SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Tonight’s card: Velveteen Dream vs. Aleister Black, Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan, Ember Moon vs. Nikki Cross vs. Kairi Sane vs. Peyton Royce (NXT Women’s Championship Match), The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong vs. Sanity vs. Undisputed Era (War Games Match), Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas (NXT Championship Match).
Pre-event video intersperses clips of FDR’s post-Pearl Harbor declaration of war speech with the set up to the War Games match. The announcers are shown in the ramp in a unique presentation. Percy Watson has grown a beard. Kassius Ohno and Lars Sullivan are starting the night which makes sense. This should be a solid match, but neither man needs their momentum halted right now. Maybe we’ll see something like a double count out, no contest, or some similar setup to allow this feud to simmer more and lead to a longer series of matches. New presentation for Sullivan, he is bathed in red light, looked like a jacked version of Kane.
1. KASSIUS OHNO vs. LARS SULLIVAN
Sulivan picks Ohno up as soon as the ref calls for the bell and dumps him in the corner. Ohno needs multiple elbows to escape the corner but Sullivan clobbers him. Sullivan literally kicks Ohno out of the ring. Sullivan has a shoulder tackle off the apron to Ohno outside, then press slams him onto the apron. Big boot out of the corner from Ohno, Sullivan catches a boot, eats an enziguri, then as Ohno kips up, Sullivan knocks him silly with a clothesline. Ohno keeps from going out of the ring, big boot, runs into a popup powerslam. Cover for two. Will Ohno be walking out of the ring tonight or getting stretchered out? Sullivan heads to the top rope, whiffs a diving headbutt, but Sullivan recovers first.
Ohno with a flurry of strikes and Sullivan is stunned. Elbow to the back of the head and Ohno is showing fire. Sullivan stays on his feet, gets taken down by the cyclone kick, kicks out at two. First cover ever on Sullivan. Ohno wants boots, Sullivan sits up and tells him to bring it. Sullivan keeps kicking Sullivan’s face, running senton, cover gets only one. Sullivan is alive and kicking. They go head to head and trade bombs. Discus elbow knocks Sulivan into the ropes. Sullivan ducks another discus elbow and lands The Freak Accident for the win.
Winner: Lars Sullivan in 5:15. Great showing from Sullivan who acquitted himself well in a slightly longer match. he showed a variety of moves and proved he is a real threat. It is a shame that Ohno had to be the one sacrificed for him though.
Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews, and Wolfgang are shown in the crown. William Regal seems to have a brief chat with Undisputed Era in the locker room. Bobby Fish’s nose seems a bit messed up.
Vignette on the Aleister Black – Velveteen Dream feud. This match seems to be highly anticipated by quite a number of people thanks to Black’s long-running dominance and charisma, and the outstanding work from Black and Dream building this to a boil. Really nice reception for fan favorite Black, looking very focused as usual on his way out. A Dream victory would be huge here, but it feels like a bad booking choice. Dream has on some leather halter top with fringes, and leather chaps. And a new haircut. He is just running with this character and knocking it out of the park. He gives the camera some “come hither” looks. He removes the chaps, his tights have a picture of Black (with devil horns) and himself on each leg and the NXT logo on the seat. So unique and innovative. The crowd is cheering for him, perhaps ironically.
2. ALEISTER BLACK vs. VELVETEEN DREAM
After some staring, an unproductive lockup. Dream seems angry his hair got messed up, paintbrushes Black, Black is angry and retaliates. Armbar controls Dream. This is going hard onto the mat, Dream shows some technical chops of his own, but Black has the control throughout. Dream finally gets a front rope break, tries a cheap shot off the break, Black ducks and returns to control. Black tries a crucifix, Dream stands tall, Black transitions to an octopus mid-ring. rollup by Black before Dream gets to the ropes. Dream somehow turns it into a brawl and beats Black to the mat. Black sends Dream over the ropes, bounces off the ropes into a sit as Dream slips into the ring. Dream looks angry and frustrated, then stands up and gyrates his hips in Black’s face. Black refuses to look at Dream as his does it, so Dream sits down too and stares at Black. Black leans forwards into Dream’s sexy crawl and Dream is suddenly creeps out. They stand.
Oklahoma roll no count, Dream yanks an arm over the ropes, follows with a clothesline. Dream starts stomping, then pounding in the corner. This is a hot, hot match, with the pauses intensifying rather than slowing down the tension build. Black crawls outside, Dream looks to dive, instead he flips over the ropes, lands on the apron, poses, flips back into the rings and poses again. Black fights into the ring, Dream with a fireman’s carry, Black gets out, superkick gets Dream two. Black has blood in the mouth. Dream mounts and punches Black to the five count. Neckbreaker, cover for two. Dream with a chinlock, then covers the mouth and tries to pull Black’s lips off. Black gets to his feet, but a kidney punch puts Black down. Black punches out of a Sister Abigail-like setup, but Dream forces Black to the ropes, then hits a knee. Dream wraps Black in the ropes again like he did a few weeks ago. Dream shouts at Black to say his name, Black gets a boot up, escapes. The trade shots.
Black is fired up, lacking a great combination of moves to send Dream to the corner. Springboard backflip takes Dream down for a nearfall. Black calls for the end, sets up Black Mass, but Dream catches the foot and drives Black to the corner. Black escapes, rungs intot he fireman’s carry, escapes, kick, Dream punches back, takes a roundhouse, Dream with his fireman’s carry into the death valley driver, super tight nearfall. The crowd is chanting for Dream who is staggering, he drags Black to the corner. Dream wants a super death valley driver, Black slips out, kicks Dream to the mat, huge running knee, Dream barely kicks out. Some sort of crazy spinning DDT out of the Sister Abigail positing, Dream is slow to cover, nearfall. “This is awesome!” from the crowd as Dream struggles to get to the ropes. Dream climbs to the top as Black is still out mid-ring. Dream gyrates, wants Purple Rainmaker, Black gets a boot up and Dream somehow wraps himself in the ropes when he stumbles in them.
Kick from Black, superkick from Dream, running knee from Black. Black on his feet, Dream is stumbling in the ropes, Black Mass finally ends it.
Winner: Aleister Black in 14:37. Really good match here. Dream more than delivered. There was a great story and excitment throughout, the nearfalls were not people kicking out of finishers, but being worn out from a long, hard hitting match. The only flawed was the weird ending with Dream wrapping himself in the ropes. But I really enjoyed this match and it had everything I wanted and expected from it.
Post-match, Dream is next to Black and flopping around. Black has a mic. The crowd demands that Black say his name. “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.” WOW. Dream is just stunned. Black absolutely has to be moved into the title scene at this point, and Dream looked so good in this match. Black pauses on his way up the ramp, then looks back at Dream. Shades of Undertaker there in the way that was done.
William Regal enters the locker room to talk to Sanity.
Asuka, Funaki, and Finn Balor are shown on the front row.
Video package on Asuka’s departure, and the setup to the Fatal Fourway to get the title. Fan favorite Nikki Cross has been presented in the build as the favorite, which is usually a sign of a swerve. Royce and Ember Moon really need to fish or cut bait on NXT at this point in terms of winning a championship to remain credible. Moon lost so much momentum when she couldn’t beat Asuka, and unlike Cross doesn’t give the audience anything to sink their teeth into as a character.
Nikki Cross actually comes down the ramp tonight instead of coming out through the crowd like she has been doing lately. New ring gear for Peyton Royce. Billie Kay comes out with her, then sends her to the ring alone. Moon with some brighter colors in her gear and in her hair.
3. KAIRI SANE vs. PEYTON ROYCE vs. NIKKI CROSS vs. PEYTON ROYCE
There’s some early pairing off. Royce ends up pounding Sane in the corner, then takes on Cross after Cross takes Moon down. Moon takes Royce out, splash to Sane, Cross jumps on Moon. Roundhouse knocks them both down, Royce covers both for two, Sane jumps in and gets a two count. Sane and Moon in the ring, Cross and Royce on the outside. Moon leaps out of the ring onto Cross, Royce dodges, Sane with a clothesline from the apron to Royce, Moon hits them both with a suicide dive. Cross ambushes Moon on the outside, Moon escapes a spinning neckbreaker on the ramp, hits a powerbomb to Cross on the outside. Sane jumps Moon, rolls her into the ring. Sane catches a hit, hits a two-hand smach into Moon then again and again. The drown is 50/50 on Moon and Sane as Sane chops Moon to the mat in the corner. Sane with her match, then a spear in the corner. She wants it on Royce, Royce didges, ties Sane up in the ropes taking advantage of the no-DQ format. Sane is screaming in pain, Moon makes the save. Royce and Moon trade forearms and Royce goes outside. Sane rolls Moon up for two, Moon with an elbow. Sane charges Moon, leapfrog, Sane spears Royce, then a spinning backfist drops Moon.
Sane goes up high for the Insane Elbow, Moon meets her there with an enziguri. Moon goes up too, they wrangle on the top, Moon wants a superplex, Royce leaps up behind Moon to hit a superplex of her own, slow cover on Moon for two, then on Sane for two. They all tangle, Cross lands a crossbody to the crowd. She chokes Moon in the corner, then puts Sane in the tree of woe and stomps in her until Royce makes the mistake of getting involved, Royce to the floor. Spinning neckbreaker to Sane, Moon breaks up the cover at the last moment. Big boot from Moon drops Cross, Moon crawls to the apron to go up for the Eclipse, Cross cuts her off. They fight on the apron, Cross with a spinning neckbreaker with Moon draped over the ropes, Moon rolls out, fisherman’s suplex from Royce, Sane barely saves the match. Sane with an Alabama Slam of Royce onto Cross, Insane Elbow to the pile with Royce on top, cover to Cross, Moon knocks Sane off.
Moon goes up, Royce yanks her leg, then knees Sane outside, inside she pulls Cross up, Moon Eclipses them both, covers Cross, and wins.
Winner: Ember Moon in 9:54. This match felt a bit clunky, which was especially disappointing given the talent in the ring and the history of great women’s Triple Threat and Fatal Fourway matches in NXT. The ended looked especially choreographed, with the WWE “we all hit our finishers and break up the covers” ending. Where Royce goes after this, I don’t know.
Post-match, Asuka comes out, takes the championship from Regal, and presents it to Moon, then hugs Moon and holds her hand up.
The next Takeover is announced for January 27th, in Philadelphia on Royal Rumble weekend.
Paul Ellering is talking to Roderick Strong backstage. Regal shows up to give them instructions.
Kevin Owns is shown on the front row, wearing an Undisputed Era shirt under a blazer. Samoa Joe is also shown.
Video package on the NXT Championship match.
New blue and white ring gear for Andrade “Cien” Almas, who comes out with Zelina Vega. McIntyre is out with a kilt on. Vega jaws at McIntyre during the title presentation, and Almas paintbrushes McIntyre, then hides in the ropes behind Vega.
4. NXT Champion DREW MCINTYRE vs. ANDRADE “CIEN” ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega) – NXT Championship Match
McIntyre is angry and backs Almas into the corner. Then again. Almas shoves McIntyre, then ducks in the ropes, cheap shot out of the break then a headlock. Almas has to work hard to maintain a headlock on the taller McIntyre. Almas with another headlock. Almas tries jumping over McIntyre in the corner and McIntyre seems to hit a Pele Kick to him. Almas lounges in the ropes so Almas kicks him to the outside. Almas kicks McIntyre as he tries to come in. Vega wants to head scissors McIntyre into the steps, McIntyre stand up, plants her on the apron. The distraction lets Almas recover. Hotshot over the ropes. McIntyre posts himself and falls outside. Almas rolls him back in, then his one-two of a DDT into the knee and a blow to the chest for two. Cross arm breaker through the ropes to the count, cover for two.
Almas with an armbar in the middle of the ring. McIntyre counters a hammerlock DDT attempt by throwing Almas across the ring. They trade forearms in the ring. Clothes and chops send Almas down. Throws send Almas flying. Single axe handle from the top put Almas down again. McIntyre hits the Celtic Cross for two, after Almas slips out of it once. McInytre calls for the Claymore, but Alms hears it, dropkick. Almas wants double knees, McIntyre stands up, Almas lands a back elbow then a tornado DDT for a nearfall. Vega tells Almas to show more vigor. McIntyre drives Almas into the corner to counter the DDT, Almas gets caught trying to get out, tries to transition to a reverse huracarana, McIntyre hits a reverse Alabama Slam for two. Springboard dropkick sends McIntyre to the outside, Almas wants a slingshot huracarana, McIntyre catches him, headsissors sends McIntyre into the ring post, moonsault to the outside takes McIntyre out on the outside, nearfall.
Almas goes up top, McIntyre has a punch to stun him, superplex attempt, Almas drops McIntyre on the ropes, tree of woe, double stomp, double knees, cover for two-and-a-half. Almas looked so good there. Almas looks for the DDT, McIntyre powers out, ducks an enziguri, sit out powerbomb is good for a believable nearfall. Almas escapes the Future Shock DDT, then a sudden roll up for two. Future Shock DDT, Almas barely kicks out. McIntyre looks for a super Celtic Cross, Almas slips down, McIntyre blocks a powerbomb, so he tugs McIntyre down, double knees to the back of McIntyre’s head in the corner for a nearfall. Almas mounts McIntyre and punches to the five count. Almas goes outside and grabs the belt, distraction lets Vega attack McIntyre, hammerlock DDT, McIntyre kicks out at the last moment. Almas is near tears. They reset, get to their feet, McIntyre with the Claymore, but Vega puts Almas’ foot ont he ropes and then shows the ref. McIntyre looks angry and frustrated, calls for another Claymore, Almas ducks and McIntyre gets his leg over the top rope and injures himself badly. They wrangle throught he ropes, hammerlock DDT off the top ropes for the win.
Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas in 14:54. Very, very good match showing a much more exciting pacing than McIntyre – Roode and proving that McIntyre has much more range than the “WWE Heavyweight Championship Match” style. Sadly short reign for the deservedly-popular McIntyre. This now puts a heel champion on top for Aleister Black to take the next step against. I was a bit surprised to see McIntyre lose here, but I suppose he is headed for the main roster.
Post-match, a trainer comes into the ring to check on McIntyre. McIntyre looks angry, though it isn’t sure if he is selling the loss, or angry about a potential injury. Appropriately arrogant celebration from Almas, he even goes to the announcer’s booth to show off. Then he stands on it to show off.
Replay of the War Games video package.
Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson shown in the audience. Again, they bill him as “Dustin Rhodes” and not “Golddust”.
They review the super-confusing War Games rules. Escaping the catch is a forfeit, you cannot win the match until all three teams are in the ring. The match starts with one member from each time in the ring, with the other two members in a shark cage outside the ring. After 5 minutes, one team gets their other two members. After three minutes another team goes to full strength, then the third team.
Sanity leave Wolfe and Dain in the cage and send Young to the ring. Undisputed Era put Cole in first. The team of the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong come out wearing near outfits. Strong even has an AOP uniform on to show solidarity. They have their snake-head helmets on. Strong is going to the ring.
4. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN (AKAM and REZAR) and RODERICK STRONG w/Paul Ellering vs. SANITY (ERIC YOUNG, ALEXANDER WOLFE, and KILLIAN DAIN) vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (ADAM COLE, BOBBY FISH, and KYLE O’REILLY) – WAR GAMES MATCH
Young and Strong go to the ring that Cole is in, then double team Cole. Then Strong attacks Young and it becomes a full three-way brawl. Three-way standoff, Young punches Strong, Cole and Young tussle. Young runs into a Strong backbreaker, then Strong and Cole trade blows. Cole misses a dropkick, Strong catapult him into the roles, Cole lands and starts climbing the cage for some reason. Young and Strong brawl on the ropes. Cole takes advantage and attacks them both. Fireman’s carry into a backbreaker from Cole. Cole goes across the rings to attack Strong. Cole delivers neckbreakers all around. Strong fires up and takes Cole out. Chops to Cole and Young, then running knees to both, and chops.
The countdown has hit 5 minutes, and O’Reilly and Fish are released to go to the ring. They leap on Strong and beat on him. Then they turn to Young. Three minutes of lopsided beatings, until Akam and Rezar come out. Fish tries to keep the door closed, then O’Reilly. Akam and Rezar just wreck everyone with hard hitting action. Dain and Wolfe are finally in the match. Wolfe brought a nightstick hidden in his jacket and nails the AOP with it. Dain hasn’t entered the ring yet, instead he is outside and throws chairs, trash cans, and a chain into the ring, then a kendo stick. Sanity is just murdering everyone. The crowd is chanting for tables, so Dain figures why not? and gets a table or two. Dain finally enters the cage, and uses a chain to lock the door.
Big brawls. Dain goes to the top, crossbody creams everyone, cover but Cole breaks it up. cole has a kendo stick and dares Dain to attack him. Dain catches the stick strike, then picks Cole up. Fish saves Cole, Dain blocks a Sunset Flip, then catches Cole, and drives Cole onto Fish, double cover, O’Reilly breaks it up. Dain tosses O’Reilly around. Then catches strong while carrying O’Reilly. Fallaway slam.Samoa Drop combo to them both. Rezar and Dain square off. Crossbody from Dain takers Rezar4 out, Akam nails Dain with a power slam, O’Reilly and a chain break it up. O’Reilly with a tornado DDT off the cage, Young and Cole. Fish and Strong trade kicks, Strong gets triple-teamed by Undisputed Era. It’s a string of one person getting an advantage or another. O’Reilly has a super long chain and is the only one standing. O’Reilly wraps the chain around Wolfe’s face then his arms, Wolfe blocks an arm breaker, then Young breaks it up with an elbow drop. Young seems to have blood on his face. Moonsault off the top from Fish, who is grabbing his knee and rolls his knee pad down. On replay the knee looked like it hit the mat hard. Super Collider on Fish and O’Reilly with Dain in the middle, cover, Young breaks it up. Young escapes an AOP double team. Young takes Rezar off the top turnbuckle, fireman’s carry, Death Valley Driver onto Akam, cover, but Cole and Fish break it up.
Strong and Cole brawl. Backbreaker to Cole, then Young, knees to Fish and O’Reilly, backbreaker to Wolfe, leaping knee to Dain, Olympic Slam to Dain, cover, Cole stops the cover with a superkick. Young and Strong and Cole brawl on the ropes. Stereo towers of doom from AOP to the whole mess, and Cole is left standing on the ropes. AOP double team Cole on the ropes and crotch him, then set up tables. AOP look for a double superplex to Cole through the tables, Wolfe jumps in, Cole fights away and tries crawling over the cage. Wolfe looks to suplerplex Rezar, nails it through the pair of tables. Rezar tries punching Cole off the top of the Cage, Young stops him from doing it. O’Reilly has a trash can as Cole hides on the top of the cage. Dain and O’Reilly go at it. Dain gets the better of it.
The ref has rubber gloves on. Dain looks to be setting up a Coast to Coast on O’Reilly, complete with trash can and he hits it! O’Reilly is flopping around like crazy and may be bleeding from the forehead. Cole is recovering on the top. Strong is standing in the ring, Cole starts to just climb down, so Strong goes up and brings him back to the top. Strong and Cole are both on the top. Strong wants a super superplex, hits it and the crowd catches it. Why not just knock Cole outside and have all of UE disqualified? Strong barely covers Cole for a nearfall. Dain and Akam end up in between the rings and duke it out. The crowd is chanting for Wolfe to get up. The Last Chapter to Dain between the rings, but they are slow to cover. O’Reilly with a sleep on Rezar, Fish with a barrage of blows, they hit Chasing the Dragon on Akam. Young stops them from covering. Wolfe is up, he has blood steaming off his face. Young and Wolfe hit their fhisher, Wolfe gets clobbered.
Strong and Cole trade shots mid-ring. Strong throws Cole into the cage, Young wheelbarrows Strong into the cage. Cole with a kendo stick to Young. Young blocks a shining wizard with a chair, but it knocks Young silly, Cole covers and gets the win.
Winners: Undisputed Era in 36:33. As far as trainwreck garbage matches go, this was outstanding. Bodies everywhere, weapons, blood, high spots, brutal spots. The match definitely lived up to its billing. The weak spot was, again, the booking of Adam Cole. Why would he try to leave the ring? Why would Fish and O’Reilly stick with a guy who was going to cost them the match? Why did Strong bring him back into the ring instead of helping him out to make it easier to win the match without Undisputed Era in it? I just really struggle with the idea that the leader of a group is such a chicken heel, especially when the other two have been carrying the matches in terms of doing the damage to their opponents.
Final Reax: Really innovative Takeover here, with the only disappointing match being the women’s Fatal Fourway. McIntyre – Almas exceeded my elevated expectations. Black and Dream really delivered a memorable match that elevated both men quite a bit. While disappointed at the outcome of Sullivan – Ohno, I understand the booking and Sullivan looked good. The War Games match definitely was the highlight, and while I am generally not a fan of matches like this, I really enjoyed it. This Takeover will be remembered for the War Games match for sure.