NXT kept things going with Night 2 from TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.
Much was at stake on the second night: four titles were at stake and a heated rivalry high on the map as former members of the undisputed era Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly clashed in an unapproved match hit each other.
MORE: NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night 1 results, match scores
New champions have been crowned and the show ended in violence well worth getting out of the way.
Here’s how it all went.
Santos Escobar def. Jordan Devlin unifies the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
That match had lasted long after the pandemic prevented Devlin from defending his title in the United States. Escobar took a version of the title and held it for almost a year. This gave us a very razor Ramon versus Shawn Michaels head match element in a union between talents who hadn’t met in NXT. On paper it looked like it might be the match of the night, with contrasting styles and two excellent workers.
It didn’t quite reach those peaks, but it was a solid start.
Escobar controlled the early part of the game and the action slowly accelerated with more daring moves and counters. Things got more violent when a striking exchange ended and Escobar slapped his knee against Devlin’s face. Devlin performed a beautiful moonsault from the ladder.
Legado del Fantasma attacked Devlin as he was climbing the ladder. It felt completely unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the match, especially when Devlin recovered relatively quickly and threw Escobar a ladder to prevent him from taking the titles. There was a Spanish fly off the top of the ladders and eventually the wrestlers returned upstairs with the titles within reach. Escobar kicked Devlin’s head off the top of the ladder to claim the titles and become the undisputed champion. Pretty good game, but it just hasn’t reached the heights these two were able to perform.
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon def. The way to keep the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship
The match had no build to speak of and could have suffered as the teams just didn’t roll the dice early. It wasn’t like they weren’t working hard, but it just felt like the match was missing an advantage. They also seemed to hide Indi Hartwell’s inexperience well, but the champions spread most of the remarkable offense.
And then we had an accidentally dangerous point that was the climax of the game and could have ended horribly.
A top suicida attempt by Blackheart let out an audible gasp as she crashed straight into the guardrail between Hartwell and LeRae. Fortunately, Blackheart didn’t injure himself and Moon dived outside to take down The Way.
The match ended with a double lunar eclipse interrupted by a Senton bomb from Blackheart.
It was good. Not bad, not great. All good.
The bigger question is, how is NXT going to keep the women’s tag teams division fresh, considering that there are very few tag teams?
Johnny Gargano def. Bronson Reed retains the North American NXT Championship
The match felt like something put in to fill up the time and make sure Gargano was featured on TakeOver even though there wasn’t a feud.
That being said, Gargano is an absolutely standout wrestler who rarely, if ever, falters, and Reed had his best match on NXT.
There is no question that Gargano is the best wrestler ever to compete in NXT, and he continues to deliver whenever asked to. Not to mention that he always gets the best out of his opponents.
In the beginning, Reed used his significant economies of scale to quell any attempts by Gargano to outsmart his oversized opponent. Poisonrana from Gargano resulted in a Gargano escape from which Reed maneuvered out. Reed countered the one final beat with one blow and threw Gargano into the ring with a razor blade.
Of course, Austin Theory had to get involved by putting Gargano’s leg on the ropes during a pin attempt. Reed fought both of them and showed his athleticism with a suicide dive that destroyed the theory. Gargano tried to sneak into One Final Beat, but was countered for another nearfall. Reed won the upper hand in a Superkick bout, but a missed Moonsault attempt was followed by Gargano, who crushed Reed with two One Final Beat finishers to keep the title.
No story. No problem.
Gargano is doing it again.
Grade: B +
Karrion Kross def. Finn Bálor for the NXT championship
Kross hasn’t had a really great match in NXT, while Balor’s run has been his best since returning since signing with WWE.
Kross needed this match to be great, and the psychology behind it allowed it to be his best match in NXT on a country mile.
Interestingly, Balor brought it to Kross with a combination of strikes and submission wrestling in the first half of the game while the challenger struggled to keep up. It was a surprising twist that suggested that Balor came into play with a game plan to neutralize Kross’ penchant for overpowering his opponent with brute force.
It was smart and a tactic well played. Kross had to work from below when Balor took his opponent apart. Every time Kross seemed to gain momentum, he was cut off by an attempt at submission or a well-placed blow that damaged the undefeated monster.
Balor outwitted his opponent again with a counter-pele kick, which led to the Coup de Grace, but Kross turned the pin attempt into a chokehold, which Balor escaped with a double kick.
At Scarlett’s urging, Kross escaped a tummy tuck and plowed Balor with a series of elbows until the Champion nearly passed out. With the momentum on his side and the knowledge that he couldn’t allow Balor to get his second wind, Kross immediately hit a doomsday Saito suplex and followed up with a pair of brutal forearms behind the neck that finished the job.
If Kross can have matches like this, he will have a great run as a champion. However, it should not be underestimated how important psychology was in shaping the narrative of the game.
Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole in an unapproved match
This was for sure the best-built feud in TakeOver as the former members of the undisputed era went to war.
The worst part of the match, by far, was their new entry themes. Shot. The other complaint is that it was a little long and was about to wear out its reception. But O’Reilly gave his friend turned enemy his comeuppance with a brutal ending. O’Reilly drove a steel chain knee into Cole’s head, who was sitting in a chair.
It took us a while to get there, but when it started the match was solid but just a notch below spectacular.
As expected, Cole and O’Reilly hit and beat each other without remorse. Well, maybe a little regret. There were many more wrestling holds in this unapproved match than one would expect in a blood feud between bitter rivals.
Eventually the business of chairs and chains that were brought into battle picked up. The use of the chain was creative as the duo used it for neckbreakers, backstabbers, and submission holds.
When O’Reilly got into conflict over fighting his ex-boyfriend, he hesitated for a moment. But he snapped back and hit Cole with a brainbuster on the announcer’s table, which didn’t break. O’Reilly was chasing after Cole, but was hit by a monitor slapping him in the face. Cole brought a toolbox into the ring and tried to put a pair of pliers on O’Reilly. When that failed, he tried to hit his opponent with a tire iron.
An exchange of strikes was broken off with a blow from Cole. Cole knocked out the referee for trying to use a chair, which was strange because the match wasn’t approved. Cole hit the Panama Sunrise but when he took out the umpire he had no one to count the pin. And then Cole called the referee stupid. And that was strange too.
Somewhere around that point, the length of the game became felt. Fortunately, they caught the action just in time.
There was a back and forth on the outside until O’Reilly sank into a guillotine. But Cole drove O’Reilly through the floor of the entrance ramp. Cole pinned O’Reilly onto the steel steps with a brainbuster and then rolled him back into the ring, but O’Reilly barely managed to lift a shoulder to avoid the pinfall. O’Reilly avoided the last shot and grabbed a heel hook. But Cole smashed O’Reilly with the chain to break the handle. O’Reilly countered the sunrise in Panama, kicked Cole and followed with a final shot for a near-fall.
The two fought again, but Cole made the mistake of talking too much and not fighting enough. That allowed O’Reilly to return the favor with a low blow and finish the job with that violent ending.
The final stretch was great, but the match could have lost a few minutes and been a little more violent given the “unapproved” provision.