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NXT TAKEOVER: WARGAMES REPORT
NOVEMBER 23, 2019
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AT ALLSTATE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix
-The pre-show boasts an Isaiah Scott-Angel Garza match, so I’ll be covering that as well. I look forward to the show, and will be watching with interest to see how big the bumps get in the WarGames matches, given that many of those talents will likely work Survivor Series tomorrow.
-After the show, I’ll be on a Paul Levesque conference call, and after that, I’ll join the PWT Talks NXT podcast. If there are any major happenings on the call, I’ll relate them on the podcast.
Charly Caruso, Pat McAfee and Sam Roberts teed up the show, and Charly went to the back, where Mia Yim was attacked. Rhea Ripley was checking on her, and – who knew? – Dakota Kai was at the scene as well. Roberts said it was probably Shayna Baszler. The action points to Dakota Kai, just like before. If she’s a red herring yet again, I guess I could see it being Ripley herself, but she’s far too hot at this point to turn heel.
(1) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. ANGEL GARZA
Garza teased the pants spot, and Swerve stopped him. Quick reversals leading to both on their knees, where they each threw a slap. Headscissor takeover dumped Garza, and Swerve hopped out to do another. Back in for a two count. Chop by Swerve. Another. Face plant. Splash for two.
Swerve missed a splash but from the opposite corner, he hit a splash. Frog splash, but Garza rolled through and Garza hit an exploder to the post. Garza threw his pants into Swerve’s face and he hit a superkick for two. Springboard inverted suplex and another superkick by Garza for two. Garza kicked Swerve to the corner, then charged into an elbow and a boot. Garza crotched Swerve on the second buckle, then dropkicked Swerve, who fell forward to the mat. Cover for two. Garza missed a moonsault and got hit with a body slam for two. The two exchanged chops in the center of the ring. Garza hit a sitout powerbomb for a long two. Garza mounted Swerve and hit some shots, then went high. Swerve leaped up but Garza knocked him to the apron. Garza jumped to him, but landed into a fireman’s carry and a Death Valley Driver on the apron. “You got swerved” chant. Inside with a cover for two.
Garza backed the Ref into the corner and went for a low blow, but Swerve stopped it. Garza was able to hit the Wing Clipper instead for the victory.
WINNER: Angel Garza at 7:35
(Wells’s Analysis: Plenty of doubt about who would win here, as both guys seem to be on their way up. I’m fine with either guy getting the duke here, though I would have expected the face to go over in the pre-show match. On the other hand, Garza is pretty popular for a heel)
-In the back, Mia Yim was being carted into an ambulance. Dakota Kai was checking on her, and Rhea Ripley yanked her from the ambulance to let her know she’s in. Dakota said she wasn’t prepared. Ripley insisted, and asked “You want to get back at Shayna, don’t you?” Tegan said she knows Dakota can do it. Kai finally agreed. Back on the ramp, Sam Roberts said “Dakota Kai? Talk about a bottom of the barrel pick!” McAfee and Caruso disagreed.
(Wells’s Analysis: Sam Roberts is dead to me.)
-Charly Caruso threw to a tweet from Tommaso Ciampa, who said he extended an invitation to someone, and it was up to him if he showed up. Pat McAfee ran into the crowd, hyping the show to come.
-Shawn Michaels narrated a hype piece for the show. War is inevitable.
(1) RHEA RIPLEY & TEGAN NOX & CANDICE LERAE & DAKOTA KAI VS. SHAYNA BASZLER & BIANCA BELAIR & IO SHIRAI & KAY LEE RAY – WarGames match
Order of entrances: Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Kay Lee Ray, Tegan Nox, Io Shirai, Dakota Kai, Shayna Baszler.
Io Shirai entered first, after which Candice LeRae insisted on joining the fray. Brawl to start. Kick by Shirai. Shirai attempted to toss LeRae into the cage, but she blocked. LeRae missed an enzuigiri but LeRae got her in a full nelson slam. Big “Io” chants. LeRae tossed Io to the second ring, and went for a tope through both but got caught with a knee. 619. Another 619 to make 1238. Between the rings, Io hit double knees on LeRae, sitting prone against the cage. LeRae got into one ring, and Io walked over both sets of ropes and hit a missile dropkick. Dropkick against the turnbuckle. Io drove her boot into Candice. “Let’s go Io/Let’s go Candice” dueling chant, 60-40 or so in favor of Io. Io used a knee to scrape LeRae’s face against the chain links. Time ran down as LeRae was trying to get back in it.
Bianca Belair enterednext. Faceplant for Candice. Standing shooting star press. LeRae managed a poison rana on Belair and threw fists on Io, then moved out of the way as Belair charged the turnbuckle. The flurry was short-lived as Bianca Belair hit a powerbomb on LeRae, then another, then launched her against the cage. Bianca got a big respect pop. Both heels put the boots to LeRae. Bianca hit a camel clutch, and Io ran the ropes and hit a dropkick on the helpless LeRae. Mauro said he was monitoring the Mia Yim situation.
Rhea Ripley charged the ring next. She grabbed a trash can and tossed it in, then slammed the door on Bianca’s head. There’s another trash can. Rhea grabs some kendo sticks but still isn’t done. There’s a chair. Two more chairs. Rhea finally entered the ring and the crowd, chanting “We want tables,” booed as Rhea went to the ring without one. “They’ll have to settle for two trash cans, kendo sticks, three chairs and Rhea Ripley,” Mauro said. Rhea planted Bianca on a trash can. The faces set up a chair and tried to suplex Bianca onto it, but Io Shirai woke up long enough to break it up to boos.
Kay Lee Ray was the next to enter, so Shayna will be last for the heels. She grabbed two more chairs. She teased grabbing a table but thankfully was just teasing, so the crowd booed some more. Ray hit the faces with chairs. Ray set up Ripley on the four standing chairs, but LeRae broke it up. Lots of jockeying for position on the top turnbuckle. Ray took the chairs and laid them all down; Rhea Ripley powered Shirai, Ray and by proxy LeRae into chairs. Bianca hit a 450 splash.
Time ran out. Dakota Kai started out of the cage. She then turned around and dropkicked Tegan Nox into the little cage for the faces. “Holy shit” chant as Kai went outside the cage bars and yanked Tegan into them. Kai opened the door, draped Tegan’s leg through and slammed the door on it. She yanked off the knee braces from Nox and continued going after her. Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae looked on helplessly to Kai on the outside. Kai yelled into the ring (parts were bleeped) and she was forced to leave ringside. Shayna Baszler laughed on the outside.
Time rand out again, and Shawyna Baszler strutted out of the cage, making fun of the four-on-two that now resulted. She stopped at the babyface cage and stood over Tegan Nox, who was still being attended to by officials. Baszler entered the ring, where Rhea Ripley was being held up by Kay Lee Ray and Bianca Belair. Ripley powered out briefly, but the numbers caught up. Bianca set up some trash cans in the corner. She tossed some kendo sticks for Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray to use on LeRae, who fought back long enough to get a break. Shayna Baszler tried to handcuff Rhea, but LeRae broke it up. Mauro let us know that because of the Kai-Nox situation, the match was officially on as a four-on-two.
Rhea Ripley handled Kay Lee Ray and suplexed her against the cage, then dropped her to the apron awkwardly. Shirai was set up on a turnbuckle, where Ripley followed. Ripley used her arm-based Sharpshooter, going for a submission, and elsewhere, Shayna Baszler had LeRae in the Kirifuda Clutch. LeRae escaped, and just after, Ray pasted Ripley to break up her move as well. Numbers got to be too much. Gory Bomb for LeRae. Frog Splash by Rhea. Io covered but Rhea broke it up. LeRae whipped Rhea with her hair, but LeRae went at Bianca with a kendo stick. She missed a kendo swing on Shirai, and Shirai hit a backbreaker. Io went to the top of the cage, but took too long, and LeRae got up there with her. Kay Lee Ray went up as well, but LeRae hit an avalanche poison rana on Ray for two – Bianca broke up the pin.
While most sold on the mat, Io Shirai was lurking above, sure to figure in at the end. On the mat, LeRae ad a hold of Bianca’s hair, but Shirai hit a moonsault on both to break that up. “Mamma Mia” as all competitors sold on the mat.
Shayna gried to get to her feet, but Rhea stopped her and pasted her repeatedly with chairs. Rhea set up two chairs facing each other. Kay Lee Ray jumped off the turnbuckle, but Rhea hit her in the air with a trash can. Shayna popped up and put Rhea in the Kirifuda Clutch, and Ripley fought it, then handcuffed Shayna and herselftogether. Shayna tried to escape Riptide, but of course couldn’t, and Rhea put Shayna through the chairs with the finisher for three. Whoa.
WINNERS: Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae at 27:25.
Rhea’s music played as she and LeRae embraced after the win.
(Wells’s Analysis: This will go down as much more memorable than the WarGames matches before it, since there was such an engaging story leading up to the match, and it was paid off in so many satisfying ways in the end. This finish establishes, for anyone who doubted it, that Rhea Ripley is literally priority #1 on NXT. This is an incredible win for her, and Candice had a great showing as well. The heels all did their part, but given how huge this win and moment is for Rhea, I can’t be disappointed that they didn’t win. The two faces posed on the top of the ramp as Rhea held up the handcuffs and grinned. We have a ton of stories out of this, and I feel like we even have TakeOver and major TV feuds ready to go. Just excellent booking and execution all around)
-Somewhere backstage, Finn Balor taped himself up.
-Dain-Dunne-Priest hype. It looks to be next.
-Imperium was at ringside. For now.
(2) PETE DUNNE vs. DAMIAN PRIEST vs. KILLIAN DAIN – Triple threat match where the winner will get an NXT Championship match vs. Adam Cole at Survivor Series.
Priest first, then Dain, then Dunne. Nice pop for Dunne. Not sure how they follow the previous match, but it should be good anyway.
Priest cockily leaned into a turnbuckle. Dunne went at Dain’s fingers and Dain broke it up. Rope-running for Priest and Dunne, but Dain blocked Priest out of the ring. Dunne did a finger manipulation spot on Dain, then turned into a big forearm by Priest. Priest cleared out everyone and posed in the ring, then attempted his stepover rope spot but Dunne broke it up. Priest wanted Razor’s Edge on Dunne but Dain broke it up. Dain with a Michinoku Driver on Dunne, on top of Priest. Looks like their heads cracked together. Damn. Dain got a two count on each.
Dain went outside and picked up both guys for a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop. Dain rolled Dunne into the ring as Priest sold outside. Dain Irish whipped Dunne. Dunne tried to fight back but Dain hit a knee. Dunne threw some chops then had control. Priest got into the ring and hit Dunne with a German, buthe landed on his feet. Kicks and suplexes for heels everywhere. Dunne leaped into a cross armbreaker and a triangle choke, but Dain broke it up. The heels powerbombed Dunne to boos, although the crowd was a bit tempered still after the fire of the opener.
Dunne sold as the heels exchanged big rights. Lariats by both, and neither went down. Dunne popped up and threw fists at both, but they ganged up on him to boos. Discus punch by Priest to Dunne, but Dunne stomped the hands of both. Chaos led to all three throwing a dropkick at once and landing in a heap for an “NXT” chant about seven minutes in.
Dunne went at Dain, but Priest came off the top with a – moonsault? – we only saw the end. Cover on Dunne for two. Priest tossed Dunne to the floor, then hit Razor’s Edge on Dunne, onto the Spanish announce table (it didn’t break, but probably was supposed to, based on the placement of all involved). Dain hit a tope on Priest, then a cannonball through a barricade. Back into the ring, Dain covered Priest for two. Beth sold the difficulty of challenging for a championship 24 hours after a match like this. Senton by Dain on Priest. He wanted a Vaderbomb, but Priest popped up and impressively managed Razor’s Edge on Dain. He covered near the ropes, where Dunne popped into the ring to break it up just at the last moment.
Dunne did his stomp spot on Priest, and hit a running forearm. He wanted another but Preist gave chase and hit an elbow. Priest ran to the other turnbuckle, and flew over the buckle to Dain on the outside. Dunne appeared to have a look of genuine respect and surprise. Dunne hit a moonsault on both to the outside. All three sold outside for a moment.
Dunne and Priest made it to the ring. Priest begged for Dunne to bring it. He threw shots but Dunne returned fire. Big rights. Huge lariat by Priest. Priest went for the Reckoning, reversed. A few more reversals led to a cross-armbreaker by Dunne. Priest grabbed the ropes but it didn’t matter. Senton by an arriving Dain to break it up. Falcon Arrow by Dain on Priest for a long two.
Dain put Dunne into the tree of woe and placed Priest upright against him, then hit a cannonball on both. Vaderbomb by Dain on Priest, but Dunne broke it up. Dunne with Bitter End on Dain, but Priest broke it up with a kick, while laying down, to knock Dunne off of Dain. Dunne went up, but Priest hit him with a cyclone kick. Frankensteiner from the top, into Dain. Priesthit The Reckoning on Dunne, but Dain dropped an elbow to break that up. Cheers of respect rang out.
Dunne, from the floor, reached for Priest. Priest, annoyed, slapped at his fingers. Funny. Dain hit a big dropkick to clear Priest from the ring. Dain went up but Dunne popped up with an enzuigiri. Dunne couldn’t capitalize and Dain pulled him to the top turnbuckle. Priest also went up. Priest grabbed throats of both, but Dunne snapped his fingers and tossed him to the floor outside. Superplex for Dain. Bitter End on Priest, broken up by a Dain senton. Dunne hit a sleeper on Dain, who broke the hold by hitting a senton, though the senton was directly on a prone Priest. As Dain rolled through the move, out of the ring, Dunne simply covered Priest for the win.
WINNER: Pete Dunne at 19:55.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very strong triple threat, with some great power displays and innovation. It probably won’t surprise many that the only babyface in the match will go on to face Adam Cole tomorrow, but the road to get there was a lot of fun. While the women’s WarGames match was an incredible story, nobody took an insane bump to the level that they shouldn’t be able to go tomorrow, and the same was true for Dunne here and is likely to be true for Cole and Roddy (and possible others) in WarGames later. They grabbed the crowd, which was gassed after the opener, pretty well)
-The babyface WarGames dudes prepared backstage. Poppy’s music played. Finn vs. Riddle is next.
(3) MATT RIDDLE vs. FINN BALOR
Dueling chant to start, favoring Balor slightly. Riddle went at the legs to open, but they reached the corner to break it up. Test of strength led to a triangle by Riddle, but Finn rolled into a count to break. A couple of quick reversals on the floor led to Riddle missing a kick and both guys getting to their feet. They circled one another, and then Finn hit a headlock. To the canvas. Riddle escaped and trapped Balor’s head with his legs, but Balor popped out and hit a headlock again. Back to a vertical base, and Riddle rolled out and hit a couple of gut wrench suplexes, but Balor rolled up Riddle for two. Big forearm by Riddle afterward.
Basement dropkick by Balor. Cover for two. Balor immediately grabbed a chinlock. Basement dropkick into the turnbuckle. Cover for two. Balor dropped elbows on a seated Riddle and went for a chinlock. Balor dumped Riddle, then hit a single-leg dropkick through the ropes. Balor rolled Riddle to the apron and bashed his head into the canvas a few times, then rolled him in for two. Riddle hit a prone Riddle with some kicks. As Finn posed, Riddle popped up and hit some chops and forearms. Exploder, PK, Broton by Riddle for two as Mauro said “for the biggest win of his career.”
Riddle went at Balor with kicks in the corner. Running forearm. Another, but Balor put up the boots. Flying forearm by Balor. Thrustkick by Riddle, then an anklelock. Balor attempted to kick his way out, but Riddle grabbed the other ankle. He threw feet down at Balor’s head to cut him off, but Balor reached the bottom rope. Riddle surprisingly threw a kick on Balor as he held the bottom rope. Balor grabbed the top rope and wouldn’t let go as Riddle went at him. Balor crumbled as he went for a dropkick, but he hit one right after. German suplex by Balor, but Riddle popped right up and hit one of his own and bridged for two. Ripcord knee by Riddle. Balor rolled through a powerbomb attempt and hit a double stomp, then a sling blade. Riddle speared a charging Balor. “Riddle” chant in the “Goldberg” cadence. Jackhammer by Riddle for a long two.
Inverted DDT by Balor after a resting period for two. Balor stomped Riddle a few times, but Riddle hit Bro to Sleep. Riddle went to the top and went for Floating Bro, but found waiting knees. Dropkick by Balor to the corner, and he went up for Coup de Grace – but missed. Riddle grabbed Bromission and Balor escaped with a roll. Riddle kicked up at Balor to slow him down, but he walked right into a 1916 DDT that got the three.
WINNER: Finn Balor at 14:23.
No specific fanfare afterward. Finn posed with a cocky look and Mauro put him over.
(Wells’s Analysis: This match came off pretty well, considering Balor was a no-doubt winner as this match was an audible and Riddle was meant for WarGames initially. The two put on a good match that will probably still end up as the low match of the show, given the rest of the card.)
-Denzel Curry’s music played as he was shown in the front row.
-After the show, Triple H and Rhea Ripley will appear on Facebook Live to announce the competitors for the Survivor Series match tomorrow. I guess it’ll be a bit before I get on that conference call.
(4) TOMMASO CIAMPA & KEITH LEE & DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC & ???????? vs. THE UNDISPUTED ERA – WarGames match
First, Undisputed Era all entered together. Keith Lee was first of the faces. I’m thinking the surprise face doesn’t show up until it’s time for them to join the match? Dijakovic was next, and then Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa had skull mask on, and ripped it off to reveal some stylized war paint. He also had camo pants and was carrying his crutch. He passed by everyone and walked to the ring and entered the cage. Roderick Strong, unsurprisingly, headed to the ring to join Ciampa.
Ciampa placed his crutch by the ropes to offer it to Roddy as he enters. Roddy grabbed it, says “You think I need this to beat you?” and tossed it out of the cage to boos. The bell rang, and both guys threw punches until Roddy took control. Ciampa punched his way out of trouble and hooked Strong over the top rope, then kicked him in the face. The crowd was fairly tempered at this point, no doubt with the surprise team member hanging over the proceedings. Ciampa went up on the corner for the punch count-along, then hit a running knee on a grounded Strong. Strong made it to his feet and threw chops, then did his own series of punches but got caught with a kick. The action spilled between rings and Ciampa clotheslined Strong over the ropes into one of the rings. Ciampa wanted Fairytale Ending, but Strong escaped and hit a lung blower. Ground and pound. Both were on their feet as time ran out.
Kyle O’Reilly hit the ring, and Ciampa fought off both until O’Reilly swept his leg and hit some fists and knees. Another sweep and Kyle lurked around a prone Ciampa. Kicks and chops from both UE guys on Ciampa. The crowd started a “Go bask in his glory” chant as UE kept up the onslaught. Backbreaker by Strong, and Kyle dropped a knee on Ciampa right after. “Undisputed”/”Daddy’s Home” dueling chant. Time ran out.
Dominik Dijakovic was next in the fray. He cleared out both with big boots. Forearms and knees for Kyle. Kneelift. Lariat sent Kyle flipping to the mat.Elbows and uppercuts in the corner. Strong attempted to charge but charged into a superkick. Dijakovic launched Kyle onto Strong to a pop. He wanted Feast Your Eyes on Strong, but Strong powered out. Dominik fired up and threw Roddy into the cage over and over. O’Reilly jumped up with a standing chancery but he got tossed off into the steel cage. Dominik checked on Ciampa and tried to get him back in it. Ciampa obliged and paired off with Roddy as Dominik clubbed O’Reilly. Kyle was between the rings, and Dijakovic threw fists to spring Kyle up off the ropes and into more fists.
Bobby Fish was next, saving team captain Adam Cole for last. Fish went right at Ciampa with fists, then offered some kicks and forearms to Dijakovic. Back to Ciampa. He walked into a choke from Dijakovic, but Kyle cut that off and they teamed up to take Dominik down. Roddy hit a backbreaker on Ciampa, then he and Fish hit Chasing the Dragon on Ciampa. Dijakovic was pinned between ring and cage, and the tag champs took turns throwing fists at him. The UE then triple-teamed Ciampa. UE posed as time drew near for Lee.
Keith Lee booked to the ring to a big pop. He cleared out a charging Roddy with fists, then blocked the others. Chopes for everyone. Lee leapfrogged the charging tag champs then hit a cross-body on both to a huge pop and “Keith Lee” chant. Lee was dead in the water a few months ago and it is awesome, on both the part of booking and his own work, how he’s been elevated so successfully. Lee lifted Roddy but the tag champs cut down Lee, and the three of them worked on Lee while the other faces were still hurt. Ciampa fired up and went at all three, but numberstook him down as well. Dijakovic woke up and slammed Kyle into the far ring, then tossed Roddy there as ell. Lee stalked Roddy but Fish jumped up for a sleeper. Time expired.
Adam Cole, the last one waiting in the cages, was introduced. He went under the ring and got a table to a huge pop from the crowd that begged for one earlier. Then he grabbed another, and set it up leaning on a barricade outside the ring in front of some plants. He put another table into the ring. One more table in the ring. And another?! Okay, four tables in the ring, and…never mind, there’s a fifth table for the ring. Finally Cole enters, or tries to – Ciampa charges him and chokeslams him backward into the leaning table on the barricade. Well, duh. Ciampa went back and grabbed Cole, and tossed him into the ring. Mauro stresses that the match has “not officially begun” so there must be another person coming. The three babyfaces stalked the four UE guys, and it came to blows in the center of the ring. “NXT” chant. Keith Lee had O’Reilly up in a fireman’s carry, but Fish hit the low blow. The clock showed up again and the crowd popped huge.
UE shook their heads and laughed as nobody entered. They stalked the babyfaces. Finally, Kevin Owens’s music played. This was a popular pick and I think a few of us called this on the podcast on Wednesday. He entered the fray and destroyed the shocked UE. Powerbomb for Fish. Pumphandle gutbuster for O’Reilly. Powerbomb for Fish on top of O’Reilly. Owens then turned his attention to Owens. “Welcome back” chant. Cole did his UE symbol to KO, who returned with a “Suck it” taunt. Stunner for Cole. Cover broken up by Fish. Lee and Dijakovic had Roddy in one ring, and they tossed him through the ropes to the other ring to take out all other UE guys. Owens fired up the crowd by rattling the cage.
Ciampa with a draping DDT on O’Reilly. Now some tables are going up. The faces set up two in one ring, and one in another. The wrestlers carefully walk around them as they fight. Haphazard aggression ensued as guys got into position; Keith Lee went to the top to hit a cross-body on three UE guys, but the other one (O’Reilly) came off the top with a knee. Kyle had Lee in a submission, but Dijakovic hit a senton from outside the ring to break it up. Big moves faster than I can type them. Senton by Ciampa on Fish for two, broken by a Cole superkick.
Lee and Cole went up a turnbuckle. Roddy took the fists to Lee and Cole fell away. Avalanche Strong Slam for Lee. Roddy and O’Reilly double teamed Lee and O’Reilly covered for two, broken by Dominik. High-low for Dominik. Owens got involved again and sent O’Reilly to the cage. “Oh, did that hurt?” Owens and Cole went to the spot between the rings, and Owens wanted a package piledriver. Cole broke it, then flipped out of another. Cole went up for Panama Sunrise, temporarily halted, but finally hit on the steel girder that crossed both rings.
Strong and Fish set up two tables right next to each other. They targeted Ciampa and set up on them, but Ciampa fought his way off of it and bashed both guys into the cage. Knee for Kyle. Back cracker for him as well. Running knees for Fish and Strong, but Cole jumped into the shot for a superkick. Ciampa tossed Cole into the cage and threw running knees at him as well.
Ciampa took Cole up the turnbuckle closest to the double tables. Jockeying for position. Ciampa bashed Cole into the cage and Cole responded in kind. Ciampa fell to the floor in front of Cole and Cole climbed to the top of the cage. Elsewhere, Fish and Roddy were working on Lee on a turnbuckle. Ciampa joined Cole on top. Dijakovic chokeslammed Roddy through a table. Kyle hit a triangle on Dijakovic, but Dijakovic fell forward to a table, and KO frog splashed Kyle through. Lee got the better of Fish and powerbombed him through the other one.
Focus went back to Ciampa and Cole at the top of the cage, where Ciampa hit freaking Air Raid Crash from the top through the double tables to finish. The camera shows Britt Baker with a look of legit concern in the audience, and Mauro actually identifies her, says her name, everything.
WINNERS: Team Ciampa at 38:30.
(Wells’s Analysis: This was my favorite of the men’s WarGames matches to date. While it had a ton of great spots, it didn’t come off as a match that was solely about spots at the expense of any real storytelling. The match went through some compelling changes as it came to fruition, and like the women’s match, was paid off in most incredible fashion. Kevin Owens was a satisfying final team member; for many he won’t be the biggest surprise possible, but this seems like a great move both for Owens and for NXT. I also appreciate that he got in a lot of good spots but NXT didn’t do it at the expense of Ciampa, who rightfully pinned the champ to continue their long-simmering issue. Good showcase for all eight men, who brought something different to the match.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a can’t-miss show on paper, and one I had high hopes for. My hopes were well outdone by the talent in the ring, and the great storytelling within each match. The #1 contender triple threat made all three look strong while building to a natural conclusion, and Finn got his NXT career off on the right foot with a strong win over Matt Riddle, who seems to be able to absorb the occasional loss. Dominik Dijakovic filled in well for Riddle, and had some great power spots, and Keith Lee’s star continued to rise as the fans chanted for him even before his entrance. The two WarGames matches outdid the two that came before them, whether through story, spots, or both. Given the insane number of twists and turns in the women’s match, all leading to a pair of big moments tonight (Dakota’s turn and Rhea’s win), I would give this one the duke as the match of the night, but would not argue with anyone who argued in favor of the men’s match. We got spoiled tonight, folks, and I can’t wait for the Triple H conference call tonight as well as the PWT Talks NXT podcast afterward. Cheers!