We are now hours away from NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, emanating from the Capitol Wrestling Center. The TakeOver series has been part of the furniture during WrestleMania week for years now, however, this edition will be a little different. For the first time in TakeOver history, this edition will take place over the course of two nights, Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th of April. In another first, night one will air in NXT’s weekly Wednesday night timeslot on the USA Network, the first time a TakeOver will be broadcast on television as well as being the final NXT show before moving to Tuesdays on April 13th.
Stand & Deliver will precede its older cousin WrestleMania with a midweek two-nighter that boasts an absolutely stacked card. All NXT championships will be defended (including the NXT UK Championship) and each night will receive a very modest but traditional five matches each.
In terms of WrestleMania, a two-night format is a necessity given that WWE has managed to shoehorn an average of 15 matches per Mania card over the past few years. But is this a necessary move for NXT to make? Their one-night formula is tried and tested, not to mention the decided disadvantage of producing a mid-week PPV. Or is this a smart utilisation of time and talent?
Learning From History
As mentioned, the TakeOver’s of yesteryear are often praised not only for their high-quality matches and storylines but for their easily consumable five-match cards and short running times. TakeOver’s average around 2 hours and 45 minutes which, for perspective, is shorter than a weekly Monday Night Raw episode. In order to theorise Stand & Deliver as a one-night TakeOver, you would need to take that runtime and near enough double it. Recent WrestleMania’s have followed that ilk, with Mania 35 clocking up an astonishing seven-and-a-half-hour runtime (including the pre-show) in what was the longest event ever produced by WWE. How would fans feel about a four or five-hour TakeOver?
Simply put, I think they would be horrified. The issue with shows that go beyond three hours is the waning attention span of fans which, in turn, results in some matches becoming instantly forgettable. If Stand & Deliver was to be one night, you would need to trim the card and relegate one or two to the pre-show. There is, however, not one match on either night that doesn’t deserve to be on the main card – which scuppers that idea.
The two-night format in theory allows fans to recharge their batteries and gives opportunities for some matches, that may have otherwise been overlooked, to shine. Having said that, I do have somewhat of an issue with placing the Unsanctioned match between Cole and O’Reilly on the same night as Balor vs Kross for the NXT Championship. I’m of the opinion that both of these contests are main event worthy and NXT may shoot themselves in the foot for not recognising this golden opportunity.
Cast your minds back to WrestleMania X8, the main event was Triple H vs Chris Jericho for the Undisputed WWE Championship. However, to us fans the real main event was Hulk Hogan vs The Rock, still considered by some to have been the greatest Mania match of all time.
Jericho has since been vocal about his and Triple H’s reservations about having to follow Hogan and Rock, as they considered it virtually impossible. Ultimately, their reservations were proven right as the main event atmosphere was noticeably dim with the audience emotionally drained. Whilst I’m surprised that Triple H would allow this, I anticipate I may end up eating my words as I often do when questioning NXT booking decisions.
Why It Will Work
As mentioned, the two-night setup allows us fans to take a breath and really appreciate each evening’s action. Plus, night one will be a fine farewell to the Wednesday Night Wars and may just result in NXT winning the final battle.
Stand & Deliver features one of the best-looking cards in recent TakeOver memory and it is a crying shame that the event won’t take place in front of an audience akin to WrestleMania 37, which will house 25,000 fans per night at Raymond James Stadium. Stand & Deliver will be presented in the same Thunderdome/small audience combination as previous TakeOver’s and NXT shows alike.
It feels as though WWE wanted the return of fans to be a momentous event, saved for a momentous show and what could be more appropriate than WrestleMania? Some NXT fans may feel aggrieved although we shouldn’t be deceived, every TakeOver in the COVID-era has delivered without fans and I see no reason why the aptly named Stand & Deliver should be any different.
The fact is that there is too much talent in NXT and too many deserving matches. If fans were allowed, would this be a two-night event? Probably not. Therefore, by giving us two for the price of one, Stand & Deliver promises to be one of the best TakeOver’s in history and makes the very best out of a very bad situation.
Do you think NXT should be two nights or is one just enough? Let us know on Twitter @TWMNewz
WrestleMania is once again a two-night event this year, but does it REALLY REALLY need to be two nights again?
With this being the first WrestleMania with fans in attendance since the Pandemic began, a special one-nighter feels needed, to read James’ take on this click here.