There's no avoiding the high expectations that come with any card given the NXT TakeOver branding, but any fan of professional wrestling would have a difficult time stating that the first night of NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver on Wednesday was anything but incredible. The first of a two-night event, the card saw some of the best matches to have taken place in a wrestling ring this year with three outstanding championship bouts and high drama throughout.
In the main event, Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez battled over Shirai's women's championship. Earlier in the night, WALTER put his NXT UK championship on the line against Tommaso Ciampa, plus MSK, Grizzled Young Veterans and Legado Del Fantasma fought for the vacant tag team titles. While the main event certainly delivered, it was the other two title matches that stole the show with either deserving a place on early Match of the Year lists.
Keep on reading for a complete set of results and grades from night one of NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. Scroll after that for a significant set of highlights from the event.
CBS Sports will be back Thursday night with live coverage of Night 2 of the event. Our wrestling coverage continues through the weekend with WWE WrestleMania 37 on Saturday and Sunday.
NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver results, Night 1
Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm (Pre-show): Stark continued to impress as she has in a series of matches with stop stars, hitting some nice early moves, including a good-looking springboard missile dropkick. Storm took over the match after the strong start, using some power offense with snap suplexes and a body slam, but before she could capitalize, Stark hit a superplex from the second rope to start a comeback. A half-nelson suplex set up a running knee for the first convincing near fall of the match. Stark continued to keep up the pressure until Storm hit a series of German suplexes before going for Storm Zero, which was countered awkwardly by Stark into a small package for the victory. The match was not spectacular, but it was solid enough for a kickoff show feature. The finish was clunky and awkward, however, and left a bit of a down note to everything that had come before. Zoey Stark def. Toni Storm via pinfall -- Grade: C+
Pete Dunne vs. Kushida: An exchange of submission attempts opened the match as both men were attempting to establish their technical superiority early. Kushida had a small edge in the grappling until the action spilled outside where Dunne hit an X-plex onto the ring apron. Dunne brutally went after the arm of Kushida for a brief run, but Kushida fired up and ran the length of the entrance ramp for a kick. After an exchange of strikes, Dunne went back to work on the arm -- and the fingers -- of Kushida.
The action continued to flow back and forth, with Dunne's aggression being met by Kushida blow-for-blow. Kushida hit a superplex while holding his Hoverboard Lock, switching to an armbar, but Dunne managed to get a foot on the ropes for a break. Kushida continued going for Dunne's arms, locking in another Hoverboard Lock and then switching arms with the hold when Dunne reached the ropes. Dunne went back to the fingers, softening up Kushida for a kick to the head and Bitter End to bring the match to a close. Just a fantastic mix of brutality and technique from both men. The kind of high-level wrestling you'd expect seeing Dunne vs. Kushida listed on a card. Pete Dunne def. Kushida via pinfall. Grade: A-
Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott vs. Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis vs. LA Knight (Gauntlet Eliminator for North American championship opportunity): Scott jumped Ruff before the match, getting off to an early advantage when they were the first two men in. Ruff eventually hit a cutter on Scott, springboarding off the announce table to hit the move. That wasn't enough to keep Scott down, as he continued to blitz Ruff with big moves until Ruff countered a top rope powerbomb into a rana before Reed entered the match. Reed ran wild until hitting a double-German suplex on Scott and Ruff. Grimes came into the match and paid off Scott to help him go at the other competitors. During Lumis' entrance, Scott was able to quickly pin Ruff to take him out of the match. Lumis delivered suplex after suplex until running into Reed with the two big men exchanging strikes and neither getting the upper hand. Knight made his entrance as the final man into the match and soon pinned Lumis as Lumis had Grimes locked in Silence. Reed eliminated Knight moments later after a senton, leaving Scott, Reed and Grimes as the final three in the match.
Grimes and Scott teamed up against Reed, but Reed shrugged off strikes from both men until the temporary alliance fell apart and Scott rolled up Grimes with a handful of tights -- reversing Grimes' own attempt to grab Scott's tights in a pin -- for the elimination. Reed went to the top rope, but Scott caught him with a kick and then slammed Reed from the top rope onto the ring apron. Scott followed up with a 450 splash for a near fall. Reed fired up through a trio of House Call kicks from Scott before hitting Tsunami for the victory. The early stages of the match dragged a bit, which is not uncommon with a gauntlet-style match where you're waiting for more entrants to really get going, but down the stretch things got very fun. Reed is a great choice as a winner and his match with Johnny Gargano on night two will be a good one. Bronson Reed won the gauntlet match, last pinning Isaiah "Swerve" Scott. Grade: B+
NXT UK Championship -- WALTER (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa: Ciampa looked to try to neutralize WALTER's strength with speed early but eventually snapped and blitzed WALTER with a flurry of strikes. That only served to anger the champion, leading him to deliver a series of titanic chops. WALTER tried to deliver another chop as Ciampa was leaned on the announce table, but Ciampa moved out of the way, causing WALTER to chop through a portion of the table. Ciampa tried to take advantage of the now-injured hand of WALTER but ran into a big boot. When WALTER had trouble locking in submissions due to not being able to use any strength in his grip, he resorted to delivering more big kicks to the face of Ciampa. Ciampa delivered clothesline after clothesline, trying to take WALTER off his feet, sending the champion stumbling before falling into the ropes where Ciampa's clotheslines continued until WALTER delivered a chop. Ciampa came right back with yet another clothesline, finally driving WALTER to the mat. After another flurry of offense, Ciampa hit the Fairy Tale Ending for a near fall.
WALTER came back with an attempt at a choke before a German suplex and lariat for a two count of his own. Ciampa continued his incredible performance, blasting WALTER with strikes and forcing the big man to turtle up. Another strike exchange followed shortly after before WALTER focused in on the neck of Ciampa with a series of stomps and powerbombs, again resulting in a near fall. Walter hit another suplex and a big chop, this time putting Ciampa down for the three count, retaining his title. A brilliantly put together match with the simplest of wrestling staples: taking away a guy's best weapon. Once WALTER couldn't deliver his chops, Ciampa had the opening to go wild. Believable near falls throughout, brutality and drama. This is the early leader for Match of the Week, even with as many great matches as NXT and WWE have on tap. WALTER def. Tommaso Ciampa via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: A
Tag Team Championship -- MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma: This match was for the vacant title. Pure fire from the jump with everyone in the match flying around the ring at full speed. Every team in the match got early spots to shit, with Grizzled Young Veterans taking the early action before MSK took over and Legado del Fantasma finally took control with simultaneous dives and then a pair of Van Terminators (without the chair) on Nash Carter for a near fall. Legado continued their run of control by continuing to take the fight to Carter until he finally made a tag to Wes Lee, who took out all four men on the other teams before a huge dive and a series of backflips into a Pele kick to the back of James Drake's head.
Zack Gibson finally involved himself to take out Lee, holding his hand inside the turnbuckle pad so Drake could deliver a dropkick to the already inured hand. Gibson locked up Lee's hand and Lee was ready to tap until Carter was able to crawl through a Drake choke to grab his partner's hand. Things broke down to GYV vs. MSK, with Lee hitting a double cutter and then a twisting blockbuster while Carter had Gibson lifted up to score the win and take home the titles. This match just never slowed down for a second, setting a completely different tone than anything else on the show to this point. The spectacular night for NXT continued here with another match that simply delivered. MSK def. Grizzled Young Veterans (via pinfall) and Legado Del Fantasma to win the vacant titles. Grade: A
Women's Championship -- Io Shirai (c) vs. Raquel Gonzalez: Gonzalez used her power early, forcing Shirai to have to resort to slick defensive maneuvers and quickness, hitting a rana and then taking the fight to Gonzalez in the corner. Gonzalez caught a Shirai stomp and tried to reverse the momentum but found herself on the outside, getting knocked to the floor after a Shirai asai moonsault. Gonzalez was finally able to slow down the champ by driving her into the ring post before going back to the ring where she began to toss Shirai around the ring.
Every time it seemed Gonzalez had Shirai on the defensive, the champion would find a way to counter and launch into her own high impact offense, including a Code Red for a near fall. Gonzalez caught Shirai on the top rope and tried to walk her to the center of the ring for a chokeslam, but Shirai managed to counter and roll into a crossface, forcing Gonzalez to crawl to the ropes for the escape. Shirai followed up with a moonsault from the top rope onto the entrance ramp. Shirai wandered out of the ring area before appearing on top of the giant skull that made up the set background on the ramp, hitting a diving crossbody onto Gonzalez.
Gonzalez refused to stay down, coming back to hit a chokeslam outside the ring and throwing the champion in for a near fall. Moments later, Gonzalez managed to hit a big lariat and then another chokeslam to score the pinfall and win the belt. This was solid, though not quite up to the standards set by the rest of the show. That's not really a fair thing to measure this match by, but in the pantheon of great NXT women's matches, it's not quite top tier. Raquel Gonzalez def. Io Shirai via pinfall to win the title. Grade: B