NXT: WARGAMES: A reminder of why TakeOvers are can't miss events
For years now, NXT TakeOvers have kicked off big Pay Per View weekends for the WWE. NXT: WarGames proved to be beyond a tone setter for the remainder of the shows over Survivor Series weekend.
The night kicked off with the taping of two matches for later use on NXT’s weekly show. These were more than your run of the mill TV matches, though. Ruby Riot and Pete Dunn both won their respective matches in dramatic fashion. Dunne vs Gargano, which was for the WWE UK Championship, blew the roof off the crowd on more than one occasion with their false finishes. It looked like Gargano was going to pull the upset, but one Bitter End was enough for Dunne to retain his championship.
The main card began with a match between two of the physically biggest guys on the NXT roster, Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan. No matter how quick Ohno was, nothing could move Sullivan. Just as I expected, these guys hit each other hard. Sullivan left Houston with a win as his stock continues to increase on the NXT Roster.
Aleister Black took on Velveteen Dream, The Darkness vs The Light, the experienced veteran vs guy trying to make a name for himself. This match was a better representation of the rest of the night than Ohno vs. Sullivan. Dream was obsessed with proving himself to a veteran like Black. Constantly through out the match he yelled “say my name” to his opponent. At moments, this match felt like a really fun house show match. There was so many spots in this match where the crowd stood stand up in waves thinking the match was moments away from ending, but somehow, some way, there would be a kick out. Black won the match, but this was the night Dream showed up and made a name for himself. “ Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream,” said Black in a nod of approval to his opponent.
The Fatal Four Way to decide the new NXT Women’s Champion had so many “ohh” moments. Ember Moon Powerboming Nikki Cross, Kairi Sane Spearing Payton Royce, and the Superplex by Royce on both Sane and Moon were all incredible, well executed, spots. The audience was completely behind Royce, but they were not at all disappointed when Moon hit a double Eclipse on Cross and Royce to win the match. The Dallas born wrestler, who spent a lot of time in Houston perfecting her craft, was congratulated by William Regal and Asuka as she celebrated finally winning the Women’s Championship.
Drew McIntyre defended his NXT Championship against Andrade “Cien” Almas. The champion dominated the early parts of the match, but that all changed after Almas slammed him into a ring post. Almas distracted the referee so that his manager, Zelina Vega could strike McIntyre, but that was not enough to put away the champion. McIntyre responded with a monstrous kick, but Vega would place Almas’ leg on the rope to save the match. Almas caught the champion on the top ropes and spiked him into the mat to win the NXT Championship. It was obvious that McIntyre sustained an injury somewhere around the finish of the match, but he refused assistance from the medical staff.
It was finally time for WarGames. As the cage descended from the ceiling, the crowd erupted; this was the match everyone came to see. Two years ago, if I would have told you that Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, and Eric Young would lead off a match in a WWE ring you would say I was crazy. Never mind it being a War Games match. Surely enough, the three exchanged blows as they waited for the remainder of their teams to enter the ring. The rest of the Undisputed Era were the first team to enter. They were followed by The Authors of Pain, who were teaming with Roderick Strong. Finally, the remainder of Sanity joined Young in the ring, and this is when things absolutely went off the rails. Wolfe and Dain dragged an assortment of weapons into the ring, and the rest of this match was insane. From The Authors of Pain launching Strong into their opponents in the second ring, Dain hitting Cole with a Michinoku Driver on top of Bobby Fish, to Young driving Rezar through Akam, there was spots that were damn near terrifying. Of course, these were nothing compared to the spots like Dain hitting O’Riley with a Coast to Coast, Wolfe Suplexing Akam and busting his head wide open, and Strong Suplexing Cole into their opponents from the top of the cage. These spots were haunting. The match came to the end when Cole kicked Young as he was holding a chair. As the teams slowly walked away from the ring, fans took turns congratulating them for putting their bodies on the line for their entertainment.
Highlight of the Night:
This goes without saying. The event was named after this match for a reason. Being in the arena for this TakeOver was absolutely unreal. As the cage descended, I was consumed with excitement for the WarGames match, how naive I was. It was an absolute cringe-fest. Not because it was bad, but because I actually thought I was going to see someone die in that ring. My life is now split into two phases: the naive, innocent, young man before WarGames, and the shell shocked, jaded, “adult” after it. For better or for worse, it is the most memorable wrestling match I have ever seen in person.
That’s going to do it for night one of four of this WWE Survivor Series Weekend. NXT did exactly what we should have expected it to, set the tone for a jam packed weekend with matches that went above and beyond our expectations. Let us hope WWE keeps the ball rolling for the rest of the weekend.