Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver (Night 2) (2021)

Following a huge first night of action, NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver returns to do it all again. In the main event, a decade long friendship comes to an end as Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly face off in only the second ever Unsanctioned Match in NXT history, where the company and management will not be held responsible for what Cole and O’Reilly do to each other. The NXT Championship will also be on the line, as Finn Balor defends his gold against the man who never lost the title, Karrion Kross, in the pair’s first ever meeting. Fresh of winning the Eliminator Gauntlet last night, the Colossal Bronson Reed will finally get his chance at Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship, and the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships will also be defended as Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon defend against The Way (Candice LeRae and Indie Hartwell). Kicking off the show, two men who claim to be the real Cruiserweight Champion in NXT, Santos Escobar and Jordan Devlin, will battle in a Ladder Match for the title of Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion.

+ Finn Balor (c) vs Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett) (NXT Championship): straight up, Karrion Kross is so cringe inducing, I have to view him as a parody of wrestling tough guys to not die of embarrassment at even the mention of his name. That said, this was significantly better than I was expecting it to be, not least of all because in a way Balor was playing the bad guy, a role he genuinely excels at (but also see my complaints about Gargano dominating Reed; the same almost happened here). I was surprised at overall just how straight forward a match this was, but I think it was better for it
+ Johnny Gargano (c) vs Bronson Reed (NXT North American Championship): despite the fact I just don’t buy Johnny Gargano as standing a chance in hell against Bronson Reed, this was probably my match of the night. I really like Reed, and have for a long time, so it was great to see him really get this spotlight over the last week or so. I don’t dislike Gargano overall, but his schtick has run its course and he either needs to change it up or become again the good guy he was so good at being
+ Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart (c) vs The Way (Candice LeRae & Indie Hartwell) (NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships): Ember and Candice are the clear work horses for their team, but both Shotzi and Indie have improved so much of late, it was hard to fault any of the competitors in this match – with the exception of Shotzi once again nearly killing herself on a dive. Ember Moon coming back to NXT has been a godsend for her personal career, and she looked great here. I enjoyed this, especially considering the relative experience levels of the competitors

Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole (Unsanctioned Match): two things come to mind after this: (1), this match was done first, and done significantly better in every conceivable way, at Ring of Honour’s Best in the World 2012 PPV event, and; (2), whoever is booking these marathon main events, whether it be the never ending Ciampa/Gargano/Cole garbage series, or the too-long-for-them-personally match with Karrion Kross/Keith Lee, needs to take a good, long, hard look at what they are doing to these shows. The length and style of this match did not fit the story at all, and while I can’t fault O’Reilly (in particular) or Cole as athletes, this was just a poor showing
Santos Escobar vs Jordan Devlin (Ladder Match for the Undisputed NXT Cruiserweight Championship): there was nothing wrong with this, but it fell into all the same tropes and pitfalls that every other modern WWE ladder match falls into. There was no tension in who would win in the early goings, because you just knew nothing meant anything until someone had fallen off a ladder, someone had jumped off the top of a ladder, and a ladder had been broken. Ladder matches need to go away for a while and get a revamp

Should you watch this event: This was a disappointment compared to the first night, and a real let down. Having both Balor/Kross and the Unsanctioned Match on the same show was a bad idea, and this second night suffered for it. I understand NXT was making the most of a strange situation, but this second night has ruined the good will I had built up by the first show – and nothing here topped WALTER/Ciampa, either.

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