By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver Night Two Hits
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in an unsanctioned match: An all out war. The storyline heat between the two wrestlers was well established during the build and they worked a fitting style. The match got better as it went on with both men looking increasingly sadistic while also looking more and more resilient. It was great that we didn’t get any outside interference from Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish, Pat McAfee, or anyone else. The match went over 40 minutes and the amazing part is that they looked like they could have put in another 40 minutes. This was a huge win for O’Reilly and I can’t wait to see what comes next for both men.
Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship: A good match. This was a big test for Kross and he held up his end nicely. Balor doesn’t need the championship, but I wonder if they will work their way back to an eventual rematch, perhaps with The Demon persona eventually returning. Either way, I’m happy that Kross’s injury didn’t derail his planned push as champion in the same way that Balor’s injury derailed his WWE Universal Championship reign and he never got the belt back.
Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed for the NXT North American Championship: Gargano continues to be as consistent as they come. He’s had great Takeover matches with a variety of opponents in singles and tag matches, and he’s shown versatility by being the top babyface and now working as an outstanding heel. Meanwhile, Reed has emerged as an excellent big man who is capable of performing moves that men his size simply shouldn’t be able to pull off. He had a good outing and recovered nicely from what appeared to be an audible when he was unable to hold up Gargano for a powerbomb following his huracanrana attempt on the ropes. Reed took the loss, but he should bounce back quickly.
Santos Escobar vs. Jordan Devlin in a ladder match to unify the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: A strong match with great effort from both men. The match suffered from the quick build failing to give viewers a strong incentive to get behind Devlin as the babyface, but it was still a well worked ladder match.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon vs. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell for the NXT Women’s Tag Titles: More of an in the middle. It wasn’t always pretty and I continue to worry that Blackheart isn’t going to get up after one of her dives, but the match was solid. The big thing working against it was that it just wasn’t built up to feel Takeover special.
NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver Night Two Misses
Drake Maverick and Killian Dain vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango to become No. 1 contenders to the NXT Tag Titles: The pre-show match was flat. I get a kick out of Dain and Breeze, but the Breezango duo continues to be a turnoff. The frustrating thing is that they are just a turn away from filling a vital role in NXT. Neither the Grizzled Young Veterans nor Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde have yet to emerge as the top heel team in NXT. Perhaps Breeze and Fandango could be strong rivals for MSK if they turned heel and dropped the cutesy cosplay nonsense. To close on a positive note, I enjoyed the rest of the pre-show. The Samoa Joe interviews were strong, and the straight forward sports-like approach from the hosts effectively created the “big show” feel for both nights.