SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Becky Lynch kicks off NXT – HIT: Seeing Becky in an NXT ring was just so natural feeling for me, even if she was holding the RAW Women’s title. NXT was where we were introduced to Becky in the WWE for the first time and it was really cool to see her back after 4 long years away. The crowd was clearly happy to see her back as well. I think it was a good idea not to give away Becky and Bazsler in the ring at the same time by bringing Rhea Ripley out to confront Becky first. That way it builds anticipation for when the two champs do come to blows.
Becky Lynch vs Rhea Ripley – HIT: I’ve wanted to see this match for months now, and I’m almost disappointed that it was given away on TV. Almost. These two women are my favorite female competitors on their respective brands and I was giddy as a schoolkid when the bell rang. I don’t know if Becky has gotten used to working in larger arenas or what the deal was, but even during the split screen commercial, I could see Becky verbally calling the match to Ripley in two separate spots which looked a bit sloppy. Other than that, this match was a lot of fun to watch. I saw the screwy finish coming from a mile away and the moment I saw Duke and Shafir attack Ripley while Shayna attacked Becky, I had a feeling that Bex and Ripley might join forces to run them off, which is exactly what happened. Predictable, maybe. But it surely entertained me!
Ricochet invades his Alma Mater, Riddle Responds – HIT: After what seemed like a lifetime of not seeing Kona Reeves on NXT TV, we were about to see him in singles action when Ricochet came out of nowhere and dropkicked him to oblivion. The Raw invasion of NXT was in full swing with Becky and now Ricochet entering the NXT Arena. Riddle came out to make the save, and the next thing we knew – here was the dream match that I didn’t even know I wanted. I have no idea if Riddle and Ricochet have squared off before tonight. If they hadn’t, I would be absolutely amazed. The chemistry of between these two men was quite literally off the charts. Smackdown, not to be left out of the party, invaded with Cesaro and Nakamura trying to interfere in the match. Riddle quickly got the win, but then Ricochet and Riddle teamed up to take Smackdown out. Before I knew it, Roderick Strong was out there attacking Riddle and then Balor came out of nowhere to attack Riddle. There was a LOT going on in this segment, but all of it served to move both the Survivor Series and TakeOver storylines forward without seeming contrived. I enjoyed this segment start to finish.
The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. The Revival – MASSIVE HIT: Like Becky, seeing Dash and Dawson back in an NXT ring seemed so natural for me, even if Dawson’s full beard still doesn’t look right to me. The Revival are one of the most underrated teams in the company as far as I’m concerned, and I was excited to hear about this match on twitter earlier in the day. This match was everything I could have hoped for and then some. I said it on Twitter during the match, and I’ll say it here: “If I could nominate a match for Tag MOTY, it would be this one.” and that’s a hill I’ll die on. If you haven’t seen this match yet, stop reading this, fire up the WWE Network or your DVR and watch it…. Right now. Go. This column will be here when you get back.
Kay Lee Ray vs Dakota Kai – HIT: I almost felt bad that these two women had to follow the instant classic that was UE vs The Revival. The crowd, while into the match, seemed like they were a little drained after putting so much energy into the last bout. Kai had a lot to prove here, where she was snubbed for the Women’s WarGames face team and Ray was added to the heel team. Not to mention, Ray took her out last week. Needless to say, I was kind of surprised that Ray went over and Kai fell short once again. Hopefully this is the story they are building with Kai, and she’ll redeem herself soon. Carmella, Mandy Rose, Sonja Deville and Dana Brooke attacked after the match, the NXT women’s locker room emptied, and then the RAW women’s division shortly thereafter. Overall this was a chaotic ruckus that was difficult to keep track of. (I can’t describe the ruckus… for you Ferris Buller fans out there) That said, it was still entertaining.
War Machine vs. Forgotten Sons – HIT: Yes, I know that they are Erik and Ivar, the Viking Raiders. But I hate it. So, they will be War Machine, Hanson and Rowe for the purposes of my sanity. It was refreshing to hear a crowd so solidly behind War Machine after getting such lucklaster reactions on Raw and Smackdown. I’ve seen these two men in person on more than one occasion, and they deserve more than a polite welcome. I have to give credit to Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake, you can tell how much they are trying with the Forgotten Sons gimmick. I really like their look, their biker vests and their menacing sometimes manager\sometimes wrestler, Jaxson Ryker. But for some reason, I just can’t take them as a serious threat. Maybe with better booking? But with what we’ve gotten out of them over the past few months, it hasn’t hit with me. All of that said this was probably the most impressive outing that we’ve seen from Blake and Cutler in recent memory, even if they took the loss.
Adam Cole vs. Dominick Dijakovic (Winner’s WarGame’s team gets the advantage) – HIT: I’m typing this before the match begins with my prediction: Cole wins. Going into WarGames, the heel team always gets the advantage. Starting a WarGames match with two faces vs one heel is a lot harder of a story to tell, so Cole seems like the natural winner here. I’ll be honest, it took me until after the first commercial break to get into the match. When it started off, I wasn’t all too impressed with the slowish pace. But once Dijakovic chokeslammed Cole to the ladder leaning in the corner, I was hooked in. Even though Dijakovic was the face here, I feel like I wasn’t alone in rooting for Cole to get the win here. It was kind of an alternative universe David vs Goliath where David was the heel and Goliath, the face. As far as ladder matches go this was nothing special, though the bump that Dijakovic took at the finish was pretty spectacular. I was correct in my prediction, Cole won the advantage for the heel WarGames team, and I can’t wait to see who the 4th man for Team Ciampa will be. Kelly Wells had the privilege of taking the NXT Media call with Triple H earlier in the day, and Triple H said that we’ll get that reveal day of WarGames, and it’ll be epic.
The Final Ruckus – MISS: I won’t spend much time on this, because as I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of this whole brand supremacy thing. But for what it was, this was fun to watch if for nothing else, the dual suicide dives from Keith Lee and Warbeard Hanson (Still refusing to call him Ivar). This was the umpteenth massive brawl we saw this week alone between Raw and NXT and it just kind of got old for me by this point. I’m surprised it took this long, frankly.