Stand & Deliver Night 1
April 7, 2021
Capitol Wrestling Center
Watch: Peacock & WWE Network (Non-US)
- WrestleMania Weekend Schedule: voicesofwrestling.com/wrestlemania-weekend-2021-full-schedule-map
- WrestleMania Weekend Coverage: voicesofwrestling.com/category/wrestlemania-weekend-2021
NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wrestlers may be removed from shows due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure, so cards may be different than what is previewed below.
NXT’s offering for WrestleMania is split into two parts this year. In the past, an expression has been used in the vein of “Never Bet Against A TakeOver.” This used to be a true statement, a 100 percent realistic statement that was hard-earned and repeatedly proven correct. NXT was can’t miss, must-see, and a majority of the time the WWE’s best offering of WrestleMania competing with and surpassing WWE’s main spectacle. On a personal level, NXT TakeOver New York in 2019 was one of the greatest wrestling shows I ever attended live. NXT was the toast of the wrestling community, WWE’s greatest achievement, and had turned itself into legend.
We’re now into 2021 and those days are gone.
The mystic, the trust, the aura that NXT once maintained and continued to sell is no longer a reality. It is no longer a given. Not every TakeOver feels must-see, nor does every TakeOver deliver the high octane wrestling showcase we want from it. That written it would be false to pretend the majority of TakeOver in recent times have been failures. Far from it. NXT TakeOvers are still far and away superior offerings to what else WWE often puts on our plates. The mystique may be gone, the legend downgraded to reality, but while you can’t say with 100 percent confidence you should never bet against a TakeOver, it’s still a poor idea. As I look upon these two cards, I sincerely think NXT this WrestleMania weekend can achieve, even if only temporarily, it’s prominence one more time. It has jammed both nights with matches that are primed and pumped to do exactly what the show’s namesake is, Stand & Deliver. Below, we will review night 1.
Pete Dunne vs. KUSHIDA
This will potentially be the opener, and will be a hot and very good wrestling match to start off the night. KUSHIDA has finally found his stride, but at the same time I feel he’s still not gaining the ground someone of his talent should. His match against Gargano at a recent TakeOver was an amazing match and the kind of performance in NXT we’ve been waiting for from KUSHIDA. Pete Dunne is always a top-notch talent and if anyone can pair up with KUSHIDA and give us a high-end opener that this show needs, it will be him. I’m looking forward to this opening affair as I think it can set the tone and pace for the rest of the show. I would really like KUSHIDA to get a much-needed big win here, but I feel Dunne is going to get it as he begins to position himself for future things. Prediction: Pete Dunne
NXT United Kingdom Championship
Tommaso Ciampa vs. WALTER ©
This is going to rule. I can’t imagine a possible scenario, other than WWE storytelling and booking of course, that will keep it from doing so. WALTER by all rights is probably winning and continuing his two-year-plus reign, but Ciampa is going to give him a fight. I’m so glad to see Ciampa in this match and he’s going toe to toe with someone who ain’t afraid to dish it out, and take it in return. This should be a hard-hitting affair, perhaps the hardest-hitting affair of both nights (that’s not gimmick-assisted). I think WALTER is winning, but Ciampa is talented enough to throw me for a loop and catch me off guard with some near falls from moments I totally buy as the finish. Neither man is going to go easy on the other, this is going to be hard as hell and straight-up stiff at times. I’m for it, I want it, I crave it. I don’t want a grapplefest, I want a fight. Let them fight. Prediction: WALTER
Leon Ruff vs. Isiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis vs. LA Knight
This is a gauntlet eliminator, the winner bagging the prize of earning a title shot the next night. This is hard for me to predict. A combination of people I’d love to see in the title shot position mixed with people I have zero interest in. Lumis and LA Knight comfortably fit in the zero-interest categories. LA Knight in his short stint has not inspired me one bit, while Lumis excels at underperforming and under-delivering and his gimmick does absolute zero for me. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Bronson Reed, Ruff and Grimes though I have high opinions on. Grime has really upped his game with his current gimmick, but I just don’t see a Gargano/Grimes match. Same with Ruff, I don’t see him getting another opportunity to take on Gargano for the title, although I have no doubt he’ll come close in some hope spots. That leaves Scott and Reed in my mind. Both would have good to great matches with Gargano. I’d love it to be Scott, in fact that’s who I’m going with. Throwing out a prediction and hoping it sticks, although I wouldn’t complain to loudly about Reed. This could be good, it could be a mess, but I have no doubt the majority will work hard, and Lumis and LA Knight will hopefully not bring it down too much. Prediction: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
NXT Tag Team Championship
MSK vs. Grizzled Young Vets vs. Legado Del Fantasma
Triple Threat Tag Matches can be…. Problematic and not good. I understand the position though. They are all very capable teams and if they get in sync and work together this can be great. Burch’s injury threw a wrench into everything, and WWE needed a plan B. This is plan B and we are guaranteeing new champions walking out. I think it’ll be Grizzled Young Vets. Nothing against MSK or LDF but they are the team I find myself the most interested in. My kind of grit and old school attitude (too a degree) and I think it can be fun with them holding the titles and watching MSK, and others, to chase them for it. I expect all three teams to go out in this match and try to steal the show. It is not impossible for triple threats to steal the show, I’ve seen it more times than I think some of us want to admit, but it’ll be a tall order. They’ll have to work fast, work hard, and stay coordinated. That can be difficult with a lot of moving parts, but I’m confident enough in these teams to pull it off. Prediction: Grizzled Young Vets
NXT Women’s Championship
Raquel Gonzalez vs. Io Shirai (c)
This match rightfully main events night one. It deserves it, it earned it, and Io Shirai’s reign is likely coming to an end and considering how great she is, and the work put in, it deserves to go out on this spotlight that will then move over to Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been a revelation, a shot in the arm, someone I’m willing to tune into and watch NXT for. Her match with Rhea Ripley a while back was outstanding, and I was happy to see her (and Dakota Kai) win the Dusty Classic. I was less happy to see her tag title reign end so quickly after being given it, BUT, if she wins the Women’s Championship here I’ll have no issue. Io and Raquel have been doing all they can to build up interest and heat for this match and I have every ounce of confidence in me directing me to believe they are going to put on a main event quality match.
Shirai had a good reign, but it’s time for it to come to an end. It is time for Raquel to take her rightful place on top of the division and I hope she has a good and long-dominant reign. I want every woman on the roster to throw themselves at her, one by one getting repealed until one is able to rise up and slay her. It should take a long while, and it should feel like at some points Raquel will never be vanquished until she finally is. Io Shirai needs to, and no doubt will, put her over strong. Io’s time in NXT has been good and I loved it, but it’s time for her to move on. I cringe and concern myself with her future, which I hate feeling, if she goes to RAW or Smackdown but she definitely has the talent. I sincerely hope she can overcome the mindsets and booking. This is going to be great, watch it. Prediction: Raquel Gonzalez