The run-up to TakeOver: Stand & Deliver is heating up, and there were some big matches made on this week’s show. As for the matches tonight, we saw Oney Lorcan looking for payback against Karrion Kross, Jordan Devlin and Kushida square off, and the poor Drake Maverick step up to the Ring General, WALTER. There was a heated confrontation between Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, as well as the Colossal Bronson Reed take on LA knight, but first up was a stunner of a match, as Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez faced Zoey Stark and Io Shirai.

Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs Zoey Stark & Io Shirai

Gonzalez and Stark kicked things off. Stark tried to wear down Gonzalez, hitting a hurricanrana and planting some knees to the chest. Things were going well until Gonzalez hit a clothesline. Kai tagged in, and Stark went after her with some fierce punches on the mat. She tagged in Shirai who continued to beat Kai down with some vicious knees. After various pin attempts by Kai and Shirai, Stark tagged in and hit an uppercut in the corner, then a basement clothesline on Kai.

Kai was able to get the tag to Gonzalez, but Stark hit another hurricanrana on her. Gonzalez threw Stark off her shoulders so Kai could plant a kick into her face as the show went into commercial. After the break, Stark hit an enzuigiri and tagged in Shirai who steamrolled Kai. She beat up both of her opponents, hitting running knees and a 619 on Gonzalez. She followed it up with a missile dropkick as Stark hit a dropkick off the top rope. She then dived on Gonzalez on the outside. Shirai hit a moonsault to Gonzalez outside, as Stark picked her up and threw her in the ring.

Stark missed a 450, which allowed Gonzalez to hit her one-armed powerbomb. She picked her up for another one, booted Shirai off the apron, then delivered it again, getting the victory in the process. After the match, Shirai knocked down Kai, allowing Gonzalez to knock Shirai off her feet. She then chokeslammed Shirai onto the announcer table. Gonzalez is devastating, and their match at TakeOver has the potential to be an absolute classic.

Winners: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez Rating: 8/10

Bronson Reed vs LA Knight

Reed knocked Knight to his knees, then landed a huge back body drop and spinning slam. Reed had Knight in a headlock, then hit a headbutt. He continued to control the match with a huge chop to the chest and another submission on the mat. Knight hit a shoulder charge from over the top rope, then dropped a knee to Reed’s face and a chest strike as the show went into commercial. After the break, Knight had Reed in an arm drop, then unleashed a flurry of shoulder charges into Reed who stood in the corner.

Knight hit a couple of knee tremblers onto Reed on the second rope. Reed almost turned the tables, but Knight hit a neckbreaker. He charged at Reed but got caught with an elbow to the face. Reed hit a standing splash, followed by a splash in the corner and a spinning chokeslam. He ascended the turnbuckle, but Knight knocked his legs out from under him. Reed managed to knock Knight to the mat, then delivered a big splash to pick up the win. Wow, Knight has already lost. Not cool, NXT. Not cool.

Winner: Bronson Reed Rating: 7/10

Karrion Kross W/ Scarlett vs Oney Lorcan

Lorcan landed a succession of blows on Kross, but he swatted him away and sent him to the outside. Kross threw Lorcan into the barrier, then hit a suplex on the other side of the ring. They returned in the ring where Kross hit some shoulder strikes into Lorcan’s mid-section. Lorcan managed to hit a dropkick and a splash in the corner, but Kross knocked him down again. After the break, Kross continued to beat the hell out of Lorcan.

Kross hit a suplex, and after a failed pin attempt, he went for an armbar. He hit a Doomsday Saito, then continued to taunt Lorcan. Lorcan fought back with some chops, then he slapped him across the face a few times. Kross caught Lorcan with a big boot, then dropped him with another Doomsday Saito. He picked up the win after delivering a big punch to the back of Lorcan’s head.

After the match, Kross grabbed the mic to address the actions of Finn Balor last week. He said when the fuse is lit, there’s no stopping what comes next. Balor’s music hit, and out walked the NXT Champion. Balor said Kross took his best shot last week, but the Prince is still standing. He said Kross showed his weakness, and how he himself used to fight with emotion. Balor said he learned to control his emotions, but Kross hasn’t, and that at TakeOver he would drown him in the cold deep water, drowning him in the process.

Winner: Karrion Kross Rating: 6.5/10

Drake Maverick vs WALTER W/ Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel

WALTER powerslammed Maverick, then hit a powerbomb followed by a half Boston crab. The referee stopped the match. Afterwards, Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit and out he came. He walked into the ring and faced down Imperium. Ciampa asked WALTER for a shot at the NXT UK Championship at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. WALTER chose to walk off, but Ciampa attacked him. Imperium then beat Ciampa down. As Aichner and Barthel held him, WALTER delivered a huge chop to his chest. He then said he’ll see Ciampa at TakeOver. Oh boy, this match is going to be awesome.

Winner: WALTER Rating: 2/10

NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Aliyah & Mercedes Martinez W/ Robert Stone vs Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon (C)

The champs worked well together to take down Martinez early on. Stone got up on the apron which allowed Martinez to attack Blackheart. Aliyah tagged in and landed various blows to Shotzi’s face. Aliyah kicked Moon off the apron, allowing Martinez and Aliyah to get some double team moves in. Moon finally tagged in and went after Aliyah with some kicks and a step-up enzuigiri. Moon hit a powerbomb, but Martinez broke up the pin. Blackheart was able to drop Martinez with a DDT as Moon hit the Eclipse on Aliyah to pick up the win.

Winners: Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon (And Still NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions) Rating: 5/10

Jordan Devlin vs Kushida

Devlin hit a standing moonsault on Kushida early on. Kushida hit a hip toss followed by a basement dropkick. He booted Devlin in the corner, then wrenched his arm over his shoulder, but Devlin was able to hit a moonsault off the second rope to Kushida who was stood outside the ring. After the break, Devlin was in control back in the ring, controlling Kushida with a chin lock. Kushida hit a springboard elbow, then took down Devlin with a diving armbar.

He went for the Hoverboard Lock, but Devlin got to the ropes. Devlin hit a cutter but only got a two-count. Legado Del Fantasma walked out which distracted Devlin. Kushida hit a superplex, then locked in an armbar. Mendoza and Wilde pulled Devlin outside, but he headed back into the ring. Wilde and Mendoza stood on the apron and Kushida hit them with a handstand kick, as Devlin connected with a bridge pin to grab the victory. After the match, Kushida went after Wilde and Mendoza.

As Escobar and Devlin came face to face in the ring, Shawn Michaels’ music hit and out walked the Heartbreak Kid. He grabbed a ladder from underneath the ring and slid it in-between the two Cruiserweight Champions. At WrestleMania X, HBK fought Razor Ramon in the best ladder match of all time, and it now looks like Devlin vs Escobar will follow in their footsteps.

Winner: Jordan Devlin Rating: 7.5/10

Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly Come Face To Face

Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly sat opposite in the ring as William Regal shouted at both men for their actions last week regarding the police involvement. He said he had a contract for both men to face off against each other in the co-main event for night two of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. Cole said he had a revelation that he didn’t need Undisputed Era – that they were holding him back. He said UE were never about brotherhood, and he had to watch O’Reilly fail twice. Cole said O’Reilly was nothing more than a lapdog and a sidekick.

Cole said he was the greatest NXT Champion ever, and he would never sit on the side-lines. O’Reilly lost sight of what was important, and he should be thanking Cole for where he was. He said he was the one who led the charge, and that UE without Cole were nothing, and O’Reilly was nothing. He said everyone knew who would win, and the only one that didn’t was the pathetic lapdog that sat across the table from him.

O’Reilly said they’d known each other for a long time, and they were four hungry pit bulls ready to step up to anyone. He said they would always have heat with the general manager and the entire locker room, but he decided to take action against that. No more sneak attacks or beat downs. Since coming here they’d become better fighters, better champions, and stars, but only one of them became a better human being. O’Reilly said Cole was the same asshole that walked in four years ago.

He said he sold his soul for UE and he wanted it back. He called Cole an insincere prick who sold out his friends, and no-one would be surprised after he beat Cole into a pulp. For the first time in four years, he would be able to sleep like a baby. O’Reilly signed the contract and shoved the table out of the way. NXT officials held them both back as they tried to attack each other. This was one of the finest segments in recent memory, with both guys cutting incredible promos. This match is going to be nasty.

What Else Went Down

– At the start of the show, Adam Cole was shown arriving at the arena accompanied by security.

– Security camera footage aired from last night where Adam Cole attacked Kyle O’Reilly at a training session. McKenzie Mitchell then tried to interview O’Reilly backstage when Roderick Strong interrupted. He said after everything Cole had done, they had to go out and kick his ass. O’Reilly said there was no more “us,” and this was between him and Cole. Strong then said O’Reilly and Cole could go to hell.

– Before his match, LA Knight cut a promo backstage on Bronson Reed.

– Jordan Devlin cut a promo about his match with Kushida later in the show. Kushida answered with a promo of his own later in the show.

– We were reminded about the news that broke earlier in the week about Danny Burch’s separated shoulder. It was announced that new NXT Tag Team Champions would be crowned on night one of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver when MSK, Grizzled Young Veterans, and Legado Del Fantasma would challenge for the vacated tag team titles.

– A video package aired featuring WALTER. It was then announced he’d be facing Drake Maverick later in the show.

– NXT General Manager William Regal announced a 12-man Battle Royal to decide who would face Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. The remaining six men would then face off in a Gauntlet Elimination match on night one. The twelve men are Kushida, Leon Ruff, Austin Theory, LA Knight, Tyler Rust, Jake Atlas, Bronson Reed, Dexter Lumis, Cameron Grimes, Roderick Strong, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, and Pete Dunne.

– Before Maverick’s match, it was shown that yesterday, Maverick threatened Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner with a crowbar. He was asking where Killian Dain was. WALTER took the crowbar from him and told him to leave the dressing room.

– Pete Dunne cut a promo about dominating the 12-man Battle Royal.

– Robert Stone was shown talking to Mercedes Martinez. He said Kamea was injured, and Aliyah needed a tag team partner for their Women’s Tag Team Championship match. He offered her a load of money, to which she accepted, but expected the other half later.

-A video package aired featuring Shotzi Blackheart talking about her crazy year in NXT.

– Johnny Gargano was backstage. He burst into Regal’s office and kicked off about the Battle Royal and Gauntlet match. He said he deserved better. Regal said he should study the competitors. Gargano walked off angry.

– Cameron Grimes walked up to Roderick Strong in the changing rooms and said he was taking the break up of Undisputed Era as badly as Strong was. He said UE had done so much for the business and it shouldn’t end like that. He offered to buy the UE name and continued to fantasize about it when Strong punched him and walked off.

– Blackheart and Moon celebrated their win backstage when Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell walked up. LeRae said they would face them their way, on their time, and on their stage.

After The Bell

The explosive end to this week’s show was phenomenal. Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly cut fantastic promos that really made you feel the emotions both men were feeling. Knowing that a match between the two is set in stone for night two of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver is reason enough to tune in, but when you look at the other matches taking place, WrestleMania week is going to be an absolute blast. Finn Balor and Karrion Kross were also brilliant when they met this week. Balor is a savage on the microphone and a savage in the ring. Other than Keith Lee, he’s the only other guy in the NXT locker room that poses a threat to Kross.

Raquel Gonzalez vs Io Shirai is also going to be an explosive match. Gonzalez was on fire yet again, and I’m actually hoping she takes the belt from Shirai. The 12-man Battle Royal makes sense, as there are loads of guys that deserve a shot. I think we’re either going to get Pete Dunne or Dexter Lumis challenging Gargano at TakeOver, but it could easily be Cameron Grimes or Austin Theory at this point. I’m a bit gutted MSK have to face off against two other teams for the Tag Team Championships as they busted their asses to win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Fingers crossed they can beat Legado Del Fantasma and Grizzled Young Veterans.

I’m also excited for Tommaso Ciampa vs WALTER. I can’t see Ciampa winning, but I can see Timothy Thatcher and Killian Dain joining Imperium. We need a big stable in NXT now Undisputed Era are no more, and those six Superstars all have great potential in the black and gold brand. All in all, though, it was a solid week of promos, even if the majority of matches were pretty average. Oh, before I wrap up, why the hell is LA Knight losing already? I get Bronson Reed is a great performer, but at least let Knight build up some momentum first.

Star of the Show: Raquel Gonzalez Overall Rating: 8/10

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