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NXT recap & reactions (Mar. 28, 2023): These two might steal the show

Johnny Gargano surprises, Roxanne Perez shocks, and Kiana James finally gives Jensen some news in the last NXT before Stand & Deliver.

Full Effect

There’s something poetic about Johnny Gargano getting a grudge match at Stand & Deliver. As Grayson said this week, it’s a full circle moment for him and Johnny. Grayson wants Johnny’s spot, bottomline. He craves that adoration and love, even if his anger hides it. Grayson called him the “greatest big match superstar in NXT history” and Grayson used Johnny as his own launching pad 15 months ago when he blasted him with a steel chair and became the man we know today. Johnny essentially created Grayson.

Johnny “made” Grayson on his way out the door and when he walked back into that door, his family paid the price when Grayson stalked them at their home. After all the time away, I doubt Johnny foresaw an unsanctioned match with Waller at Stand & Deliver. And yet, it makes sense.

Props to everyone involved for making this seem like long-form storytelling and reading this much emotion in a pretty short time. We all expected Johnny at Grayson’s contract signing because, duh, wrestling. But that didn’t make it less fulfilling seeing him put hands on a guy who deserves more than what he got in that moment.

Carmelo Hayes and Bron Breakker might get all the hype but there’s a chance these two steal the show right out from under their feet. They had the more effective build, an easier heel vs. face dynamic, and it got extra personal. And hearing Grayson put the whole story together this week, starting from that one chair shot all those moons ago, put the finishing touches on some solid storytelling over the past month.

If they choose the right type of violence, win or lose, this does wonders for Grayson’s career and gets him one step closer to the main roster.


Axiom Delivers

The Battle Royal coming down to Axiom and Nathan Frazer felt inevitable. Battle Royal’s get chaotic and this one lived up to that as the perfect way to start the show. The booking worked out really well in that we got some new beefs (Dijak and Odyssey Jones), old faces forgotten (shoutout to Xyon Quinn and Quincy!), and some surprises (Apollo Crews not lasting into the final minutes).

But it all built to Frazer vs. Axiom. These two put on a mini clinic which, in story, makes so much sense with the North American championship on the line and a big match in the future. Whoever survived that battle truly earned their spot at Stand & Deliver. Axiom stood victorious and that alone makes an already must-see match into a bigger deal.

Roxanne, Roxanne

I don’t like this Roxanne Perez angle. While I understand the aim, I don’t think it’s the right move. Roxanne coming back and truly defending her title at Stand & Deliver works for me. Despite my criticisms of her character, I’m a fan and she’s so young with so much room to grow. But revealing she suffers from “crippling anxiety” after already showing out in some pretty big spots, including beating Mandy Rose for that title one night after outlasting tough competition in the first match of its kind? That’s a hard pill for anyone because it contradicts.

It potentially makes her the sentimental favorite and shining up her babyface even more, but it also feels like the first draft idea that no one argued down because they had nothing better.


Last week, I pondered what’s happening with Indi Hartwell. This week, I got my answer. Indi survived the last chance match against Sol Ruca and Ivy Nile. I loved the ending as it signified Indi’s story. Ivy had her in her finisher, Sol caught Ivy in a beautiful Sol Snatcher, and Indi capitalized on the opening. She kicked Sol out the ring and blasted Ivy with a forearm to the head for the W. Count her out and she shows why that’s foolish. I dig it!


Elektra Lopez defeating Valentina Feroz makes sense but I don’t like the fact she won cleanly. Besides giving the angle more room for growth, it just further Elektra’s point while giving Valentina a bigger hill.


I expected a hype video about Bron Breakker vs. Carmelo Hayes this week. I predicted something underwhelming but I came away impressed and, well, hyped. It told a succinct story of two guys on an inevitable collision course and the sacrifices happening on both sides before Stand & Deliver. We also got juxtaposition between who they are as people and how those differences influence their approach to training and to the match. It’s worth your time, especially since it doesn’t take up that much time.


Eddy Thorpe looked pretty good during his debut match this week. I like his energy, like his look, and he’s got a pretty sweet move set. He didn’t get a lot of time against Myles Borne, but he showed he belongs.

Schism vs. Chase U

Tyler Bate defeated Von Wagner and my number one question concerned Von Wagner. What’s happening? What are we doing? Weeks ago, it looked like maybe something in the air related to Von and Mr. Stone. Then they kept repeating the same beat with no follow through. Now he’s losing in pretty decisive fashion with his angle seemingly lost to time whole becoming an actual footnote in someone else’s story.

On the other hand, Schism appeared on screen after the match and spooked the audience with their plans for Chase U. I think Chase U has something here with Tyler in the fold and it looks like a potential endgame with Tyler on one side of the ring and Duke Hudson on the other. Maybe Tyler takes his place and keeps elevating that stable.

Gulag Cheats

Hank Walker keeps looking better even though he’s still rough around the edges. Working with Drew Gulak helps him and judging from the ending, that working relationship isn’t over yet. If the story isn’t really showing Gulak that Hank is on his level but that he’s taking Hank lightly and that his former student truly took those lessons to heart, then Charlie Dempsey helping Drew cheat for the W makes sense. It’s not the most compelling story but it makes sense.

First Base!

I’m two minds about Briggs & Jensen vs. Tony D’Angelo & Stacks. On one hand, Briggs & Jensen not winning means the tag team triple threat at Stand & Deliver remains a triple threat. And we’re no closer to Kiana James revealing her secret, while Fallon Henley keeps going back on her own word to tell Jensen herself. But on the other hand, we saw Tony D & Stacks as a true team against tough competition before their big match. Plus, Kiana kissed Jensen, meaning the big man finally got on a base.

And while I liked the match a lot since I believe these two teams work really well together and their styles complement, I’m not sure how I feel about this larger story with Jensen, Kiana, and Fallon. Fallon keeps threatening to do the right thing then Kiana steps up to do it, only for Fallon to then change her mind and Kiana intervenes again. Then we repeat the situation again. Hopefully it comes to a head during a backstage segment at Stand & Deliver because it’s maddening from a story standpoint.

Very solid go home show. Not a lot of pomp and circumstances, a surprise return from Roxanne Perez, and the night ended on a blood feud. This card is stacked and, like I said last week, might rule Saturday when it's all said and done.

What say you, cagesiders? Do you think Stand & Deliver will...deliver?

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