The John Report: WWE NXT 03/21/23 Review

wwe nxt march 21 final

This week’s WWE NXT featured Ilja Dragunov facing JD McDonagh, plus Bron Breakker & Carmelo Hayes teaming up in the main event.

This will be summary style for most of it with one or two getting play by play style.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. My WWE NXT Review archive is here. Let’s get to it.

A recap aired about last week’s show when Grayson Waller fought Johnny Gargano at Johnny’s house with Grayson getting the advantage. They will meet at Stand & Deliver on April 1st.

It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.

Let’s Hear from Pretty Deadly

The Pretty Deadly duo of Kit Wilson & Elton Prince were in the ring talking about how they were the hosts of NXT Stand & Deliver. They complained about Gallus beating them last week. They also complained about Bron Breakker & Carmelo Hayes putting them through a table. They kept saying “Stand & Deliver” in a unique way. They trashed the outfits of Bron and Carmelo.

Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams appeared with Trick telling Pretty Deadly to mind their own business. Hayes talked about how he’s preparing for the biggest match of his career while they were mentioning his name. They kept on bickering about things. The argument led to a tag team match challenge with Trick saying that Pretty Deadly will be against Melo and Bron. Melo was shocked by that.

Pretty Deadly attacked Melo and Trick, so Bron made the save. Bron cleaned house with suplexes and slams on the PD guys. Bron tossed Wilson over the top onto Prince on the floor although it missed a bit, so it was a rough landing for Wilson. Bron picked up Melo saying he didn’t want to see anything happen to Melo before Stand & Deliver.

Analysis: It was okay as an opening segment to set up the tag team main event later in the show. Bron and Melo are being nice to eachother, so it’s more of a babyface match instead of Hayes as a heel. Pretty Deadly was entertaining in their promos although they are a bit over the top as usual.

Indi Hartwell and Tiffany Stratton were shown walking in different parts of the building.


Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams were talking backstage. Trick said that Melo needs to know how Bron moves in the ring, so he has a front row seat. Trick said that Melo will be ready. Melo agreed with Trick that he’ll be ready.

A message was shown from Roxanne Perez saying she’ll be back, but we don’t know when.

Tiffany Stratton vs. Indi Hartwell

The winner gets to be in the NXT Women’s Title Ladder Match at Stand & Deliver. Booker called Tiffany a “special talent.” I agree.

Stratton with a clothesline, but Indi came back with some clotheslines of her own. Stratton hit a suplex. Stratton hit an impressive cartwheel combo leading to a corner attack. While Hartwell was on the apron, Stratton tripped her up and Hartwell bumped to the floor leading to a break.


Stratton remained in control by driving Hartwell face first into the turnbuckle. Hartwell got some offense with an uppercut and boot to the face. After Stratton missed a top rope move, Indi hit a spinebuster for two. Stratton hit a rolling senton slam and Stratton with a springboard moonsault for the pinfall win after nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tiffany Stratton

Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match for the time they got. It was even most of the way. Stratton is clearly a star on the rise while Indi doesn’t really get a consistent push in NXT and it’s been that way for a few years now.

The three women for the NXT Women’s Championship Ladder Match at Stand & Deliver at this point are Gigi Dolin, Zoey Stark & Tiffany Stratton.

Analysis: I think Stratton will be my pick to win the NXT Women’s Title at Stand & Deliver. I think she’s the favorite along with Zoey Stark.

Gallus, the NXT Tag Team Champions, were shown in an empty bar earlier in the day. The Creed Brothers showed up. They played pool with Gallus winning. They played darts with The Creed Brothers. They agreed to settle things with an NXT Tag Team Title match at Stand & Deliver. When they left the bar, Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo were there to talk business too. All six guys went back into the bar.

Wes Lee was shown backstage with the NXT North American Title for a promo up next.


A video aired about Lyra Valkyria doing some training.

Gigi Dolin was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Gigi saying it sucks that Roxanne Perez is not available. Dolin talked about Jacy Jayne being injured while mentioning that the last time she was in a Ladder Match, she won. Tiffany Stratton walked in to say the NXT Women’s Champion is hers. Tiffany said she had a “Tiffany Epiphany” about winning the match. Booker T likes her “Toodles” promo ending.

Let’s Hear from Wes Lee

The NXT North American Champion Wes Lee was in the ring for a promo saying people ask him why he keeps doing open challenges. Wes said he gave everything he had at Halloween Havoc when he got a title shot so he vows to give others the same opportunity. Wes feels that he has to prove that he can and will compete against the best athletes around the world. Wes said that Shawn Michaels gave him four spots for four superstars to compete against him at Stand & Deliver in LA.

It’s Dragon Lee! The fans popped big for the new NXT superstar. Dragon said that Wes is the best, but he loves the chaos and at Stand & Deliver he wants to be part of the open challenge against Wes. Wes said he loves this while saying he has followed his career in Mexico and Japan. Wes said Dragon is in the match at Stand & Deliver.

JD McDonagh interrupted the Lees “putting eachother over.” JD said he’s going to dismantle Ilja Dragunov while telling Dragon to watch a master at work. JD and Wes exchanged words with JD saying if he wanted that title then Wes wouldn’t be standing here at all.

Ilja Dragunov was next and the promo segment just ended there.

Analysis: I like Dragon Lee, but just putting him into a 5-way match isn’t the best debut for him in NXT, is it? I get wanting him to be on the Stand & Deliver card. I just think they could have had him win a match before being put in a title match like that.

They showed NXT Anonymous posting a video of Indi Hartwell mad about her loss. Indi asked what she was looking at and Zoey Stark walked up saying she wasn’t looking at the next NXT Women’s Champion.

Kiana James and Fallon Henley talked in the locker room with Henley mentioning Sebastian because she was in her office last week. Kiana acted like she didn’t know Henley went into her office. Henley said she’ll tell Brooks Jensen because Brooks is like her family and Kiana may not care about him, but Fallon does. James was left alone.

Analysis: When we watch this show we have to pretend like Kiana didn’t know that Henley and Josh Briggs went into Kiana’s office last week, which was shown on NATIONAL TELEVISION on this same show they are on. Anyway, it feels like they’ll do the story where Henley reveals she has feelings for Brooks and they become a couple instead of friends. Just my guess anyway.


Ilja Dragunov vs. JD McDonagh

I’ll go full play-by-play here because these guys are great. They started out brawling. Dragunov got a knockdown with a kick followed by forearms to the back. JD tripped down Dragunov with his legs and hit a spinning splash on Dragunov while Dragon Lee was watching at ringside. JD got a two count after a suplex. They each avoided strikes, then JD hit a forearm and Dragunov did a palm strike to the head that knocked both guys down. They exchanged slaps to the head, the fans were cheering a lot and Dragunov hit two German Suplexes. Dragunov spun around by the ropes leading to a clothesline for two. Dragunov hit a running knee followed by a knee drop off the middle ropes. While Dragunov was on the turnbuckle, JD pulled him by the hair leading to a slam. JD sent Dragunov face first into the ropes leading to a break.


JD was in control with a submission, but then Dragunov countered it by twisting JD’s knee. JD remained in control with a kick to the back along with a hard palm strong. Dragunov tried a kick, JD ducked it and more kicks by JD. Headbutt by JD, but then Dragunov managed to get that enziguri kick to the head. Dragunov unloaded on McDonagh with a barrage of chops followed by a lifting waistlock into a slam for two. JD came back sending Dragunov into the ropes and a Powerbomb for two. JD with a German Suplex two times in a row, Dragunov back up and a third German Suplex by JD. Dragunov with a kick to the head leading to both guys selling. Dragunov charged, but JD caught him and tried for a submission move only for Dragunov to get out of it. Dragunov kicked himself free followed by a running forearm. The fans chanted “this is wrestling” for that. JD to the floor, Dragunov followed and they went tumbling over Dragon Lee, who was sitting on a chair. JD punched Dragon, then Dragunov hit Dragon by accident and it turned into Dragon striking both guys, so the bell rang to end the match.

Match Result: No Contest

Analysis: ***3/4 This was an awesome match even with a non-finish ending that was just done to keep the rivalry going. Dragunov is one of my favorites in NXT because he sells everything so well. JD is very talented as well. Since they have wrestled so many times, there was a lot of chemistry between them as usual.

The fight continued between Dragon, Dragunov and JD. Wes Lee showed up with a dive over the top onto the three guys on the floor! That was great. There was more fighting as referees showed up to break it up.

Analysis: Good angle. The leap by Wes was outstanding.

Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams showed up to talk to Bron Breakker, who said that he didn’t want something to happen to their match. Trick said that he wanted Bron to share the ring with Melo. They agreed to team up later tonight.


Wes Lee, the NXT North American Champion, was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Wes said that JD has been in his face for two straight weeks, so he’s in the North American Title match and Dragunov is worthy as well. Axiom showed up wanting a spot in the North American Title match at Stand & Deliver. Lee said for the fifth spot, the chaos continues with a battle royal and Axiom is cool with that.

Analysis: Next week’s show was already taped. No spoilers, but it’s not like they put Axiom on here by accident.

Javier Bernal made his entrance to Johnny Gargano’s music and was introduced as Gargano. Javy said that Gargano took his spot at Stand & Deliver. Javy complained saying he is better than Johnny Wrestling.

The real Johnny Gargano made his entrance to deck Javy with a punch. Gargano sent Javy over the ropes. They were on the floor with Gargano sending Javy into the barricade and steel steps.

Let’s Hear from Johnny Gargano

Johnny Gargano did a promo shouting for Grayson Waller saying if he wants to make things personal and raise the stakes then raise the stakes. Gargano said he had a contract for a type of match he knows very well. Gargano wants to fight Waller in an Unsanctioned Match at Stand & Deliver. Gargano said no rules, anything goes and all Grayson has to do is sign it.

Grayson Waller appeared on the video screen in the backstage area. Waller wondered if Gargano wants to embarrass himself again. Waller told Gargano to hand the paper to his best buddy Vic (Joseph) and Waller will sign it next week, but Waller wants Gargano to be banned from the building next week. Gargano said deal. Gargano gave the contract to Vic. Javy was back in the ring, so Gargano superkicked him.

Analysis: Nice fire shown by Gargano looking for revenge. Having a stipulation match is fine with me after Waller made it a personal feud last week.

A video aired about a newcomer named Eddy Thorpe debuting next week.

Ivy Nile was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell about Tatum Paxley walking out on Nile last week. Nile was angry about what Paxley did last week, but it’s not about her. Nile said that she gets to face Lyra Valkyrie and if she wins then she can possibly be the new NXT Women’s Champion. Ivy Nile entered for her match.


They showed a video about Hank Walker talking about his growth over the last few months. It mentioned Hank was a college football player that was an offensive lineman at NC State. Hank talked about how his mentor Drew Gulak left him. Hank said he’s going to continue to evolve while adding that’s what NXT is all about.

Drew Gulak and Charlie Dempsey watched it while laughing at Walker. Charlie said Walker will be nothing more than a nice guy.

Analysis: It’s not a great story, but at least it’s a story. It will lead to Hank beating Gulak and Charlie Dempsey at some point in the future.

Lyra Valkyria vs. Ivy Nile

The winner gets added to the NXT Women’s Title Ladder Match at Stand & Deliver. They were taking turns delivering kicks to the body. They did a double kick to the head spot to knock eachother down. Nile hit a powerslam, but Valkyria hit an enziguri kick to the head. Nile hit a running kick and went for a submission, but Valkyria countered into a German Suplex. Valkyria with a roundhouse kick to the head for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lyra Valkyria

Analysis: *3/4 A quick match to give Valkyria a decisive win. Some of the strikes were good. It was an even matchup most of the way, but Nile didn’t really get much of a chance for a nearfall in the match.

That means Lyra Valkyria joins the Ladder Match for the NXT Women’s Championship with Zoey Stark, Gigi Dolin & Tiffany Stratton.

Fallon Henley was backstage with her NXT Women’s Tag Team Title when she was attacked by Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. Kiana James showed up for the save, so then referees arrived to break up the fight. James told Henley she can’t tell Brooks, it’s gotta come from Kiana.

Analysis: There isn’t much of a story here, but it shows that Kiana is there for Fallon even though they have issues sometimes. Couldn’t Brooks just watch the show and see the conversation that the girls had earlier? He could, but we aren’t allowed to think logically sometimes.


They showed Wes Lee walking backstage asking who is going to win the battle royal next week. Jinder Mahal walked up saying he’ll see him at Stand & Deliver, Dijak issued a warning saying he hasn’t forgotten about Lee and Dabba Kato said no one will stop him in the battle royal.

The Great Debate: Chase U and Schism

A guy named Blake Howard was the Debate Moderator. There were a bunch of people in the background as extras supporting the two sides. There were promos from everybody in the groups with Rip Fowler talked about how they presented Duke Hudson with a mask and The Schism will welcome Duke with open arms. Duke said the university has passion and a sense of belonging, but he wasn’t very excited about it so Andre Chase asked: “What the f**k was that?” Ava spoke about how there was safety under The Schism’s tree. Thea Hail did an energetic promo about how great Chase U was. Joe Gacy ripped on Chase U while Tyler Bate stood up in support of Chase U. Bate talked about how the Chase U experience is about growth and constant evolution, rejuvenated Duke Hudson and fortified Andre Chase himself. Bate said that the growth of Chase U is the growth of NXT. Andre said that was incredible. Chase challenged Chase U with Bate against Schism at Stand & Deliver. Gacy turned down the challenge saying they were better physically and philosophically. Gacy walked away, but Duke said that we’ll put up the school and said the winner gets control of the university. Andre wasn’t happy about it while Gacy said that it was on.

Analysis: This has been a story for several weeks, so might as well get some more people on the Stand & Deliver card.


They showed the three tag teams at the bar looking drunk. Galls suggested a triple threat tag team match at Stand & Deliver for Gallus’ NXT Tag Team Titles while the two other teams were down.

Analysis: All you have to do is get drunk with the champions to get a title shot? That’s a weak effort by the creative team. I would have liked to see match victories to earn the title shots.

The NXT Stand & Deliver lineup was shown for April 1st like this:

* NXT Women’s Championship Ladder Match: Zoey Stark vs. Gigi Dolin vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria vs. ????

* Johnny Gargano vs. Grayson Waller – It’s an Unsanctioned Match if Waller signs the contract.

* NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. Dragon Lee vs. JD McDonagh vs. one more opponent

* Chase U (Andre Chase, Duke Hudson & Thea Hail) & Tyler Bate vs. Schism (Joe Gacy, Rip Fowler, Jagger Reid & Ava)

* NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kiana James & Fallon Henley (c) vs. Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn

* NXT Tag Team Championships: Gallus (c) vs. Creed Brothers vs. Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo

* NXT Championship: Bron Breakker (c) vs. Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: It’s a good lineup. There are storylines for everything although I think for the NXT Tag Team Title matches, they could have done more to have the teams qualify instead of getting drunk with the champions.

Bron Breakker & Carmelo Hayes (w/Trick Williams) vs. Pretty Deadly (Kit Wilson & Elton Prince)

Wilson started with Melo as Wilson got a knockdown, but Wilson hit a dropkick followed by an arm drag. Prince tagged in leading to a double team, but Bron confronted PD on the floor to stop a double team attack. Back in the ring, Melo kicked Wilson, but Wilson came back with a flapjack. PD went for a double team move, Bron went into the ring to stop that and Bron launched Melo into the air for an attack on Prince. Bron knocked Wilson out of the ring. Bron and Melo were on the same page.


Wilson was in control of Bron, then Melo kicked Prince to stop a double team move and Bron tagged out. Melo tagged in against Prince with Melo hitting a springboard clothesline and a kick to the head. Melo suplexed Wilson onto Prince for two. Wilson caught Melo with DDT leading to Prince covering for two. Prince worked over Melo with stomps in the corner. PD did a double shoulder tackle and a double leg drop/splash on Melo for two. PD remained in control as Wilson hit a clothesline on Melo. After Melo got a sunset flip pin attempt, Prince hit Melo with a back elbow for two. Melo finally broke free, Bron hit two German Suplexes and Bron ran the ropes leading to a running Steiner Line (clothesline) on Wilson. Bron with a German Suplex on Wilson who did a moonsault landing on his stomach to sell it. Bron hit a bulldog off the ropes for two as Prince made the save. Bron nearly ran into Melo, but Bron stopped himself and Melo hit a double knee attack. Bron hit a Spear while the referee was getting Prince out of the ring. Melo tagged in with a Nothing But Net leg drop to the back of the head on Wilson for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Bron Breakker & Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: *** The match was good with an obvious result to keep Bron & Melo strong going into their NXT Championship match at Stand & Deliver. It’s the classic “can the PPV opponents co-exist” story and in this case, Bron and Melo were on the same page during this match.

Post match, Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes had a staredown. Melo handed Bron the NXT Title and Bron held it up in the air. End show.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Ilja Dragunov/JD McDonagh
  2. Bron Breakker/Carmelo Hayes
  3. Pretty Deadly, Tiffany Stratton & Johnny Gargano

The Scoreboard

This week: 7 out of 10

Last week: 6.25

2023 Average: 6.90

Final Thoughts

I liked the show. They built stories for Stand & Deliver very well throughout the show and now S&D has seven matches, which is great to see. Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes worked together well in the main event.

The Dragunov/McDonagh match was a lot of fun as usual. If every wrestler could sell as well as Dragunov does then pro wrestling would be even better than it is. Selling is so important and that man gets it.

The lineup for NXT Stand & Deliver on Saturday, April 1 looks like this so far:

* NXT Championship: Bron Breakker (c) vs. Carmelo Hayes

* Johnny Gargano vs. Grayson Waller

* NXT Women’s Championship Ladder Match: Zoey Stark vs. Gigi Dolin vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria vs. ???

* NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. Dragon Lee vs. JD McDonagh vs. one more opponent

* NXT Tag Team Championships: Gallus (c) vs. Creed Brothers vs. Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo

* Chase U (Andre Chase, Duke Hudson & Thea Hail) & Tyler Bate vs. Schism (Joe Gacy, Rip Fowler, Jagger Reid & Ava)

* NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kiana James & Fallon Henley (c) vs. Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn

Pretty Deadly are the hosts of NXT Stand & Deliver.

NXT Stand & Deliver takes place on April 1st in Los Angeles on Peacock/WWE Network at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT!


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport