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NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver Night Two recap & reactions - In the deep water now

Takeover continued last night (Apr. 8) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida with night two of Stand & Deliver. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Finn Bálor vs. Karrion Kross

It’s business, but it’s also personal. By the numbers Finn Bálor is the icon of NXT, with two title reigns combined that equal almost 500 total days as NXT champion. “The Prince” has nothing to prove except to himself, but that alone is powerful motivation for an athlete as driven as him. The record books also record that Karrion Kross was only a three day champion before having to abdicate the title due to a shoulder injury, and it was this injury that allowed Bálor to claim the vacant title. Kross wants to prove he can be the champion he should have been, but he also wants to prove Bálor wrong — he won’t “drown” in the ocean of Bálor’s experience. Only one man walked away last night having proved their point. For his part Bálor didn’t seem too worried about the outcome.

If you like a hard hitting contest with a lot of near falls, submission attempts and no interference, this was your cup of tea. I drank thirstily and may have even spilled a little of the tea. Scarlett stayed on the outside, cheering her man on, but otherwise leaving it up to the competitors to take care of business. Bálor tried to work both the left arm and the midsection to weaken Kross so he’d be unable to breathe in the ocean of the match, but all of those assaults couldn’t keep him down. Even the coup de grace couldn’t keep him down. In the end Kross unleashed a furious assault of ground and pound from behind to knock him out, hit a Saito suplex to wake him back up, then hit a forearm to the back of the head to knock him out AGAIN. That’s how Karrion Kross became champion for a second time.

Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly

This match was ENTIRELY personal. After years of friendship together in The Undisputed Era, that bond was weakened as Kyle O’Reilly sought to dethrone Bálor, and an enraged Adam Cole superkicked him for his efforts. In the aftermath Cole’s crew of ne’er-do-wells dissolved and the excuses began to flow. Cole claimed he was a blind man just now seeing that the group he led was only holding him back. O’Reilly claimed Cole was a lying manipulator who was always in it for himself, and that while Cole had stagnated in his arrogance, O’Reilly was the one who grew to become a better human being. They fought. They yelled. They signed a “hold harmless” agreement and fought some more. Adam Cole (bay bay) was confident he’d be the last man standing after Takeover night two.

For his part Kyle O’Reilly couldn’t wait to get started, head moshing his way to the ring.

And Adam Cole “bay bay” was just as psyched for the war to come.

I’m not sure that words can do this match justice. I would tell you to get Peacock just to watch it, but I don’t get anything in return from them if I do, and honestly the stream crashed several times as I was watching. Despite that this was easily one of the sickest matches I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve seen hardcore street brawls that were less brutal. I’ve seen barbed wire exploding ring matches that were less sick. I have a better idea than using words — a few .gifs are worth at least a thousand right? Let’s look at some of the carnage. Here’s O’Reilly telling Cole to “have a seat.”

And here’s Adam Cole saying “have two” with a Shining Wizard.

I think it’s more painful when announce tables DON’T break than when they do.

Adam Cole had to use a tire iron in desperation when O’Reilly had the advantage.

The ref begged Cole not to break O’Reilly’s neck with a steel chair onto another steel chair around his head, so Cole responded by KNOCKING HIM OUT COLD.

That proved to be a fatal mistake because Cole had a pinfall for at least a seven count with no referee there to count it. The NeXTras were fine with that though as they wanted these two men to “fight for-ever.” So did I. O’Reilly tried to submit Cole with a guillotine on the entrance ramp, so Cole saved himself by taking both of them THROUGH IT to the floor.

What would it take to end a match with this kind of carnage, no rules, anything goes? EXTREME SADISM. Kyle O’Reilly laid out Adam Cole with a low blow to the groin, wrapped a steel chain around his right leg up to the knee and tied it into place, jumped off the ropes and CONNECTED right to the head. That put Adam Cole down and out for three for good.

Santos Escobar vs. Jordan Devlin

My co-host Peter H hates nothing more in mixed martial arts than interim titles. I think they’re good for one thing though — unification bouts. When champion is forced into a position where he can’t defend his throne, a usurped comes along and tries to take his place, and for all of his “sangre y tradición” strut that’s exactly what Santos Escobar is. Jordan Devlin came back from the UK to prove he’s the one and only cruiserweight king, but he’d need a ladder and a title match to reclaim his crown.

It’s hard to do a spot in a ladder match that long time wrestling fans haven’t already seen, so you can’t say that either man did anything unexpected, but you also can’t say either one did anything wrong. Highlights include Devlin doing a moonsault from the VERY TOP of a ladder, Devlin doing a Spanish Fly with Escobar off TWO ladders, and Escobar sending Devlin off a ladder through another ladder to the mat — the latter leaving him standing all alone under both belts. He promptly unhooked them to unify the gold. It’s worth noting that Legado del Fantasma ran out to help Escobar by interfering, even though he did not do the same for them in the tag title triple threat 24 hours ago.

Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed

“The Colossal” Bronson Reed outlasted almost a dozen men over the course of two weeks, running the gauntlet on Wednesday to become the #1 contender to North American champion Johnny Gargano. While the monstrously athletic Reed had an undeniable size advantage going in, Gargano had the same ace up his sleeve that he always does — his lovely wife Candice LeRae and their flunkies Indi Hartwell and Austin Theory. The four of them together still might not outweigh Reed, but they could still show him “The Way” things are done in NXT. Who would prevail here?

How do you stop a man the size of Bronson Reed from dominating? Give him an injury to “the girth” as Wade Barrett calls it, meaning that Reed was selling his midsection for the majority of the match. Gargano would kick him in it, shove him into the announce desk with it, hit knees to the body on it when Reed was grounded, and continually try to soften the big man up. That let to Reed being one step too slow every time he went to the top rope for a Tsunami, but it didn’t hurt that Austin Theory was also running interference to make SURE that Reed never gained the upper hand. After multiple superkicks and two straight Final Beats, “Mr. Takeover” was able to retain the North American title. This was FINE. It wasn’t even close to the best thing on night two of Takeover, but they told the story they wanted to and got the job done bell to bell.

Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart

Speaking of The Way, Candice LeRae felt that she and Indi Hartwell “deserved” to be NXT’s Women’s tag team champions. Having only just recently dethroned Dakota Kai and the new women’s world champion Raquel González after they were inaugurated, Shotzi Blackheart vowed to T.C.B. (take care of business) against any challengers to their title reign.

As you can see from the clip above, all four women were busting their asses figuratively and literally in the ring. The more I see of Indi Hartwell the more I like her, and I’ve appreciated the work of Candice LeRae since her Pro Wrestling Guerrilla days, so it’s almost a shame that they weren’t victorious at Takeover — almost. In the end though they succumbed to Moon hitting a double Eclipse on The Way, followed by Blackheart hitting a senton off the ropes to pin Hartwell. I applaud everybody involved for their effort in this title match.

Breezango vs. Drake Maverick & Killian Dain

WWE can’t resist adding bonus matches to the Takeover pre shows, so Breezango faced Drake Maverick & Killian Dain to determine the future #1 contender for new tag team champions MSK. There was a lot of comedy involved (as you’d expect) but the actual bell to bell wrestling was well executed. Maverick is for better or worse the perfect size for a face in peril who takes a two-on-one beatdown, and pairing him with Dain makes it even more impressive when you see him toss both Tyler Breeze and Fandango around single-handedly. Dain powerbombed his partner onto Fandango to finish the match and get the win!

Grade: A+

I could give night two of Takeover that rating just for the main event alone. When you finish with a match that strong, the whole rest of the show gets elevated right along with it. If you watched Stand & Deliver night two, you’re never going to forget the brutality you saw here. It overshadows everything else on the card, even an excellent world title match where Karrion Kross was crowned the champion for a second time. No sloppy matches. No matches cut short. Everything was either good, great, or FANTASTIC.

Get up from your cageside seats and sound off below. See you NeXT Tuesday!

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