With WrestleMania 39 officially here, fans were afforded a few hours extra hours of wrestling earlier in the day at Stand and Deliver, when the best performers NXT has to offer showcased their talents as they prepare for the big time and a main roster push.
For some, this was the start of something new, like the Carmelo Hayes era with Trick Williams by his side and the debut of Ava
Rock Raine, while for others, it marked a capstone to a successful run in developmental, with Bron Breakker and Indi Hartwell looking to put a cherry on top of their successful in-ring runs before jumping to either RAW or SmackDown.
And the best part? Because the event was held mere miles away from Sofi Stadium at the Crypto.com Arena, fans could really picture what the next generation of WWE talent would look like in the ring alongside some of the best talents in the world today, which, *spoiler alert* is intentional. So, with WrestleMania officially upon us, why not look at what Shawn Michaels and company were trying to say with their booking and decode the booking of NXT Stand and Deliver?
One of the biggest matches in NXT history. @bronbreakkerwwe vs. @Carmelo_WWE for the #WWENXT Championship at #StandAndDeliver!
Streaming exclusively on @peacock in U.S. and @WWENetwork everywhere else at 1PM ET/10AM PT.
🌎: https://t.co/zKeDz2dxm9 pic.twitter.com/MjCPWzHi94
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 1, 2023
3. Indi Hartwell is WWE bound… just not yet.
When Hartwell punched her ticket to Stand and Deliver to join the NXT Women's Championship ladder match on the go-home edition of NXT, it felt like an inflection point. As one of the longest-tenured performers in developmental, it felt only a matter of time before Hartwell would jump ship to WWE proper, likely joining the rest of The Way on RAW, but for that to happen, she would either need to lose the match in such a way that provides closer to her run – Roxanne Perez pulling an “I'm sorry, I love you,” if you will – or by winning the strap, having a run, and then bowing out a la Bron Bre… well, more on that later.
With Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, and Dexter Lumis all in town, Shawn Michaels chose the latter option, and fans now have “Indi Champion,” a moniker that will certainly get monetized at some point down the line. After watching The Way – minus Austin Theory – celebrate together at Stand and Deliver, it's safe to say that call just felt right.
SHE DID IT!!!!!@indi_hartwell IS THE NEW #WWENXT WOMEN'S CHAMPION!!!#StandAndDeliver pic.twitter.com/TWigY0wnjD
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 1, 2023
2. Carmelo Hayes (probably) isn't joining The Hurt Business
Had Hayes come up short in the main event of Stand and Deliver, the first thing fans would have suggested was a main roster call-up, for the “A-Champ” to become the undercard wrestler in a newly re-formed The Hurt Business alongside heavyweight Bobby Lashley, tag team Cedric Alexander/Shelton Benjamin, and Omos, who would serve as the crew's giant. On paper, the pairing would have made a ton of sense; MVP used to be the set-up guy for Lashley, but at this point, it's safe to say his in-ring career is likely behind him, as he hasn't worked a match since all the way back in July of 2022.
Fortunately, or not, depending on your opinion, Hayes didn't win, and he now gets to run shop as the NXT World Champion, which is objectively good news for the NXT Universe, but the decision also all but guarantees that he won't be showing up on RAW to work with The Hurt Business… at least for now. Then again, with The Hurt Business hype cooling down over the past few months, it's safe to say that might just be intentional.
For so many years I worked so FN hard to get to this level and persevered so much most people will never even understand. This moment I reflected on all that.
The HIM ERA 🎯 pic.twitter.com/iR29LWA6H7
— Carmelo Hayes (@Carmelo_WWE) April 1, 2023
1. Expect Bron Breakker on RAW or SmackDown soon
After 425 non-consecutive days as champion, WWE did right by Breakker and had him lose his strap in about as protected a way as possible. Did Breakker beat the crap out of Hayes? Yes. Did the “A-Champ” tap out to his opponent? Yes as well. Heck, Williams literally leveled Breakker with the belt, laid out a passed-out Hayes on top of him, and woke up the out referee in an attempt to steal the win, and yet, through it all, the Baby Steiner persisted and found a way to secure the pin and almost keep his reign alive.
While he did ultimately eat the win, as one has to do to lose, Breaker looked like a star, and if historical precedent is of any indication, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him make a surprise appearance at RAW on Monday night, especially since the show is set to take place in Los Angeles, as the very same venue Stand and Deliver was run at, no less. Get Austin Theory and Bron Breakker in a program for the United States Championship stat.
Your time is now @Carmelo_WWE. @bronbreakkerwwe #StandAndDeliver pic.twitter.com/kePxTme3gT
— WWE (@WWE) April 1, 2023