NXT got things done with TakeOver’s Night 2: Stand & Deliver.
The stakes were high on Night 2: Four titles were on the line and a fierce rivalry was at the top of the map as former Undisputed Era members Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly battled in an unsanctioned match.
MORE: NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night 1 Results, Match Notes
New champions were crowned and the show ended with violence worth doing everything possible.
Here is how it all happened.
Santos Escobar defeats. Jordan Devlin to unify NXT Cruiserweight Championship
It had been a long game after the pandemic prevented Devlin from defending his title in the United States. Escobar took a version of the title and kept it for almost a year. It gave us a very Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels scale match element in a unification between talents that haven’t yet met in NXT. On paper it looked like it could end up being the match of the night, with contrasting styles and two excellent workers.
He didn’t quite reach those heights, but it was a good start.
Escobar controlled the first part of the match and the action slowly picked up with more daring moves and counters. Things got more violent when a vivid exchange ended with Escobar slamming his knee against Devlin’s face. Devlin performed a magnificent moonsault from the top of the ladder.
Legado del Fantasma assaulted Devlin as he climbed the ladder. It seemed totally unnecessary and added nothing to the game, especially when Devlin recovered relatively quickly and threw a ladder at Escobar to keep him from reaching the titles. There was a Spanish Fly at the top of the ladders and eventually the wrestlers came back to the top with the titles at their fingertips. Escobar knocked Devlin off the top of the ladder to reclaim the titles and become the undisputed champion. A really good game, but it just didn’t reach the heights these two could perform.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon fight. The way to keep the NXT Women’s Team Championship
The match didn’t have a significant build and may have suffered as the teams just didn’t gel early. It wasn’t like they weren’t working hard, but it was just like the game lacked any advantage. They also seemed to hide Indi Hartwell’s inexperience well, but the Champions ended up distributing most of the remarkable offense.
And then we had an inadvertently dangerous spot that was the highlight of the game and could have ended terribly.
An attempted suicide tope by Blackheart drew an audible hiccup as she flew just between Hartwell and LeRae and into the railing. Luckily, Blackheart didn’t get hurt and Moon dove outside to take out The Way.
The match ended with a double lunar eclipse which was punctuated by a senton bomb from Blackheart.
It was good. Not bad, not great. It’s okay.
The bigger question is, how will NXT keep the women’s tag team division cool given that there are very few tag teams?
Johnny Gargano beats. Bronson Reed to retain NXT North American Championship
The match looked like something that had been inserted to occupy time and ensure Gargano was featured on TakeOver despite the lack of a feud.
That being said, Gargano is an absolutely stellar wrestler who rarely, if ever, falters, and Reed had his best game in NXT.
There is no doubt that Gargano is the best wrestler to ever compete in NXT, and he continues to deliver every time he’s called up. Not to mention, he always brings out the best in his opponents.
At first, Reed used his significant size advantage to stifle any attempt by Gargano to outsmart his plus-size opponent. Poisonrana du Gargano led to an escape from the Gargano which Reed managed to maneuver. Reed countered the One Final Beat with a punch and threw Gargano into the ring with a Razor’s Edge.
Of course, Austin Theory had to get involved by putting Gargano’s leg on the ropes during a pin attempt. Reed fought them both and showed his athleticism with a suicide dive that shattered Theory. Gargano attempted to sneak into One Final Beat, but was countered for another close fall. Reed took the upper hand in a superkick battle, but a failed moonsault attempt was followed by Gargano crushing Reed with a pair of One Final Beat finishers to retain the title.
No story. No problem.
Gargano does it again.
Quality: B +
Karrion Kross defeats. Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship
Kross has yet to have a truly formidable game in NXT, while Balor’s run since his return has been at his best since signing with WWE.
Kross needed this game to be great and the psychology behind it allowed him to be his best game in NXT by a country mile.
Interestingly, Balor brought him to Kross with a combination of strikes and submission wrestling for the first half of the game, while the challenger struggled to keep pace. It was a surprising twist that suggested Balor entered the game with a game plan to neutralize Kross’ penchant for crushing his opponent with brute force.
It was a smart and well-played tactic. Kross was forced to work from below as Balor separated his opponent. Whenever Kross seemed to gain momentum, he was cut off by a submission attempt or a well-placed strike that damaged the undefeated monster.
Balor outmaneuvered his opponent again with a Pele counter kick that led to the Coup de Grâce, but Kross reversed the spit attempt into a choke which Balor escaped with a double kick.
Spurred on by Scarlett, Kross escaped an abdominal stretch and plowed Balor with a series of elbows until the champion was nearly unconscious. With momentum on his side and aware that he couldn’t allow Balor to have his second wind, Kross immediately hit a Doomsday Saito suplex and followed with a pair of brutal forearms at the nape of the neck that took finished the job.
If Kross can have matches like this then he will have a great run as the champion. But one cannot underestimate how important psychology played a role in shaping the game’s narrative.
Kyle O’Reilly beats. Adam Cole in an unsanctioned match
It was easily the best-built feud before TakeOver as the former members of Undisputed Era went to war.
By far the worst thing about the game was their new entry themes. Weft. The other complaint was that it was a bit long and was about to wear out its welcome. But O’Reilly gave his friend-turned-enemy his comeuppance with a brutal finish. O’Reilly dug a knee wrapped in a steel chain into Cole’s head, who was perched on a chair.
It took a while to get there, but once it picked up the game ended up being solid but just a spectacular notch.
As expected, Cole and O’Reilly fought and fought without remorse. Well, maybe a little remorse. There were a lot more wrestling takes in this unsanctioned match than you would expect in a blood feud between bitter rivals.
Eventually, business resumed with chairs and chains put in the fray. The use of the chain was creative as the duo used it for neck cutters, back daggers, and submission holds.
O’Reilly being in conflict over fighting his old friend, he hesitated for a moment. But he went back there and hit Cole with a brainbuster on the announcer table, which didn’t break. O’Reilly chased Cole but was greeted by a monitor who was punched in his face. Cole brought a toolbox into the ring and attempted to use pliers on O’Reilly. When that failed, he tried to hit his opponent with an iron.
A strike exchange was interrupted with a low blow from Cole. Cole knocked out the referee for berating his attempt to use a chair, which was odd because the match was not allowed. Cole hit the Panama Sunrise but knocking out the ref left him no one to count the pin. And then Cole called the referee stupid. And it was also strange.
It was somewhere around this point that the duration of the match began to be felt. Fortunately, they resumed the action just in time.
There was going back and forth outside until O’Reilly sank into a guillotine. But Cole led O’Reilly across the floor of the entrance ramp. Cole nailed O’Reilly with a brainbuster to the steel steps, then rolled him into the ring, but O’Reilly barely managed to lift a shoulder to avoid the fall. O’Reilly dodged the final blow and went for a heel hook. But Cole broke O’Reilly with the chain to break the hold. O’Reilly countered the Panama Sunrise, hit Cole with a punt and followed with a final shot for a close fall.
The two fought again but Cole made the mistake of talking too much and not fighting enough. This allowed O’Reilly to return the favor with a low blow and finish the job with that violent finish.
The home stretch was great but the match could have lost a few minutes and be a little more violent given the “not sanctioned” stipulation.