By John Moore
NXT Takeover: WarGames
Aired live on WWE Network
Houston, Texas at Toyota Center
The intro teaser for WarGames aired. It was a WarGames hype video with clips of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war included. Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Mauro talked about how Houston won the world series. Kassius Ohno then made his entrance wearing what looks like an Orlando Magic version of his jersey ring gear…
John’s Thoughts: They have both rings set up adjacent to each other. I wonder if they other wrestlers will utilize the non-cage double ring setup?
1. Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan. Lars started off the match immediately with a shoulder tackle into the corner. Ohno came right back with his stiff elbows. Sullivan ran through Ohno with a shoulder block and a lariat. Lars used a knee strike to send Ohno to the outside. Sullivan gave Ohno a flying shoulder block from the apron. Sullivan continued to dominate in the ring while flashing his signature sadistic smile. Onno attempted a comeback but Sullivan came back with a popup Powerslam.
Sullivan went for a flying headbutt but Ohno rolled out of the way. This allowed Ohno to hit a few of his calculated strikes. The heaviest stagger came with a flying elbow. Sullivan stayed on his feet. Ohno hit a cyclone kick and Mauro put over how it was the first time that Sullivan got taken off of his feet. Ohno kicked Sullivan with Sullivan begging for more. Sullivan kicked out at one after Ohno hit a shortarm boot assault. Sullivan and Ohno traded fatigued strikes. Sullivan caught Ohno with “The Freak Accident” (hanging side slam) for the win.
Lars Sullivan defeated Kassisus Ohno via pinfall in 5:11
They showed highlights from the match… [C]
John’s Thoughts: This was one that I was almost sure would happen given how Ohno doesn’t really have direction in NXT at the moment and Sullivan is the guy getting the monster Braun-like push. What I’ve liked about Sullivan’s dominating wins is that his opponents tend to look great without hurting the invincibility of NXT’s “Stone Golem”.
The commentators gave credit for Power Trip for providing the NXT Takeover theme music. They showed the “WWE UK Division” in the crowd consisting of Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews, and Wolfgang. In the locker room, the Undisputed Era of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish were shown backstage discussing strategy. William Regal walked in to talk to them about something but there was no audio. They cut to the Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream video package.
Aleister Black made his cool entrance. He walked through set up candles which created a Gothic ambiance. Velveteen Dream walked out wearing provocative Cowboy themed gear. Dream also had Prince’s third eye sunglasses. Nigel McGuinness said the Black Mass of Aleister Black is the most devastating finisher in NXT today. Black did a stripper routine with his bottomless chaps…
2.Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream. Dream also had Aleister Blacks face on his tights. Dream demanded that Black say his name and that the crowd knows his name. Dream and Black had a stalemate lockup. Dream fired up Black with a slap. Black came back with a deep armdrag. Black dominated Dream with a standing armbar. Dream fought out with a snapmare. Black quickly converted a headlock in to a hammerlock of his own. Dream went again for a headlock but Dream countered into the grounded hammerlock. Black blocked a second snapmare into a guillotine choke. Dream and Black traded chain wrestling with Black dominating. Black locked in a modified Octopus hold on Dream. Dream kicked out of the succeeding pin attempt.
Dream’s mean streak kicked in with Dream landing clean strikes on Black. Black teased a suicide dive but settled for his meditation pose to taunt Dream who was forced to watch in the ring. Dream showed no fear by responding with the Rick Rude hip gyration. Dream yelled at Black’s face to acknowledge him but Black turned his head away. Dream did Black’s meditation pose in comical fashion. Black came back with Dream’s snake pose in a cool moment. Dream managed to get the upper hand over Black and hit him with a lariat. Dream kept demanding that Black say his name. Black retreated outside. Velveteen Dream teased a flip dive but did like Black, just with his Velveteen Dream pose.
A Velveteen chant started. Black dodged the Death Valley Driver cartwheel. Dream pulled out a Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere to get a nearfall Black. Dream put the boots on Black. Dream then hit a hanging neckbreaker on Black. Dream locked in a rear chinlock while still demanding that Black say his name. Mauro gave Dream credit for possibly Black’s toughest challenge. Black made it to his feet and laid in some forearms on Dream. Dream trapped Black in a rope crucifix just like he did a few weeks ago. Black was defiant and kicked out. Dream used his kickboxing ability and fired up. Black hit a lionsault on Dream leading to a nearfall.
Black shoved away Dream with his boots. Dream blocked another DVD attempt. They both then traded kicks. Dream then hit his signature cartwheel DVD. Dream got a great nearfall from his signature move. A “Velveteen” chant started again. Velveteen went for a Super DVD but Black kicked his way out. Black called for and hit a running knee. This led to another great nearfall. Dream pulled out a sweet spike DDT to get some recovery time. Black kicked out of the pin attempt. Velveteen Dream went for the Purple Rainmaker but fell into Black’s foot. Dream fell into the familiar Crucifix rope trap. Dream came back with a superkick and Dream came back with a knee. Velveteen Dream yelled “Velveteen Dre…” and was hit by the Black Mass to give Black the win.
Aleister Black defeated Velveteen Dream via pinfall in 14:37.
Highlights aired of the epic encounter. Nigel credited the Rick Rude hip gyration on the top rope for costing Dream his shot at the Purple Rainmaker. Black went into his meditative pose with Patrick Clark crawling to him. The crowd chanted “say his name”. Black said “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream”. He did it. He finally said his name. Beyonce would be proud…
John’s Thoughts: Despite Dream’s pants being distracting as hell with the faces (which was the intention), this match met my immense expectations. In fact, I was going into this match almost sure that it had no chance of being as great as the build but I was wrong because these two men worked an amazing story which captured the great build into match-form. Dream’s growth is astonishing and I can’t wait to see what’s next for him. This feud lived up to being my favorite feud in wrestling today. I’m also glad that the crowd had similar feelings as me after that match.
William Regal was chatting with Sanity just like he did with the Undisputed Era earlier. They cut to the crowd where Finn Balor, Smackdown’s #1 Announcer Funaki, and Asuka were shown in the celebrity spotlight seats. They cut to the hype vignette for the Women’s Four Way…
John’s Thoughts: The women are in a tough spot after that roller coaster storyline of a match preceding this one. That said, the talent of these four women are off the charts so this should be a great one too.
Nikki Cross came out first with her modified Sanity music. Kairi Sane came out next with new upgraded music which included a choir singing “yo-ho” in melody. She had her navigator’s wheel with her. Percy said Ember Moon was his favorite and Mauro mocked him for being biased. Peyton Royce came out wearing new flower-lady ring gear with a flower crown. Billie Kay stayed back and let Royce go to the ring by herself. Nigel’s favorite was Royce. Ember Moon came out next…
3. Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce vs. Ember Moon vs. Kairi Sane in a Fatal-4-Way for the NXT Women’s Championship. Royce stood tall as the other three women struck fighting poses. Of course, madness ensued. Royce tried to take advantage of the three women brawling. Cross grabbed onto Moon’s back like a monkey. Royce went for a pin until Sane came in with a blockbuster to break things up. Moon punched Sane on the apron. Moon hit Cross with a blancha. Sane hit a flying forearm from the apron onto Royce. Moon took out Royce and Sane with a Suicide Dive followed by a roar. Moon blocked a scorpion death drop from Cross and power bombed her on the floor outside. Mauro said that move takes Cross out of the match for now.
Sane dominated Moon with chops in the ring. Sane did her signature walking of the plank and a corner shoulder tackle. Royce locked Sane in her modified tarantula Ember Moon broke things up with a kick. Mauro reiterated that there was no DQ so submissions can happen with help from the ropes. Moon and Sane brawled. Moon did a leapfrog which made Sane give Royce a spear. Mauro questioned Sane going for the InSane elbow early and Moon staggered Sane on the top. The women brawled with Peyton sneaking in and hitting a Tower of Doom on Sane and Moon. Royce went for pinfalls but Sane and Moon kicked up much to the chagrin of Royce.
Cross came in and hit a crossbody on the three women in the ring. Cross yelled like a banshee and then did some of her brawling on the women in the ring. Cross put the boots to Sane in the Tree of Woe. Nikki Cross hit her signature swinging neckbreaker finisher. Mauro gave away the kickout with the McMahon “we have a new champ” call. Moon and Cross brawled. Nikki Cross hit a swinging Tower of London Moon. In a great nearfall, Sane broke up the Fisherman Buster pin by Royce. Sane gave Royce an Alabama Slam on Cross.
Sane hit the InSane elbow on Royce and Nigel correctly pointed out that Sane went to pin the wrong person. Nikki Cross kicked out. Moon cleared the ring to set up an encounter with Cross. Royce crotched Moon on the top rope to block the Eclipse. Ember Moon hit a double Eclipse on Cross and Royce to pick up the win. Kairi Sane wasn’t involved in the decidsion.
Ember Moon defeated Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, and Kairi Sane via pinfall in 9:52 to become the New NXT Women’s Champion.
William Regal made his way to the ring with the Women’s Championship as the replays of the match aired. The commentators pointed out Moon being the hometown girl. Asuka ran into the ring and took the title from Regal to give it to Moon. Asuka and Moon embraced each other and Mauro pointed out this was a mirror to the situation when Moon gave Asuka respect after giving up the championship. [C]
John’s Thoughts: As I mentioned earlier, the women were in an unenviable position having to follow the hot Dream vs. Black match with the crowd so hot for that one. This one wasn’t as deep, but it was fun as hell. It reminds me of some of those crazy Lucha Underground multi-person spotfests that I’m used to reviewing. The women came through with a fun match. Ember Moon wouldn’t have been my pick to win but I felt all four women would make great champions. Ember Moon continues to put in great Takeover matches despite it seeming like her persona isn’t fully developed/expressed yet. Gail Kim just retired and Ember Moon’s style reminds me of Gail, so here’s hoping that this is the beginning of a Gail like run for her. Good call by the commentators too especially Nigel. Bonus props to the agents who cleverly kept Kairi Sane far away from the decision.
During the commercial, an ad aired for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia during Royal Rumble weekend. Mauro then hyped up the latest Mattel Shark Cage toys…
John’s Thoughts: It is hilarious that every time Mattel releases these Shark Cage toy sets that WWE has to put shark cages in their actual television. Last time they had the shark cage toys we saw both Paul Ellering and Enzo Amore in shark cages. The Enzo one didn’t even make sense.
They cut to William Regal talking to the last team of WarGames the Authors of Pain, Paul Ellering, and Roderick Strong. Roderick Strong still stands out as odd which has me thinking he plays into the finish in a fluky way. They cut to the celebrity spotlight area with Kevin Owens sitting there now. He showed off his support for his former ROH’s alumnus by sporting a Undisputed Era shirt under his suit jacket. Samoa Joe was also in the crowd. He struck a badass smirk. Then then cut to the Drew Galloway and Andrade Almas Video package.
“El Idolo” (The Idol) Andrade Cien Almas walked out. Almas wore what lookee like a modified blue ninja gi while Zelina Vega wore tight black and cut attire. Drew McIntyre came out with his Championship and Scottish kilt. Mauro randomly compared Drew’s Oddessy to the Nintendo Switch Super Mario Oddessy game. Mauro also talked about how Drew McIntyre did challenge Seth Rollins back in the early NXT days to become the first NXT Championship of this promotion. Mike Rome handled the formal ring introductions.
John’s Thoughts: By the way, I love how Mike Rome no-sells the “One Fall” thing that so many crowds overdo.
4.Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/ Zelina Vega) for the NXT Championship. Drew jawed with Zelina to start the match before Almas stepped in and confronted Drew. Almas taunted Drew while also using the ropes for protection. Almas used this to lock in a headlock on Drew. McGuinness pointed out how Almas has to pull out tricks due to Drew being such a giant compared to him. McIntyre escaped Almas and gave him a big boot. Almas came back with a jawbreaker. Almas did his Tranquillo pose on the ropes. Drew kicked Almas out of the ring. Almas distracted the referee to allow Vega to land a huracanrana. Drew powered through and politely put her down softly. Drew ran right into the turnbuckle to allow Almas to gain the advantage.
Almas gave Drew a forearm smash to get him a pin attempt. Almas used the ropes to lock in a crossarmbreaker on Drew. Almas had to break it due to the ropes. Nigel pointed out that Almas was aiming to break Drew’s arm. Almas continued to target the arm with an armbar in the middle of the ring. After a few counters Drew hit a toss suplex on Almas. Drew and Almas trade forearms. Drew rallied up with a string of offense. McIntyre hit consecutive Belly to Belly tosses. Drew hit a high risk move and showed his agility with a kip up.
Almas escaped a move but Drew ended up hitting a Celtic Cross on Almas. Nigel pointed out that Drew was selling an arm injury which was inflicted by Almas. Drew tuned up the horn for the Claymore but Almas countered with a dropkick. Drew showed his core strength by blocking Almas’ signature double knees. Almas did get a little of it and hit a inverted Tornado DDT on Drew for the nearfall. Drew blocked the hammerlock DDT. Almas went into the Electric Chair and went for a reverse rana. Drew hit a reverse Alabama Slam on Alas for the nearfall. Alas tripped off Drew with a dropkick to send him outside. Almas went for a plancha huracanrana. Alas instead gave McIntyre a huracanrana into the ring post.
Almas hit a top rope moonsault to the outside which led to his best nearfall so far. Almas crotched Drew on the top rope. Almas hit Drew with a double stomp, double knees, and gaining a nearfall. Vega yelled at Almas to continue to attack rather than rest. Drew deadlifted Almas and hit him with a sitout powerbomb to earn a nearfall. Almas slapped the chest of Drew and Drew came back with headbutt. Drew hit a Future Shock DDT out of nowhere to get a nearfall. Mauro recapped the former NXT Champions in attendance and how this match was as good as the ones those other champions had. Drew went for a top rope Celtic Cross but Almas escaped and tripped Drew. Almas hit the double knees to the back of Drew’s head for a nearfall
Almas mounted ground and pound on Drew. Nigel noted that Almas was showing frustration. Almas distracted the referee by teasing a belt shot on Drew. This allowed Zelina Vega to hit a Frankendriver on McIntyre. The shaken up McIntyre got hit by Almas’ finisher, the Hamerlock DDT to get he convincing nearfall because Drew kicked out at the last possible second. Vega sold shock at ringside. Almas sold similar shock on the ground. Vega coached Almas to follow up. Almas walked right into a Claymore. Drew had the visual pinfall win but Vega put Almas’s foot on the bottom rope for the rope break. Drew slapped the mat to tune up the horn for another Claymore. Drew crotched himself on the top rope via the claymore. A “si” chant fired up. Almas hit a hanging spike DDT on Drew McIntyre to pick up the win.
Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated Drew McIntyre via pinfall in 14:52 to become the new NXT Champion.
Almas had a jubilant and shocked look on his face as the commentators recapped the match. Percy Watson said “ay dios mio” (oh my lord). Nigel noted that Drew’s huge size and weight made Almas’ DDT have more impact. Drew sold the agony of defeat (as he’s great at) in the ring. Almas carelessly tossed around the belt up the ramp which is what he is known to do as an Ingobernables. Almas ran to the commentators table to celebrate on top of it… [C]
John’s Thoughts: You would think that there would be diminishing returns with hot finish after hot finish but NXT continues to innovate with creative matchups that seem fresh every single time. This was muy bueno, mas bueno. It did seem too soon to get to this feud with Drew just winning the belt, but it is a great story for Almas picking up the win as well. He g-damn deserves it, especially after all of the crap and losses he had to take with his failed babyface run. From here, I would like to see Drew go on a journey back to the top, maybe with a pitstop with Adam Cole down the road but eventually I think the best touring champ NXT could have is Drew McIntyre due to him being a blueprint babyface. Almas does deserve a good run. Bonus points for Zelina Vega who continues to wrestle against the men in all of Almas’ matches she reminds me a bit of former NXT wrestler Ivelisse Velez.
Back from the break, Nigel gave credit to the Marmozets for providing the second theme to Takeover. Nigel also hyped up a Triple H facebook interview after the show.
The siren rang. No, it was not Scott Steiner coming, it was the cage for WarGames lowering. Mauro gave credit to Dusty Rhodes for the WarGames match. After the hype video, Mike Rome explained the WarGames rules via the bullet point graphic. Rome pointed out that you can’t escape the cage or else you lose. Rome said “let the war games begin”. The wrestlers made their entrances with the referees forcing the non-team captains to get shoved into shark cages. Wolfe and Dain are big dudes and thankfully they made their cage big enough. The Undisputed Era had a UE hand sign. Adam ran to the second ring and yelled “Adam Cole bay bay”. Akam and Rezar walked out wearing camouflage army gear. Roderick Strong came out cosplaying as the third Author of Pain. Paul Ellering led the Authors to the ring. Ellering sent in Strong as the team captain…
5. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain vs. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish vs. Akam, Rezar, and Roderick Strong (w/ Paul Ellering) in a War Games Match. A time clock popped up at the bottom of the screen with 5:00 on it. Cole cowered in the second ring away from Young and Strong. Strong managed to get his hands on Cole. Madness ensued and there was a standoff. Cole tried to take advantage of young and Strong brawling but Young came out on top. Strong hit a signature backbreaker on EY. Young and Cole trade punches. Strong catapulted Cole into the cage. The three men brawled on the top rope. Cole crotched Young and Strong on the top rope. Cole put the boots to both of his opponents.
Cole threw Strong on the metal divider between the rings. Cole hit a knee backbreaker on Young. Cole went to the second ring and pummeled Strong. Nigel pointed out how it was smart that Cole is trying to separate Young and Strong in separate rings. Cole took both men down with neckbreakers. Strong took down Cole with a running lariat. Strong gave some running chops and knees to both Cole and Young. The countdown clock aired with Fish and O’Reilly winning the Roulette.
Undisputed Era had the advantage with ReDRagon entering the ring. Undisputed Era dominated both of their opponents in the ring. Cole, Fish, and O’Reilly hit strikes on young while Young was sandwiched between the rope and cage. O’Reilly had a kneebar on Strong but Strong fought out. Undisputed Era triple teamed Strong in the second cage.
Mauro reminded the viewers that the match hasn’t even really started yet since no one is qualified to win. An explosion sound effect happened. The Authors of Pain were freed as they tried to rip open the cage that O’Reilly tried to hold close. The authors manhandled Fish and Cole. They even tossed around Eric Young who did his Eric Young yells. An author threw Cole like a basketball to the other ring. They did the same to EY. The authors drew Strong like a boomerang into their opponents. Nigel called this dominance “the Paul Ellering” factor due to Ellering’s experience in the first WarGames.
The Authors did Attitude Adjustments on two of their opponents into the other two opponents. Strong and the Authors stood tall putting the boots to their opponents. “The Match Beyond” began when Dain and Wolfe were allowed in the ring. Wolfe brought a night stick and used that to dominate in the ring. Dain went under the ring to bring in chairs and trash cans. He also brought in more weapons. Sanity used steel chairs to destroy all their opponents In the ring. The crowd wanted tables and Big Damo Dain obliged. Ouch! O’Reilly accidently hit himself with an unprotected chairshot to the head. Dain used a chain to lock the cage.
Mauro pointed out that you give up the match if you escape. Mauro then said “Here comes the Dain”. Wait? Did Dain just eat the key? I didn’t catch since I was looking at my laptop. Dain gave an author a senton dropkick. Madness ensued. Dain went to the top of the cage and hit a high flying flying crossbody on everyone in the ring. Cole broke up Dain’s pin attempt. Dain went for a baldo bomb but Fish saved Cole. Dain caught Cole and Michinoku Driver’d him on Fish. Dain held both O’Reilly and Strong and hit both of them with a fallaway slam. Rezar and Dain then brawled in the center metal part of the ring. They traded boots and Dain won the battle with a flying crossbody. Akam walked in and hit a hanging body slam on Dain.
O’Reilly broke up Akam’s pin attempt with a chain. O’Reilly hit a Tornado DDT. Cole took out Young with an enziguri. Undisputed Era hit Strong with Chasing the Dragon. Dain took down Cole with a simple and effective lariat. ReDRagon used tandem kicks to take down Dain. O’Reilly took down Alexander with an axe kick and forearm smash. O’Reilly used a Crossarmbreaker on Alexander with help of the chain. Eric Young hit his signature elbow drop to break up the pin. Fish came out of nowhere to hit Young with a moonsault.
The crowd wanted tables at this point. The Authors hit the Super Collider on Fish and O’Reilly while also damaging Dain. Young broke up the pin attempt. Young put an Author on the top ropeand hit him with an attitude adjustment on the other. Cole broke up the pin attempt. Strong hit a Lumbar Check on one guy and then another backbreaker on another person. He then gave everyone knee strikes. Strong hit an Olympic Slam on Dain. Cole broke up the pin with a superkick. Everyone rolled around in recovery. Cole Young and Strong brawled on the top rope. Everyone else ran in. The Authors turned it into two towers of doom with Cole escaping the carnage. Cole played to the crowd as the only person on his feet. Cole then tried to run away up the cage from the Authors. They crotched Cole on the top rope. The Authors then set up tables . Mauro used this to advertise “Table for 3” on the network.
Mauro and Nigel pointed out that it might be a bad decision for Wolfe to save Cole from the Authors and Wolfe got hit with a super german into the table. Young hit the other author with a neckbreaker. Adam Cole crawled around on the top of the cage. Dain nosold O’Reilly’s roundhouse and hit him with a discus lariat. Wolfe was busted open in the other ring. Big man Dain hit Kyle O’Reilly with a coast to coast Van Terminator. Cole stood by himself on the top of the cage. Strong met Cole on the top of the cage. In a scary move, Strong hit a super plex from the top of the cage onto everyone in the ring. The crowd chanted “please don’t die”. Cole kicked out of Strong’s pin attempt. A pile of prone bodies laid in the ring.
Dain and an Author rolled into the center part of the ring. Rezar and Akam hit the final chapter on Dain. A pile of Wolfe’s blood was in the middle of the second ring. O’Reilly and Fish used a sleeper and punches to take down one of the authors and they hit him with Total Elimination. A bloody Wolfe got to his feet and him and EY hit a backbreaker neckbreaker. Strong flapjacked Wolfe. Strong and Cole made it to their feet and brawled. Young gave Strong a wheelbarrow suplex. Cole hit Young with a kendo stick. Cole gave Young a Shining Wizard into the chair to pick up the win.
The Undisputed Era defeated Sanity and the Authors of Pain /w Roderick Strong via pinfall in 36:37 to win War Games.
The three trios laid knocked out in the middle of the ring. Percy Watson talked about how Adam Cole made him a beliver. Nigel went over the highlights. Nigel pointed out that Dustin Rhodes (Goldust) said you don’t win WarGames, you survive WarGames. Cole was the one who got to his feet as the referee Drake Younger held up his hand in victory. Wolfe was still lying in a pool of his blood. Fish and O’Reilly made it to their feet as Cole led an “Adam Cole Bay Bay” chant to close out the show…
John’s Thoughts: Again, while most shows fall for diminishing returns, NXT continues to keep the quality at a plateau and continue moving. This was a different type of fun match in that it wasn’t your workrate warrior type of match. It was a hardcore garbage match which was what it should have been. What is great in NXT is that their spots in the garbage matches all serve a purpose and tell a good story without excessive and unnecessary violence. There was a lot of violence here but it added to the story of the match. NXT is also given some leeway that the WWE main roster isn’t allowed or afraid to do it seems. The right team went over since they needed to look credible. Everyone gained something especially Dain, Wolfe, and Adam Cole who were the standouts. Roderick Strong in the match is as random as Kurt Angle in the Shield but I see why they put him in there because he is a one-man firecracker who adds sizzle to any match with a simple backbreaker.
Overall, this was a fun NXT Takeover. When are these not fun. Every single match stood out in a unique way and I can see the tweets and discussions already of people saying that this is better than the Survivor Series that hasn’t even happened yet. Can SS surpass this in quality, maybe not, but it would still be pretty fun to watch given how huge a card Survivor Series is. Jason Powell will be by soon with his Takeover Audio and we should have a Hit List for you tomorrow morning…