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NXT Stand & Deliver 2022 recap & reactions: 2.0 delivers

NXT 2.0 proves its worth with a show worthy of all your flowers

Welcome, everyone, to Stand & Deliver! NXT’s culmination of a hectic 12 months is finally here. Claire has you covered on the play-by-play, and I’m analyzing what it all means in the grand scheme of things for a brand in the midst of change.

Ready?

Good. Let’s talk Stand & Deliver!


To...the...moon

Before we get into this incredible match proper-like, let me say this again: Trick Williams is THE MVP. Of the match, of the brand, and quite possibly of the year. Trick brings so much to the proceedings with his mannerisms, his willingness to do whatever, say whatever, and serve as a Swiss Army knife for anything of which he’s involved. Salute that man. If you’re in Dallas this weekend and happen to see him, give him props.

This adjourns this meeting of the Trick Williams Appreciation Society. We now return to your regularly scheduled program.

This ladder match. I mean, seriously. This ladder match. I didn’t understand Stand & Deliver setting it off with a match of this caliber and with these stakes.

Then it happened and I was overjoyed with the direction they chose. The story of Carmelo Hayes’ reign is his desire to fight any and everyone. He takes on all comers. Not due to a sense of pride like a normal babyface champion, but because his ego needs feeding.

Without a tall challenge in front of him, that ego starves and suffers from malnourishment. On more than one occasion, I said homie bites off more than he can chew. With this food metaphor stretched as far as it can go, the bottomline is Melo’s hubris finally bit him in the ass.

Cameron Grimes is your new NXT North American champion, and Melo was literally on his back when it happened.

The match started with Melo in the center of the ring talking trash to his competitors. Hayes told them straight up and down, they’re not worthy of his championship. Well, if you know professional sports entertainment wrestling, you know those are fighting words. A brawl ensued, with Santos Escobar dominating for quite a bit. His luchador flavor was necessary for this brawl and also proved detrimental. But we’ll get to that.

The match’s tempo changed when all the managers, bodyguards, and stablemates on the outside finally got involved. Sanga threw Grayson Waller a ladder. LdF sent Santos a ladder. Trick not only set up a ladder for his boy and tossed people off to save the title, but he climbed it once as well. He ended up on the outside of the ring as a result, but like so many times in the past, Trick was more than willing to take a bullet for his best friend.

Eventually, the outside noise was neutralized. LdF took out Sanga, which included a beautiful top rope cross body from Elektra Lopez to Grayson Waller, while Trick spent the last half of the match recovering from, ya know, getting thrown off said ladder.

Eventually, with bodies everywhere, it came down to Cameron Grimes and Carmelo Hayes. It was always going to be that, right? They battled on the apron and, like a pair of opponents who know each other way too well, traded simultaneous pump kicks. Grimes landed on the apron while Hayes landed on a ladder.

And this is where the match turned.

Grayson Waller, more concerned with going viral, jumped from the tallest ladder possible to land a big move on Hayes. But, as is the case with Waller way too often, he took too long. He soaked in the moment just a bit longer than necessary, and missed big. Now, I’m still not sure if Melo simply moved or if Trick pulled him out of the way since Trick had a front row view.

Since this is a Trick Williams love fest, I’m going with the latter in my head canon. While Trick and Melo looked on at a broken ladder and an even more broken Waller, the match continued.

Melo took to the ring, took a Phantom Driver from Escobar, and was defenseless to what happened next. Santos turned around to catch a Cave In from Grimes off of a ladder.

With bodies everywhere and another ladder still erect in the middle of the ring, Grimes climbed to the moon and finally delivered on his promise.

Dope match, dope match, dope match. There’s nothing more to say. But I will...

While I wanted Melo to win because I love Melo, this is the right call in the moment. Time will tell where everyone goes from here, but Cameron Grimes as the North American champ certainly sets a different tone and vibe. There’s also a chance Melo and Trick are taking their act to the main roster. Or, maybe, going after the NXT championship.

But that’s for later. For now? Give all the flowers to everyone involved, and watch this match right now if you missed it live.


The Queen Stay the Queen

There was a telling moment early in Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Women’s championship. Kay Lee Ray and Io Shirai had their fun with Cora Jade and Mandy Rose. They met back in the middle of the ring, shook hands, and proceeded to actually wrestle each other. The question going into this match was whether KLR and Io can keep it together long enough to dominate and then fight each other for the title. And when would they toss their friendship out of the window because gold is on the line.

That seemingly small moment played a pivotal role in the outcome of this wild and fun championship match. Mandy Rose held her own as the champion, getting physical when she needs to while taking advantage of mistakes. Cora Jade, Io, and KLR were out to take the championship, so they went all out. This included Cora doing a Canadian Destroyer on Kay Lee Ray on the freaking ring apron.

And a moment came when Mandy got out of her lane and almost paid for it. Mandy went to the top rope, where she rarely goes, and Io caught her. Io hits a beautiful Spanish Fly, goes for the count, and said count is interrupted by a diving Cora.

KLR and Cora tango and the former hits the KLR Bomb. For some reason, she decides against the pin attempt and goes to the top rope. If there’s one huge mistake in this match, that was the one, since the match was over at that point. But KLR, either out hubris or desperation, wanted more.

As Kay perched on the top rope, her partner, Io, pushed her off at the last minute. Io goes for her patented moonsault onto Cora Jade, and right before she goes for the pin, Mandy Rose pushes her out of the way and steals the W with a cover on Cora.

Mandy’s reign is not only about survival but just being smarter than everyone. Partners devour themselves trying to get what Mandy has and keep coming up short. A good match on a a card filled with them, even if it told a similar story for the champ.


Zig Zag

While this wasn’t the best match Dolph Ziggler or Bron Breakker had in NXT, it was a good one. There were a few moments that made me scrunch my face on a couple rushed spots, but those are minor complaints. This match was high drama because of course Bron is winning, right? Dolph’s insurance policy got kicked to the back, Bron kicked out of or countered Dolph’s best stuff, and there was truly no way to stop the big man. So that’s that.

Bron walks away with the title and all is right in NXT. Dolph even exposed a middle turnbuckle that apparently everyone forgot about, but hey, he’s a bad guy and his plan failed. All good. Right?

But then something weird happened. For longtime fans, we know what happens when the ref throws someone to the back. They’re kicked out of the match and that’s that. But even as a kid, I wondered what happens if the excommunicated person decides to come back to the ring? To steal an observation from Sean, what happens if someone treats the ref like Will Smith treated the Academy and said “nah”?

Bron Breakker had this match won. We got the spears. We got the military press slam. It was over and we were going home to prep for the rest of the night. But then Big Bob Roode, already thrown out of the match, comes back down and saves his partner’s bacon. Thankfully, the ref didn’t DQ the champ, but it was a storytelling wrinkle I appreciated. Now, it was truly anyone’s game because the wrestling rules we’re accustomed to didn’t matter.

Bron, fittingly, threw Roode into the steel steps and the back and forth continued. Ziggler kept hitting Bron with everything in his arsenal to no avail. Eventually, he went for the Shawn Michaels special as I call it: Elbow drop from the top rope, Sweet Chin Music wind up pitch in the corner. Only Bron defied the rules himself and was up in Ziggler’s eyesight as he went in for the kick.

Ziggler looked shook and like there was nothing else at his disposal. Breakker went into his final move set, going for the Spear and Military Press Slam again. But this time, Dolph went for the ultimate dirty trick: He raked Bron’s eye. Dolph pushed the blinded big man into the exposed turnbuckle, landed a kick to the side of his jaw, and sent the crowd home shocked.

Bron clearly has several outs here as this isn’t a clean W even with a slanted eye. But it begs the question if he even challenges for the title again. And, if he does, what to do about Big Bob? Bron has to know he’s never getting a clean shot at the title as long as Roode is around. Steel cage? Hell in a Cell? The big man’s only ally is moving to redder pastures, which means he either needs to make friends or neutralize Ziggler’s advantage on his own.

The NXT title picture is curiouser and curiouser by the day.


Thank you, Ciampa

This wasn’t the longest match and truthfully, I didn’t enjoy it that much. It was fine, but I think it suffered from placement. Doing Ciampa’s last NXT match following that ladder match is unfair. But, it’s the man’s last match in a brand he helped define, so it gets special notice.

As predicted, Ciampa took an L to Tony D’Angelo. But it was how he loss that felt poetic. The match really started as a Tommaso Ciampa’s greatest hits. We got a lot of knee strikes, we got the brutality in the ring corners, and we got the Blackheart peeling back the outside mat to reveal Chekov’s concrete. Eventually, D’Angelo found his footing and fought back, but it was still Ciampa’s story.

Then Tony D kicked out of the Fairytale Ending and, well, it was clear where this was going.

Tony eventually resulted to his dirty tricks. He grabbed the crowbar, which the refereee spotted and took, and then he went for a low blow behind the ref’s back. But Ciampa wasn’t going out that way.

Chekov’s concrete came into play when the men battled to the outside and a frustrated Tony D DDT’d Ciampa onto the exposed concrete. Its was academic from there and Tony D walked away with the W.

That Ciampa fell on his own petard was good storytelling. Tony got the pin, but he didn’t beat Ciampa as much as Ciampa’s own nefarious ways bit him in the ass one last time.

I appreciated the storytelling a lot more than the actual match. As the crowd clapped it up for Tommaso when he bid farewell and walked up the ramp, a familiar tune hit. Triple H, fresh off his retirement and seemingly so far away from NXT these days, showed up to show love to a man he clearly has so much affection for. It was a great curtain call for Ciampa and the era of NXT he built with Triple H.


Extracurriculars

Your Winners...and NEW NXT Women’s Tag...

I’m starting the weekend 0-1 on my predictions. Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez are your new NXT Women Tag champs. And you know what? I’m glad I was wrong. Based on the flow of the match, which started with Toxic Attraction attacking Raquel’s injured knee only for Big Mami Cool to show her knee is bionic, the outcome makes all the sense in the world.

Toxic Attraction isolated Dakota, realizing they wanted no static with the big woman. Dakota seemingly found another gear with her old partner in tow, but clearly felt the brunt of getting beat down for a lot of the match. Any time Raquel got her moment to shine, she was a bright diamond. But Gigi and Jacy made sure those moments were few and far in between. Going into this match, I figured they wanted to tell the story of Dakota and Raquel finding their groove again. They were best friends, tag partners, and then better enemies. The actual story was just how in sync they were and that Toxic Attraction possibly took them for granted.

They also took Wendy Choo for granted. After Dakota somehow survived Toxic Shock, Gigi found herself face to face with Wendy Choo. Well, more like face to pillow. And then face to soda. Jacy was distracted just long enough to give Dakota her second wind, and set the stage for Raquel to finish Jacy with the one armed powerbomb. A triumphant return and a sizable dent in Toxic Attraction’s armor. Me thinks Wendy Choo better watch her back.

Good pre-show match that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

DIPSET!

Wade Barrett said Dipset on NXT television. I can die now.

But you’re not here for that. You’re here to know MSK finally climbed their way back to the top of the mountain. Your new NXT Tag champs went through a violent hell, defeating the Creed Bros. and Imperium. Wes Lee and Nash Carter completed their 365 day journey with reckless abandon as always, while allowing their opponents to beat each other up.

The highlight of the match, possibly the highlight of Stand & Devlier, was Brutus Creed hitting a cannonball off the top rope and taking out everyone on the outside of the ring. That’s a big man with a lot of athletic ability. This was less of a match and more of a fun highlight reel car crash. If you find those things fun. Not to say I do but hey, sometimes...Anyway, the right team won. Not just because I predicted them, but because MSK need those belts at the moment.

New Music, Same GUNTHER

This should be it in NXT for LA Knight. Shocking no one, GUNTHER picked up the W here. Knight put up a fight though, and truly gave it all he could. They worked in Knight’s recent back injury, giving him an out even though there’s no shame in losing to a man who dominates on the regular.

Your Girlfriend’s Hotter

The fan poll says Index is a hotter couple than Duke Hudson and Persia Pirotta. I don’t particularly care but just thought you should know. Oh, we’re also clearly building to an inter-gender tag match.


Stand & Deliver didn’t miss. NXT, whether it’s NXT prime, 1.0, 2.0, or whatever AOL iteration you want to call it, continues this streak of dope big events. The match of the afternoon was first the ladder match, and for the most part, everyone kept up.

That’s it. No more to say. They delivered like an eighty-pound baby.

Grade: A

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.