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WELLS’S NXT TAKEOVER: IN YOUR HOUSE REPORT
DECEMBER 6, 2020
LIVE IN WINTER PARK, FLA. AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Tonight after NXT TakeOver, join Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg as they take over “Wrestling Night in America” live to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
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Tonight after the show, I’ll be on Triple H’s media conference call. I’ll pass along any important notes to Tom and Nate.
-A video ran down the night’s two WarGames matches and contained shots of previous NXT WarGames matches. The two rings fit just fine inside the Capitol Wrestling Center. Alicia Taylor ran down the rules of WarGames but some loud pre-match sirens nearly drowned her out at times.
(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART & RHEA RIPLEY & IO SHIRAI & EMBER MOON vs. CANDICE LERAE & TONI STORM & DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZALEZ – Women’s WarGames match
Dakota Kai started the match for the heels; she was my early pick to do so, but when the faces won the advantage match I thought maybe it would be Raquel, who could believably fight off two faces at once. Shotzi was the final one announced for her team, so they’re really committed to her coming off as a huge deal here. She drove a much larger and more detailed tank out to the ramp. She stopped so the other faces could climb up on the ramp for a powerful visual. Shotzi shot a ball from a mounted “gun” on the tank at Kai, who flinched as it bounced off the chain link fence. Shotzi tried to start the match, but Ember Moon took the initiative and entered instead.
Kai got in a quick kick and then took some shots, but Moon reversed and threw some forearms. Kai put on a sleeper and Moon whipped her over to the mat. Both women blocked kicks and Moon hit a rana. Moon hit a running forearm and Kai hit a pump kick in another corner. Moon hit a running elbow in a third corner, then laid out Kai with a kick and a trip. Moon ran the ropes and hit a senton. Kai tried to go to the other ring and Moon yanked her back. Kai hit a back kick and did some ground and pound. Kai shoved Moon’s face and grated it against the cage. Kai missed a pump kick and Moon hit a rana to create separation, then struck Kai to the mat. Moon suplexed Kai against the edge of the cage, then ran the ropes and splashed Kai against the cage. Moon held her head afterward; she may have slammed it against the bar on the cage. Moon hit a kick on Kai and ran the ropes into Kai’s waiting knees. Kai threw some kicks and a pump kick over a draping Moon. Kai hit a Kai-Ropractor as the time for the next babyface ran down.
Shotzi stormed to the ring and went under it for a crowbar and a tool box. She threw them into the cage and entered. She went to the near cage and Kai joined her there. Bulldog by Blackheart. Discus punch and a question mark kick followed. Blackheart hit a senton on Kai against the ropes. Blackheart but Kai between the rings and hit a running boot. On the apron between rings, Kai got caught between the babyfaces and put both their heads into the cage. Kai went back to Moon and threw some shots, but Blackheart hit a step-up enzuigiri. Blackheart grated Kai on the cage and hit a suplex on Kai into the corner. Blackheart and Kai both went up the corner but Moon reversed and Blackheart hit a missile dropkick on Kai, who was on Moon’s shoulders.
Raquel Gonzalez hit the ring next and both faces turned their attention to her and pounded her. Gonzalez threw both of them off of her and hit big boots on each. Spinning powerslam on Moon. Blackheart tried a rana but Gonzalez caught her and slammed her into the cage. Gonzalez but Kai in a fireman’s carry and used her legs as a weapon against each babyface. Gonzalez bealed Moon as Kai paired off with Blackheart. All four ended up in the far ring and Gonzalez picked up Moon. Kai hit a running pump kick and Gonzalez powerslammed her after. The match passed the point where another entrant should’ve been in, and went an extra minute for some reason.
Rhea Ripley joined the match and Gonzalez showed excitement and said “I’ve been waiting for this.” Kai distracted Ripley for a moment but Moon held on to Gonzalez so Ripley could kick her through the ropes. Ripley manhandled Kai in the near ring as the others sold in the far ring. Kai hit a thrustkick but Ripley slammed her. In the other ring, Moon and Blackheart teamed up to put Gonzalez down temporarily. Ripley went to the tool box and pulled out a mallet. She beat Kai with it in the stomach, then the back. Ripley took off her belt and used it to hold Kai in place as she headbutted her, and then tossed Kai into the cage. Once again, Ripley and Gonzalez made eye contact and they met on the center apron. They exchanged shots and Ripley speared Gonzalez into the near ring, where the two exchanged shots.
Toni Storm was the sixth to enter. She went under the ring and got some kendo sticks. She hit a German suplex on Ripley and then took off one of the top turnbuckles in the near ring. She took the kendo stick to Ripley as Gonzalez held her. Storm removed the second turnbuckle in a second corner. Storm whipped Ripley into the first exposed buckle and Ripley sold it like a champ. Storm paired off with Moon while Gonzalez worked over Blackheart. Kai and Ripley took a breather in the far ring. Storm used the kendo stick on Moon while Gonzalez used another on Blackheart. Kai put Ripley into the cage in the far ring. Blackheart and Kai both went up turnbuckles where the rings meet, and soon enough there were three in each corner. On one side, there was a bulldog, and on the other there was a powerslam, leaving two piles of three women. One of the women loudly counted “One, two” to set up the timing of the move.
Io Shirai was out next and went under the ring for a kendo stick. Gonzalez closed the door so she couldn’t enter but Shirai hit her hands with a kendo stick. Gonzalez booted her to the floor. The heel women continued their onslaught in the rings and Gonzalez closed the door again to deny Shirai. A referee finally opened the door and Shirai recovered and tossed several chairs into the ring. Gonzalez held up a chair as Shirai entered, but Shirai dropkicked the chair into her face. Gonzalez booted Shirai out yet again and Storm used Ripley’s belt to hold the door shut so Shirai couldn’t enter.
LeRae was the last to come out, and she and Shirai faced off. Behind Shirai, Indi Hartwell appeared and took shots at Shirai’s blind side. Hartwell tossed more chairs and a trash can into the cage. LeRae entered and Hartwell locked the door so Shirai couldn’t enter. The heels destroyed the faces in the ring as Vic reminded us that WarGames couldn’t officially begin until all women were in the ring. In the ring, the heels brutalized Blackheart and LeRae tried to cover, but the ref wouldn’t count it because Shirai hadn’t entered. Up on top of the cage, Shirai smiled and put a trash can over her head, then flew into the ring and laid out everyone in a spot that was equal parts awesome and funny-looking.
Shirai used the mallet on a couple of the heels and then hit a big DDT on Gonzalez with Ripley’s help. The heels fed Shirai as she destroyed all of them in turn. The faces fired up until Gonzalez was the last heel standing, and they worked together to hold Gonzalez down as Shirai hit her Over the Moonsault for a two count, broken up by the rest of the heels. Kai put Ripley into the cage and in the near ring, LeRae and Blackheart put submissions on Storm and Moon; LeRae broke her hold so she could break up Shotzi’s move. Blackheart took the kendo stick to Storm and LeRae until Kai hit her with a chair. Shirai hit Kai with a flying boot but Kai put Shirai in the corner and hit a face wash. Kai put a trash can on Shirai and smashed down on Shirai. It took her some time to pry the smashed can off of Shirai, and she got a two count, I think broken up by Moon but weirdly the camera cut away so even the announcers weren’t sure. Moon worked on Kai on some standing chairs in the ring, and she draped Kai over them and hit the Eclipse on Kai through the chairs. She covered but Storm broke up the pin attempt with a trash can. Storm hit Storm Zero on a trash can on Moon but Shirai broke it up at the last moment.
Ripley entered the ring with all the action and she and Shirai teamed up for a dropkick on Storm, and Ripley covered for two. A ladder got set up between the two rings, draping over the bottom ropes. LeRae kicked a trash lid into Ripley’s head and Ripley sold in the far ring some more (with a handful of exceptions, the far ring has been used almost entirely to give women breaks). In the near ring, Blackheart and LeRae fought at the top of a ladder. Blackheart knocked LeRae off and LeRae held a chair as Blackheart hit a senton. The two both sold.
In the far ring, Ripley slammed Kai and Shirai hit Over the Moonsault. It got two and Storm rammed Ripley into the pin combo to break. Ripley put up Storm and hit the electric chair across a rope. Shirai went up a turnbuckle but Gonzalez went up also. Shirai tried to hit a Frankensteiner on Gonzalez through the ladder, but Gonzalez held on and chokeslammed Shirai through the ladder. Gonzalez covered Shirai and Team LeRae was victorious.
WINNERS: Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez at 35:20.
(Wells’s Analysis: Wow. I really thought it was set up for the faces to get a huge win and another strong visual together, but instead the match was used likely to set up Shirai’s next big threat to the championship. The match relied on a minimum of big spots and much more on storytelling, with the heels having to get creative to overcome the babyface advantage, and that made the match a very strong one. The creativity here proves that heels can still be heels and generate heat even if they don’t have the paper advantage)
-Finn Balor addressed the camera. He told everyone to enjoy WarGames. After the cage goes up, team games were over. This Wednesday, he said, all eyes were back on the Prince.
-Earlier today, the two men’s WarGames teams arrived.
(2) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER
Here’s your lone one-on-one match without a stipulation tonight. Ciampa entered first and Thatcher walked with purpose as he came up to the ring.
Healock takeover by Ciampa. Thatcher reversed into a double wristlock briefly and the two broke and reset. Quick reversals led to a headlock by Ciampa. Thatcher reversed again and put a hard knee into Ciampa’s ribs. The ropes broke up the two and Thatcher wrenched Ciampa’s left knee. Thatcher tripped Ciampa and struck his back and sides, then put on a headlock. Thatcher worked into a cover for one, then got up and through a hard kick to Ciampa’s side. Ciampa reversed a move and started stomping Thatcher and wrenched his leg. Ciampa threw strikes to Thatcher’s face to keep him off stride as he worked over his legs. Thatcher bailed and baited Ciampa and hit an uppercut.
Thatcher worked Ciampa further on the mat with a headlock, and Ciampa broke the hold with the ropes but Thatcher put another knee in Ciampa’s side, then his back. Thatcher threw Ciampa’s head into the apron from the outside, then dropped an elbow on Ciampa’s throat on the apron. Thatcher went in and covered for two. Thatcher hit a belly-to-belly and covered, but Thatcher’s foot was through the plane and the ref stopped the count. Thatcher dropped a couple of elbows and covered for two. Ciampa tried to get back into it with some shots, but Thatcher mostly no-sold them and put Ciampa down with a forearm.
Thatcher worked a sleeper and Ciampa broke it with a jawbreaker. Ciampa hit some chops and kicks but Thatcher caught a chop and threw a palm strike to take down Ciampa again. Ciampa reversed a powerbomb(?) attempt and slammed onto Thatcher over his back. The two sold on the mat and then exchanged forearms as they got to their feet. Ciampa got the better of Thatcher and then the two collided as Ciampa went for a spear. The two’s heads smashed together and they rubbed them to clear out the cobwebs. Ciampa ran the ropes and hit repeated lariats. Ciampa hit a running lariat in the corner, then went up in the corner and hit a superplex. Ciampa slowly made the cover for two.
Ciampa hit a couple of kicks on a grounded Thatcher, and went for Fairytale Ending. Thatcher broke and hit a throat chop. Thatcher used a front chancery on Ciampa, who finally pushed forward and the two spilled through the ropes to the floor. Thatcher got in at seven and Ciampa at nine. Both guys sold the effects of the match. Ciampa blocked a thoat chop and hit a flash knee, then a running knee. Ciampa worked a headlock with a lot of torque, but Thatcher got to his feet. Thatcher was bleeding from the ear. Ciampa held on until Thatcher hit a German suplex to break. There was a good amount of blood and the camera didn’t shy away from it. Thatcher looked crazed as he rained shots down on Ciampa. Thatcher hit a German suplex and Ciampa got out to the apron. Thatcher followed him there and went for another German, but Ciampa elbowed out of trouble but turned around and got hit with a forearm and spilled into the ring. Thatcher stepped out and yanked Ciampa into the ropes.
Thatcher entered the ring and hit a few European uppercuts on Ciampa. He swung and missed. Ciampa hit a backslide but Thatcher broke with the ropes. Ciampa tied up Thatcher in the ropes and hit several chops. He hit Willow’s Bell and covered for the win.
WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 16:45.
After the match, the two rolled out to the apron near the ramp, and they stared at each other with intensity but also pretty clear respect. Once Thatcher hit the ramp, they continued staring at each other.
(Wells’s Analysis: Even at TakeOver, I’m stunned that these two got this much time given Thatcher’s role as a gatekeeper, albeit one who’s capable of wonderful matches with literally anyone. Good story here with Ciampa more or less escaping with a win rather than dominating into one because Thatcher is so overwhelming. This was always a threat to steal the show, though them doing so shouldn’t surprise anyone)
-The three men in the North American Championship match got ready.
-A video package ran down the Lumis-Grimes feud.
(3) DEXTER LUMIS vs. CAMERON GRIMES – Strap Match
Referee Darryl Sharma said he had the official strap as Cameron Grimes insisted on his own. Sharma asked Lumis if he had a problem with that, and Lumis did nothing. Sharma went ahead with it. Grimes tossed the other end of the strap to Lumis but charged in when he reached for it. Grimes dragged Lumis outside and beat him into the Plexiglass, then yanked Lumis out by the foot with the strap and went at Lumis with kicks, then used the strap to hang up Lumis on the apron. The action went back inside (still no bell because the strap isn’t on Lumis) and Grimes took a few shots but he missed one and Lumis got back into it with some rights and a Thesz press. Lumis put the strap on himself and the bell finally rang. Grimes looked to escape but Lumis tugged him into the ring and tossed him into a buckle, then balled up the strap to put Grimes on the mat.
Lumis teed up a big strap strike but Grimes escaped outside. Lumis followed and threw Grimes to the Plexiglass. Grimes hopped up and tried to escape, but again: the strap. Lumis yanked Grimes down and booted him near the announce table, then put on a headlock and threw some fists. He threw Grimes into a Plexiglass and this time Grimes couldn’t hop up to avoid pain. Lumis repeated the shot on the other side of the crowd. Lumis used the strap to talk Grimes over to near an uncovered barricade, but Grimes hit a back suplex on Lumis, tossing him over the barricade and out. Grimes freaked out as Lumis popped back up over the other side. Lumis tried to get back into it but Grimes used the strap to yank down Lumis to his back.
Grimes continued with rights and forearms, then a big boot, all still outside the ring. He again put the strap over Lumis’s eyes, then went and got the second (official) strap and took it out of the sack, then put the sack over Lumis’s head and used the second strap to whip Lumis’s back as he was draped over the announce table. Lumis got into the ring, with his head still covered, and Grimes really laid into him with the whip. As Grimes stepped in for something, Lumis caught him and hit a spinebuster, then finally remembered how to take a sack off of his head. Lumis put Grimes in the corner and then took the strap around the steel corner for the WarGames ring, but Grimes yanked the strap and put Lumis’s head into the structure. Grimes laid out Lumis with a kick outside, then pulled him forward for a PK from the apron. Grimes was blocked on another PK, but Lumis yanked the strap and Grimes somersaulted through the air and landed on his back on the outside.
Lumis took Grimes back inside and it was his turn to use the strap as Grimes sold agony. Lumis was much more controlled with his shots with the strap. Lumis hit a corner lariat, but Grimes blocked the follow-up bulldog and hit a German suplex back into the top turnbuckle. Grimes brought a chair into the ring and hammered Lumis’s back with it as Vic “reminded” us this was legal (why is it legal to use a chair in a strap match?). Grimes used the chair a couple more times, then set it up and sat on it to pose and cheer himself on. Grimes went for a running cross-body but Lumis caught him and hit a fallaway slam. The two exchanged forearms and Lumis got the better of it. Lumis laid out Grimes and went to the top, but Grimes countered by pulling Lumis to the mat. Grimes hit his twisting cross-body and covered for two.
Grimes set up a chair and whipped Lumis’s back couple of times. A third one was horribly loud. Lumis sat in the chair and Grimes wanted the Cave In, but Lumis blocked. There were a bunch of teases with the chair and Lumis finally tied up Grimes and dropped him on the chair. Lumis put on the Silencer and Grimes desperately tried to remove the strap, but had to tap.
WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 12:55.
(Wells’s Analysis: Enjoyable (guilty pleasure?) strap match in a feud that continues to work just because Grimes so effectively makes people want to see him get beaten down. I assume this feud is now over, with Grimes completely carrying it despite losing at nearly every turn. As always, I wonder what the endgame is, and where a silent and emotionless character goes next)
-The two men’s WarGames teams fired up in the back. Vic Joseph promoted Mattel’s WarGames playset.
-The lights flickered and Vic wondered what was up. A video with a clock and a vulture played, leading to Karrion Kross’s voice saying “Tick…tock.” That simple tease is all we get for now.
-A video package beginning at October 28th where Johnny Gargano won the North American Championship played, leading to his quick loss for the championship to Leon Ruff’s shocking win, leading into the issue that sprung up between all three.
(3) LEON RUFF (c) vs. DAMIAN PRIEST vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – Triple Threat match for the North American Championship
Priest entered, followed by Gargano and then the champion. Ruff was enormously fired up before the match and he posed for a good moment with his championship. Priest and Gargano mostly ignored him and focused on each other, likely foreshadowing the story of the match (and the finish?). Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions in low light.
Gargano and Ruff went at it with some quick rollups. Suplex by Gargano and a rollup got two. Gargano cleared out Priest with a dropkick as he tried to enter. Gargano kept an eye out for Priest as he went in on Ruff, but Ruff hit a huracanrana in the corner. Ruff went at Gargano with some kicks in the corner, and Priest yanked Ruff away to put the fists to Gargano. Priest said “Get out of my way” and tossed Ruff aside to put the boots to Gargano. The refs laid it on thick that Priest was taking Ruff as a non-threat. Ruff hit a dropkick on both guys. Priest and Ruff paired off and Priest nearly hit a chokeslam, but Gargano charged in and he and Ruff cleared out Priest to the outside. Gargano held open the ropes and told Ruff to hit a tope, but then hit a slingshot spear and covered Ruff for two.
Gargano went outside to tangle with Priest and Priest put him into the Plexiglass. Ruff jumped off the stage Priest and Priest caught him and asked what he was doing. Ruff had enough and smacked Priest. Priest hit Razor’s Edge through a barricade and then looked somewhat regretful. A bevy of referees checked on Ruff, which was a little strong as the barricade broke the fall completely. A couple of refs helped Ruff to the back and Vic said it was “down to Gargano and Priest.” They couldn’t be telegraphing this thing much more obviously.
Gargano waved goodbye to Leon and said “I told you you can’t hang. You’re a joke.” He and Priest fought back to the ring. Gargano and Priest both teased their finishers and finally Priest hit a spinning heel kick for two. Priest set up Razor’s Edge, but missed that and a bell clap, and Gargano hit Sliced Bread #2 for two. Gargano missed some shots and Priest hit the bell clap. Gargano feinted a kick and then hit a couple, but Priest came back with a big lariat.
On the ramp, something was afoot. Leon Ruff charged the ring and flew over the ropes to lay out Gargano. He ran the ropes, went to the top and hit a somersault senton on both opponents. He rolled Gargano into the ring and got denied on Sliced Bread, but hit a cutter off the turnbuckle for two. Ruff went to the top and Gargano recovered and tossed him to the mat. Gargano laid out Ruff with a left forearm, and tossed Ruff into the ropes; Ruff exploded off the ropes with a lariat for two. Ruff went up top. Gargano rolled away and Ruff was faced with Priest. Priest booted ruff and then caught both guys and hit a double flatliner with Gargano and Ruff stacked on top of one another.
Priest stomped his feet and hit big back elbows on both in opposite corners. He bealed Ruff into Gargano, then went for Razor’s Edge on Gargano, who wriggled free and ran Priest into a buckle. Gargano darted Ruff into Priest. Gargano went between the two rings and tied up Priest in the ropes to neutralize him, then went back into the legal ring for Ruff. Ruff blocked a few shots and hit a crucifix bomb – the move that won the title – and got a long two. Ruff went up to the top rope and missed a big frog splash as Priest tried to break free. Gargano put GargaNo Escape on Ruff but Priest furiously fought to break free and break the hold. Spinning heel kick by Priest onto Gargano. Priest shot the arrow at Ruff but missed in the corner. Priest tossed Ruff near Gargano and Gargano hit a superkick. Priest blocked One Final Beat and slammed Gargano. Three Ghostfaces attacked Priest and Priest beat all of them down. Three more showed up and Priest wiped those out as well with a plancha. He laid out the first three again. Gargano went out after Priest but Priest hit a chokeslam and had to take a breather. Ruff hit a frog splash on Gargano and got a long two, broken up by Priest.
Priest went after Ruff in the middle of the ring. Ruff threw quick shots but Priest took him down with a superkick. Priest and Gargano exchanged near-finishers and Priest hit a couple of superkicks to lay out Gargano. Priest looked around for threat and set up the Reckoning, but another Ghostface showed up with a lead pipe and laid out Priest, who collapsed to the outside. Ruff tried a 619 but Gargano fought him off and hit One Final Beat for the win.
After the match, on the ramp, the final Ghostface removed his mask and showed that it was indeed Austin Theory. Longtime WWE fans will love that he yelled “It was me – Austin – all along.”
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 17:30.
(Wells’s Analysis: I understand that this storyline accomplished the goal of elevating Leon Ruff, but the rapid fire title changes aren’t exactly doing a solid to the North American Championship. The Austin Theory reveal shouldn’t surprise anyone who was paying attention, but I’ll say the match did a good job of putting so much sympathy on Ruff that it almost seemed inevitable that he would retain. The actual wrestling was good, though a little overbooking goes a long way)
-The announcers promoted “New Year’s Evil,” apparently a special edition of NXT coming soon.
-A video package laid out the run up to the men’s WarGames match, including Finn Balor in a support role that’s apparently about to get much bigger on Wednesday. The screen promoted Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and it played throughout the rest of the recap video.
(5) UNDISPUTED ERA (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish) vs. PAT MCAFEE & PETE DUNNE & ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH
The Undisputed Era was introduced first, continuing the night’s trend of faces getting introduced first in all but the opening match. Kyle O’Reilly was unsurprisingly tapped to enter the ring first as the other three guys gave him fist bumps before he entered. The heels jawed at the faces in their mini-cage during their entrance. Pete Dunne was the starter for the heel team, which also seems like the best choice for a hot start.
O’Reilly and Dunne stared each other down until the bell sounded. O’Reilly danced around and Dunne held him at bay. Quick test of strength. Quick mat reversals led to a reset. Wonderful opening stuff from these two, of course. Dunne took down O’Reilly briefly, then ran the ropes and tried to work the digits, but O’Reilly slipped free and went for a cross-armbreaker. Dunne ducked a big kick and rolled to the space between the rings, and the action went to the second ring as they continued working carefully. Dunne rolled through a suplex and hit a superkick as Pat McAfee cheered in his typical showy way. Dunne worked O’Reilly’s joints and arm, then stomped his midsection. Dunne put O’Reilly in a corner, but O’Reilly slipped out. Dunne hit a double stomp and a kick to the face, then charged into an O’Reilly front chancery for a moment. Dunne put on a cross-armbreaker but O’Reilly reversed to a heel hook as time elapsed.
Pat McAfee made a big show that he was going to enter next, but Oney Lorcan held him back and entered. These are the three I wanted to see start. Lorcan went at it with O’Reilly and O’Reilly got the advantage but Lorcan held him up for long enough for Dunne to trip O’Reilly. Half-and-half suplex by Lorcan. Dunne stomped the arm. Dunne pulled back O’Reilly into a surfboard and Lorcan chopped him a couple of times before they let go of him. O’Reilly sold the pain but he tied up Lorcan on a rope and then hit a dragon screw on Dunne. He came off the top and laid out Lorcan but Dunne came off another buckle and hit a dropkick on O’Reilly’s leg. Dunne and Lorcan tied up O’Reilly as the crowd booed and time ran down.
Bobby Fish joined the fray and both heels went after him, but as the fresh man he got the better of both. Exploder suplex on Dunne into Lorcan (kind of; it was a generous camera angle). Spinebuster by Fish on Lorcan. He went in to Dunne but Dunne stomped his face briefly. Fish put Dunne between the rings and O’Reilly booted Dunne. Fish and O’Reilly teamed up on Lorcan, but Dunne jumped in for a guillotine on O’Reilly. Fish made the save and they took down Dunne, then slapped hands. Fish paired off with Dunne as the other two mostly sold on the mat. Fish went after Lorcan and hit a dragon screw. Two pairs went at it with the heels slightly in control as time elapsed.
Again, McAfee faked like he wanted to enter, and Burch held him back and entered instead. He tossed a orange bag from under the ring into it before ending. He took out a cricket bat and missed a shot, but then dominated O’Reilly. Dunne used the bat on Fish as Burch used one on O’Reilly. Barrett told the American fans that cricket bats weigh more than baseball bats. O’Reilly caught Burch in a heel hook and Burch tried desperately to tap, but of course couldn’t. Dunne came off the top and stomped O’Reilly’s arm. Burch used the bat on O’Reilly and Vic said Burch was “doing his best Casey Jones impression.” Burch and Lorcan slapped cricket bats. The heels stomped the faces as time elapsed.
Roderick Strong entered as both team leaders were still back in the mini-cages. Burch and Lorcan double-teamed him but he got the better of them with shots and dropkicks, then hit his perfect backbreaker on a charging Pete Dunne. Strong gave boots to everyone, and then hit running elbows on draping Burch and Lorcan and then a running boot on Dunne between the rings in a spot that couldn’t happen that way in any other match. The numbers did catch up to Strong as the former members of ReDragon were still selling on the mat. The heels dominated between the rings on all members of UE. Dunne did his arm stomp on Bobby Fish between the rings. Time ran down with Undisputed Era in a bad place.
Pat McAfee finally entered. He went under the ring and pulled out a table that had UE’s logo spray-painted on it, as well as the word “Fish.” He rolled it in the ring and gave it to his mates. He rolled in another that said “O’Reilly,” then some chairs, and then a table that said “Strong.” Finally he gout out the “Cole” table and rolled that one in as well. The “Fish” one ended up standing vertically between the rings. The heels set up the Strong table near a corner and McAfee directed traffic as he sat on a turnbuckle and cheered. The other heels set up Strong on the table and McAfee hit a moonsault and broke through the table. He slapped hands with his teammates and gloated. He did the Barry Horowitz self back-pat and time ran down for Adam Cole’s entrance.
Cole ran to the ring and went under the table. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and used it near the door to create space. He grabbed a chair and entered, then used the chair on everyone. Backstabber for Dunne. Step-up for Lorcan. Ushigoroshi for Burch. Cole stared to the second ring, where Pat McAfee invited him in. Dunne, though, popped up between the rings to exchange fists with Cole. He took down Cole and stomped his face, then went for Bitter End. Cole countered into a DDT. McAfee held Cole for a step-up by Dunne. Dunne worked Cole’s digits but O’Reilly smashed Dunne with a chair. O’Reilly baited in McAfee with a bunch of trash talk and Cole hit McAfee with a chairshot. Everyone recovered and the eight of them paired off, two pairs in each ring, and threw fists.
Fish put a sleeper on Dunne, and Lorcan saved with a blockbuster. O’Reilly and Strong took down Dunne with knees and Lorcan broke up the pin. Burch and Lorcan hit their finisher on O’Reilly, but Fish made the save.Cole started booting everyone until McAfee chop-blocked him to boos. McAfee stomped Cole theatrically. McAfee put Cole in a figure four as the other heels held off Undisputed Era. Cole reversed the hold and UE reversed on the heels to hold them at bay. Dunne broke free and stomped Cole to break.
Lorcan and Burch set up a table in the second ring (the “Cole” table). Strong and Fish fought to the far ring and fought with the champs. UE took them down with some kicks but collapsed from the effects of the match. In the near ring, Dunne worked an armbar on Cole but Cole rolled into a cover to break. Modified Ushigoroshi for two. Cole set up the “O’Reilly” table in the near ring and took Dunne up top, but Dunne worked Cole’s digits. Everyone ended up in that spot fighting. Burch got set up on the table and UE attempted to use Dunne to smash through Burch and the table. It didn’t break, so Strong went up and splashed them through it. McAfee went up in the corner with Cole but Cole threw him into the ring and broke him through the “O’Reilly” table. The lone unbroken table, Fish, was still upright between the rings.
UndisputedEra set up all heels other than McAfee between the ropes and cage and took turns booting them. The crowd got fired up. All three were laid out and McAfee tried to back up into the near ring and crawl out, but UE surrounded him and put the fists and boots to him. Cole threw McAfee into the cage. O’Reilly did the same. Fish and Strong did it together a third time. Strong draped McAfee for a running knee by Cole, but the rest of the heels recovered and stormed the near ring to save. Lorcan and Burch set up Fish near a corner and O’Reilly got involved there. All wrestlers were laid out before long as Strong superplexed McAfee into the near ring. Camera angles seemed to intentionally keep reminding us of the “Fish” table being set up where it was.
UE locked arms and stumbled near the heels. The seven of them threw fists, but McAfee was on top of the cage and he hit the group with a somersault senton. His timing on the flip was excellent and made the spot look good. In the far ring, O’Reilly and Dunne, the two who started the match, paired off and exchanged forearms. O’Reilly laid out Dunne with a big one and reached in. Dunne went at the digits but O’Reilly blocked. Dunne blocked a few shots and hit the Bitter End with nobody nearby. O’Reilly kicked out, which was so unlikely I temporarily stopped my timer.
Dunne took O’Reilly between the rings, but O’Reilly reversed and hit a suplex on the steel and got a long two. The crowd bought it as a possible finish and counted along. O’Reilly set up a chair and draped Dunne over it. He went up to the top but McAfee stormed the far ring and hit O’Reilly with a chair. Cole got to the far ring and baited McAfee. He ducked a chairshot and went for his own, but McAfee hit a low blow. McAfee measured Cole for a punt but Cole moved and hit a pump kick. Cole went up a turnbuckle and Burch pulled him away, but Fish speared Burch through the Fish table. Cole blocked McAfee’s attempt at Panama Sunrise, then hit his own on McAfee. McAfee kicked out and yet again, I almost stopped my timer.
Cole set up McAfee for the Last Shot. Oney Lorcan pushed McAfee out of the way and took the shot. Dunne hit Cole with the Bitter End on a table. Strong broke it up and action got fast and intense. Strong hit a backbreaker on Dunne. High-low by Strong and Fish on Lorcan. O’Reilly hit a flying knee on Lorcan onto a chair and got the three.
WINNERS: Undisputed Era at 45:06.
After the match, the heels sold the pain while Undisputed Era fought to their feet and posed for the camera. Fish and Strong jawed at the camera about the group’s greatness. Cole added some words while O’Reilly stared intensely into the camera.
(Wells’s Analysis: There was a lot of good action here helped by the fact that there was a long-term issue behind it, though as good as much of it was, the match was intended to be another step in the continued elevation of Kyle O’Reilly. It was a huge success there, as he started the match and had a great segment with Pete Dunne, worked another excellent segment with Dunne down the stretch and got a bigger spotlight than literally anyone else in the match, then got the final pin as well as Undisputed Era ran their WarGames record to 2-2.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: WarGames matches tend to have long forgettable segments peppered between hot spots, and while this was no different, there was enough technical mastery in both to carry the show. Both matches were defined by their big stories and spotlights – those being primarily for Raquel Gonzalez and Kyle O’Reilly. Gonzalez isn’t on the level of the other women from her match from a work standpoint, but she certainly makes sense as a challenger to the Women’s Championship in the short-term, so her getting the nod in the match makes sense. Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s rise has been a great thing to see, and now he has another talking point if he’s going to get another championship match down the line. It’s going to be interesting to see when that might happen, though, since Karrion Kross is looming just over the horizon and is sure to be moved immediately back into the main event picture. Tommaso Ciampa could be in there too, though his character seems to be in this weird limbo where he certainly matters, but doesn’t seem to have a mission for the championship at the moment.
Johnny Gargano is the North American Champion again, and that’s great for him (in part because Mr. TakeOver nearly never wins at TakeOver) but we’ll see if this was as much as we get from Leon Ruff in a big spot. It may have been too soon for him to lose if they wanted him to stick around near the top, but if they wanted to do the Austin Theory reveal sooner rather than later, it doesn’t have much impact if he doesn’t help Johnny win the championship.
The women once again had a WarGames match that likely will be more memorable than the men, largely because of the star power present in the division. I’d likely pick it as match of the night, while acknowledging that the men’s match certainly was worked well and told a good story also and the Ciampa-Thatcher affair was predictably strong.
Tonight, the PWT Talks NXT crew takes over Wrestling Night in America. Tom and Nate will anchor the show, and if time permits, I’ll drop in after the Triple H media call. Cheers.