The City of Angels will play host to this year’s WrestleMania. It is a weekend that everyone in the industry can get excited about. All over the city wrestling shows from independent to international promotions are running events. There really is something for everyone, even within WWE the action is not limited to the grandest stage of them all.
A quiet revolution has been taking place down in Orlando, as NXT has slowly begun to build its reputation back to former glories. Gone are the days of the hottest indie talents in the business finding their feet on WWE programming. Instead, a new ethos of developing athletes has begun to bear fruit. It’s an exciting time for the black and gold brand and one that will look to capitalise on its momentum when it presents a stellar card for their biggest show of the year.
Andy Spoors takes a look through what promises to be a tantalising appetiser, before the main course is served across the otherside of LA…

The last year or two has been tough for NXT. There’s no real way to escape that.

Thrown into a forced rivalry with the then emerging promotion AEW, stripped of some of its biggest stars and given a rebranding, only to move pretty much back to the original one they moved away from.

In another life, NXT could quite possibly have gone by the wayside and shut forever.

It has, however, shown more than just signs of life in recent months.

New homegrown Superstars have emerged from the Performance Center and now find themselves crowd favourites.

The ultra gimmicky approach dialled back, and faith in the current roster seems high.

Now led by Hall Of Famer and legend Shawn Michaels, NXT is primed to put on a show when they descend on the Crypto Arena.

Stipulations, multi-person and gimmick matches aplenty, there is something for everyone, even with the strange local start time of 10am.

Perhaps the crown jewel in their crown is the showdown between two of the brand’s most heralded stars in current champion Bron Breakker and challenger Carmelo Hayes.

The pair have so far been kept apart when it comes to getting physical in the ring, but Stand & Deliver will finally see them face off.

This could be one of the last times Breakker appears in an NXT environment — a call up to the main roster has long been mooted and the Raw after WrestleMania would be a prime time to pull that trigger.

For Hayes, becoming NXT Champion seems to be the logical step.

It would allow a supreme talent to find his feet as the face of the brand and see how he copes with that unique pressure.

There is no doubt he will go on to become a Superstar on the main roster, but with Bronn further along in his development Carmelo needs to enjoy at least a short run as the ‘A’ champion with the ‘A’ title.

Away from the main event there are mouthwatering clashes all over the card.

In particular the Fatal 5 Way match for Wes Lee’s North American Title, already has all the ingredients to become an instant classic.

So far debutant Dragon Lee, JD McDonagh and Ilja Dragunov have been announced with the final challenger to be decided in a battle royal this week. 

All contenders due to take part in this match are arguably the most exciting on the roster, so to have all of them in a ring at the same time?

Expect magic and the whole weekend to be well and truly stolen.

Elsewhere the recently vacated NXT Women’s Championship is up for grabs, quite literally as the brightest female talent will compete in a ladder match to crown a new champion.

This match is a result of Roxanne Perez being medically disqualified after collapsing following her successful title defence against Meiko Satomura.

When one door closes another opens and the opportunity to become champion won’t be squandered by the likes of Gigi Dolin, Zoey Stark, Tiffany Stratton and Lyra Valkyria.

Tag team action rounds off the rest of the card with one exception.

The return of Mr. NXT, Johnny Gargano, as he looks for retribution against the man that ruined his goodbye in 2021, Grayson Waller.

Waller has established himself as a top heel on the black and gold through his brash, cocky attitude.

The Australian is every bit as impressive in the ring as he is on the mic and the chance to take on NXT royalty will only solidify his position in the upper echelon of the brand.

For Johnny Wrestling, this is one last opportunity to say goodbye to the place he helped build before he settles down on Raw and looks to make himself a household name with a wider audience.

Anyone that has watched NXT since Gargano has been there knows how much this means, so expect emotions to run high even if he loses (which is the usual result when coming back for one last match).

Win lose or draw, the heart and soul of NXT will undoubtedly get the reception he deserves.

Full NXT Stand & Deliver Card 

Bron Breakker defends the NXT Championship against Carmelo Hayes

Ladder Match to determine the NXT Women’s Champion

Fallon Henley & Kiana James defend the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles against Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn

Wes Lee to defend the North American Title in a Fatal 5-Way

Johnny Gargano and Grayson Waller to battle in a bitter grudge match

Gallus, The Creed Brothers and The Family to square off in Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Titles

Andre Chase, Duke Hudson, Thea Hail and Tyler Bate face Schism for control of Chase U