HEYDORN’S TAKE: Don’t hold me to this – NXT War Games 2021

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH ASSISTANT EDITOR (@zheydorntorch)

PHOTO CREDIT: NXT

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

Five years ago, when NXT was piping hot, it was hard to imagine a world in which NXT TakeOver specials weren’t a thing. The crowds were hot, the matches stellar, and the brand found a way to tap into true pro wrestling inside WWE’s corporate cadence.

Well, it’s 2021 and 2021 wrestling is bizarre, so NXT TakeOver is no longer. The black and gold skull look replaced with brightly hip colors and new tone of NXT 2.0 that’s a far cry from the days of NXT TakeOver Brooklyn.

Is it a bad tone, though? It may be tough to admit, but the old NXT was stale. The product regularly served up premiere matches, but due to the piss poor track record NXT stars had on the main roster, the matches were meaningless outside of simple entertainment. The journeys that characters went on were non-existent and it made for stagnancy.

NXT War Games 2021 is the coming out party for whatever NXT 2.0 plans to be. The brand has prominently featured new talents in major ways that culminate with this show. There is something to be said for young, hungry talent ready to show off. Obviously, there is something to be said for experience. The intrigue lays in which road shines brighter.

Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?

Duke Hudson vs. Cameron Grimes – Hair vs. Hair Match

I’ve been impressed with Duke Hudson. The poker act is a prop to get over his personality and he’s finessed that nicely thus far. Grimes has been near perfect with this program, giving credibility to segments that otherwise could be eye roll inducing messes. Both have chemistry, too. The feud is about establishing Hudson, so look for Grimes to get his head shaved. Grimes is a pros pro and this is the best chance for Hudson to show what he can do. A secret MOTN contender here.

Imperium vs. Von Wagner & Kyle O’Reilly – NXT Tag Team Championship

Not sure you can call this a feud between these teams, but it will make for an effective opening level match of the show. The real story here has been the development of O’Reilly and Wagner. The oddball pairing has been fine and they’ll put a bow on everything and win the tag titles in definitive fashion.

Joe Gacy vs. Roderick Strong – NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Pretty cold. NXT has gone through the motions and given this program time to breathe, but it has square peg, round hole syndrome. Gacy doesn’t fit as a cruiserweight and his act seemingly doesn’t have an endpoint, being rooted in lots of directionless talk. Strong doesn’t have the charisma to carry this either, so it’s all fallen flat. Gacy just isn’t a cruiserweight, so Strong will retain. Watch for Gacy to get his heat back in the end and stand tall without the title.

Women’s War Games: Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora jade, & Kay Lee Ray vs. Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jane, & Dakota Kai

A simple build, but an effective one. Toxic Attraction has pretty much run rough shot on the women’s division and it’s time for some comeuppance. The mini feuds within this match will work effectively to drive the narrative. Mandy Rose needs to shine and add a level of credibility to herself. She has the position and the push; she needs to deliver in the ring to be taken more seriously. Like MJF at Blood and Guts, Rose needs her top of the cage moment for supremacy. She’ll get it here too with a victory.

Men’s War Games: Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, LA Knight, & Pete Dunne vs. Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, & Tony D’Angelo

This has been well built with clear lines formed between NXT old guard and NXT 2.0. It’s a tried-and-true formula that works. The team of veterans is loaded with talent so it’ll be nearly impossible for the NXT 2.0 crew to have a bad showing. Nearly. That crop of talent is where the focus of the brand has been since the launch. They’ve got to deliver. Look for Bron Breakker and his athleticism to be strongly highlighted. Like Mandy Rose, he prevails for his team in the end.


CATCH-UP: HEYDORN’S TAKE: And the man who should dethrone Roman Reigns is?

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