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NXT Stand & Deliver: The (Re)Christening of Bron Breakker + Farewell, Tommaso Ciampa?

WWE NXT's Bron Breakker

For the second consecutive year, NXT will be presenting its Stand & Deliver show WrestleMania weekend. The NXT 2.0 version is a one-show affair, taking place April 2 at 1:00 p.m. EST from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. It’s a six-match card, although the main attractions can be boiled down to two points of interest. First, the re-establishment of Bron Breakker as the face of NXT 2.0 going forward. The second is the possible departure of one of the men most associated with the brand, Tommaso Ciampa.

Here’s a look at the Stand & Deliver card:

NXT Title Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Bron Breakker

Breakker has been the breakout star of NXT 2.0, having ascended to main event level almost immediately upon his debut. When he captured the NXT title from Ciampa on Jan. 4, he seemed ready for a long reign atop the brand. Instead, WWE seems to feel he needs a triumph on a different stage. The company booked a Triple Threat match on Mar. 8 with Breakker, Ciampa and Ziggler, then had Ziggler win the title without beating Breakker.

This begs the question, if they didn’t want Breakker to lose, why take the title off him in the first place? The likely answer is so fans could see him win the title at the “big show,” the Stand and Delivery card on WrestleMania weekend. The issue with that plan is, it’s likely far more people saw Ziggler win the title live on USA Network than will see Breakker regain it on an afternoon show on Peacock.

We are assuming Breakker wins it back. A retention by Ziggler makes no sense at all. Main roster stars come to NXT 2.0 to help put over the newer characters, and Breakker is clearly their top priority on Tuesday nights. Losing to Breakker will not hurt Ziggler one bit, while any failure by Breakker will slow his momentum in a serious way.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tony D’Angelo

Ciampa has become iconic in the NXT 2.0 universe over the years. From teaming with and then feuding with Johnny Gargano, to coming back from serious neck surgery, to taking his spot as top babyface, Ciampa has nearly always been in the mix. Lately, they have been teasing hard that he’s on the way out. While NXT 2.0 fans cross their fingers he won’t end up changing his name and doing a Peaky Blinders gimmick like Pete Dunne, no formal announcement has been made.

Is his leaving just a tease? Ciampa’s size doesn’t bode well for a good main roster spot. With the specter of him leaving and going off to the great unknown of RAW or SmackDown, he will face D’Angelo in a featured match.

D’Angelo has shown a lot of promise in the ring. Despite being saddled with a bad, dated gimmick that is basically a compilation of negative Italian stereotypes, his pro wrestling has come a long way in a short period of time. It began a bit rough. He was put in a War Games match far too early in his career but was hidden well in the match and didn’t do a lot. Since then, he’s made strides.

Ciampa will provide D’Angelo with a good match on an important show, so it’s a big night for him. A good match here keeps him on the trajectory that sets him apart from other new names such as Xyon Quinn and Solo Sikoa, who have not improved the way D’Angelo has.

The finish could go either way. While people often assume those on the way out do jobs to those staying behind, Ciampa could be an exception. Perhaps they are willing to send him off with a happy ending. Still, they were fine with letting Gargano exit after being clobbered from behind by Grayson Waller. So they could just use Ciampa to push D’Angelo further up the cards. If Ciampa is staying, then it could still go either way. It could be D’Angelo getting a win to set up a feud. It could also end up being a Ciampa victory leading to a renewed quest to get the NXT title back once Ziggler returns to the main roster.

NXT Women’s Title: Mandy Rose (c) vs. Cora Jade Vs Io Shirai vs.Kay Lee Ray

This match came out of nowhere on the Mar. 22 episode of NXT 2.0 and could turn out to be a bit of a lifesaver. This was originally announced as a singles match between Rose and Jade for the title. That one was likely to be a struggle. Jade is inexperienced and Rose is not the type who can lift someone up and carry them to a good match. Shirai and Ray won the Women’s Dusty Classic, and rather than challenge NXT Women’s Tag Team champions Toxic Attraction, they put themselves in the match for the singles title.

This decision is a big improvement to the card. Adding Shirai and Ray brings experience and workrate to the match that was not there otherwise.

Toxic Attraction was created with the 1990s concept of hot women bring ratings and younger viewers in mind. Things have changed, and Toxic Attraction hasn’t brought either of those things in big numbers. It’s possible they are ready to move on from Rose as champion. Shirai and Ray are both experienced titleholders. Jade is likeable but has a way to go before being at their level.

NXT Tag Team titles: Imperium (c) vs. The Creed Brothers vs. MSK

The styles clash of the three teams involved here make this an intriguing match. The inexperienced Creeds can be reckless when they get excited, but they have two top-notch teams to work with. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel have been among the top combos in the company since they teamed up. MSK provides the pace and flying. If MSK and Imperium are able to work together a lot, hide the Creed’s weaknesses and feature their strengths, this has the making of a fun one.

There could be an additional angle in this match. A mystery team attacked the Creed Brothers and put them out of a title match on Mar. 8. On Mar. 22, the mystery attackers had a video played while the Creeds were in the ring, tormenting the brothers. Stand and Deliver could be the place for the big reveal of just who has it out for them.

Ladder Match for the NXT North American Title: Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Santos Escobar vs. Solo Sikoa vs. Grayson Waller vs. Cameron Grimes

This is likely to be a stunt show. Past NXT Ladder Matches have taught us to look for plenty of complicated, highly-choreographed spots. Each person will get some shine. Each will take a few big bumps. Hopefully, no one gets hurt.

Cameron Grimes captured the final spot on the Mar. 29 episode of NXT 2.0, defeating Roderick Strong and A-Kid in a Triple Threat match. He pledged to win the spot and then the title in a tribute to his late father, and it the most likely to win if they decide to crown a new champion.

Hayes is an excellent heel, however. His chemistry with Trick Williams works and he comes off as a true star. It seems too early to take that North American title off him here. Ladder matches have a No-DQ stipulation build in, so Trick could be part of the finish here helping Hayes retain.

LA Knight vs. Gunther

WWE has protected Gunther since he came to the company. There’s no sign that is changing. He’s a special talent with a unique look and presentation. Knight, meanwhile, is a great talker and a very good worker. This should be a good match designed to put Gunther over strong and propel him toward a run at the championship.

It will also be a stern test of Knight’s chop-taking abilities. Gunther has one of the stiffest in the business. Just ask Duke Hudson:

While NXT 2.0 has not delivered the top-to-bottom high-quality matches of the Takeover days, there is a lot to like about this card on paper. Everyone on the show will be motivated, no doubt, and matches featuring green-ish talent have them in with some of the brand’s best workers. It should be a fun matinee before night one of WrestleMania.

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