Will Finn Balor's reign as NXT Champion continue? Can Kyle O'Reilly get revenge on Adam Cole? These questions were answered in brutal fashion at Night 2 of NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver. It was the first time NXT TakeOver was been spread over two nights,. Nothing on Night 2 was as strong as the Walter versus Ciampa match from Night 1, but there was undoubtedly some strong bouts.
The main event saw Kyle O'Reilly beat Adam Cole in a long, violent unsanctioned match. Prior to that, Karrion Kross beat Finn Balor to win the NXT Championship. I'd argue the best match of the night was Johnny Gargano versus Bronson Reed, which saw Gargano retain the North American Championship.
Scroll below for a full recap of the show. Click.
Kyle O'Reilly pins Adam Cole
After, the main event began. In it, Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole beat the crap out of each other with all manor of weapons and daring moves. How much you like this match depends on how much of a tolerance you have for hardcore wrestling, and how easily you can suspend your disbelief. There were dozens of moves that would probably kill someone that here got a two count.
It starts hot, as you'd expect from such an intense grudge match, with fiery brawling off the bat. First they worked around a chair, with Cole smashing it over O'Reilly's back. Later, in the ring, O'Reilly did an awesome spot where he did a butterfly suplex to Cole on the chair and transitioned straight into a leglock.
Eventually, Kyle O'Reilly brought out a thick chain and tied it onto the tope rope on one side of the ring, the two then worked around the chain. Cole dropped O'Reilly onto it with a neckbeaker, O'Reilly wrapped the chain over his foot and kicking Cole several times, and there was also an inventive spot where Cole clotheslined O'Reilly with the chain.
After some more brawling on the outside, which saw O'Reilly suplex Cole onto the announcer's table (but not break it) and Cole smash O'Reilly with a TV monitor, they end up back in the ring. Cole chucks a tire-iron into the ring and tried to hit O'Reilly with it, but O'Reilly counters and hits a brainbuster. He then takes the chain, still attacked to a top rope, and uses it for submissions, using it with an armbar and then triangle. Cole feigned passing out, but then grabbed the tire-iron and clubbed O'Reilly with it to break the submission. They get into a strike exchange, which Cole cuts off with a low blow. He then hit O'Reilly with a great-looking superkick for a nearfall.
Cole, apparently in a fit of defiance, struck out the referee. He then landed a Panama Sunrise on O'Reilly and pinned him -- but there was no referee to count. O'Reilly rolled out of the ring, leading to Cole following him and the two brawling more on the outside. O'Reilly locked on a standing guillotine, but Cole slammed him through the stage.
Back in the ring, Cole sets up his Last Shot but, in the best spot of the match, O'Reilly is too exhausted and falls on his face. Cole tries again but O'Reilly dodges and gets Cole in a leglock. Cole grabs the chain and hits O'Reilly straight in the face to escape. Cole tries a Panama Sunrise but O'Reilly counters again, hits a Penalty Kick and a Last Shot for another near fall.
The pinfall finally came when the two were battling on a top turnbuckle. O'Reilly hit a lowblow, a receipt from earlier, and then wrapped the chain around his leg and did a knee strike from the top rope onto Cole, whose neck was perched on a chair.
Rating: 4 stars. Too much action going on, and too many unbelievable two-counts, but it was fun to watch.
Karrion Kross wins NXT Championship
Finn Balor's reign is over. Karrion Kross defeated Balor in the sub-main event with a forearm smash to win the NXT Championship.
It was a good-but-not-great match. Much like last night's NXT Women's Championship bout was all Io Shirai, Finn Balor was absolutely the star of the show here. This match was much longer though, meaning it dragged a bit more. Plus, it's hard to get excited about the babyface win when the heel was just so much more exciting to watch.
Kross took much of the early going, until Balor caught a nice flying armbar. This was actually another slightly confusing aspect of the match: The video package beforehand sold Kross as being more technically proficient, but Balor as having greater endurance. But in reality, it was Balor who looked more proficient at submission wrestling.
Balor caught Kross with a kick to the midsection which injured Kross' liver, and much of the rest of the bout focused on Balor working over Kross midsection with submissions, strikes and stomps. A nice false finish came when Balor hit a Coup de Gras but got a two-count -- with Kross reversing the pinfall into a rear-naked choke. Great spot.
Balor used an abdominal stretch throughout, and after the Coup de Gras applied it once more. Kross powered out, hit a suplex on Balor and then the forearm smash for the win.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Jonny Gargano beats Bronson Reed
Unsurprisingly, this was the best match on the show by this point. Johnny Gargano is amazing, obviously, and did a great job at chipping away at the big man. Bronson Reed also played his part well, selling injuries from the prior night's gauntlet match to make the much smaller Gargano's offense feel believable.
Much of the match saw Gargano hit flurries of offense only to be cut off by a big move from Reed. Reed wouldn't be able to maintain the advantage though, as Gargano would take advantage of Reed's fatigue and injury from the previous night's match. The action was crisp, including a wicked backstabber from Gargano that saw Reed's neck snap and later a huge powerbomb from Reed to Gargano from the outside.
Austin Theory got involved at one point, saving Gargano from a pinfall by putting Gargano's foot on the ropes. Amazingly, Reed took Theory out with a suicide dive. Reed followed that up with an attempted reverse moonsault from the top rope -- an impressive sight for such a big man -- but Gargano rolled out of the way. Gargano then hit two over-the-top-rope DDTs for the win.
Rating: 4.25 stars. Awesome.
Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart retains tag titles
Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart retained their NXT Tag Team Championships by beating Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell. Moon hit a sweet double Total Eclipse on both LeRae and Hartwell, followed by Blackheart pinning Hartwell after her top-rope senton.
It was an average tag match that picked up at the end thanks to strong false finishes. Blackheart and Moon used a dominator/cutter tandem move, which looked awesome, for a two-count. LeRae and Hartwell later scored a modified 3-D for another near fall. The most memorable part of the match was a suicide dive that looked very close to going very wrong. LeRae and Hartwell were outside, but Blackheart landed in between them in a way that they weren't able to properly break her fall.
Rating: 2.75 stars. Not much to say about this one. A decent match.
Santos Escobar wins Unified Cruiserweight Championship
In the opening match of Night 2, Santos Escobar defeated Jordan Devlin in a ladder match to unify the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. It took interference by Legado Del Fantasma to get there, as well as a gnarly spot that left Devlin strewn across a broken ladder.
The match wasn't bad but, as far as ladder matches go, it wasn't anything special. There was nothing you'd never seen before, and nor was it particularly heavy on psychology. There were some daring high spots though, like Devlin doing a reverse moonsault from the top of a very high ladder, a wicked suicide dive into a ladder and, at the end of the match, Escobar headbutting Devlin so that the latter crashed through a ladder and snapped it in half.
Rating: 3.25 stars.