Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez def. NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai and Zoey Stark
Stark has been featured quite a bit since debuting last month, and to her credit, she's made the most of every opportunity she's had and this was no exception. She looked like she belonged and only gained more credibility in defeat. She just needs more of a character. Heat was put on the heels, not only with their win but also with Gonzalez's post-match attack on Shirai. It's cool that they'll be headlining Night 1 of TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. I'm expecting a title change because beyond possibly Taya Valkyrie, I'm not sure who's left for Shirai to defend against.
Bronson Reed def. LA Knight
I figured their first outing would be saved for TakeOver, but apparently not. Hell, this was only added to the show hours in advance on social media, unless I missed something a few days ago. They had a good match and were given decent time, but I was surprised they went with a clean finish and that Knight lost decisively in only his second matchup in NXT. It's nothing he can't bounce back from and maybe the feud will continue, but it's still a strange booking decision.
Karrion Kross def. Oney Lorcan
It's a damn shame Lorcan had to relinquish the NXT Tag Team Championship because Danny Burch got hurt last week. I guess NXT didn't want Pete Dunne to fill in for him, if only to lose the titles at TakeOver? Speaking of which, it will be MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado del Fantasma in a Triple Threat tag team match for the tag titles at TakeOver, which should be a blast. Kross and Lorcan had a well-wrestled affair here with Kross avenging his tag team loss from last week. I also liked his verbal exchange with Finn Balor afterward. The match at TakeOver already sold itself, but aside from last week's misfire, the build has been well done so far.
NXT United Kingdom Champion WALTER def. Drake Maverick (Non-Title)
Well, that was quite the squash! This marked WALTER's first match on NXT TV since October 2019 when he beat Kushida. That was competitive. This was not. WALTER killed Maverick as he should have and picked up the win in under a minute. Post-match, Tommaso Ciampa emerged and challenged WALTER to an NXT United Kingdom Championship match at TakeOver. As awesome as that should be, doesn't it essentially give away the outcome to WALTER vs. Rampage Brown on the NXT UK Prelude show the next night?
NXT Women's Tag Team Champions Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart def. Aliyah and Shotzi Blackheart
Martinez filled in for Jessi Kamea, who we were told was injured in training. Martinez has history with The Robert Stone Brand from last year, so her teaming with Aliyah (despite being an obvious step down for her) wasn't completely random. I don't know what Aliyah and Kamea did to deserve a title shot in the first place, but the match was solid even though I knew there was no way Moon and Blackheart were losing the titles already. Martinez needs to go back to being a loner badass.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin def. Kushida (Non-Title)
Devlin and Kushida are two of the best Cruiserweights in the world, so I wish NXT held off on this until they met with the championship on the line. They didn't have a ton of time, but they made the most of it and had an enjoyable encounter. The post-match angle with Shawn Michaels coming out and throwing a ladder in the ring in between Devlin and Santos Escobar was sick. Ladder matches have been done to death in WWE and AEW over the last two years, but that should be stellar.
Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole Signed the Contract For Their Unsanctioned Match at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver
The Unsanctioned stipulation makes perfect sense for Cole and O'Reilly at TakeOver. This feels like Johnny Gargano vs. Tommsao Ciampa all over again. Contract signings are a tired trope in wrestling, but this was a hell of a segment with both guys cutting phenomenal promos. Cole delivered as always, but O'Reilly was especially impressive because he's never been known as a mic guy. Needless to say, this left me eagerly anticipating their upcoming Unsanctioned clash.
NXT really feels like it's firing on all cylinders heading into TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. The NXT North American Championship situation is a mess when it should have been Dexter Lumis getting the shot right out of the gate, but the rest of the card for the two nights has plenty of promise. Pretty much everything on this episode was well-executed, though the booking of Martinez and Knight certainly left me scratching my head.