I did not get a chance to review NXT Stand & Deliver this year because the timing of the day just wasn’t great for me. But I did get to watch it, so indulge me in giving some quick thoughts on that before we get into WrestleMania  Saturday:
It’s really fun to know that even in the 2.0 era where NXT is a lot less much-watch than it used to be, they still put on one hell of a special. NXT, dating back to the advent of Takeovers, has consistently put on brilliant special event shows, and Stand & Deliver this year was no different.
The Women’s Title Match and the North American Title Ladder match were the huge stand-outs to me. All these years of wrestling later, and man… car crash ladder matches just never stop working for me, guys. Am I just an easy fan? I thought the NA Title match was epic. You’ve got five great talents AND a bunch of minions on the outside running traffic on everything? Man, I love it!
And yeah, that women’s match… four women, and no matter who won, I thought they deserved it. I was pulling more for Cora than anyone else (barely!), but… her time will come. Hopefully she gets the title from Mandy one-on-one.
So yeah… buoyed by the strength of two top-shelf matches, I really enjoyed S&D. Keep it up, NXT, even if your weekly show ain’t what it used to be.
On a tangential point: I have tickets to AEW Dynamite/Rampage on April 20th. If there is one thing I would ask of Wrestling Santa Claus (So… Xanta Klaus?) it would be to witness the AEW debut of DIY. Doesn’t Johnny Gargano live in Cleveland? That’s less than three hours away!
I’m not betting on it, but HOLY POOP would I flip out.
I promise to be good the rest of the year, Xanta!
I turned on the WrestleMania Pre-Show at 6:30, and that was just on a whim to see if I was missing it. I was! So ‘Mania either starts at 7pm EST, or… the pre-show is two hours long. I hope it is the former; WrestleMania or not, there is no reason for a two hour pre-show.
7:02pm: Oh my god, the Pre-show is still going on. So I guess there IS some reason for a 2 hour pre-show. If they do the same tomorrow… that will be FOUR HOURS of Pre-Show! Mother of pearl, that’s insane.
7:09pm: Jake Paul is on the pre-show now riling up the crowd, and it just dawned on me that I don’t know who Jake and Logan Paul are. I had always gotten Logan Paul confused with PewDiePie, I think. How am I just realizing that? What does PewDiePie look like then?
I am 41 years old; I miss being young and knowing who people were. I used to be a pop culture sponge. Now every time I see the people who have become famous within the last ten years, it is different and strange to me.
7:35pm: We get the video recap of the Happy Corbin / Drew McIntyre story, and it reminds me how much I miss Sadsack Corbin. I actually have gotten into the swing of Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss and their shtick–they are REALLY putting their all into it–but Sadsack Corbin was such a treat.
8:05pm: Marky Mark is getting me hyped for WrestleMania! He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor FIFTEEN YEARS AGO! Is The Departed that old? Holy god. Death is ever creeping for us all.
8:08pm: They keep saying “THE MOST STEW–” and I go, “Yes?”, and they finish “–PENDOUS WRESTLEMANIA IN HISTORY”.
I do like that they are using stupendous, though. For one, it’s a great word and an even better way to describe breasts in a horror movie remake. For two, it reminds me of when I’ve run through twenty other ways to call something “very good” and am going through my mental thesaurus to keep things fresh.
8:11pm: The Smackdown Tag Team Title match of THE USOS VS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA AND RICK BOOGS is kicking us off!
8:12pm: …Nakamura and Boogs’ ring gear is just an advertisement for a booze sponsor. I can’t wait until Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent is literally a guy in a Snickers wrapper.
8:20pm: Boogs tries to power up both Jimmy and Jey in an Airplane Spin position, but he falls over and starts selling the knee. I really wonder if that was planned or if Boogs had some quick thinking to sell the mistake away.
8:23pm: Okay, so the match ends relatively quickly after that moment, and NOW I’m wondering if Boogs actually hurt his knee there. Wrestling, why are you so confusing?
8:28pm: Oh, it’s CORBIN VS MCINTYRE time.
8:43pm: Did Michael Cole just say NO ONE has ever kicked out of End Of Days before?! That can’t possibly be right, can it?
8:44pm: Less than a minute later, Drew wins the match, and it was as good of a match as you can hope for. I’m still hung up on no one having kicked out of the End Of Days. I desperately need confirmation on this.
What other finishers have never been kicked out of? I think I’ve heard the Razor’s Edge is one. I don’t believe anyone ever kicked out of Yoko’s Banzai Drop. What else?
8:46pm: Drew just broke the ring with his sword, so I guess we’ll have some commercials and an interview segment.
8:48pm: Next up: THE MYSTERIOS VS THE MIZ AND PEWD–NO! LOGAN PAUL.
8:56pm: Logan Paul has a Pokemon card on a chain around his neck, and now I’m DEFINITELY cheering for him. Is this supposed to be a heel move? I kind of love him now. If I had an expensive TCG card, I’d wear it places, too.
8:58pm: Dom has the same haircut as his dad, Eddie Guerrero!
9:08pm: Miz and Paul win, and Logan looked pretty good in there. At LEAST as good as Dominik himself, right? The current era of celebrity gets for WWE are definitely putting in the work to put on good shows for the fans. I… don’t expect Johnny Knoxville to keep that trend up. But that match is just going to be a trashyard clown car fight.
Oh, and Miz gets himself an enormous pop by turning on Paul, haha. Why not?
9:15pm: Gable Steveson sighting! And he’s wearing a shirt his nana knitted him when he was a much smaller man, awww.
9:17pm: BECKY VS BIANCA is next, and… this is going to be the match of Night One, right? I’d be shocked if it isn’t. Sure Ronda is a draw, I guess, but in no reality do I think the other Women’s Title Match will compete with this. Let’s see if I’m wrong.
9:34pm: I ALMOST miss the first several minutes of this match due to Peacock futzing out on me, but I was able to get it to work on my phone app while the TV app righted itself.
9:48pm: Yeah, that was as good as expected. Hey, remember last SummerSlam when I gave the Becky return and title win a ton of love, and everyone told me I was an idiot and WWE had just buried Bianca Belair forever? Good times!
That was salty of me, haha, sorry! I actually was hoping Bianca would win the whole time here just so I could point that out. Bianca was never buried that night; they just made an eight month story culminating with Bianca getting revenge at ‘Mania. She has now won a world title at back to back ‘Manias. She’s a made woman.
Anyway, that was a great match. Those two are so damn good and really wanted to hit a home run. Good for them. And good for us, you know, for getting to watch it.
Good luck, Charlotte and Rousey!
9:53pm: THERE GOES PEACOCK AGAIN. Quick recovery this time, though. SETH ROLLINS VS ??? IS UP! I can’t wait until this is Shane McMahon and the crowd just spends the entire match booing. But let’s see!
While I wait… who doesn’t love Seth Rollins? His character is absolutely perfect these days. He’s so entertaining. Is he my favorite guy on the roster? Probably. He just seems like he is having all the fun in the world out there. Infectious stuff.
10:00pm: They are drawing out Seth’s ring entrance for anticipation here.
10:02pm: Oh, it IS Cody. You know… I’d gotten myself SO EXCITED for the live crowd’s disappointment at it NOT being Cody, that this is actually a disappointment to ME. I guess I deserve that.
They could have at least had the decency to make him come out as Stardust, ha!
10:10pm: My initial disappointment over not getting some schadenfreude out of the way, this IS actually wildly surreal, even when we all knew it was coming. Two years ago, no one would ever have thought we’d get Cody Rhodes going back to WWE while still in his prime. This doesn’t feel real somehow. It’s not any AEW guy going to WWE. It’s MR. AEW!
10:13pm: If Seth wins this match, that would make the reaction to Sting losing to HHH look tame, right?
10:23pm: Seth, you’ll hit the Phoenix Splash someday, don’t worry! Never stop trying!
10:24: Me: “OH MY GOD, PLEASE HAVE SETH PIN HIM WITH THE PEDIGREE! aw, nuts”.
10:27pm: I am denied all of my nihilistic glee, but I don’t even care. That was a great match with a powerful ending. Both guys look tremendous. This is genuinely one of those “this is why I love wrestling” moments. It’s wild and fun and the crowd is so happy. I simply… feel good.
10:42pm: Oh nuts, Rick Boogs actually got pretty seriously injured in the opener. That’s awful. Best of luck to him as he heals up from this, and I can’t wait to see him come back. He’s a great entertainer.
10:43pm: CHARLOTTE VS RONDA ROUSEY is next, and you know what? Betting against Charlotte at WrestleMania when she SHOULD lose is a sucker’s game. She’s only been pinned or submitted at WrestleMania once ever, right? To Bayley, at–what was it–WM33? That feels longer ago than it was.
I’ve been predicting for weeks that Charlotte not only wins, but taps Ronda out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ronda was brought back just for a few months to put Charlotte over. But I’m famously bad at prognosticating things, so… let’s see how this ends up.
11:02pm: I swear to god I just thought Charlotte was going to do a FLYING BOSTON CRAB, and if she had, this would be the best WrestleMania ever.
Some wrestler somewhere: Give me a flying Boston Crab. I don’t even know how that would work. Just… figure it out and do it.
I will never give a wrestling match 5 stars again until I see a Flying Boston Crab.
11:11pm: Well, I was half right. Fucking Charlotte at WrestleMania, man. I am legitimately surprised they didn’t have Charlotte tap Ronda out. But at no point whatsoever did I think Charlotte was losing.
11:15pm: There is a commercial for the new Bel-Air show, and I have no idea who this show is for, but I hate that Nu Carlton’s hair starts 75% of the way up his scalp. He looks like Tobias Funke right after he first got hair plugs.
11:18pm: I love that they keep talking about how Stone Cold hasn’t had a match in 19 years. He isn’t advertised as having a match tonight! And he’s been at WrestleMania many times in the last 19 years. He’s Stunnered many people at WrestleMania. Now, will this turn into a match? Maybe! But they are telegraphing the hell out of it if so.
11:22pm: WWE video packages, man. This KO/Austin vignette is fantastic. I hate Kid Rock, but the song works so well here. I AM PUMPED.
11:33pm: KO looking bored while Austin rides around on an ATV gives me life.
11:37pm: I mean, heeling up on Texas makes you a babyface in 49 other states for one reason or another, but you do you, KO.
11:44pm: Okay, it will be a match. But will it be a MATCH?
11:57pm: It will be. It was–it ended right as I started this note.
I mean, it’s as much as Austin can do these days, but he took some bumps and went more than, say, 5 minutes. Good for Austin to have a showing. Good for KO getting to be the guy to give it to him. Again: the crowd enjoyed it, so that’s what counts.
WWE is what WWE is these days. You can be a little put off that a long-retired legend just beat a full-timer relatively easily, but we’re well past the point of caring about that stuff. Welcome to the last fifteen years or so, right? It’s just weird to think that… if WWE is still around in 20 years, what current full-timer could get a reaction or be a draw like Austin here? Randy Orton? He’d be five years older than Stone Cold is now 20 years from now, though.
I have no negativity here, guys. Most of my negativity would typically go towards Charlotte winning another WrestleMania match she shouldn’t have, but like I said… I knew that was coming and had steeled myself.
Aside from that, you had two GREAT matches (Bianca/Becky and Seth/Cody), no stinkers, Austin having fun and making his home state crowd gleeful, and Logan Paul putting in work out there. I thought this was a really good show. Does PART ONE of a two-part show by itself need to be four hours? Probably not. But it’s far better than those eight hour WrestleManias we had for a minute there.
I enjoyed this show. I hope you did, too. Stick around and I’ll be back to give my thoughts on Night Two tomorrow!
Hopefully we will see a Flying Boston Crab.