The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver Night Two – 04.08.21
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett & Beth Phoenix.
NXT Cruiserweight title unification, ladder match: Jordan Devlin v. Santos Escobar
They slug it out to start as the announcers are now telling the story that in fact Devlin has been Cruiserweight champion all this time, even after they crowned a new champion while he was having his troubles. That’s a unique interpretation. Devlin hits a chokeslam and standing moonsault to chase Escobar to the floor, and Devlin follows with a moonsault that nearly goes pretty badly for them. But they’re both alive so huzzah. Devlin gets the first ladder and smacks Escobar down with it, but Escobar runs him into the ladder and tries a powerbomb into it. Devlin escapes, but Escobar whips him into the ladder and out to the floor as Devlin is cashing in a lot of punches on his bump card tonight. To the floor and Escobar hits him with a running knee into the barricade, and back in he dropkicks another ladder into Devlin and beats on him with that. And he retrieves another ladder and makes the climb, but Devlin grabs his leg and Santos beats him down as a result. But Devlin comes back and whips Escobar into the ladder, then makes the climb before hitting Escobar with a swinging DDT off the ladder to put him down. Escobar puts him on the floor and follows with a tope suicida into a ladder, which has to suck for both of them. Back in, Escobar puts the badmouth on him, but he sets up the finisher and Devlin backdrops him onto the ladder. They slug it out and Escobar hits him with a high knee, but Devlin gets a Spanish Fly and a cutter out of the corner. You know it’s supposed to be exciting because BETH PHOENIX IS YELLING ABOUT IT LOUDLY. I thought Vince hated announcers who yelled all the time? They fight to the top of a ladder and Devlin goes with a moonsault off the top of the ladder and makes the climb with Escobar out. But then the Legado goons make the save and beat on Devlin outside the ring before departing again. So this leaves Escobar alone to climb, but Devlin recovers and sets up his own ladder, with hookers and blackjack! So Devlin gets a Spanish Fly off the ladders and both guys are out. So what was the point of the interference if it didn’t mean anything and just moved onto the next spot? Devlin recovers first and makes the climb, but Escobar shoves him off and through a ladder in the corner to put him out, then grabs the titles to unify them at 18:10. I mean, I guess they worked hard, but most of the match just felt like they were setting up their next big spots and it never really felt like they were trying to, you know, actually win the match. ***1/2
Meanwhile, MSK have nameplates for their newly won belts, and apparently Drake Maverick & Killian Dain are now the #1 contenders.
NXT Women’s tag team titles: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart v. Indi Hartwell & Candice LeRae
But first, we get an ad for Peacock and all the stuff you can watch on it. WHO THE FUCK IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE ADVERTISING TO? Either you’re watching the show on Peacock and you’re already a subscriber, or you’re watching the show on the WWE Network everywhere else in the world, WHERE PEACOCK ISN’T AVAILABLE. Shotzi goes after Candice in the corner, but Hartwell pulls her off and the Way double-teams Shotzi as Indi gets two. Candice gets a rollup for two and chokes Shotzi out on the ropes before going to a top wristlock to cut off the ring. Indi comes in with a stomp for two and Candice chokes her down for two, but Shotzi fights them off and makes a tag to Ember. She slugs Candice down with a tribute to Road Dogg and goes to the top, but Candice trips her up and everyone piles up in the corner for a Tower of Doom spot that’s just a flailing pile of bodies. Hartwell gets two off that. Ember fights off the heels and it’s back to Blackheart, who runs wild and dives onto them on the floor, but she misses badly and crashes and burns, as apparently the heels couldn’t decide which one was going to catch her and then no one did. Back in for some kind of double team slam from the champs on LeRae, and that gets two. And then the Way botches some kind of 3D variation on Shotzi and that gets two. Wrestlemania might be coming up this weekend but it’s BOTCHAMANIA here. Shotzi gets a top rope senton on Indi to put this one out of its misery at 10:40. * Let’s move on.
NXT North American title: Johnny Gargano v. Bronson Reed
Reed overpowers Johnny and shrugs off a headscissors, then gets a press into a fallaway slam. Gargano tries the slingshot spear and Reed doesn’t go down and I’m not sure if that was planned, but regardless Reed carries on with chops to put Johnny down. Gargano goes after the knee and puts Reed on the floor for a dive, but Reed catches him. That goes nowhere as Gargano just slips out and shoves him into the table to take over. Back in the ring, Reed misses a sitdown splash and Gargano goes up with a splash for two. Gargano goes to the ribs and works on that as we get the weird dynamic of a 400 pound monster working from underneath. Gargano gets a sleeper and Reed runs him into the corner to break and follows with a powerslam out of the corner. Reed comes back with a corner splash and a belly to belly after they just told us how his ribs are “obliterated” and every move he does hurts him. I feel like a running avalanche wouldn’t be the best idea in that instance. Death valley driver gets two. Gargano retreats to the ramp and catches Reed with a backstabber out of the corner for two and now Reed goes back to selling the ribs again. Reed fights back with a suplex, but he misses a senton and Gargano rolls him up for two. Reed tries an electric chair and Gargano takes him down with a rana and then locks in the Gargano Escape, but Reed makes the ropes. Reed comes back with a Razor’s Edge and goes up for the flying fat fuck splash, but that misses and Gargano superkicks him for two. Reed catches another superkick and clotheslines him down to set up another flying splash, but Austin Theory trips him up this time. Johnny goes for the rana off the top but they just completely botch that one and Reed powerbombs him for two to recover. Reed decides to go after Theory and hits him with a dive, but Gargano shoves him into the railing and goes for the One Final Beat in the ring, which Reed reverses to a slam for two. Gargano gets a rana and Reed still can’t or won’t sell it properly, and he goes up and misses a moonsault, allowing Gargano to finish him with a pair of increasingly misnamed One Final Beats at 16:21. This was pretty, pretty, rough in a lot of spots, especially with Reed repeatedly trying to do stuff he couldn’t pull off. LIKE SELLING THE DAMN RIB INJURY. **1/2
NXT title: Finn Balor v. Karrion Kross
Kross beats Balor down with a knee to start, but Balor grabs a headlock on him and Kross shoves him off in annoyance. Kross tosses him across the ring with a biel and they get into an exchange of slaps, and that only angers Kross as he starts beating on Balor in the corner. Blind charge misses and Kross hits the post, allowing Balor to go to work with an armbar. Kross escapes that with some corner clotheslines and suplexes Balor before hanging him in the Tree of Woe and throwing knees on him. Balor goes for the arm again with a cross armbreaker and then takes Kross down to the mat again with a hammerlock. Balor works on the arm further in the corner and stomps him down on the ropes, but Kross puts him down with a body kick. Kross runs him into the turnbuckles, but Balor takes him down with an inverted DDT and they’re both out. Kross is up first with a northern lights suplex and a powerbomb for two. Apparently Kross is selling the liver, for those keeping track. Balor counters a suplex with the double stomp and goes to an abdominal stretch to really tenderize the liver, and then follows with the sling blade before walking into a clothesline. Kross hits him with the Saito suplex, but walks into the Pele kick and Balor makes the comeback. Shotgun dropkick sets up the Coup de Grace (or Coup de Fois Gras in this case) but that only gets two and Kross reverses to his choke. Balor escapes that with a double stomp and goes to another abdominal submission on the mat, but Kross breaks free and beats Balor down with elbows, then follows with the Saito suplex. Balor won’t stay down, so Kross hits him with an elbow to the neck and wins the title at 17:07. I’m assuming his second reign will go better than his first, but this was not an impressive showcase for Kross, no matter how hard Balor tried to single-handedly carry the match. And he tried HARD, miraculously getting a good match out of Kross on his own. But Kross can’t work everything with Balor and he was exposed badly here. ***1/2
Unsanctioned match: Adam Cole v. Kyle O’Reilly
They charge into a slugfest and hit each other HARD in the corner, as Kyle puts the boots to him and Cole returns with his own big boot. They head to the floor for a dive from O’Reilly and into an armbar on the floor, but Cole runs him into the barricade and bounces him off that. So O’Reilly also does that to Cole and then grabs a chair before sitting Cole in it for some kicks, and they head back into the ring, where Cole shoves him off the top rope and bounces him off the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Cole finds some personalized chairs under the ring and beats on Kyle with that, then runs him into the light stand before they head back in the ring. Cole grinds a chair into Kyle’s neck and whips him into the corner to set up a neckbreaker on the chair and then going to a neck vice. O’Reilly fights out, but Cole takes him down with an ushigoroshi for two. They slug it out again and trade vicious kicks, but O’Reilly hits him with a knee to the gut to win that battle. Kyle throws strikes and SWEEPS THE LEG, then sets up a chair and suplexes Cole onto it and flows right into a leglock before Cole desperately rolls to the floor to break. So O’Reilly dropkicks him off the apron, and they head back in, where O’Reilly accidentally punches a chair out of Cole’s hands but still gets two because he knocks it off Cole’s face. Next up, O’Reilly finds a chain under the ring, but Cole catches him with a neckbreaker onto the chain and that gets two. Cole fastens the chain to the top rope and they fight over the chain, and Kyle wins that one. So he wraps the chain around his boot like Kratos in God of War, but Cole takes him down with a figure-four and Kyle has nowhere to go. He manages to reverse the hold, however, and they slug it out in the move and put each other down. O’Reilly fights back with kicks, but Cole grabs the chain and clotheslines him, then hits a backstabber for two.
Cole sets up a pair of chairs in the corner, back to back, and suplexes O’Reilly from the corner and into one of the chairs, then follows with a shining wizard for two. So next Cole takes the stairs apart, but O’Reilly guillotines himself out there to stop whatever plans Cole had and then puts him down with a knee. Kyle preps the announce table and they fight over a suplex, which results in O’Reilly hitting a brainbuster onto the table, which fails to break. So they fight into the crowd and Cole hits him with a TV monitor before they head back to the ring and it appears that Adam Cole has found a toolbox now. First up, he’s got a pair of pliers and beats on Kyle’s ear with that, but they fight over a tire iron and O’Reilly fights back with a rebound lariat for two. O’Reilly wraps Cole’s arm in the chain and locks in a cross armbreaker, which he turns into a triangle choke, but Cole escapes with the TIRE IRON like something of a horror movie scene. That was some awesome timing. So they set up chairs and both have a seat before delivering some trash talk to each other and then moving to fisticuffs like true gentlemen. And Cole goes with a dick punch like an even truer gentleman, and a superkick gets two. And then the referee won’t leave Cole alone, so Cole takes him out (and the crowd chants “You deserve it”) and goes up with Panama Sunrise despite just taking out the ref. Bold strategy, Cotton, we’ll see if it pays off for him. But of course he has incapacitated the ref and no one counts. They head to the ramp and Cole bounces a chair off his face, but O’Reilly guillotines him and Cole runs him into the barricade to break that. But O’Reilly grabs the choke again, and Cole smashes him through the ramp this time to escape. So they head back to the ring as the ref has finally recovered, and Cole hits O’Reilly with a brainbuster on the stairs and that would seem to be enough. Back in, that gets two. Cole sets him up for the Last Shot, but O’Reilly collapses and rolls into a kneebar to counter. So Cole uses a Greco-roman chain to the face to escape and goes up to finish, but O’Reilly catches the Panama Sunrise and puts him down with a head kick, before delivering his own Last Shot for two. So Kyle tries to Pillmanize the ankle, but Cole uses the chair to put him down again before setting up another chair upside down with the legs in the air. Um that seems dangerous. So they fight on the top and Kyle fights him off before wrapping the chain around his leg again and dropping a chain-loaded knee onto Cole and onto the chair, and yeah, that finishes at 40:41. I should fucking hope so. Anyway, this was indeed a hell of a fight, although it went way too long and stuff like a brainbuster onto the steel stairs should have been a finish and not a two count. But it was incredibly creative and quite hellacious and nearly saved the show. ****3/4
Definitely a weaker show than Night One overall, but with a MUCH better main event, so it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other as the kids say. For me, check out the main event and maybe the NXT title match and skip the rest of the show. But then make sure you watch all the other great content on Peacock that they told us about when you’re done!