3/28 NXT REPORT: Wells’s live report on go-home show featuring Waller responding to Gargano, battle royal for spot in North American Championship match, Hartwell vs. Ruca vs. Nile, more

by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Contributor


MARCH 28, 2023

NXT Commentators: Vic Joseph, Booker T

Ring Announcer: Alicia Taylor

Backstage Correspondent(s): McKenzie Mitchell

Tonight after the show, join me & Nate Lindberg to break down the show with calls and emails.

•CALL: (515) 605-9345

•EMAIL COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: pwtorchnxt@gmail.com


(1) 20-MAN BATTLE ROYAL – Winner receives a spot in the five-way match for the North American Championship

Quincy Elliott was eliminated in seconds, as the final entrant (Apollo Crews) hit the ring. Dante Chen got a brief showcase before Dijak booted him to the floor. A wrestler we haven’t seen yet was eliminated as Vic simply said “another elimination” and didn’t name the victim. Damon Kemp went next. Enofe and Blade put Dijak to the apron, and Odyssey Jones bumped him to the floor. Dijak yanked Jones from the ring and tossed him into the steps, then back inside where Jinder Mahal picked the bones and eliminated him. Enofe, Blade and Mahal all went to the apron and battled. Crews eliminated Enofe as Blade was tossed by Scrypts. Scrypts flew over Mahal and hit the floor. Not sure what he was going for there. Javier Bernal was tossed and the match went to split-screen after the flurry of early eliminations. [c]

Oro Mensah was eliminated by Mahal during split-screen. Back to full-screen, Hank Walker saved himself from an elimination attempt by Drew Gulak and Charlie Dempsey, but Gulak and Walker were both dumped when Dempsey assisted with Walker. Dabba-Kato slammed Crews over and out.

The final five were Charlie Dempsey, Nathan Frazer, Dabba-Kato, Axiom and Mahal. Mahal was eliminated after repeated shots from Axiom and Frazer. All three smaller guys eliminated Dabba-Kato, who took it out on the hood on the announce table. Dempsey and Axiom paired off and Dempsey hit a beautiful German suplex. Frazer flew in and dropkicked Dempsey. Axiom clotheslined Dempsey to the apron, and the two threw palm strikes and collapsed to the floor, where Axiom hit a basement dropkick to end Dempsey’s night.

Axiom and Frazer shook hands. Quick reversals. Both guys hit kicks and arm drags, but couldn’t sustain offense. After a reverse DDT by Frazer, both guys sold on the mat. The two soaked in a “this is awesome” chant and got back to it. Axiom charged into a big thrust kick by Frazer. Frazer hit a big chop in the corner, then set Axiom up on the apron. He went up and hit a superplex. Frazer almost eliminated Axiom, but Axiom reversed. A superkick was likely supposed to eliminate Frazer, but Frazer’s momentum took him back into the ring. Axiom instead ran Frazer to the other end of the ring and tossed him out on the ramp side.

WINNER: Axiom at 14:28.

Dragon Lee, Wes Lee, Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh hit the ring to give a visual of the five guys in Saturday’s match at Stand and Deliver.

(Wells’s Analysis: Lots of deadwood early and very few guys had any kind of notable spots. Axiom and Frazer always pair up well, so it wasn’t too surprising to see them there at the end, especially since Axiom’s meetings with Wes Lee over the last few weeks essentially acted as a spoiler that he would be winning this battle royal)

-Pretty Deadly, in a backstage segment, promoted the NXT North American Championship match. Elton Prince chose McDonagh to win, while Kit Wilson took Dragon Lee.

-Tyler Bate and Chase University fired up near the lockers. Andre Chase gassed up Bate and said tonight’s match was a long time coming. [c]

-Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs talked near the lockers. Kiana James and Fallon Henley showed up after some attempted comedy. Henley said James had something to say. James hemmed and hawed and then sidestepped the issue and said that if Briggs and Jensen win tonight, they’ll be added to the match at Stand and Deliver. If there’s one thing we don’t need at that show, it’s more people in the multi-man matches. Henley couldn’t believe James didn’t admit whatever she was supposed to admit. There’s no way this storyline is ever going to end.

(2) TYLER BATE (w/Chase University) vs. VON WAGNER (w/Mr. Stone)

“Big Strong Boy” chant. The announcers promoted the eight-man match at Stand and Deliver between Schism and Chase U. Wagner grounded Bate early with power offense. Release gorilla press by Wagner, who ran at and kicked Bate in the midsection. Chinlock by Wagner. Bate powered out of a hold and floated over Wagner, who missed with an elbow drop but connected on a lariat and got a two count. Corner lariats and elbows by Wagner. Irish whip and a corner splash by Wagner. Wagner missed a splash in the opposite corner and Bate hit some uppercuts. Wagner shoved Bate to the corner, but Bate hit a knee lift and a diving uppercut. Bop and bang by Bate. Bate ran the ropes and Stone grabbed his leg. Bate went out after him. Stone escaped into the ring, where Thea Hail attacked him to cheers.

Duke Hudson assisted by dumping Stone, and eventually accepted a high five. Bate went back in, set up Wagner and hit the Spinny Boy to win.

WINNER: Tyler Bate at 4:03.

Schism appeared on the screen afterward in a pre-taped segment where the main members gave instruction to PC talents. They said when the bell rings, class will begin. Good video, though Ava Raine still needs work on the mic.

(Wells’s Analysis: The Tyler Driver ’98 is one of the best finishers on the brand. Is it really being replaced? An okay match, though Bate is one of the strongest men on the brand and it wouldn’t hurt to see him dominate, especially against someone who rarely wins. Von Wagner and Mr. Stone seemed to be starting something with the “help me help you” business a month or two ago, but it’s gone nowhere)

-Roxanne Perez walked through the hallways and asked a stagehand where she could find Shawn Michaels. Vic said it was always good to see her, but wondered what she was doing there. [c]

-This Friday, the Hall of Fame ceremony airs following SmackDown.

-Roxanne Perez went into Shawn Michaels’s office. Perez said the doctors cleared her for action. She said it was a mix of exhaustion and anxiety. She wanted a shot again. Michaels was hesitant and said he’d rather crown a new champion and she’d get the first shot after the event. Perez again talked about her anxiety and Michaels said she might be ready physically, but mentally he couldn’t be sure. Michaels said there would be other Stand and Delivers. Perez asked if HBK had felt like that in his career. She said she couldn’t run from her anxiety and she had to face it head-on. She said the only way was to go up and retrieve the title she never lost. HBK relented and said Perez deserved the right to defend at the show and said she could beat this.


This is as close to Stand and Deliver Lopez is going to get at this stage. Lopez threw fists and hit a corner elbow. Feroz blocked and threw rights. Lopez tripped Feroz and dropped her knee on the mat. Lopez twisted Feroz’s ankle and worked the leg on the mat. Feroz tried to roll out of trouble. Lopez attempted an elbow drop and missed. Feroz covered for one. Rope run and a DDT by Feroz got two. Feroz attempted a splash from the top and missed. Lopez hit the Elektra-Shock powerbomb to win.

WINNER: Elektra Lopez at 2:03.

(Wells’s Analysis: It was brief, but the work was pretty strong here. Lopez looked the best she ever has to this point)

-Up next: Eddy Thorpe. Thorpe was known as Karl Fredericks in New Japan, where he worked as a Young Lion, even winning a Young Lion’s Cup tournament, before graduating from the system and getting a brief push on New Japan Strong. Of all the Young Lions there, he’s the one I most expected to land in a major American promotion, and WWE seemed like the likely destination. He can work a good basic match and he has a genuine cool factor on the mic that could shine if they don’t push it too hard. [c]


On the other hand, I still need to get used to his NXT haircut. The audience was smart to Thorpe and gave him a nice ovation. Headlock takeover by Borne, who blocked Thorpe to the mat. High cross-body and a dropkick by Borne. Massive chop and a clubbing blow by Thorpe. Borne hit some rights and a back elbow. Rope run and Borne hit a belly-to-belly for two. Chinlock by Borne. Dragon screw by Thorpe (called “nice takedown” by Vic). Corner boot by Thorpe, who hit a big arm drag and a leaping elbow drop for two. The two exchanged a couple of shots. Saito suplex and a neckbreaker finished.

WINNER: Eddy Thorpe at 3:01.

(Wells’s Analysis: I know that NXT enhancement matches always involve the loser getting way too much offense to open, but could we make an exception for debuts? Both guys looked good in a no-frills match environment)

-Pretty Deadly promoted the Johnny Gargano-Grayson Waller match at Stand and Deliver, wondering whether Waller would accept the Unsanctioned Match stipulation later tonight.

-Sol Ruca was introduced ahead of the next match. [c]

-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Gallus. She wondered why they would want to defend against three teams at Stand and Deliver. They asked why not. Wolfgang said four, six, eight men – it wouldn’t matter. Mark Coffey said they’d find out the hard way – Gallus boys on top.

(5) SOL RUCA vs. INDI HARTWELL vs. IVY NILE – Last chance triple threat match for the final spot in the Women’s Championship ladder match at Stand and Deliver

Nile was introduced second, and Hartwell last. Hartwell might have new music, though I famously don’t notice these things until the fifth or six time they’re used sometimes.


The audience did the Seven Nation Army chant but I couldn’t tell who they were backing. Hartwell got dumped early and Ruca dropkicked Nile to the outside also. Ruca went up and hit a moonsault to the outside on both opponents. Ruca rolled Hartwell in and covered for one. Nile got back in and used a headscissor takedown on Ruca, then hit a back kick and covered for two. Nile tried to snap on a submission but Hartwell broke it up and covered Nile for two. Hartwell booted Nile but Ruca broke it up. Ruca hit a springboard splash for a long two and Nile broke it up. Booker said he “couldn’t get enough” of these triple threat matches. Is he partially to blame for their ubiquity?

More quick covers and kickouts. Ruca hit a superkick on Nile and splash her in the corner. She missed Hartwell in the other corner, and Hartwell slammed her for two. Ruca hit Sol Snatcher on Nile, but Hartwell booted her from the ring and covered Nile to win. Since Hartwell isn’t a heel, Vic completely ignored her heelish picking of the bones and put it over as a world-beating performance.

WINNER: Indi Hartwell at 4:06.

Like with the men earlier, the women in the ladder match all showed up so Vic could mention them going into the ladder match. Hartwell, Zoey Stark, Gigi Dolin, Lyra Valkyria, Tiffany Stratton and Roxanne Perez are the field.

(Wells’s Analysis: I feel good for Indi, who’s been toiling in NXT for some time, but not using Ruca in a ladder match with her skill set seems like a huge miss. Competent work, despite the worst tendencies of the triple threat format on display)

-Pretty Deadly briefly promoted the Women’s match.

-The Bloodline did a WrestleMania Goes Hollywood bit, performing the “Am I a clown to you?” scene from Goodfellas, with Roman Reigns playing Robert DeNiro and Paul Heyman portraying Joe Pesci. It was well done. [c]

-Earlier today, Grayson Waller picked at Johnny Gargano and said he’ll want to listen tonight, because you never know what Waller might say.

-Prime Target: Bron Breakker vs. Carmelo Hayes. The way they’ve built this, I barely remembered the match existed. As the challenger, Hayes was covered first. They showed a scene of him deciding not to party with Trick Williams and an entourage so he could get to work for the match instead. Breakker said he’s been doing this kind of work all his career because that’s what it takes to be the guy. He said matches are won in the film room, where one can scout his opponent. He said he’s “carried the brand on his back for almost two years now.” There were scenes of matches both have had in the last year, and it was nice to see Cameron Grimes for the first time in a while. The music intensified as both guys fired up in their promos. Surprisingly, Breakker was the more reserved of the two. The segment was strong as usual, but I’m not sure it makes up for the fact that the match hasn’t received anywhere near the proper amount of build.

-Hank Walker, pulling double duty (as is his opponent) tonight, was introduced. [c]

-Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn got creepy ahead of their shot at James & Henley at Stand and Deliver.

(6) HANK WALKER vs. DREW GULAK (w/Charlie Dempsey)

Quick reversals early. Back elbow and a lariat by Walker, followed by a big back body drop. Walker rolled into an arm submission and Vic put his wrestling over. More quick reversals on the mat and both guys attempted a stretch muffler. Single-leg crab by Gulak, reversed into the same by Walker. Walker is repeatedly doing the moves Gulak is doing back to him, and the announcers aren’t putting the story over. Gulak dropped knees on Walker. Corner lariat, and another to the blind side, by Gulak. Gulak went up and hit an ugly diving lariat as Walker was possibly out of position. Chinlock by Gulak. Walker powered out and threw body shots. Vic covered for a very ugly Thesz press by Walker. Corner splash by Walker. Walker slammed Gulak and pulled down his singlet to cheers, then hit a body block for two. Gulak rolled through a slam attempt and snapped on a crossface. Walker teased a tap, then escaped. Walker put on his own submission, and Gulak furiously fought his way to the rope to break. Action went near the apron, and the ref somehow missed a big shot by Dempsey on Walker. Inside cradle by Gulak finished.

WINNER: Drew Gulak at 5:50.

(Wells’s Analysis: While a couple of moves were big exceptions, Walker continues to improve. I’m not sure he has much of a gimmick to latch onto outside of his issue with these guys, but for now, it’s something)

-Pretty Deadly covered the men’s and women’s tag team championship matches at Stand and Deliver. I’m not mentioning any of their money lines because they really aren’t being given any, although their personalities are carrying the segments.

-Tony D & Stacks were announced ahead of the next match. [c]

-A WrestleMania spot briefly promoted Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul.

(7) JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN vs. TONY D’ANGELO & CHANNING “STACKS” LORENZO – If Briggs & Jensen win, they will be added to the tag team championship match at Stand and Deliver)

Jensen quickly rolled up Stacks for two when the bell rang. He rolled for another two right after, and a third. Rope run and a big arm drag by Jensen. Stacks hit a body slam. The two grappled on the mat briefly. Briggs made the tag and wanted a body slam, but D grabbed the leg of Stacks to save him and make the tag. Waistlock takedown by D’Angelo, and another. Briggs ran the ropes and blocked D, then clubbed his back. Stacks tagged in and the heels(?) double-teamed Briggs. We went to James and Henley near the lockers watching the match. Henley said after this, she was telling [Jensen.] She walked off and James said “Fallon, let’s talk.”

Briggs and Jensen controlled and the match went to split-screen. [c]

Stacks had Jensen grounded with a headlock. James and Henley were now at ringside. Backbreaker and a rear-side lariat by Stacks. D tagged in and threw fists down at Jensen. Tag to Stacks and the heels teamed up for a Demolition Decapitation, loudly and repeatedly called the Doomsday Device by the forgetful Booker T.

Everyone got involved and Briggs got dumped. D tagged himself in and the heels finished off Jensen.

WINNERS: Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo at 9:57.

Afterward, Henley and James said they had something to talk about. James said she could tell him, but she’d rather show him. She gave Jensen his first kiss. Briggs and Henley hemmed and hawed. [c]

(Wells’s Analysis: The Doomsday Device is so iconic, it’s hilarious that Book thought Demolition’s move (iconic in its own right) is what it was. The match was competent tag team wrestling, and I’m relieved the tag match wasn’t further gummed up by another team and instead this was another milli-step to wherever the ludicrous redneck storyline is heading)

-SmackDown spot promoted the final meeting of Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes before Mania, as well as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

-Vic promoted the Stand and Deliver card, which is more of an employment program than a wrestling card.


-Tom Stoup read my mind in the PWT Talks NXT chat and lost his mind wondering why something called an “Unsanctioned match” would have to be signed. Grayson Waller entered the ring with “security” all around. Waller read some of the contract and the crowd chanted “you can’t read” at him. He said at one point, he was trying to build a relationship with “you idiots” (the fans). “Shut the hell up” chant. He said he put his body on the line in the WarGames match and it was supposed to be his viral moment, but it wasn’t because everyone was only talking about Johnny Wrestling. He said two nights later, he went to the ring and everyone wanted to hear what he had to say, but it took Waller thirty seconds to take it all away. He said he sent himself into the stratosphere because he took Johnny’s advice and bet on himself. He said he had proven everyone wrong because the biggest big-match wrestler in NXT history was begging him to kick his ass. He said just like “Mr. WrestleMania Shawn Michaels,” he was going to lose in a big spot. He went on and Gargano’s music played. Waller threw off his shirt and readied himself. The camera showing Waller’s back started bouncing about and another camera showed that the cameraman had put it down and removed his mask to show he was Gargano the whole time. Gargano charged at Waller and the security guys tried to break them up to no avail. “Let them fight” chant rang out as the two were finally pulled off one another. Gargano got a scrape and was bleeding a little from the face. The show went off the air at eight past the hour, per usual.

(Wells’s Analysis: This match is the one with the best build at Stand and Deliver, and nothing comes remotely close. There’s even an argument to make this the main event at the show over the depressing afterthought that is Breakker vs. Hayes, but the Championship match has largely been touted as the youngest main event in WrestleMania weekend history, so it won’t be. This was one last strong segment in a list of many for this match)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Lots of little things ate away at me about this episode, but all in all, I think it succeeded in promoting the majority of the matches at Stand and Deliver. Although a lot of matches were involved in that build, the best builds were outside the confines of a match, with the Roxanne Perez storyline after the kayfabe injury and the Waller-Gargano segments leading the way. It also was another good week of development, as Hank Walker continued moving upward and Elektra Lopez worked her smoothest match to date. I’ll be a mixed bag of emotions as I talk NXT with Nate Lindberg tonight. Check us out live or stream tomorrow. Cheers.

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