The stars of Raw and SmackDown are gearing up for WrestleMania 39, but WWE’s developmental brand has its own big show coming up. and the March 14 episode of NXT continued the build to that event.
This week’s broadcast featured the usual array of wackiness. We saw the continuing Fallon Henley/Kiana James/Brooks Jensen/Josh Briggs melodrama, another big backstage brawl over a North American Championship match, a fight at Johnny Gargano’s house, and a contract signing.
A lot happened on this edition of NXT, so let’s discuss what WWE got right on this show.
Johnny Gargano and Grayson Waller fight at Gargano’s home
NXT kicked things off with Johnny Gargano addressing the audience following his surprise return to the brand on March 7. Gargano exclaimed that NXT was “his home” and took Grayson Waller to task for messing with said home.
As Gargano ranted on, however, Vic Joseph left the commentary desk to show him Waller’s Instagram live stream. More alarmingly, Joseph and Gargano discerned that Waller was recording this at Gargano’s home, prompting “Johnny Wrestling” speed to his domicile.
Usually, WWE handles angles like this by having the wrestler’s rival interrupt them on the titantron to initiate an awkward conversation, so it deserves some kudos for taking a fresh approach to this trope. Waller posting this invasion on IG fits his social media influencer gimmick and the idea to have Joseph reveal this to Gargano off-mic added urgency to the segment.
Once we got to the home (cameras followed Gargano), we got the big brawl between the NXT Stand and Deliver opponents that ended with Waller stomping Gargano into the ground with Candice LeRae watching.
While most of the matches at Stand and Deliver don’t have much heat behind them, Gargano vs. Waller appears to be the exception, and this angle proved why.
Zoey Stark qualifies for the NXT Women’s Championship ladder match
After Roxanne Perez’s collapse following her NXT Women’s Championship defense against Meiko Satomura, Shawn Michaels announced that Perez might not be healthy enough to defend the title at Stand and Deliver, so he announced that the belt will be up for grabs in a ladder match at the show, with wrestlers needing to win qualifying matches to earn a spot in the bout.
Two of those matches took place on this week’s show. In the first, Zoey Stark once again pinned Sol Ruca to gain entry and Gigi Dolin beat Kiana James in the second. Dolin’s inclusion in the match gives WWE a chance to see if she can gain traction as a babyface, but for Stark, she fills the important “steady veteran who keeps the match on course” role.
Yes, the ultra-athletic Ruca would’ve made plenty of sense as a participant, and perhaps WWE will book some sort of “Last Chance” match to get her in, but WWE made the right choice by giving a spot to one of the division’s better workers.