Reviews

The John Report: WWE NXT Takeover WarGames 2020 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT Takeover WarGames Review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the fourth straight year where NXT has done a Takeover WarGames show. It’s the fifth and final WWE NXT Takeover event of 2020. There was no Kickoff Show match.

WWE NXT Takeover WarGames
From Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida
December 6, 2020

There was a brief video package to welcome us to the show featuring the clip of NXT General Manager’s classic “WARGAMES” announcement. From there it was off to the Capitol Wrestling Center where two rings were side by side with the double cage setup for the opening WarGames match. They went back to a video package from there to promote the Men’s and Women’s WarGames matches. There were sirens going off in the arena along with some cool lighting/smoke as well.

The announce team of Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett were standing at ringside beside the cage. They were joined on commentary by Beth Phoenix, who was at home in North Carolina. The ring announcer Alicia Taylor welcomed us to WarGames. It was hard to hear her due to the sirens, so maybe they should have killed the sirens at that point. Anyway, they put the rules of the match on the screen.

The entrances took place for heel Team Candice first with Toni Storm as the first woman to be introduced, then Dakota Kai with her ally Raquel Gonzalez and then team captain Candice LeRae was last. Kai went to the ring to start the match for her team.

Ember Moon was up first for the babyface team with Rhea Ripley up next as the tallest woman on her team. The NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai was next followed by team captain Shotzi Blackheart, who had issues with LeRae, so that’s why they were the captains. Blackheart made her entrance riding a brand new tank since the first tank was destroyed by LeRae a few weeks earlier. The team posed on the tank with Shotzi. Shirai was the current NXT Women’s Champion while Ripley and Moon were former NXT Women’s Champions. Blackheart wanted to start the match, but Moon told her she’s got this, so Moon started this match for her team.

Note: Team Shotzi has the advantage in the match since Shotzi beat Gonzalez in a Ladder Match on NXT this past week. That means they get to be 2 on 1, 3 on 2 and 4 on 3 in the match. The match can’t end until all eight women are in the match. Normally, the heel side has the advantage in a WarGames match in order to build sympathy to the faces making the big comeback. Instead, they tried something different here. The first interval is five minutes while the other intervals are three minutes.

Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez and Toni Storm) vs. Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon)

They were wrestling in the far (second) ring. Moon was in control early with a headscissors, Kai with a kick, but then Moon came back with a senton splash onto Kai on the mat. Kai stopped the momentum with a back kick to the face and then Kai rubbed Moon’s face against the cage. Moon with a big forearm to the chest. Moon suplexed Kai into the cage so that Kai’s back went into the cage leading to Moon hitting a cross body block into Kai against the cage. Kai got some offense going with some kicks to the head. Kai hit a sunset flip off the ropes as she drove her knees into the back of Moon as the clock wound down after the first five-minute portion of this match.

The next member of Team Shotzi entered as Blackheart entered the match. Blackheart grabbed a crowbar from under the ring along with a toolbox. Blackheart with a bulldog on Kai, then a spinning forearm, a kick to the face and a running senton splash onto Kai’s back. Blackheart with a running kick to the face while Kai was between the two rings. Kai managed to send Blackheart into the cage. Kai got a hold of Moon and sent Moon into the cage, but Blackheart came back with an enziguri kick to the head. Blackheart suplexed Kai into the turnbuckle. Moon put Kai on her shoulders and Blackheart hit a missile dropkick leading to Moon falling back with Kai hitting the mat.

It’s Raquel Gonzalez as the second woman for LeRae’s team. Moon and Blackheart went after Gonzalez, but Gonzalez powered out. Gonzalez with a clothesline, a boot to the face and a spinning slam on Moon. Gonzalez got a hold of Blackheart and Powerbombed her into the cage. Gonzalez swung Kai’s feet into the faces of their two foes. Gonzalez tossed Moon across the ring. Barrett put over Gonzalez in a big way by mentioning her power and saying it was like they had a 3 on 2 advantage. Gonzalez with a powerslam on Moon after a kick from Kai. They did a spot where Gonzalez helped Kai get to the top rope leading to Kai hitting a double clothesline off the top onto both face opponents.

Rhea Ripley was next with Gonzalez saying that she was waiting for this moment as they battled in the near (or first) ring. Ripley got in a jumping kick on Gonzalez while Moon and Blackheart held onto Gonzalez. Ripley with a dropkick on Kai followed by a lifting slam where she sent Gonzalez into the mat. Moon and Blackheart did double team attacks on Gonzalez with Moon hitting a sunset flip powerbomb. Ripley got a sledgehammer from the toolbox that she used to hit Kai or at least that was the idea. Ripley used her belt to send Kai into the cage while Gonzalez hit a double clothesline. Gonzalez faced off with Ripley in the middle of the two rings with Ripley tackling Gonzalez and they exchanged punches.

Toni Storm was the third woman to enter the match for her team and she brought in multiple kendo sticks. Storm with a German Suplex on Ripley and she exposed one of the turnbuckles. Storm whipped Ripley back first into the exposed turnbuckle. Storm with a suplex on Moon. Storm hit Moon in the back and ribs with a kendo stick while Gonzalez beat on Blackheart with a kendo stick. Kai sent Ripley into the steel cage. Ripley had Kai on her shoulders and Moon hit a bulldog off the top. While that was going on, Blackheart hit a double neckbreaker off the top on Gonzalez and Storm. I could hear somebody (Moon) call the spot as they did the leaps off the top at the same time.

Io Shirai, the NXT Women’s Champion, was the last woman to enter the match. Shirai brought in a ladder from under the ring. Gonzalez closed the door and then kicked the door to knock Shirai off the apron to the floor. Gonzalez knocked Blackheart down with a clothesline. Shirai tried bringing in another ladder, but Gonzalez sent Shirai backward into the barricade. That meant that the faces were not able to get the advantage in the match, but then Shirai eventually got into the ring after bringing some chairs into the ring. Shirai kicked a chair into Raquel’s face, but then Gonzalez knocked Shirai down again. Storm used a belt to keep the door locked, so Shirai tried to climb into the ring and that failed because Gonzalez sent Shotzi into the cage. The clock was down to zero with Shirai unable to enter the ring.

Analysis: I really admire the creativity of the booking there because it was several minutes of Gonzalez doing everything she could to keep Shirai out of the ring and it worked.

Candice LeRae was the last woman to enter the match and then Indi Hartwell showed up with a cheap attack on Shirai. Hartwell, who is buddies with LeRae, sent Shirai into the barricade. LeRae and Hartwell tossed weapons like a chair, trash can and trash can lid into the ring. Hartwell locked the cage and she put the key in her shirt. Hartwell left. That meant that Shirai wasn’t able to get in through the door as LeRae and Gonzalez attacked their rivals with kendo sticks. After the heels beat on Blackheart with kendo sticks, LeRae tried a pin, but the referee told her no because Shirai wasn’t in the ring yet. Shirai was on the cage with a trash can in her hands, she put the trash can over her head and hit a dive onto the seven women in the ring! That was really cool as the crowd chanted “this is awesome” (or the chants were piped in) and that meant that the match can begin meaning there can be a pinfall or submission to end the match.

Shir was dominant for her team with sledgehammer shots for the heels and a DDT on Gonzalez. Shirai with a 619 kick, then a flapjack and Blackheart hit a suplex on LeRae. Moon with a lifting slam on Kai and Shirai hit a running dropkick into a chair that hit Gonzalez. Shirai hit the Over the Moonsault off the top for a two count on Gonzalez because the other women on Raquel’s team saved her. The heels got some momentum going after that with Kai sending Shirai into the cage. LeRae and Blackheart each had on submission holds, so LeRae hit Blackheart to break that up. Blackheart hit LeRae with a chair and multiple kendo stick shots, but then Kai hit Blackheart with a chair. Shirai jumped off the top with a missile dropkick on Kai, who came back with a jumping kick on Shirai. Kai jumped off the top with a double foot stomp onto Shirai with the trash can and that got a two count with Moon breaking up the pin. Moon sent Storm into the cage, but there was Kai again with multiple chair shots to the back of Moon. Moon sent Kai into a chair. Moon set up Kai against two chairs and Moon jumped off the top with the Eclipse onto two chairs! Holy shit, that was insane. Storm broke the pin up with a trash can. Storm hit the Storm Zero slam onto a trash can, but Shirai broke up that pin attempt. Ripley held Storm in a submission with Shirai hitting a running dropkick for a two count. Shirai and Ripley set up a ladder between the two rings. LeRae with a brainbuster on Shirai and a kick into the trash can on Ripley.

LeRae battled with Blackheart with Shotzi hitting a headbutt. Blackheart climbed up a ladder, LeRae climbed the other side and Candice bumped off the ladder onto chairs. Blackheart went to the top of the ladder, which was a few inches higher than the top rope, and jumped onto Candice, who had a chair in her hands. It was a senton splash onto LeRae who was holding the chair and I think that’s where Candice suffered an arm injury. Ripley hit a slam on Kai leading to a moonsault from Shirai for two because Storm tackled Ripley to break up the pin. Ripley sent Storm into the top rope. Gonzalez hit a back body drop on Ripley to send her into the cage. Shirai was up top again, so that momentum stopped her from doing a move. Gonzalez stood on the ropes, then she blocked a headscissors from Shirai and Gonzalez gave Shirai a Powerbomb (with one arm like a Chokeslam) through the ladder that was between the two rings. Gonzalez pinned Shirai for the pinfall win at 35:22. Gonzalez pinned the NXT Women’s Champion to win the match for her team.

Winners by pinfall: Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez and Toni Storm)

Analysis: ****1/2 I thought the match was excellent with a lot of creative spots and fun moments throughout. If they could do it again I think they should have had the heel team have the advantage because that’s the right way to do this kind of match, but I think they were just trying to be different in this instance. They booked those spots well with the heels still maintaining dominance for much of the match because Io Shirai had a tough time getting into the ring. Gonzalez and Ripley had a few moments together as the two most dominant women in the match. That spot with Shirai jumping onto the other women with a garbage can on her head was awesome because she landed it perfectly and it looked like it might hurt too. Kai and Moon did very well as the women that worked the whole match and were still doing a lot towards the end of it. That spot with Moon hitting the Eclipse onto two chairs was incredible. Gonzalez winning the match for her team is what I had in my prediction. I felt like NXT wanted to push Raquel going into this match and now that she’s pinned NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai, it could mean Raquel is the next champion. Clearly, Raquel is a star on the rise. The NXT women’s division continues to impress. Well done, ladies.

Replays were shown of the big spots in the match including Shirai’s garbage can dive off the cage, Moon’s Eclipse onto the chairs and Gonzalez finishing Shirai off to win.

Post match, the winning team of LeRae, Gonzalez, Storm and Kai with Hartwell celebrated the win. LeRae was favoring her right arm, which was clearly hurt during the match.

Analysis: Best wishes to Candice. She’ll get an MRI on the right arm injury and we’ll learn more about her injury soon. Hopefully it’s not too bad. That’s why there’s a lot of risk when you jump off a ladder onto chairs that are on somebody’s upper body.

There was a sitdown promo from Finn Balor telling us to enjoy the spectacle of WarGames. Balor said that the time for team sports are over. Balor: “This Wednesday, all eyes go back on the Prince.” We don’t know when he’s back in action, but it should be soon.

The announce team of Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett in the arena talked about the WarGames match again.

Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance for his match with a face shield and of sorts. Timothy Thatcher was up next as the opponent looking like the old school wrestler that he is. They wrestled in the first of the two rings that were in the arena.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher

Thatcher with a waistlock takedown, then he went for an armbar and followed up with knees to the ribs. Thatcher wrenched on the left knee of Ciampa, then Ciampa got out of that and Thatcher connected with a kick to the back. Ciampa with forearms to the chest and then Ciampa worked over the left knee of Thatcher. There were forearms from Thatcher that rocked Ciampa followed by a suplex across the ring. Thatcher with hard knees to the upper back along with Thatcher sending Ciampa chest first onto the edge of the ring apron. Thatcher with an elbow to the throat for a two count. Thatcher hit a belly to belly suplex for two. Thatcher slapped on a chinlock, Ciampa broke free with a jawbreaker along with strikes, but Thatcher stopped him with a hard slap to the face. Ciampa lifted Thatcher onto his back and then he landed hard onto his back to splash Thatcher onto the mat. Ciampa bounced off the ropes leading to a collision of heads or at least that’s what they were selling. Ciampa got some momentum going with seven clotheslines and then a leaping clothesline as well. Ciampa sat Thatcher onto the top rope and Ciampa connected with a superplex for two. Thatcher with a two-handed chop to the throat, then Thatcher went for a Guillotine choke, but Ciampa tackled Thatcher into the ropes causing both men to land on the floor. They were both selling that for a few moments as they got back into the ring. Ciampa hit a running knee followed by a tight side headlock. It looked like Thatcher was bleeding from the left ear with Thatcher getting to the ropes for the break. Ciampa wouldn’t let go, so Thatcher hit a release German Suplex. The cut on Thatcher’s left ear was pretty big as we saw a replay of a knee by Ciampa that busted open the left ear. Thatcher with another release German Suplex across the ring. They went to the apron with Ciampa blocking a suplex attempt, but Thatcher decked him with a forearm. Ciampa with a kick while Thatcher was on the apron. Thatcher drove the neck of Ciampa into the ropes. Thatcher with forearm uppercuts. Ciampa went for a backslide pin only for Thatcher to get to the ropes. Ciampa worked over Thatcher with repeated chops while Thatcher was tied in the ropes and Ciampa hit a jumping kick to the face. Ciampa hit the Willow’s Bell DDT (his daughter is named Willow) off the apron/ropes for the pinfall win at 16:46.

Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa

Analysis: ***1/2 A slow-paced, old school style of match with the bigger name Ciampa taking a beating for most of the match until he was able to put Thatcher away. I liked the finishing sequence a lot with Ciampa tying up Thatcher in the ropes before hitting him with a barrage of moves leading to the Willow’s Bell DDT to win. I picked Ciampa to win because I get the sense that he’ll be back near the main event scene again after spending most of the year doing other things. Thatcher’s left ear was bleeding pretty badly, so kudos to him for continuing the match while having to deal with that. I know Thatcher’s style of match isn’t something that everybody loves, but I’m a fan of the guy. I think his style makes him stand out while Ciampa showed he can work any style of match and put on a good showing.

Post match, Ciampa and Thatcher stared at eachother as if they were saying they respected eachother after that.

There were clips shown of Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano and NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff in separate parts of the arena getting ready for their match.

A video package aired to set up Dexter Lumis facing Cameron Grimes in a Strap Match. It’s a rivalry that has been seen on NXT TV for the past couple of months.

Dexter Lumis made his entrance first and Cameron Grimes was next. Grimes brought the strap with him to the ring. They wrestled in the second ring.

Grimes insisted that they use his strap and Grimes attacked Lumis with kicks before they had their hands tied to the strap. Grimes whipped Lumis into the barricade. Grimes used the strap to put it against the face of Lumis. When Grimes tried to attack again, Lumis came back with punches. Lumis hit a Thesz Press followed by repeated punches to the face. Lumis put the strap around his left wrist, so the referee rang the bell to start the match.

Strap Match: Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis

There are no disqualifications in this match. You can win by pinfall or submission.

Lumis sent Grimes into the turnbuckle followed by a clothesline, which led to Grimes leaving the ring. Lumis sent Grimes into the barricade, Grimes tried to climb over the plexiglass, but Lumis brought him back to the ringside area and hit an uppercut punch. Lumis whipped Grimes into the barricade two times. Grimes sent Lumis over the barricade to send him out of the picture. That led to Grimes climbing back up to his feet, but Grimes put him down again. Grimes with a forearm to the face along with a kick. Grimes sent Lumis onto a chair by ringside and put the strap onto the eyes of Thatcher. Grimes had a black bag that he put over Dexter’s head and then Grimes used a second strap (the one that the referee wanted to use) to hit the back of Lumis. Back in the ring, Grimes with two more hard strap strikes to the back. Lumis came back with a spinebuster. Lumis used the strap to try to trap Grimes, but Grimes used the strap to send Lumis face first into the steel apparatus that was there to hold the WarGames structure. Grimes with two kicks while he was on the apron. Lumis managed to get some momentum after he pulled on the strap leading to Grimes doing a somersault bump off the apron and onto the floor at ringside. Back in the ring, Lumis got some payback as he used the leather strap to attack the upper body of Grimes. Lumis with a clothesline, Grimes blocked a bulldog attempt and he hit a German Suplex into the turnbuckle. That was really good. Grimes got hold of a steel chair that he used to hit Lumis in the back three times. Lumis grabbed Grimes again and hit a fallaway slam on him. Lumis was on the apron, he hit him with a forearm and as Lumis went up top, Grimes pulled on the strap causing Lumis to take a bump off the top. Grimes hit the running cross body block attack where Grimes landed on top for two. They each countered signature moves, then Lumis had the strap around Cameron’s legs and sent Grimes face first into a steel chair. Lumis slapped on The Silence submission for the win at 12:52 as Grimes tapped out.

Winner by submission: Dexter Lumis

Analysis: *** It was fine for a strap match. I think it’s a difficult match to do, but they had some good spots in there. That spot where Lumis tripped up Grimes with the strap to send Grimes into the chair was really good. Grimes is one of my favorite over-the-top characters in NXT right now and I would have loved a win, but I fully expected a Lumis win. Lumis won most of their matches as well and Grimes got the upper hand a few times on NXT TV, so I figured it had to be another win for Lumis. I just hope Grimes can bounce back from this loss in a positive way.

There was a commercial for the WWE 24 documentary about Keith Lee. It debuted on WWE Network after WarGames, so check it out on demand now. I will check it out during the week for sure since Lee is awesome and WWE’s documentary team always does a wonderful job.

There was a shot of Pat McAfee’s team and Undisputed Era getting ready for the main event. They were in separate locker rooms, of course.

The announcers had the NXT Takeover WarGames playset. You can order yours now.

There was a video that aired that featured a black bird that looked like a vulture. The words “Tick Tock” were heard, which is the catchphrase of Karrion Kross, so that likely means the former NXT Champion should be back in action soon.

A video package aired to set up the North American Title match between champion Leon Ruff and the previous two champions, Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest.

Damian Priest was up first as he shot his arrows as part of his entrance. Johnny Gargano was up next as the man that has wrestled on more Takeover shows than anybody. Leon Ruff was up last wrestling in his first Takeover event while wearing the title around his shoulders.

NXT North American Championship: Leon Russ vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano

Gargano hit a superkick on Priest to knock him out of the ring and then Johnny went for pin attempts on Ruff, but only got two counts. Ruff came back with a hurricanrana and dropkick while Priest got back into it with punches on Gargano while Priest tossed Ruff out of the ring. Ruff jumped off the top rope with a missile dropkick. Ruff tried chopping Priest, who no sold it and then Gargano convinced Ruff to work with him briefly as they hit a double dropkick along with a double clothesline on Priest to send him out of the ring. Gargano hit a suicide dive on Priest, but then Gargano hit a slingshot Spear on Ruff for two. Priest went after Gargano on the floor, Ruff jumped onto Ruff and Priest told Ruff to get out of his way. Priest got a hold of Ruff and gave him a Powerbomb into the barricade, which knocked the barricade down as Ruff went crashing to the floor. The referee called for other referees to check on Ruff, who was helped to his feet and taken to the back. Gargano capitalized on the situation with a spinning DDT on the floor. They went back into the ring with Priest hitting a spinning heel kick on Gargano for a two count. Gargano avoided a slam and hit a Sliced Bread neckbreaker for two. Gargano with kicks, Priest hit a jumping kick and a big clothesline. Priest was out on the apron on the part where the ramp was, which led to Ruff making his return by jumping off Priest’s back and taking down Gargano with a press followed by punches. Ruff went up top and hit a somersault dive onto both opponents on the floor. Back in the ring, Ruff jumped off the middle ropes leading to a Cutter for a two count. Gargano with a forearm to rock Ruff, but then Ruff bounced off the ropes with a clothesline for two. Priest was back in the ring, Ruff ran the ropes and Priest decked him with a boot to the face. Priest picked up both guys for a double flatliner. Priest with a jumping back elbow on both guys and he tossed Ruff across the ring onto Gargano. Johnny avoided the Razor’s Edge and sent Priest into the turnbuckle. Gargano with a lawn dart that sent Ruff into the middle turnbuckle and Ruff’s head hit Priest or at least that was the idea behind that spot. Gargano tied up Priest in the ropes of the second ring. Gargano missed a superkick and Ruff hit a Crucifix Bomb for a two count that was very close to being a pinfall win for Ruff. Ruff went up top with Frog Splash, but Gargano moved and Gargano slapped on the Gargano Escape submission. Priest broke free to stop the submission, Priest with a kick to Gargano and then a spin kick off the top on Gargano. Ruff avoided a charge from Priest, then Ruff with two clotheslines on Priest that had no effect and Gargano hit a superkick on Ruff. Priest got a hold of Gargano and gave him a lifting Chokeslam into the ring. Three guys in Ghostface masks and hoods attacked Priest. They were allies of Gargano, who Priest managed to beat up easily. That led to three more men in Ghostface masks and black attire. Priest jumped over the top onto the three masked guys on the floor. Priest hit a dive over the top onto three other masked guys on the floor. Gargano went after Priest, who hit a Chokeslam onto the apron and Ruff capitalized with a Frog Splash off the top for two as Priest broke up the pin. That was close. Ruff with a kick to the chest, but then Priest came back with a spinning knee to Ruff. Gargano with a superkick to Priest, but there was Priest with two spin kicks to Johnny and then another Ghostface figure showed up with a lead pipe that he used to hit Priest. Ruff got a rollup for on Gargano, but Gargano hit a superkick on Ruff and Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT on Ruff for the pinfall win at 17:28. There’s a new NXT North American Champion and it’s Johnny Gargano winning that title for the third time in his career.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT North American Champion: Johnny Gargano

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good triple threat match even with the cheap ending. Since there are no disqualifications in the match, it was the right call to book it in a way that screwed over Priest by having Ghostface attack him leading to Gargano finishing off Ruff. I thought Ruff had some cool moments as the underdog that nearly won the match a few times. Priest was dominant throughout the match, so I don’t think he was hurt that much by failing to win back the title. I picked Gargano to win because I felt like his heel character has a lot of room to grow as a champion, so let’s see what he can do with a significant title run for a change. If the match was a few minutes shorter it probably would have helped too.

After the match, the Ghostface figure revealed that it was Austin Theory. Nice line by Austin saying: “It was me, Austin. It was me all along, Austin” like Vince McMahon in 1999. Different context, but I thought it was clever. Gargano celebrated with Theory, who has been the man helping Gargano for several weeks in that Ghostface attire.

Analysis: That’s a good way to bring back Austin Theory into the mix after he “quit” NXT several weeks ago. By putting Theory with Gargano, it will help Theory develop as a younger talent that gets to be aligned with a veteran like Gargano. I like that pairing.

There was a commercial for NXT New Year’s Evil on January 6, 2021 on USA Network. It is their next themed special for the first NXT episode of the year.

The WarGames cage was being lowered for the main event as sirens went off in the arena.

The video package aired for Undisputed Era facing Team McAfee for the WarGames match main event. They played the song “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath for the video package. Great choice. I love it.

The Undisputed Era foursome of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish made their entrance first with O’Reilly going into the ring to start the match. Team McAfee was next led by Pat McAfee with Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.

Men’s WarGames Match: Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan) vs. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish)

Dunne started with Kyle with not a lot happening as they battled over some submission holds on the mat, but it didn’t lead to anything significant. Dunne tried for a submission using the middle ropes to assist, but then Kyle slapped on an armbar. Dunne broke free leading to a hard kick to the head. Dunne wrenched on the left arm of Kyle and stomped on the back. Dunne avoided a corner charge, jumped over Kyle, stomp on the hands and a kick to the face by Dunne. Kyle managed to get Dunne down leading to a kick to the chest. Dunne with a suplex into an armbreaker, but then Kyle slapped on a kneebar submission. The five-minute interval ended. McAfee was about to leave until Lorcan stopped him and Lorcan entered the ring.

Lorcan went after Kyle, who was able to knock down Lorcan with strikes, but then Dunne hit a clothesline on Kyle. Lorcan with two running splashes on Kyle and a half n half suplex connected as Dunne followed up with a kick to the back of Kyle. Dunne slapped on a surfboard on Kyle, then Lorcan with two chops and a DDT. Kyle wrenched the left knee of Lorcan against the ropes and Kyle did it to Dunne too. Kyle jumped off the top with a knee drop on Lorcan, but then Dunne hit a missile dropkick to Kyle’s left knee. Lorcan and Dunne wrenched back on the left knee of Kyle some more as the clock ticked down to end that three-minute interval.

Bobby Fish was the second man for Undisputed Era with Fish suplexing Dunne into Lorcan. Fish with a spinebuster on Lorcan. Kyle was back to his feet for a knee to the face of Dunne. Kyle with a kick to Lorcan, then a double DDT by UE into a German Suplex by Fish on Lorcan. Kyle and Fish hit a double kick to Dunne to his front/back at the same time. The four wrestlers paired off on opposite sides of the ring as the clock ticked down again for the next segment of the match.

Danny Burch was third for his team as he grabbed a bag that was under the ring and brought it into the match. Burch pulled out a cricket bat, he kicked Kyle and hit a German Suplex. There was a second cricket bat in the bag as well. Burch hit Kyle in the ribs with the cricket bat. Kyle slapped on the heel hook submission on Burch, who was tapping out, but you can’t win until all eight guys were in the match. Dunne broke up that submission with a stomp on Kyle’s right arm. Burch hit Kyle in the back with the cricket bat. The three heels continued to dominate until the clock ticked down to zero again.

Roderick Strong was the third man in for the Undisputed Era team and he was on fire with a dropkick on Lorcan, a backbreaker for Dunne and a belly to back suplex on Burch. Strong fought off the three heels on his own as hit strikes including a knee lift on Dunne. Lorcan sent Strong face first into the steel cage. The six guys all battled in the part of the setup where the two rings were separated by a steel beam. Dunne stomped on the left elbow of Fish while Lorcan hit a suplex on Strong and Burch worked on Kyle on the match.

The captain of Team McAfee was last as Pat McAfee entered for the second match of his career. McAfee grabbed a table from under the ring and he brought into the ring. The first table said Fish on it, then a table that said O’Reilly on it and so on with tables for Strong and Cole. There were also steel chairs that were brought into the ring. McAfee officially entered the match at that point. The team of Burch and Lorcan put Strong on the table that said Strong on it while McAfee was on the turnbuckle. McAfee jumped off the top with a moonsault that put Strong through the table.

Adam Cole was the last man from Undisputed Era to enter the match. Cole grabbed a fire extinguisher, sprayed it onto the heels and then Cole went into the ring with a steel chair. The match officially began now. Cole with a backstabber on Dunne, a kick to Lorcan and a slam off the shoulders onto the neck of Burch. Dunne got in Cole’s face before Cole could get to McAfee, so then Dunne stomped on Cole repeatedly with kicks. Cole hit a DDT on Dunne, but then McAfee grabbed Cole and Dunne knocked Cole down. Kyle with a chair to the back of Dunne and then Cole with a chair to the back of McAfee. All eight guys started brawling. Dunne stomped onto the hand of Cole. Dunne attacked Fish from behind and then Fish slapped on a sleeper, but then Lorcan hit a Blockbuster neckbreaker. Strong with a jumping knee to the face of Dunne for two. Lorcan sent Strong from one ring to the other. Lorcan and Burch hit a double team neckbreaker for two. McAfee was able to take down Cole with a chop block from behind. McAfee slapped on a Figure Four Leglock on Cole in the middle of the ring on the far side. Cole turned it around until Dunne showed up to break it up.

Most of the guys were down on the mat selling, so Lorcan and Burch set up another table in the far ring. Fish was on fire with some offense on the heels including a spin kick on Burch after Burch hit him with a headbutt. Dunne went for an armbar on Cole’s left arm. Dunne went for a suplex, but Cole picked him up and suplexed Dunne into Cole’s knee. I’d love a proper feud between Cole and Dunne next year. Cole set up one of the tables as they neared the 30-minute mark of the match. The duo of Strong and Fish hit a Powerbomb on Dunne onto Burch, but the table didn’t break somehow, so Strong jumped off the top with a splash to put Dunne and Burch through the table. McAfee tried a superplex on Cole through a table, but then Cole shoved McAfee backwards with McAfee bumping through a table that had “O’Reilly” on it. The “this is awesome” chants were heard in the building at that point.

Undisputed Era lined up three opponents against the cage as they took turns hitting running strikes on Dunne, Lorcan and Burch with Cole hitting superkick on all three of them after the first three guys hit running strikes. That left McAfee alone in the near ring, so the four UE guys went after McAfee, was surrounded as UE beat on him with punches and kicks. Cole sent McAfee into the cage, then Kyle sent McAfee into the cage, then Strong and Fish whipped McAfee hard into the cage. That’s when the trio of Dunne, Burch and Lorcan got back into the mix and it was an even match again. There were bumps off the cage including Cole hitting a neckbreaker off the top on Dunne and Strong hitting a superplex on McAfee as all eight guys were out on the mat selling the physicality of the match. There was a brawl between seven of the guys while McAfee went up to the top of the cage, which led to McAfee doing a Swanton Bomb off the top of the cage onto the seven guys or at least they sold it like they all got a piece of that bump. That was huge and very impressive by McAfee! When you see the replay of it, some of the guys weren’t touched at all, yet they still had to sell it.

Kyle and Dunne faced off in the far ring as they exchanged forearms with Kyle getting the advantage with a stiff forearm to the face. Dunne came back with one of his dreaded finger pulls leading to the Bitter End slam for a two count. O’Reilly hit a suplex on the steel grate that was between the two rings and that got a two count for Kyle. The other six guys were still laying down in the near ring because obviously the match was focusing on the two guys that started the match. Kyle put Dunne’s head against a steel chair, but McAfee saved his buddy with a chair to Kyle’s leg. Cole punched McAfee repeatedly, then held the chair up over his head leading to the obvious low blow uppercut from McAfee. Cole avoided a punt and hit pump kick on McAfee. Cole with a superkick on Burch while Fish tackled Burch through a table that had Fish’s name on it. McAfee with a superkick, but then Cole hit a superkick in return. Cole to the middle ropes leading to the Panama Sunrise flipping piledriver for a two count. I thought that was the finish right there, but McAfee got his right shoulder up. Cole with the Last Shot knee on Lorcan, who shoved McAfee out of the ring. Dunne with a step up enziguri on Cole and Dunne hit the Bitter End slam onto the top of a steel chair. That was brutal. Strong saved Cole with a suplex onto the knees. Strong and Fish hit a high/low kick on Lorcan and Kyle jumped off the top with a knee drop on a steel chair that was on Lorcan and Kyle covered Lorcan for the pinfall win at 45:01.

Winners by pinfall: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish)

Analysis: ****1/4 It was outstanding just like every WarGames match that NXT has ever done. There’s a lot to digest in a match like that. All of the tables that were brought into the ring were broken, there were other weapons used like chairs, which played a role in the finish with Kyle pinning Lorcan with a knee drop on a chair on Lorcan’s face. I think they set up some of the big spots very well. Some of it looked a bit silly like when McAfee hit his Swanton off the top, the other seven guys had to stand there and wait for him to catch him. It just looks too contrived when it doesn’t look natural even though it was a spectacular move. The women’s match did a similar spot that looked better at least. I think going 45 minutes in a match like that is a bit too long. I like seeing matches like this in the 35 to 40-minute range. There’s too much of the “lay down in the ring while two guys wrestle” moments because they’re trying to fill time. It made sense that the more cohesive, long-term team in the Undisputed Era worked together well and found a way to win with all four guys hitting key moves when they finished off Lorcan to win the match. I’m not that surprised that Lorcan took the pin because I figured it would be him or Burch even though McAfee is the guy that is more of a part-time wrestler. I think it was exactly as it should have been with UE working as the babyface team that got revenge against the heels that did so many cheap attacks against them. I picked UE to win here too to cap off my strong night of predictions.

There were replays shown of the key spots in the match. The Undisputed Era foursome celebrated the win while Lorcan was bleeding from the mouth. Lorcan was the one that took the knee drop onto the chair on his face, so that could have been painful for sure.

The Undisputed Era posed for the camera that was inside the cage doing their “UE” hand poses and that was the end of the show.

This event had a run time of 3:03:18 on WWE Network. The last two Takeovers went around 2 hours, 25 minutes, so it was longer than that mainly because of the WarGames matches going so long.

 

Five Stars of the Show

  1. Kyle O’Reilly
  2. Io Shirai
  3. Ember Moon
  4. Pete Dunne
  5. Raquel Gonzalez

 

Final Thoughts

It gets an 8.25 out of 10.

It was a two-match show in a lot of ways since the WarGames matches were the main reason why people tuned in. Both Wargames matches were outstanding, but if I had to rank them I’d put the women’s match ahead of the men’s match this year. The men’s match went ten minutes longer than the women’s match, which felt like too long because they ended up wasting time by laying around the ring more. The women’s match had just as much or even more action. Even with the odd choice of giving the faces the advantage, I liked the way the women’s match was booked and they had a lot of creative spots in the match. Raquel Gonzalez pinning Io Shirai sets up a future NXT Women’s Title feud while Undisputed Era proved again they are the best group in NXT history.

The non-WarGames were all good. I thought the NXT North American Title was booked in a smart way with Johnny Gargano getting the cheap win while Damian Priest got screwed out of the win and Leon Ruff put up a fight before he lost. The story worked. I would have liked to see Cameron Grimes get a win, but I understood the decision to have Dexter Lumis beat him again. The Ciampa/Thatcher match was like an old school, technical wrestling match with Ciampa finding a way to win.

I went five for five in my predictions. A predictable show certainly doesn’t make it a bad show because it was outstanding. I just try to pay attention to how they book things. I’ll give myself a Horowitz-like pat on the back for that.

Here is my ranking of NXT Takeover events in 2020 (out of 10):

NXT Takeover Portland (February 16) – 9

NXT Takeover WarGames (December 6) – 8.25

NXT Takeover 31 (October 4) – 8

NXT Takeover In Your House (June 7) – 7.75

NXT Takeover XXX (August 22) – 7.5

That means NXT Takeover Portland was the best Takeover of the year. It was the only one with a full crowd because it was before Coronavirus shut down most of the world.

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John Canton

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