12/6 NXT TAKEOVER RESULTS: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report including Undisputed Era vs. McAfee’s Crew in WarGames, Team Blackheart vs. Team LeRae, more

BY MATT HUSTWAITE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NXT TAKEOVER XXXII REPORT
DECEMBER 6, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MATT HUSTWAITE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett

– A hype video for the event opened the show, to the tune of ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The use of a well known, dare I say iconic, song combined with the typically well-produced video package makes for a real big-league feel. Love it.)

– Alicia Taylor introduced the women’s WarGames match and introduced the competitors, including Shotzi Blackheart debuting a new and improved mini-tank(!)

(1) TEAM LERAE (Candace LeRae, Toni Storm, Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai) vs. TEAM BLACKHEART (Shotzi Blackheart, Io Shirai, Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley) – WarGames Match

Dakota Kai and Ember Moon started the match for their respective teams. Kai and Moon exchanged hard blows from the bell. Kai applied a sleeper but Moon rolled out of the hold. Moon took Kai down with a corkscrew hurricanrana and unloaded with aggressive offense. Kai turned the tables with a Scorpion Kick and mounted Moon for ground and pound strikes. Moon avoided a Go To Kick and scored with a superkick of her own. Kai hit a Code Red before the clock counted down to bring Shotzi Blackheart into the match.

Blackheart reached under the ring before entering the cage and retrieved a toolbox and crowbar. She didn’t use the weapons straight away though, instead going after Kai with her hands. Kai became draped on the ropes and was hit by a Blackheart senton, followed by a wrecking ball kick. Kai tried it slow things down after launching Moon and Blackheart into the cage. The faces recovered and Moon hoisted Kai up onto her shoulders and Blackheart hit a missile dropkick. The clock counted down and Raquel Gonzalez was the next wrestler to enter the match.

Moon and Blackheart quickly tried to swarm Gonzalez, but were quickly overpowered. Gonzalez planted Moon with a whirlwind slam and powerbombed Blackheart into the cage. Kai came back into the fray and worked over the faces with Gonzalez until the clock counted down to bring Rhea Ripley into the match.

Gonzalez was eager to have Ripley join the match, as the announcers put over the spectacle of Ripley vs. Gonzalez. Kai came back and momentarily distracted Ripley. Moon held Gonzalez which allowed Ripley to kick Gonzalez through the ropes. Ripley wasn’t fazed by a Kai thrust kick and hit her with a flapjack. In the other ring, Moon and Blackheart teamed up on Gonzalez, hitting her with a Magnum and Code Red respectively. Ripley pulled a short handled sledgehammer from the tool box and hit Kai repeatedly with it. Ripley took of her belt and used it to restrain Kai before throwing her into the cage. Ripley and Gonzalez faced off again as the clocked counted down to bring Toni Storm into the match.

Storm reached under the ring before entering the cage and pulled out a bundle of kendo sticks. Like Blackheart before her, Storm also chose to not use her weapons and instead hit Ripley with a German suplex. Storm then grabbed a kendo stick and worked over Ripley with shots. Storm removed some turnbuckle pads and whipped Ripley into the exposed turnbuckles. Kai and Blackheart climbed to the top rope of a ring each and were eventually met by the other wrestlers for stereo tower of doom spots. With all six wrestlers laid out on the mat, the clock counted down and Io Shirai entered the match.

Shirai pulled a ladder out from under the ring but was kicked away by Gonzalez before Shirai could enter the cage. After a few more blocked attempts to make it into the cage, Shirai found herself stuck at ringside as Storm used a belt to hold the door shut. Shirai tried to climb the cage, but Gonzalez powerbombed Blackheart into the cage to knock Shirai down. The clocked counted down for the final time to bring Candice LeRae into the match.

LeRae confidently made her way to the ring but hesitated when she came across Shirai. Suddenly, Indi Hartwell attacked Shirai out of nowhere with a chain. As LeRae entered the ring and with Shirai laid out on the floor, Hartwell used the chain to lock the cage door and keep Shirai out of the match. Hartwell put the key down her shirt as the referees looked on yelling at her (much good that will do…). The heels took advantage of the numbers game and dominated the faces. However, the referee wouldn’t count a pin attempt as all wrestlers need to be in the cage before WarGames can officially begin. As the heels protested, Shirai appeared at the top of the cage with a garbage can. Shirai put the trash can over her head and dived onto all the wrestlers in the ring below.

Team Blackheart recovered first and cleaned house of the heels. Shirai dove onto Gonzalez with assistance from Ripley and Moon. Shirai took to the top rope and came down on Gonzalez with a moonsault for a two count, after the pin was broken up by Team LeRae. LeRae applied a GargaNo Escape to Moon thanks to a Storm distraction. Blackheart locked in a Cattle Mutilation on Storm, causing LeRae to releasing her hold to break up Blackheart’s submission. Blackheart got her hands on a kendo stick and unloaded on LeRae and Storm. Shirai flew off the top rope and took out Kai with a missile dropkick. Kai turned things around and hit a face wash on Shirai in the corner. Kai took a trash can and stuffed in on Shirai’s head before hitting a double stomp. The trash can crumped around Shirai to the point of appearing to actually trap her temporarily. Moon came back into the fray and hit Kai with a chair shot to the back. Moon positioned Kai over two chairs and dove on her with an Eclipse. Moon covered Kai but the pin was broken up by Storm, who then hit Moon with a Storm Zero onto a chair.

Ripley applied a Prism Lock to Storm. Shirai hit Storm with a dropkick while Storm was trapped in the hold. LeRae struck Shirai with a trash can lid and then superkicked the lid into Ripley. Blackheart took down LeRae and went for a diving senton. LeRae used a chair as a shield. Meanwhile, Shirai came off the top rope with a moonsault onto Kai. Shirai covered Kai as Ripley stood guard for any interference. Storm hit Ripley with a spear, driving Ripley into Shirai’s pin attempt to break it up. Gonzalez and Shirai brawled and made their way to the top rope, where Gonzalez hit a Urange through a ladder that had been positioned between the rings for the pinfall victory.

WINNERS: Team LeRae at 35:20

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The wrestlers really left it all in the ring with this match. That said, it was still a disciplined and psychologically sound match – and an interesting one too seeing that the faces had the inherent numbers advantage through the first part of the match. Considering Gonzalez got the clean pin on Shirai, one would expect that Gonzalez vs. Shirai will be the next program for the NXT Women’s Championship.)

– A Finn Balor black and white vignette aired. He announced his return on the upcoming edition of NXT on USA.

– Undisputed Era and Pat McAfee’s crew were shown respectively arriving at the arena.

(2) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER

The match began with a chain wrestling sequence that Thatcher came out on top of. Thatcher targetted Ciampa with a wristlock until Ciampa turned the tide and slammed Thatcher’s leg to the mat. Thatcher launched Ciampa into the bottom rope and Ciampa landed throat first. Thatcher took advantage of Ciampa with various submissions and cravates, targeting the neck that Ciampa was selling from the bottom rope landing. Thatcher applied another cravate which Ciampa countered with a jawbreaker.

Ciampa threw punches at Thatcher but was taken down to a knee by a Thatcher chop to the chest. Thatcher applied  double underhook which Ciampa reversed into a backdrop. Both wrestlers exchanged elbow strikes and took each other out with stiff headbutts. Ciampa built up some momentum with clotheslines. Ciampa took Thatcher to the top rope and sent him crashing to the mat with a superplex for a two count. Thatcher applied a guillotine choke but was eventually tackled to ringside by Ciampa, causing the break of the hold. Both wrestlers recovered at ringside and made it back in the ring before the ten count. Ciampa locked in a headlock on Thatcher. Thatcher managed to power to his feet and reached the ropes to break the hold, before launching Ciampa with a German suplex.

Thatcher was bleeding as he unloaded on Ciampa with strikes. Thatcher hit another German suplex and took the fight to the apron. Thatcher attempted another suplex but Ciampa fought out of it. The action spilled back into the ring and Thatcher yanked Ciampa neck first into the ropes. Ciampa made a quick pin attempt with a back slide but Thatcher made it to the ropes for the break. Ciampa unloaded with vicious chops. Ciampa hit the Willow’s Bell for the pinfall.

WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 16:45

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Even though this was yet another profile loss for Thatcher, he looked good in defeat. The match was as hard-hitting and aggressive as was expected coming into it. The staredown that the two had after the match makes me think that we are yet to see the last of these two together. Maybe Thatcher gets the win in the blowoff?)

– Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano and Leon Ruff were shown preparing for the triple threat match for the NXT North Amercian Championship later in the show, before a highlight video of the Dexter Lumis/ Cameron Grimes feud was played.

(3) DEXTER LUMIS vs. CAMERON GRIMES in a Strap Match

Before the match could begin, the referee insisted on Grimes using the strap provided instead of one Grimes brought himself. However, Lumis didn’t care about what strap was used. As the referee began to attach Grime’s strap to Lumis, Grimes charged at Lumis and attacked him. Grimes stomped at Lumis who fell to ringside. Grimes sent Lumis into the barricade at ringside and assaulted him without the strap being connected to Lumis. Grimes brought Lumis back into the ring and continued to work over Lumis until Lumis ducked a strap shot and unloaded on Grimes. Lumis connected the strap as Grimes fled to ringside.

Grimes raked the eyes of Lumis and tried to escape over the ringside barricade. Lumis pulled Grimes back down and punched him in the throat, before throwing Grimes repeatedly into the barricade. Grimes bought himself some time by hitting a suplex, but was spooked as Lumis slowly reappeared from behind the barricade he had been tossed over. Grimes maintained the advantage though and used a second strap to whip Lumis.  Lumis briefly came back with a spinebuster but Grimes regained control by pulling Lumis into the WarGames cage structure. Grimes struck with a series of PKs which Lumis eventually countered by pulling Grimes to ringside. Lumis went on the attack until Grimes yanked at Lumis’s pants and hit a German suplex. Grimes grabbed a chair and hit Lumis with it. Lumis fired back with an Exploder Suplex.

Lumis climbed the turnbuckle but was pulled down by Grimes. Grimes hit the Spanish Fly for a two-count. Lumis eventually locked in the Kata Gatame after tripping Grimes into a chair. Grimes tried to slip out of the strap to escape the hold, but Lumis used the strap to pull in Grimes’ face. Grimes tapped out.

WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 12:55

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The match was OK, but I am ready to see different things from both wrestlers. Grimes could do with a move away from the hokey cartoon-like character he has become and, even though I enjoy Lumis’ act, it’s time for some more depth from him too.)

– Pat McAfee’s crew and Undisputed Era were shown in different parts of the backstage area psyching themselves up.

– A Vic Joseph plug for a WarGames toy set was interrupted by a vignette featuring a vulture, ending with Karrion Kross saying “tick-tock”.

(3) LEON RUFF (c) vs. DAMIAN PRIEST vs. JOHNNY GARGANO in a Triple Threat match for the NXT North American Championship

The awesome low-light wrestler introductions took place, with a hyper-energetic Ruff posing with his championship. Gargano and Ruff went back and forth with pin attempts to start the match. Gargano hit a suplex and rolled up Ruff for a two-count. Priest tried to enter the fray but was dispatched with a Gargano dropkick. Ruff athletically avoided Gargano and walked the top rope to hit a hurricanrana. Priest pushed Ruff out of the way and went after Gargano. Ruff tried to get back into it but was again tossed aside by Priest who yelled for Ruff to get out of his way. Ruff came back again and dove onto Gargano.

Ruff went after Priest with a combination of strikes. Ruff’s offense didn’t affect Priest, who hoisted him up for a chokeslam. Gargano interfered before Priest could deliver the chokeslam and encouraged Ruff to double team Priest with him. Gargano and Ruff attacked Priest. Gargano appeared to be holding Priest up for a Ruff attack, but he instead speared Ruff for a two-count. Priest took Gargano to ringside and sent Gargano into the barricade. Ruff dove on to Priest but it had no effect. Priest got Ruff up for a Razor’s Edge and launched him into the barricade. As referees ran out to check on Ruff, Priest appeared to regret what he had done.

Gargano took advantage of the distracted Priest and hit a Tornado DDT. Gargano talked trash about Ruff to the camera. Gargano went for the One Final Beat but was reversed by Priest. Priest went for the Reckoning on Gargano but was also reversed. Priest gota two-count after levelling Gargano with a spinning heel kick. Priest attempted a Razor’s Edge but Gargano slipped out and hit a Sliced Bread. Priest and Gargano avoided shots from each other and eventually were both left lying after a big Priest clothesline. Ruff reappeared and launched himself off of Priest to hit Gargano with a spear. Ruff dove onto Gargano and Priest with a cannonball, before hitting a springboard corkscrew cutter for a nearfall. Gargano sent Ruff into the ropes and Ruff bounced back with a clothesline for a two-count.

Ruff went up top but Priest stood in his way, hitting Ruff with a big boof as Ruff tried to dive around Priest. Priest hit Gargano and Ruff with a Flatliner and then sent Gargano into Ruff with a Broken Arrow. Priest went for the Razor’s Edge on Gargano again, but Gargano slipped out once more. Gargano drove Priest into the ringpost and threw Ruff into Priest. Gargano positioned Priest in the ropes between the two rings but was then surprised by a Ruff Crucifix Driver for a nearfall. Gargano took Ruff down and applied the GargaNo Escape. Priest grabbed at Ruff’s hands to stop him from tapping out and then hit Gargano with a spinning heel kick from the top rope.

Priest went to clothesline Ruff in the corner, but Ruff managed to avoid contact. Ruff tried to clothesline Priest himself, but had no effect on Priest. Gargano hit a superkick on Ruff and Priest hit Gargano with a chokeslam. The mystery masked person we have seen with the Gargano’s appeared in the entrance way, before more masked people appeared around the ring. Priest fought off all of the mystery people and Ruff nearly sneaked a victory after frogsplashing Gargano. However, Priest broke up the pin attempt for a nearfall. Priest leveled Ruff with a cyclone kick and took down Gargano with more kicks. Priest went for the Reckoning but one of the mystery people hit him with a pipe. Gargano dropped Ruff with a superkick and hit the One Final Beat for the win.

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 17:30 to win the NXT North American Championship

– On the entrance set, one of the mystery people unmasked to reveal themselves as Austin Theory. Theory referenced the classic Mr McMahon reveal as the Higher Power by saying “It was me! Austin! It was me all along!”

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A fantastic match with great storytelling that benefits everyone involved. Ruff is elevated not only just by working with top-tier talent, but also by showcasing some very athletic moves. I’ll be interested to see whether there is more on the horizon for him, or whether his purpose was just to help further the feud between Gargano and Priest. Priest looks great whenever he is on TV, and it is surely a risk for the NXT writing crew that he could get called up to the main roster any day now. As for the reveal of Austin Theory, it isn’t a huge surprise if you’ve been paying attention and it’s good the Gargano’s can now finally progress with their stable of Theory and Hartwell.)

– After some plugs for the New Years Evil special episode on January 6 and Black Sabbath, formal ring introductions took place for the main event.

(5) PAT MCAFEE & PETE DUNNE & ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish)

Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne were the opening competitors for each team and started the match with chain wrestling. Dunne locked in an arm triangle in the space between the rings, but O’Reilly escaped and applied a wrist lock of his own. O’Reilly went for a German suplex and Dunne landed on his feet. Dunne hit O’Reilly with a roundhouse kick. Dunne worked over O’Reilly with Joint Manipulation, at one point using the cage to torque O’Reilly’s fingers. Dunne stomped on O’Reilly’s hands and followed up with a spinning kick. O’Reilly came back and got Dunne down to a knee with a guillotine, followed by a knee. Dunne managed to get O’Reilly into a Juji Gatame but O’Reilly escaped and applied a heel hook. As the clock counted down to zero, McAfee seemed to want to get into the match but Lorcan entered instead.

O’Reilly managed to handle the numbers game initially, fighting off Lorcan with a series of strikes. However, Dunne flattened O’Reilly with a clothesline and began to double team O’Reilly with Lorcan. Lorcan tackled O’Reilly and hit a suplex. Dunne kicked O’Reilly in the temple and locked in a surfboard hold, while Lorcan chopped the chest of O’Reilly. O’Reilly mounted a comeback, catching Lorcan in the ropes and applying a dragon screw to Dunne. O’Reilly dove onto Lorcan with a diving knee, but was then tripped up by O’Reilly. The heels applied a double submission hold as the clock counted down to bring Bobby Fish into the match.

Fish took out both Dunne and Lorcan with striking combinations. Fish planted Lorcan with a spinebuster. Fish went after Dunne, who fought him off with short-arm curb stomps. O’Reilly levelled Dunne with a kick and teamed up with Fish to hit a Chasing the Dragon on Lorcan. Fish applied a sleeper to Dunne and O’Reilly kicked away at Dunne. Lorcan returned to the fray and brawled with O’Reilly as Dunne applied Finger Manipulation to Fish. The clock counted down and Danny Burch entered the match.

Burch brought a cricket bat into the match as a weapon.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: As a cricket fan, I feel obligated to note that cricket bats are both bigger and heavier than baseball bats. Cool to see one incorporated as a weapon here.)

Burch swung the bat at O’Reilly who ducked, but was still taken down by a right-hand from Burch. Dunne took the bat and drove it into the back of Fish. In the other ring, O’Reilly applied a heel hook on Burch, who tapped out in vein – as the match doesn’t officially begin until all wrestlers have entered. Dunne eventually made the save and broke up the hold with a diving knee, before striking the back of O’Reilly’s knee with the cricket bat.

Roderick Strong entered the match next and fired up after taking an uppercut from Lorcan to clean house of McAfee’s Crew. Strong hit a backbreaker on Dunne and dropped Burch with an Olympic Slam. Strong took out the heel with running forearms. The heels turned the tide after Lorcan tackled Strong into the cage, and kept control until the clock counted down to bring Pat McAfee into the match.

McAfee looked under the ring and pulled out tables with the names of each Undisputed Era member on them. McAfee started to set the tables up and drove Strong through one of them with a moonsault. McAfee and his crew wasted time showboating, allowing Adam Cole to enter the match before anyone else could be sent through a table.

Cole ran wild on Team McAfee with a fire extinguisher and locked in on McAfee himself. McAfee managed to get a hold of Cole though which allowed Dunne to snap at Cole’s fingers. O’Reilly reappeared and attacked the heels with a steel chair while talking some fantastic trash. The action broke down into an all-in brawl. O’Reilly was dragged into the second ring and was laid out by a Lorcan & Burch implant DDT. Fish managed to break up the pin attempt.

McAfee locked Cole into a figure-four leg lock while Dunne, Lorcan and Burch kept the rest of Undisputed Era in the other ring. Cole managed to roll over to reverse the hold which Dunne broke up to prevent a submission. Lorcan and Burch setup the table with Adam Cole’s name on it, but were taken out by Fish and Strong. Cole spiked Dunne with an Ushigoroshi. Burch and Dunne were planted on the table and Strong dove onto them, sending them through the table. McAfee and Cole were on the top rope with a table beneath them. McAfee tried to superplex Cole, but Cole shoved McAfee off and through the table.

Undisputed Era unloaded on McAfee’s Crew, taking them out of the equation as McAfee made it back to his feet. Undisputed Era beat down McAfee with strikes and kicks and set up for a punt before McAfee’s crew returned to the fray and saved McAfee. Lorcan and Burch attempted a Doomsday Device which Fish and O’Reilly escaped. Cole and Dunne fought to the top rope and Cole sent Dunne flying with a neckbreaker. Strong then hit a superplex on McAfee. Everyone, bar McAfee, started to brawl again as McAfee climbed to the top of the cage. After settling himself on top of the structure, he dove down onto the other wrestlers with a senton bomb.

O’Reilly and Dunne made it back to their feet and exchanged hard forearm strikes. Dunne hit O’Reilly with The Bitter End for a big nearfall. They fought into the space between the two rings and O’Reilly hit a vertical suplex for a nearfall of his own. O’Reilly positioned Dunne on a chair and went to the top rope but McAfee broke it up with a chair shot. Cole came running in and avoided a chair shot from McAfee but eventually was low-blowed by McAfee. McAfee went for the punt kick but Cole avoided the kick and scored with a pump kick of his own to McAfee.

Cole went for the Panama Sunrise but Burch got involved before being driven through a table by Fish. McAfee fired back with a superkick to Cole, who responded with a superkick of his own. Cole hit the Panama Sunrise on McAfee for a nearfall. Cole went for the Last Shot, but Lorcan got in the way and took the bullet for McAfee. Dunne reappeared and hit Cole with a Bitter End on a chair. Strong and Fish took out Dunne and Burch and O’Reilly hit a springboard knee drop onto a chair draped over Lorcan for the pinfall.

WINNERS: Undisputed Era at 45:00

– Undisputed Era celebrated and posed to the camera to close the show.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: That was an epic match, which greatly benefited by the strong storytelling that led to it. While Pat McAfee shone in the match once more, Kyle O’Reilly came out best from this match. I really hope we see a sustained singles run from him. The action was on-point from start-to-finish and, even though it was a long match, it didn’t feel like it at all. In fact, I had to pause and rewind a couple of times to catch back up because it was impossible to avoid getting drawn into the action and forgetting to type. Very much a match worthy of Takeover main event status.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: The show was very good, but was faltering by the lofty standards of NXT Takeover shows until the final two matches – which would not have been out of place on any of the all-time great NXT Takeovers. This show should serve as a good launching pad for NXT in 2021, with the impending returns of Finn Balor and Karrion Kross and, presumably, the recommencement of whatever storylines were planned for them prior to their injuries. Lots to be excited about, even if it seem inevitable that Rhea Ripley and Damien Priest will be elevated to the main roster sooner rather than later.

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