SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
TOXIC ATTRACTION & DAKOTA KAI vs. IO SHIRAI, CORA JADE, KAY LEE RAY & RAQUEL GONZALEZ – WOMEN’S WARGAMES
KLR & Kai kicked the match off for their respective teams, KLR bringing a baseball bat and Kai, a bunch of kendo sticks. The two peppered in spots with their respective weapons, including Kai putting KLR through 3 Kendo Sticks set up between the two rings, almost like a table. Cora Jade entered next with her skateboard in tow to absolutely no reaction from the crowd. Well, some reaction, as they began a “you can’t skate” chant a few moments later. Something about Jade’s character just doesn’t seem to be clicking with the crowd, or with me just yet. I feel like she has potential, but there’s not enough to sink our teeth into just yet for that character.
Gigi Dolan grabbed a trash can from under the ring, and entered the match for her team. “Let’s go Gigi” chants broke out, the crowd cheering for the heel Toxic Attraction member. Shirai entered fifth, chairs and a 2nd trash can entering with her. Kai and Dolan were able to keep their momentum over Jade, KLR and Shirai and kept control of the match until Jacy Jane entered the fray next with her weapon, a table. Cora Jade tried retaliating a bit with the worlds worst top rope hurricanrana on Kai, but was quickly flattened for her troubles. She then tried what looked like a senton bomb off of the top of the cage to Jacy Jane through a table, and it looked like she may have separated her shoulder. Shirai seemed to have a genuine look of concern on her face and Jade looked to get help from the medical staff. Shirai waved the medical staff off and popped the shoulder back into place herself, answering my question as to whether this was worked or not.
Raquel Gonzalez entered the match after using a fire extinguisher from the outside of the ring on Dolan and Kai. Unfortunately, she forgot to pull the pin and Kai and Dolan needed to wait a moment awkwardly before getting sprayed. Gonzalez put Kai in a trashcan and then picked it up and used her as a weapon to take out the other Team Toxic members. Mandy Rose entered the ring and War Games finally began.
Things were a bit chaotic for awhile, with sporadic near falls that looked out of place. The camera wasn’t focused on them, and they just seemed to happen without any mention until they were broken up by an opposing team member. The finish was a little underwhelming, with Jade pinning Jacy Jane a solid 20 seconds after she had received a powerbomb from Gonzalez. I haven’t seen someone sell a finishing move that well since the last Lesnar match.
Overall the match was entertaining, but the finish came out of nowhere and felt super underwhelming. High spots galore in the match, but the match was won after a weak rollup on an opponent who had received a finisher 20 seconds earlier? Not enough to warrant a miss, but it definitely took some wind out of the sails of this match for me.
IMPERIUM vs. VON WAGNER & KYLE O’REILLY – NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
Marcel Bartel wore the belt upside down when coming to the ring. I sincerely hope that turns into a storyline, because it was hilarious to me to see Bartel wearing the belt upside down while the commentary team was touting Imperium’s “Excellence”.
The Women’s War Game’s match was a difficult match to follow, and I have to give these four men credit – they pulled it off. This match was probably the least anticipated for me going into War Games tonight, but they were able to put on an entertaining tag match and keep me engaged. The crowd did seem louder than they looked, we heard a lot of cheers but the crowd looked relatively dead for the match fueling the rumors to them continuing to pipe in audience noise after bringing the audience back.
For some reason, the amount of camera cuts in this match really stood out to me. I don’t know if there were more than usual or if I just happened to notice and focused on it. But at one point I counted 20 camera cuts in as many seconds during a Von Wagner comeback spot.
With Imperium retaining and Walter’s appearance in NXT a near inevitability, Imperium looks like they may once again dominate the NXT tag division as they did a couple years ago. As I expected if KOR and Von Wagner lost, Wagner turned on KOR at the end of the match and looks to be the next feud for KOR.
DUKE HUDSON vs. CAMERON GRIMES – HAIR MATCH
Grimes and Hudson have been feuding for weeks after Grimes beat Hudson at his own game. Poker. Hudson took scissors to Grimes iconic hair and beard, leading to this hair match tonight. Hudson took the majority of the offense in the match with Grimes getting his stuff in when appropriate. The match itself was on the better side of fine, but Hudson has been having trouble getting over as it is. I feel like if he was to win and shave one of the biggest babyfaces bald, that would help to get him over as a heel. Instead, we did get a feel good moment but it leaves me wondering what this does for Hudson.
First, Hudson is made to look like a fool at his own game – poker. And then he’s “humiliated” by getting shaved bald. How does that exactly build a heel?
Verdict: A confusing HIT
RODERICK STRONG vs. JOE GACY – NXT CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
I was really interested in this match. Not for the story, but to find out what is next for the Cruiserweight championship. With Gacy clearly over 205lbs and the belt being weight restricted until now and rumors of the cruiserweight division and 205 live being overhauled, my curiosity was piqued.
The match itself was again, on the better side of fine but the crowd was nearly silent for the entirety of it. Even during false finishes and the big spots during the match, the crowd could not care less than they did.
Roderick Strong did wind up winning the match, which was probably the least interesting way to go. However it does mean that the title looks to be sticking around a bit longer.
Verdict: Meh. It existed. MISS
TEAM 2.0 (BRON BREAKKER, CARMELO HAYES, TONY D’ANGELO, & GREYSON WALLER) vs. TEAM BLACK & GOLD (TOMMASO CIAMPA, JOHNNY GARGANO, PETE DUNNE & LA KNIGHT) – MEN’S WARGAMES
Perhaps the final swan song in NXT for Mr. Wrestling, Johnny Gargano, he came out to one of my favorite entrance themes of all time. His “Rebel Heart” entrance theme. This made the match for me right here, to be honest. Gargano and Hayes kicked thing off for their respective teams. Gargano and Hayes went hard at one another, high energy from the get go. Greyson Waller entered the match next for Team 2.0, with he and Hayes trying and eventually succeeding to overcome Gargano. Trick Williams, outside the ring, threw a chair into the cage giving Hayes and Waller a weapon to keep Gargano down. Gargano began bleeding from the nose, adding to the vibe of the match though it looked like his nose could be broken.
Pete Dunne entered next, switching the momentum in favor of his team. He took out both Waller and Hayes, and locked in a finger lock on Waller using the cage to bend Waller’s finger in a way nature did not intend for it to bend. Tony D’Angelo came in next, bringing tables, trash cans, crutches, and kendo sticks into the ring. While Trick Williams was under the ring trying to find more weapons, Dexter Lumis appeared under the ring and ran Williams backstage, giving a thumbs up to Gargano as he walked off.
D’Angelo then used a chain and padlock to lock the cage door shut, preventing anyone from entering the cage. LA Knight entered next for his team, unable to get inside the ring due to the chain. He spent some time thinking before climbing the cage to get inside. Once inside, he took out Hayes and D’Angelo, shifting the momentum for his team. Officials tried using bolt cutters but were too weak to remove the chain. Bron Breakker then came into the match and took over for the officials… and he couldn’t do it either at first! After a few awkward moments, he broke the chain and entered the ring. Breakker came in and the four 2.0 members decimated Dunne, Gargano and Knight until the God of War Games himself, Tommaso Ciampa was able to enter the match.
Ciampa entered with a fire that nobody else entered with. He single handedly took on all four 2.0 members and turned the momentum back in favor for his team within seconds. Gargano came to the aid of Ciampa after Hayes attacked him with a kendo stick and chants of DIY echoed through the arena. They hit a bunch of their old tag moves, giving a great feel good moment for the crowd.
All eight combatants fired up and all hell broke loose for a bit before Team Black & Gold left all of the members of Team 2.0 laying. Team B&G set up tables and wedged trash cans between ropes to use as weapons against Team 2.0.
The rest of the match was just as good as the lead up to the start of the match proper, including D’Angelo introducing a crowbar into the match and using it across the face of Dunne during a neckbreaker.
Gargano and Ciampa were able to get the visual win after a double kick to the head on Bron Breakker, with Melo breaking the pin up at the last moment by attacking the ref. That lead into Breakker getting the win over Ciampa shortly thereafter.
While it made sense for Team 2.0 to win, it seemed like such a bummer at the same time. Not only was I fully behind Team B&G, but so was the crowd. This win was solidly the end for the Black and Gold brand. While it means that the brand moves on into the future, this was the final nail in the coffin for the show we all once knew and loved. Black and Gold NXT.