obliged, and sat next to the commentary team, intently watching the contest.
McDonagh and Dragunov took each other to their limits, with McDonagh slightly more offensive than Dragunov. Fantastic in-ring storytelling, with Dragunov trying to fight from underneath to beat his rival.
The action spilled to the outside of the ring, when both men accidentally hit Dragon Lee causing a brawl and disqualification. Wes Lee then came in to make the save, leaving all four men brawling to end the segment.
IVY NILE vs. LYRA VALKYRIA
The 2nd match of the night to qualify for the NXT Womens Championship Ladder Match at Stand & Deliver saw Ivy Nile take on Lyra Valkyria.
This was one of Nile’s better matches on NXT TV, even if it was on the shorter side. While I’ve been high on her since her debut, she’s still honing her craft and that’s been pretty apparent for the majority of her matches. With Lyra Valkyria as a dance partner, Nile’s performance tonight was certainly worth pointing out.
Nile’s performance wasn’t enough to secure the win, as Lyra Valkyria rather easily beat Nile. This was similar to the first match of the night where even though I felt like Indi deserved the spot, it was hard to not see Stratton winning due to her stance in the company. Same here, Valkyria has been pushed hard and she’s also very new to NXT. It makes sense to give her the spot at Stand & Deliver to get the audience more acclimated to her.
PRETTY DEADLY vs. BRON BREAKKER & CARMELO HAYES
To kick off the show tonight the hosts of Stand & Deliver, Pretty Deadly, made their way to the ring to boast about being the hosts for the show. They made mention of Carmelo Hayes, leading him and Trick Williams to the ring. Pretty Deadly wound up challenging Carmelo and seemingly Williams to a match. Williams accepted the match, but then said that Melo would be teaming with Bron Breakker. This confused Melo, and PD attacked. Breakker came out and made the save.
It was a little confusing as to why Williams had Breakker enter the match, but ultimately the two of them needed to coexist if they wanted to come out on top tonight. Surprisingly they actually worked very well together and watched each other’s backs. Earlier in the night, they met backstage and said they wanted each other at 100%. But, I expected Melo or Williams to have something up their sleeve.
PD kept Melo isolated from Williams for quite some time before Breakker got the hot tag. Breakker cleaned house and then tagged Williams in to hit Nothing But Net for the win.
Incredibly, the show went off the air without any shenanigans from Williams or Melo. The two worked well together and stayed on the same page throughout.
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