The WrestleMania experience used to just be a Hall Of Fame induction, one pay-per-view, followed by an episode of Raw the following night. Now, we’re getting an episode of Smackdown, followed by the Hall Of Fame ceremony, an NXT special, two nights of WrestleMania itself, the Raw-After-Mania episode, and then the Smackdown-After-Mania episode, and that’s just WWE! That doesn’t even count the insane amount of shows that other promotions are holding all week long.
I have a busy weekend ahead of me, as this is my first of three Running Diary columns in the span of 31 hours, so I can’t waste any more time.
Are you ready?
Because I’m ready.
Well, if you’re ready… and I’m ready… then there’s only one thing left to do. I need you to say it with me, folks.
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:00) After Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez won the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles on the pre-show, we’re starting the main show with the Five-Way Ladder Match for the North American Title. Santos Escobar and Grayson Waller both made their entrances for the match before the pre-show even went off the air. Helluva choice to kick things off here.
(0:04) Woi Bar-ruh mentions that he won season one of NXT, back when it was a competition show, in this very building. That’s pretty cool, actually.
(0:05) Cameron Grimes makes his entrance for the match. As always, when Grimes is mentioned, I am legally and contractually obligated to mention that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling show a few years back.
(0:08) To the surprise of absolutely nobody, we’re started things off with a frantic pace.
(0:10) Escobar has neon green trunks, pink knee pads, and tassels on his boots. Very Ultimate Warrior-ish.
(0:12) It happens a lot in these types of matches, but I still mark out for the “Wrestler A dives over the top rope to the floor onto Wrestler B, followed by Wrestler C diving over the top rope to the floor onto Wrestler A and Wrestler B, followed by Wrestler D diving over the top rope to the floor onto Wrestler A and Wrestler B and Wrestler C, etc.” spot.
(0:15) This is an interesting dynamic with the wrestlers and the crowd. With NXT, you have a roster full of “new” performers that a lot of people aren’t totally used to. The brand hasn’t been on the road in two whole years. Mania weekend crowds are generally consisting of fans from all over the world, and they seem to be more “smart” than “mark” on a yearly basis. I’m very interested to see how they react to a lot of people they might be seeing for the first time.
(0:18) SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB BY SANTOS ESCOBAR FROM THE TOP OF THE LADDER!!! Solo Sikoa crashed down onto a ladder propped up in the corner with a sickening thud. My goodness, what a spot!
(0:20) Grayson Waller’s bodyguard, Sanga, has the face of a 60-year-old man. Just throwing that out there.
(0:22) Trick Williams with the “I’m afraid of heights” climb up a giant ladder, only for Grimes to tip the ladder over, sending Trick flying out of the ring and crashing onto Legado Del Fantasma and Sanga at ringside. It looked like Williams fell from 50 feet in the air with how long it took him to finally come down.
(0:25) After a clusterfuck involving multiple men falling from ladders, Grayson Waller was the only man standing. He had an internal debate on whether to climb and grab the title or perform a dive onto Escobar. Normally, that would make a wrestler look like a complete moron. With Waller, though, it fits his character perfectly. He’s all about wanting to “trend” and go “viral” with his spots, and he gets that with wild spots. It makes perfect sense for him to be torn on that.
(0:27) Well, speaking of that… at ringside, Waller jumps from the top of a giant ladder at ringside, trying to perform his badass elbow drop onto Melo, but Trick Williams pulled Melo out of the way at the last minute. Waller SLAMMED his elbow into the ladder on the way down. That looked bad. Damn near looked like he broke his arm or dislocated his elbow. Good Lord. The Referees tending to him at ringside weren’t throwing up the dreaded “X” or anything, so I’m hoping he came out relatively unscathed, but at the very least, it looked brutal.
(0:29) Grimes absolutely marches up the ladder to grab the title and win the match. He is your brand new NXT North American Champion. What a match. A wild spotfest. I’ll give it 4.25 stars with no problem. Great start to the show.
(0:34) Tommaso Ciampa vs Tony D’Angelo is up next. D’Angelo is accompanied to the ring by AJ Galante from Netflix’s Untold: Crime & Penalties. Okay then.
(0:36) Ciampa’s entrance starts with a cinematic video of a group of Performance Center trainees, including the likes of Rok-C and Simone Johnson, watching a video package of Ciampa’s time in NXT. That’s a good touch. It’s the type of thing that the trainees actually do, anyway, and it looks cool on television. This is being promoted very heavily as Ciampa’s final match in NXT, win or lose.
(0:38) Ciampa takes a bottle of water and performs a shortened version of Triple H’s “water spit” entrance spot on the ring apron. Nice tribute to Papa Hunter.
(0:41) Tommaso is working quite snugly to start the match here. Very physical.
(0:43) To go with what I talked about earlier, Ciampa is getting good reactions from the crowd, but thus far, D’Angelo hasn’t really gotten much of anything. Ciampa has been in NXT for a long time. People know who he is. D’Angelo is still brand new in his journey.
(0:46) “I’M TONY D!” – Tony D’Angelo, yelling in Ciampa’s face. Always good for the new wrestlers to introduce themselves to the veterans.
(0:51) A “Tommy Wrestling” chant from the crowd. Nice.
(0:52) D’Angelo picks up the pin and the win after hitting Ciampa with a DDT on the exposed concrete at ringside. Another good match. I’ll call it 3.5 stars.
(0:54) After D’Angelo leaves, the crowd gives Ciampa a standing ovation and a “Thank you, Ciampa” chant as he kisses the mat and acknowledges them. As Ciampa is about to make his way up the ramp, Triple H’s music hits to a huge pop. Trips comes out and puts his arm around Ciampa, who starts crying right away. After some hugs and laughs, Triple H leaves so that Ciampa can get another round of applause from the crowd. Ciampa mouths “I’m gonna miss you” to the fans as we cut to a video package. That was pretty cool.
(0:59) Time for the NXT Tag Team Title match, with Imperium defending against The Creed Brothers and MSK in a Triple Threat. Malcolm Bivens in a full-on Cam’ron tribute with what he’s wearing. All Pink Everything.
(1:04) Another match with a frantic pace to start.
(1:06) I love, love, love the clashing styles that these teams are bringing here.
(1:09) Spot, spot, double-team spot, tag, spot, counter, spot, spot, double-team spot, tag… lather, rinse, repeat. Non-stop action so far.
(1:13) Big ass Brutus Creed (not to be confused with Bum Ass Baron Corbin) takes to the top rope and takes out his opponents at ringside with a picture perfect Cannonball!
(1:15) MSK wins! They are now two-time NXT Tag Team Champions, making them the fourth team to win these titles more than once. Another really good match. I think I can go 3.75 stars here. Honestly, this could’ve gotten a higher rating with a couple more minutes of action. It didn’t go as long as I thought it would. This show is off to a great start, though.
(1:22) Next up is the NXT Women’s Title match. Mandy Rose vs Io Shirai vs Cora Jade vs Kay Lee Ray. Another match with potential to be wild and crazy.
(1:27) Cora Jade makes her entrance accompanied by a bunch of people riding skateboards. She’s on her board for maybe two seconds before picking it up and running to the ring, while everyone else skates down the ramp. That’s certainly not going to stop the “she’s a fake skater” crowd from talking shit.
(1:31) Not that Mandy Rose was ugly as a blonde or anything, but she looks like a completely new woman as a brunette. She looks like a superstar these days.
(1:35) Overall, this has been a decent crowd, but a far cry from the crowds we’d see at NXT Takeover events in the black and gold era.
(1:38) Io hits a Moonsault from the top turnbuckle to Kay Lee Ray on the outside, and she lands squarely on KLR’s shoulder. That could’ve been bad.
(1:42) Cora SPIKES Kay Lee Ray on the ring apron with a Canadian Destroyer. Ouch.
(1:44) These women are really putting their bodies on the line out here. Lots of top rope spots.
(1:46) On commentary, Bar-ruh mentions that Cora Jade grew up idolizing the likes of Sasha Banks, and now I want to throw myself down a flight of stairs. Don’t get old, folks.
(1:46) Mandy Rose surprises the world by retaining her title. Wow. I don’t think I saw anyone predicting that. Good stuff here from all four women. 3.25 stars.
(1:51) A vignette involving Indi Hartwell, Dexter Lumis, Persia Pirotta, and Duke Hudson going shopping. Then we get a backstage segment with the four of them, and it’s revealed that the NXT Universe voted InDex as the hotter of the two couples. I could not care less about this stuff.
(1:52) Time for the next match. LA Knight vs Gunther looks to keep the streak going of entertaining matches on this show. I have a feeling this is going to be good, even if the feud came out of nowhere and doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
(1:55) “Walter” chants from the crowd at the start, but they don’t last very long.
(1:56) Gunther deserves a ton of credit for the shape that he is in. I don’t know how much weight he’s lost, but it’s clearly a good amount, and he’s gotten pretty muscular, as well. You know, because the man needed to be even scarier than he already was.
(1:59) Knight has been getting his ass kicked here. He’s bumping around like a pinball for Gunther.
(2:01) I gave Gunther credit earlier, so now I’ll give credit to Knight. I didn’t think he’d be able to pull off being a face, but it’s working for him so far. The NXT crowd has really gotten behind him.
(2:05) As expected, Gunther picks up the win. At 3 stars, this was the “worst” match of the show so far. That’s a pretty good problem to have.
(2:10) Main event time. Dolph Ziggler defends the NXT Title against the man he beat to become the champion, Bron Breakker. I am very interested to see how Bron performs on the biggest stage of his career. He is clearly going to be one of the biggest stars in the future of this company, but we’ve only seen him perform in front of smaller crowds. This is a great test for him.
(2:13) Bron has a chainsaw for his entrance, and he uses it to cut through a giant “X” in an NXT logo. Man, they really love having him destroy NXT logos.
(2:18) Loud dueling “Let’s go, Breakker” and “Let’s go, Ziggler” chants to get things going.
(2:20) Robert Roode gets physically involved in the match right in front of the Referee, looking like a putz, and he gets himself tossed from the ringside area.
(2:23) Breakker has taken some big spills in this match so far. Not botches or anything. Just hard crash landings.
(2:28) Dolph Ziggler is one of the best sellers in the business. Bron Breakker has one of the nastiest looking Spears in the business. Put those two things together, and you have magic. Dolph makes it look like a trillion bucks.
(2:29) ANOTHER violent looking Spear. Good Lord. Robert Roode returns to ringside and breaks up a pin attempt. I guess the Referees in NXT have no real power.
(2:31) Bron kicks out of a Zig Zag to a really good reaction from the crowd.
(2:34) A third Spear from Breakker lands, but after he lifts Dolph up above his head, Ziggler thumbs him in the eye and then sends the challenger into the exposed turnbuckle. Dolph lands a Superkick and gets the pin to retain the title. Wow. Who the hell called that?!? I’ll give the match 3.75 stars. Let the “Bron is heading to the main roster” talk begin.
Six matches on the main show, and six matches rated 3 stars or higher. There’s not a lot to complain about here. What did you fine folks think about Stand & Deliver? As always, hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be spending the next few hours with my beautiful daughter until it’s time for my next Running Diary tonight.