Wrestling Review: NXT Stand & Deliver (2023)

The biggest night of the NXT calendar is here, as NXT presents Stand & Deliver. In the main event, an NXT Championship match 18 months in the making as two former rookies signed at the same time finally meet face to face with the title on the line. The defending champion, Bron Breakker, is a powerhouse with a lineage coming from wrestling royalty, while his opponent, Carmelo Hayes, did it the long way through the indies before receiving his NXT contract, but only one man will leave with the biggest prize in NXT. For the women’s division, a group of five of the top contenders — Tiffany Stratton, Gigi Dolan, Indi Hartwell, Lyra Valkyria and Zoey Stark — will meet with Roxanne Perez for the NXT Women’s Championship in a six-woman ladder match. The NXT North American Champion ship will also be defended when Wes Lee faces off with four other men — JD McDonagh, Ilja Dragunov, Axiom and the debuting Dragon Lee — for his title, and the NXT Tag Team Championships will be defended in a triple threat tag team match as well, when GALLUS face The Family and The Creed Brothers of Diamond Mine. The NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles are on th eline as Kiana James and Fallon Henley defend against the mysterious team of Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre, and Johnny Gargano will battle Grayson Waller in an Unsanctioned Match where anything goes.

+ Bron Breakker (c) vs Carmelo Hayes (NXT Championship): the first thing I notice is that this match felt really short, especially after the very long video package that preceded it and then both mens’ entrances. I think it was a very clever match that highlighted both guys upsides, but that only accidentally proved their weaknesses as well. That said, both guys are really good at this for their respective experience levels, and I expect both to be making big waves sooner rather than later across all of WWE. This was a good main event and worth watching
+ Johnny Gargano vs Grayson Waller (Unsanctioned Match): overall this was all right, but it peaked perfectly at one point and I was ready for it to end, but it just kept going. Gargano has somewhat floundered since his WWE er-hiring, so it was nice to see him back on the show that he made famous, especially against one of my favourites in Grayson Waller. I am confident that this match proves that the people in charge of WWE see Waller as a star as well
+ Wes Lee (c) vs Ilja Dragunov vs Axiom vs JD McDonagh vs Dragon Lee (Open Challenge for the NXT North American Championship): holy smokes, I loved this. I was fixing to tear this apart like I did the Ladder and men’s tag before it, but something finally clicked near the miday point where all five guys were interacting with other at bother a blistering pace and with obscene accuracy that I couldn’t take my eyes away. I am a big fan of Dragon Lee but I don’t think this was as impressive a debut as he would have wanted, but int he sam way I know Axiom can do more than he was doing here. All five guys were fantastic, and I think any combination of them in the future will be just as good

Kiana James & Fallon Henley (c) vs Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn (NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships): this was not good at all, and easily the worst thing on the show. James/Heley have had a fantastic story going lately, but that just doesn’t translate them being good wrestlers. Meanwhile, Fyre and Dawn and are good wrestlers but their story and characters are just horrible. This was a misfire
GALLUS (Wolfgang & Mark Coffey) (c) vs The Creed Brothers (Julius Creed & Brutus Creed) vs The Family (Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo) (NXT Tag Team Championships): this was okay, but never great in the way NXT tag team matches used to be when American Alpha, DIY and The Revival were around. I have a soft spot of Mark Coffey, but I can take or leave Wolfgang. Julius Creed is a genetic freak of an athlete, and if he is not a huge star in WWE very soon then I don’t know what to tell you. Meanwhile Brutus is also great but going to clearly be hurt by comparisons to Julius. Stacks and D’Angelo were also here. I wanted to get into this, but too much if it just felt so standard and rehearsed I couldn’t
Roxanne Perez (c) vs Tiffany Stratton vs Lyra Valkyria vs Zoey Stark vs Indi Hartwell vs Gigi Dolan (Ladder Match for the NXT Women’s Championship): I can’t believe that hald these women didn’t even get televised entrances. There were a lot of big hits and slams on ladders, but frankly most of them just didn’t look convincing or looked overly choreographed. Some of the story bits here were fun, but also took away from the match itself. I didn’t enjoy this overall, especially following the Ring of Honor ladder match from earlier in the day
– there was a lot of really poor camera work on this show, to the point where every time it zoomed in on someone, it was clear that was because someone else was sneaking up. This was especially noticeable in the opening ladder match, but all throughout wrestlers were reacting to something that we had no idea about at home

> as always, I watch this on delay so I can skip the fluff. There was about 100 minutes of wrestling on this 180 minute show. Some quick math will tell you that is over an hour of garbage between the matches not worth watching
> I’m something of a purist for pro wrestling, and I don’t enjoy multi-person/team matches at the best of times, so I was sorely disappointed at the huge number of people on this show. I don’t believe that every person should be on a PPV just because it’s a PPV, and this show was proof of that

Should you watch this event: To the great surprise of nobody, the matches involving the like of Breakker, Hayes, Gargano, Axiom, Dragunov and Dragon Lee were all worth watching, but you can probably skip the actual developmental talent. It’s a shame to say that, but it’s just how it all fell.


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