Stand & Deliver 2022
April 2, 2022
American Airlines Center
NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez def. Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne) ©
Ok, I know what you’re probably all thinking. “Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez? Didn’t they break up and have a feud?” Well, you would be correct. Dakota did turn on Raquel last summer, which led to a NXT Women’s Title bout on (what turned out to be) the final TakeOver event back in August. Their feud extended into NXT 2.0, and included both a Street Fight and a WarGames Match at the tail end of 2021. Then on the episode of NXT before this event, the duo reunited as a babyface duo…..I guess because Toxic Attraction needed challengers? It’s silly, but at the same time, this is typical WWE. People who were at each other’s throats months ago will just put aside their differences whenever the creative team feels it’s convenient for them to be on the same side.
So not only did Dakota and Raquel get back together out of the blue, but in their first match back together as a team (on the Kickoff Show), they immediately won the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles. The match itself was nothing special, and the only really notable thing was the distraction from Wendy Choo near the finish. She came out and tossed her drink in the face of Gigi, which led to her getting taken out by Dakota. That set up Raquel hitting Jacy with the Chicota Bomb for the win. Speaking of Raquel, wasn’t she supposed to get called up to the main roster? It felt like her losing the title to Mandy Rose was going to be her write-off (and she’s had a number of dark matches on the main roster since NXT 2.0 started). Now it just seems like she’s spinning her wheels. Then again, this is WWE, so I really shouldn’t put much thought into it, because they clearly don’t. **3/4
NXT North American Championship Ladder Match: Cameron Grimes def. Carmelo Hayes © (w/ Trick Williams), Grayson Waller (w/ Sanga), Santos Escobar (w/ Legado Del Fantasma), & Solo Sikoa
This was the match that properly kicked off the show. Grayson Waller, Santos Escobar, and Solo Sikoa got the “already in the ring” treatment, so right off the bat, you knew that neither of those guys were winning. It would’ve been one thing if they started this show like an episode of AEW Dynamite, with all the wrestlers already in the ring, but Cameron Grimes and Carmela Hayes being the only ones to get entrances on the show pretty much told you who the real contenders were.
While I am certainly someone who agrees with the larger sentiment with regards to Ladder Matches in WWE (they’ve been done to death and are almost impossible to care about), I can still….to a degree….appreciate a multi-person WWE Ladder Match in a vacuum if everyone involved clearly works hard. When the dust settled, this ended up being a pretty entertaining Ladder Match for what it was. They certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel, or try anything unique or new (unlike the Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match that we saw at AEW Revolution), but all five guys definitely put forth the effort. Were some of them a little too ambitious with what they were going for? Absolutely. Solo Sikoa took a nasty sunset flip powerbomb onto a ladder that looked like a guaranteed concussion, while Grayson Waller appeared to really mess up his arm on a big fall through a ladder. However, as a whole, I thought the match delivered exactly the type of car crash that WWE fans expect out of Ladder Matches, and again, it was generally fun for what it was.
We did get all of the seconds getting involved and doing spots, which….whatever. Didn’t really care for that stuff. Ultimately, Cameron Grimes won which, after the promos he cut leading into this talking about wanting to win the title for his deceased father, he better have won, because he would’ve looked like an absolute geek had he lost. Speaking of geeks, this Ladder Match for the NXT North American Title was (in storyline) the brainchild of Carmelo Hayes, so he looks like a total geek for losing his title after he (the heel) insisted on defending it this type of match. ****
Tony D’Angelo (w/ AJ Galante) def. Tommaso Ciampa
Coming out with Tony D’Angelo on this night was a guy by the name of AJ Galante. Apparently he was the former General Manager of a minor league hockey team called the Danbury Trashers, and there was a Netflix show or an episode of a Netflix show done on him and the team. He sat at ringside and didn’t play a factor in the match at all. As for the match, it was perfectly fine for its spot on the card. Despite his inexperience, D’Angelo seems to do a decent job when he’s a veteran, though I guess that just speaks to how good the likes of Pete Dunne and (in this case) Tommaso Ciampa are. D’Angelo hit a low blow after using his crowbar for a distraction. Ciampa would go back on the attack, but when D’Angelo managed to kick out of his finisher (Fairytale Ending), you pretty much knew at that point where this was going. D’Angelo connected with a DDT onto the exposed floor on the outside, and then hit his finisher in the ring for the win. After the bout, as Ciampa was making his exit, Triple H came out and embraced him, as this will likely be Ciampa’s final match on NXT. I guess he’s getting called up? He’s worked on RAW a couple of times in the leadup to some of the bigger NXT matches as of late, so I guess that would make sense. Time will tell, though. ***
NXT Tag Team Championship: MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) def. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) © & The Creed Brothers (w/ Malcolm Bivens & Ivy Nile)
It feels like the tag team division has been one of the bright spots of NXT since the rebrand last fall. Any combo of Grizzled Young Vets, Imperium, and MSK is a lock to deliver, and when The Creed Brothers have been thrown in there, they’ve managed to have decent matches (almost certainly down to their opponents being really good). On this particular occasion, Imperium were defending their NXT Tag Team Titles in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match, and when the dust settled, this ended up being a very good contest. Did it light the world on fire? No, but there was some good action throughout, and all six guys definitely made the most of the eleven minutes or so they were given. The Creed Brothers went on a late flurry (including one of them doing a legit cannonball off the top to the floor) before getting wiped out by Imperium. They quickly tried to follow up by finishing off MSK in the ring, though MSK was ready for them, and they managed to score the victory to regain the NXT Tag Team Titles. Not sure where things go from here with MSK as champions again, but like I said earlier, WWE rarely puts thought into these things, so why should I? ***3/4
NXT Women’s Championship: Mandy Rose (c) def. Cora Jade, Io Shirai, & Kay Lee Ray
I only just realized that three of the five title bouts were multi-person or multi-team matches. The actual setup was totally illogical, as Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray just inserted themselves into this bout after winning the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Yes, you read that right. A tag team that won a tag team tournament for a shot at the tag team titles….decided to cash in their tournament win for a shot at a singles title. I would be pretty pissed if I was Cora Jade. Her shot at the title in a straight up singles match (by the way, the manner in which she “earned” her title shot was completely silly) was completely ruined. I guess the idea was that it would reduce Mandy’s chances of retaining, but it didn’t matter in the end, as Mandy retained anyway. The match itself was solid enough, and had decent action throughout. All four women got moments to shine, with Mandy being clearly the worst of the four. The closing stretch had some a few fun spots (including Cora Jade hitting Kay Lee Ray with a Canadian Destroyer on the apron), but Mandy ultimately retained after hitting Shirai with a running knee. A relatively good match, though certainly not a memorable one. If you want to see a women’s match from April 2nd in Dallas that was really good, I would recommend checking out Rachael Ellering vs. Jessica Troy from US vs. The World. It was better than both women’s matches on this card. ***1/4
Gunther def. LA Knight
In a world where WWE isn’t in a partnership with a murderous regime in Saudi Arabia that’s making them millions upon millions of dollars every year, WWE renaming WALTER after a Nazi U-Boat commander from World War II would certainly be the runaway contender for Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic in the Wrestling Observer Awards. It’s really sad to see what WWE has done to WALTER as of late. What happened to the imposing Austrian bear who just absolutely dominated and destroyed his opponents in the ring with his bare hands? Now he looks like Peter Griffin from that episode of Family Guy where he got liposuction (to be totally fair, if he feels incredibly healthy right now, then more power to him), and he works like any other wrestler on the WWE roster. Part of what made WALTER so cool is that he was the big Austrian dude who freaking mauled people in his matches. On top of all that, his music got changed! No more Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor. He comes out to some generic crap now.
I should probably talk about the match with LA Knight now. Well, it was pretty pedestrian, and that’s mainly down to the fact that (as I already mentioned) Gunther works like any other wrestler on the roster now, and in this case, he went 50/50 with LA Knight that was barely over ten minutes. A totally average affair that’s honestly just depressing to watch if you’re someone who adored WALTER’s work when he was what made him special. **1/2
NXT Championship: Dolph Ziggler (w/ Robert Roode) © def. Bron Breakker
Bron Breakker came out with what I can only describe as an NXT 2.0 stylized chainsaw, as he cut through the X in the NXT logo that was set up in the entranceway. Now the match itself was pretty good. It was by no means a stellar main event (certainly not up to the caliber of main event matches that we’ve seen from NXT on previous WrestleMania Weekends), but in a vacuum it was a very solid bout from start to finish. Even though nobody really cares about him anymore, Dolph Ziggler can still put on good matches when the situation calls for it. As for Breakker, I guess the one compliment I can give him is that, even though his moveset is very limited at this stage, he does the moves he does know very well. His overhead belly-to-belly suplexes (we got a couple of those here) looked good, and I’m quickly falling in love with his spear. It’s the kind of spear that’s closer to a football tackle (the type of spear that Goldberg does) instead of the type of spear that say….Edge does.
Early in the match, Robert Roode tried to get involved, and the referee ejected him. It was during this moment that Ziggler took the chance to remove the middle turnbuckle pad on the other side of the ring (more on that in a second). Later in the match, Roode came back out and broke up a cover when Breakker clearly had the match won. I had no idea why that wasn’t an immediate disqualification. Anyway, Breakker took out Roode, but then Chekhov’s turnbuckle came into play, as Ziggler sent Breakker into it, and scored the pin a few moments later. Now at the time, the result seemed very perplexing, as Breakker winning the title back from the “invader” on the big NXT show seemed to make the most sense. Well, what they did instead is that they had Breakker win the title back from Ziggler two days later on the RAW after WrestleMania in front of a crowd that didn’t give a crap about it until Breakker hit Ziggler with a spear to set up the finish a few seconds later. I suppose the idea is that they wanted Breakker’s title win to occur in front of the most eyeballs possible, but then what’s the point of even doing the Saturday match then? Was this entire Stand & Deliver event pointless? ***1/2
The 2022 edition of NXT Stand & Deliver was definitely a far cry from the incredible NXT events that we were treated to during previous WrestleMania Weekends. I’m not the first person to say this, but this isn’t your big brother’s NXT. This version of NXT is still capable of putting together some really good wrestling matches, and we saw a few of them on this card. However, they’re nowhere close to what we got in the past. NXT 2.0 will never be able to recreate the atmosphere, or give us the incredible in-ring matches, that the old NXT was able to produce on seemingly every single TakeOver. It’ll be interesting to see if we get more of these major NXT 2.0 events partnering with major WWE events, and what kind of cards they put together. Again, this particular card had some good stuff on it, but also some stuff that was largely forgettable and inconsequential. If you didn’t get the chance to see this show (with all of the different events that happened over the course of the weekend), then you really don’t need to watch it. There wasn’t a single match on this show that I would call must-see. Plus, even if you did care about say….the main event, the result of the rematch on RAW rendered the bout on this show pointless. A solid, but ultimately inessential, outing from NXT.