Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. We have Takeover WarGames to look forward to on Sunday, December 6, so if you count this episode, there are two episodes before Takeover. As usual for my NXT reviews, I go with a summary style for most of it and then play by play for the main event.
This is episode #432 of WWE NXT. It took place at NXT’s home called the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Check out my past WWE NXT reviews right here.
There was a replay of the end of last week’s NXT that saw the Undisputed Era return to fight with Pat McAfee’s four-man group leading to the official announcement of a WarGames match on December 6.
The announce team for NXT this week is Vic Joseph with Kevin Owens at ringside and Beth Phoenix is home in North Carolina. The ring was surrounded by the black cage along with wrestlers/fans behind them and the screens with taped footage of WWE fans.
Ember Moon vs. Candice LeRae (w/Indi Hartwell)
LeRae did the chickenshit heel routine by running away as much as she could, but Moon was aggressive. Moon slammed LeRae onto the hood of the announce table followed by a fallaway slam that sent LeRae out of the ring. LeRae tried to walk to the back, but Moon grabbed her and brought her back to ringside. LeRae got some offense going with a senton to the back. After LeRae slapped on a chinlock, Moon came back with a hard kick to the body for a two count. LeRae got a nearfall after a clothesline. LeRae did cheap things to stay in control like the dreaded hair pull. Moon avoided a corner charge, then caught Candice’s leg and hit an overhead suplex. Moon with a jumping kick to the head as Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai showed up at ringside. They went to break.
LeRae was in control, then Moon came back with a rollup, but then LeRae slapped on a Gargano Escape submission that Moon managed to counter into a rollup. LeRae slapped on a sleeper, so Moon fell onto her back to break it. Moon with kicks, two corner splashes and two suplexes including a front suplex. Moon went up top, but Kai and Gonzalez distracted the referee, Hartwell moved Candice out of the way, so Moon hit the Eclipse (Stunner) on Hartwell. LeRae capitalized with a kick and the Wicked Stepsister stomp into the back to send Moon to the mat for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Candice LeRae
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that was very competitive with each woman looking like they might win at various points. Moon put up a good fight, but the numbers game won with Kai and Gonzalez providing a distraction while Hartwell took another move for LeRae, which set up LeRae’s win. I liked how it was booked.
Post match, Moon was surrounded by LeRae, Gonzalez and Kai with Moon escaping to the floor. Toni Storm showed up to check on Moon, who Storm has worked with in the past and Moon hugged her. Storm grabbed Moon and hit her with a forearm. Storm sent Moon into the steel steps. Heel turn for Toni Storm! Strom sent Moon into the ring with Kai hitting a jumping kick to knock down Moon. Gonzalez gave Moon a huge Chokeslam.
Analysis: I didn’t expect that heel turn. Storm is a natural face, but I guess NXT’s creative team must have felt like Storm was better off in a heel role moving forward.
The Undisputed Era foursome were shown arriving at the building.
Santos Escobar, the Cruiserweight Champion, was talking to his buddies in Legado del Fantasma – Juaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza. They spoke about all the people they have taken out. They mentioned Curt Stallion, who they quickly dismissed as a threat. Escobar said that the difference between them and everybody else is when they say they’re going to do something, it gets done.
Let’s Hear from The Undisputed Era
The Undisputed Era foursome of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish made their entrance. They are now a babyface group. A clip was shown from Pat McAfee’s internet show noting that he wasn’t going to be at NXT this week.
Cole talked about how Pat McAfee’s group claimed they have taken over the show, but Cole noted that Undisputed Era is there and they have beaten so many people in the past. Cole said he was looking forward to when Pat McAfee is trapped in WarGames. Cole noted they had to focus on tonight for WarGames while noting that UE is undefeated in WarGames advantage matches. Kyle O’Reilly spoke up to say he needs to fight Pete Dunne tonight because they saw Halloween Havoc (when Dunne attacked him).
Cole said he loved seeing this angry Kyle O’Reilly. Cole said it’s a different Kyle O’Reilly and in two weeks they’ll fight a different Undisputed Era. Cole said that they’ve fought for championships, bragging rights, but this time they’re going to drag the four of them through absolute hell. Cole said that they will take them to war and make sure that they are never the same.
Analysis: Awesome promo work by Cole as usual. They set up O’Reilly vs. Dunne in the main event for later, so that’s a huge match.
Candice LeRae was shown backstage with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez while McKenzie Mitchell showed up to interview Candice, who talked to her friends to ask them if they were in. Kai and Gonzalez said yes. Candice said that Kai and Gonzalez were on her WarGames team along with Toni Storm, who said that she told us that we would see a new Toni Storm. The foursome walked away.
Analysis: It’s a good team. The NXT women’s division is absolutely stacked right now, so they could have picked a lot of different women. I think these four women, as the heels, are a strong foursome with a mix of different styles in the ring. I love the NXT WarGames matches.
Kushida vs. Timothy Thatcher
Tommaso Ciampa brought out a steel chair to watch the match from ringside since he mentioned wanting to face Thatcher in the past. I would have brought out a more comfortable chair, but that’s just me. There was a lot of mat wrestling as they battled over submissions. Thatcher managed to hit a belly to belly suplex. Kushida countered a kneebar submission attempt with a move that was like a reverse STF. Kushida hit a hip toss into a dropkick, but then Thatcher stretched the left leg of Kushida across the top rope as the show went to break.
Kushida went for an armbar as he took Thatcher down to the mat. They exchanged forearms, then Kushida stomped on the arm some more and they battled over submission holds again. Thatcher slapped on an Ankle Lock, but then Kushida slapped on his own Ankle Lock. Thatcher countered a pin attempt with a body scissors and a sleeper, but Kushida got out of that. Kushida got out of an armbar attempt by sending Thatcher over the top to the floor. Thatcher was distracted by Ciampa, who was just sitting there and Thatcher went running into the ring post when Kushida moved. Kushida with an armbar takedown on the floor. Thatcher came back with a knee and a double underhook suplex, so Ciampa knocked the chair down, which led to Thatcher looking at him. Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock submission on the left arm for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by submission: Kushida
Analysis: **3/4 I was hoping for something great, but I thought it was just average. The pace was really slow as is the norm for a Thatcher match. It hurt the match a bit because it lacked excitement for most of it. They did pick up the pace towards the finish, which is nice to see. I think the right man won here because Kushida has been building a lot of momentum and having him get the win over Thatcher is a good thing for Kushida’s future. Thatcher also had to deal with Ciampa staring at him, so that’s his excuse.
Post match, Ciampa stared into the camera to say: “Maybe he has a problem with me now.” Last week, Thatcher told him he had no problem, so that’s why Ciampa was involved there.
A replay aired of last week’s great main event with Io Shirai defeated Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Title with Shirai retaining her title.
Pete Dunne was interviewed backstage by Mckenzie Mitchell. Dunne said he was impressed by Kyle O’Reilly breaking Finn Balor’s jaw. Dunne said that they broke Undisputed Era once and at WarGames, they’ll finish the job. Dunne faces O’Reilly in the main event.
The KO Show with Leon Ruff
Kevin Owens hosted the KO Show in the ring saying last November he was back in NXT for WarGames, then tonight he was back as a commentator and maybe next November maybe he’ll be a referee or bell-keeper. Owens said that the point is that any time he’s invited back to NXT, he will be there. Owens introduced his guest, the NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff.
They sat in the leather chairs in the ring. Owens said after seeing what Ruff accomplished, he wanted to host the KO Show with Ruff so that Leon can tell people his story. Ruff said he wanted to be a WWE superstar his whole life, he signed his contract seven weeks ago and then soon after he was winning the North American Title. They showed a clip of two weeks ago when Ruff won the title from Johnny Gargano in what was a huge upset.
Ruff laughed about the moment where the title wouldn’t fit around his waist and KO joked that happened to him. Ruff laughed about it. Ruff said that having that title is like a “yes” for every “no” he’s ever gotten. Ruff wants to be an inspiration. Owens told Ruff to keep his head up and be proud of what he did as fans chanted “you deserve it” for him. Ruff said he wants to show that anything is possible if you put in the time and effort. Owens told Ruff to have a little more conviction when he says it. Owens wanted Ruff to speak up. Ruff stood up saying he did become the North American Champion because he beat Johnny Gargano twice. Owens said that when you say somebody’s name, they always come out and there was Gargano making the predictable appearance.
Johnny Gargano showed up complaining about how Ruff said he beat Gargano. Johnny wondered if this was a prank show, if Ashton Kutcher would pop out from somewhere, Owens said “very timely reference” (it’s an early 2000s show) and Gargano said Ruff probably didn’t even get it since he’s a child. Owens brought a chair into the ring and Johnny tossed the chair out of the ring. Owens got another chair, saying he had a hunch and Johnny carried on. Gargano wanted Ruff to tell people that Johnny is the real champion. Gargano complained about Damian Priest, Owens did the countdown and shortly after the countdown stopped, there was Damian Priest.
Damian Priest said that eventually Johnny will come to terms with the reality that Leon Ruff is better than Johnny. Priest noted that Ruff beat Gargano twice. Gargano said if he faced Ruff one on one then Johnny will be the champion again. Gargano shoved Ruff onto a chair. Priest told Ruff he never received a rematch since he lost the title. Priest reminded Ruff that last week it was Ruff who said he could beat Priest and Gargano. Owens said if Teddy Long was in NXT then he’d make a triple threat match while noting that NXT had their own version…and here’s William Regal.
William Regal, the NXT General Manager, appeared on the stage. Regal said that at Takeover WarGames it will be Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest in a Triple Threat Match…playa. Nice ending to that.
Analysis: The triple threat match was an obvious outcome just based on the booking over the last two weeks. I assume most will pick against Ruff retaining the title and I might lean that way too. Owens made this segment fun. We learned a bit more about Ruff in terms of having pride as a champion while Gargano did an expected heel prom and Priest making a claim for the title he lost in a cheap way makes sense for him too. Good stuff overall.
There was a pre-taped promo from NXT Champion Finn Balor saying that he laid the groundwork for war, so he told them to prepare for war. Balor said that the cat is back, so stop playing in his kitty litter. Balor said if you have a problem, he’s not hard to find because the champion works Wednesdays.
Analysis: We still don’t know when Balor might be able to wrestle again, but I assume he misses the next Takeover and hopefully he’s back in action soon after that.
There was a video of Shotzi Blackheart in a workshop as if she is preparing for her WarGames match.
Cameron Grimes vs. Jake Atlas
Atlas showed off his athleticism with an arm drag off the ropes two times and then Grimes powered him up with a German Suplex. Atlas got some momentum with punches, then a German Suplex of his own and a big forearm to the face got a two count. Grimes did the running attack where he flipped over and landed on top of Atlas. Grimes shouted out his “to the moon” catchphrase and then hit the double stomp Cave In finisher for the win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes
Analysis: **1/4 They only got a few minutes, so it was tough to have a meaningful match, but they worked hard and had some hard shots in there. Grimes is pushed more than Atlas, so it makes sense for him to get the win. Since Grimes has been beaten up repeatedly by Dexter Lumis, he could have used this win.
After the win, Grimes celebrated by putting his hat on and that’s when Lumis showed up behind him. Grimes ran away. Lumis pointed to the video board for a video showing Grimes running away from Lumis over the last few weeks. Lumis had a strap, but Grimes threw the strap at him. The camera zoomed in on Dexter’s blue eyes to end it.
Analysis: The strap means a Strap Match as we found out in the next segment.
Cameron Grimes was shown walking backstage with NXT GM William Regal telling him that the NXT Universe wants to face Dexter Lumis one more time. Regal informed Grimes that he’ll face Lumis in a Strap Match at NXT Takeover WarGames.
Let’s Hear from Rhea Ripley
Ripley said that Io Shirai is one of the toughest women she has ever stepped in the ring with. Ripley said that after last Wednesday, there’s been speculation about what is next for Rhea Ripley. She said there’s a reason for that because of the hug after the match. Ripley said that hug was nothing but respect for Io Shirai. Ripley said it wasn’t a send-off party at all because she’s there and she’s focused on one thing…the NXT Women’s Championship.
Candice LeRae interrupted with her new friend Toni Storm. LeRae said that the difference between her and Ripley is that Io beat Candice twice with help, but she beta Rhea on her own. LeRae said that Ripley can’t seem to back up her talk. That led to Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez showing up with Gonzalez carrying Shirai on her shoulder. Ripley left the ring, she kicked Gonzalez and punched Kai. Ripley was overmatched by the four heels as Gonzalez drove Ripley into the turnbuckle. While LeRae held Ripley, Gonzalez decked Ripley with a clothesline. Ripley was sent shoulder first into the turnbuckle two times. The heels left while Ripley was down in the ring and Shirai was down on the ramp.
Analysis: It was a way to establish LeRae’s heel team at NXT Takeover WarGames. This likely means that Ripley and Shirai will be on Shotzi Blackheart’s WarGames team although there was no sign of Blackheart in this segment. It makes sense to have all of the top women in NXT in the WarGames match, so this segment was good in terms of drawing the lines between the two sides. The NXT women’s division is outstanding right now.
There was a screen in a car with Boa and Xia Li as they were driven to a Mysterious place. They greeted their master. They went into the room to tell somebody whose face was covered that they can win if they are given a chance. Some guy put a black marking on their hand. They said “it’s time” and then the mystery person wasn’t shown, but we have no idea who it is.
Analysis: They love mystery angels in NXT. It will probably lead to Li being booked in a more serious way moving forward since she will be motivated to win by whoever is giving her orders.
The Ever-Rise team of Chase Parker and Matt Martel were in the ring for a match, but then they were attacked by the Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake, who were in suits. Owens was disappointed because Ever-Rise are a favorite team of KO since they are Canadian. Gibson and Drake reminded us who they are while noting that they are back in NXT soon to be recognized as NXT’s number one. Drake lifted up Parker and Gibson hit a double knee attack on him.
Analysis: The tag team division needed some more teams, so I’m glad that the Grizzled Young Veterans are back in the mix. I can definitely see them as the champions within a few months. Ever-Rise has a lot of potential too, but they were in the role of sacrificial lambs here.
Candice LeRae was outside with her friend Indi Hartwell in a neckbrace. McKenzie Mitchell showed up for an interview. LeRae said that anybody who is stupid enough to join Shotzi’s team will be run over because Candice’s team will destroy them at WarGames. LeRae said that they’ll have the advantage when Raquel Gonzalez beats Shotzi Blackheart next week. Johnny Gargano said that the car is ready, then said that Candice is the general of her team, she’ll win at WarGames and he’ll get his NXT North American Championship back. When they get into the car, there was somebody in the Scream mask in the back of the car with them as well. Vic: “Wait a minute, there’s another ghost face?” Yep. There is.
Kyle O’Reilly made his entrance for the WarGames advantage ladder match. They showed the rest of Undisputed Era’s group Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong watching on a stage from a distance. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch were also on a platform, so the teams were separated. Pete Dunne entered as the representative for Pat McAfee’s team.
WarGames Advantage Ladder Match: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne
There is a briefcase hanging above the ring. To win the match, you have to climb a ladder and retrieve the briefcase. If you get the briefcase then your team has the advantage at WarGames. I’ll go play by play for this match.
Kyle was aggressive with a kick to the ribs that sent Dunne out of the ring and then a kick kept Dunne on the floor. That led to a break.
There was a ladder in the ring. The action spilled to the floor with Kyle hitting a running knee that sent Dunne into the barricade. When Kyle went for a ladder under the ring, Dunne responded with a hard kick to the face. Dunne set up a ladder from the apron to the barricade, but Kyle fought back with punches and a catapult that sent Dunne into the barricade that had the cage/plexiglass. Kyle set up a ladder, Dunne kicked Kyle to knock him down and it was a rough landing for Kyle as referees checked on him. Dunne hooked the left arm against a ladder rung and then he pulled back on fingers of Kyle. Dunne tried a ladder climb, so then Kyle did a leg whip against a ladder rung and then a kneebar submission against the ladder rung. Dunne went for a move off the ladder, but Kyle moved and Dunne was favoring the left knee. Dunne came back with a Powerbomb against a ladder that was against the turnbuckle. These guys are vicious. Dunne stomped on Kyle’s head while it was up against the ladder bridge. Kyle wrenched the left leg of Dunne against the middle rope. Dunne managed to fight back and he was on the apron where he gave Kyle a suplex over the top rope onto the ladder bridge! They broke the ladder as it collapsed to the floor. There were “this is awesome” chants. Huge bump right there as the show went to break.
Dunne was in control of the match he slammed a ladder on Kyle’s hand. Dunne brought in a chair, Kyle punched it, hurt his hand and Dunne went for the Bitter End. Kyle put a guillotine choke on Dunne and then Kyle hit a brainbuster onto a ladder that was in the ring with KO saying that was payback for the suplex on the ladder earlier. Kyle jumped off the top with a knee drop, Dunne moved and Kyle went knee first into the ladder. Ouch. Dunne tried a climb, Kyle got back into it with an Ankle Lock, Dunne broke free and then Dunne went for an enziguri kick, Kyle moved and Dunne kicked the ladder. That meant Dunne was hurting in both legs. Dunne pulled on the fingers of Kyle, who came back with a kick to the chest. They took turns pulling the other man’s arms into the ladder. Dunne and Kyle each shoved the ladder into eachother with the ladder landing on Dunne’s left knee. They climbed up the ladder on opposite sides, Dunne was up top where he kicked O’Reilly a few times, but Kyle did an armbreaker on the left arm. Dunne pulled on the fingers of Kyle, who managed to shove Dunne off the ladder. Kyle bounced off the ropes leading to a huge clothesline that caused Dunne to do a flip bump. That led to more “this is awesome” chants. Dunne brought a chair into the ring, he hit Kyle in the knee with the chair and a chair to the back. Dunne sent Kyle onto the barricade and Kyle went onto the floor. Dunne climbed up, but Kyle managed to get back into it by tossing the ladder over and Dunne landed back first onto a ladder that was against the turnbuckle. Kyle climbed up the ladder all alone, but then a guy ran out with a hoodie on and a gold mask on his face. The masked man shoved Kyle off the top, so Kyle bumped off the ropes and went crashing onto the floor by the announce table. Dunne climbed the ladder unopposed and he retrieved the briefcase. The match went 20 minutes.
Winner: Pete Dunne
The win by Dunne means that his team will have the man advantage in the WarGames match. It’s the first time Undisputed Era lost a match to get the man advantage and that’s because they are a face team now.
Analysis: **** A great match as expected by wrestlers of this quality. These guys aren’t afraid to hit hard in that ring. There wasn’t a lot of ladder climbing. It was more of a violent ladder match where they caused They’re two of my favorites in NXT and it’s so awesome that Dunne is back in the ring after a long layoff due to being in Europe for several months before coming back a few weeks ago. The man advantage at WarGames usually goes to the heel team, so that’s why Dunne won here. Who was the masked man? The tease is that it was Pat McAfee, who lied about not being there, but we will never know who it actually was. A cheap ending in a ladder match isn’t that common, but it makes sense here in terms of the booking.
Dunne celebrated the win with the briefcase while his buddies Lorcan and Burch celebrated on the ramp with him. The other Undisputed Era guys showed up at ringside to check on O’Reilly. The show ended there.
Three Stars of the Show
- Pete Dunne
- Kyle O’Reilly
- Candice LeRae/Ember Moon
I give this show a 7.75 out of 10.
It was a great episode of NXT with Pete Dunne and Kyle O’Reilly having an awesome main event ladder match. The finish was controversial with interference, but that’s fine because it fits the story going on between their two teams. Other matches were very good as well like Candice LeRae beating Ember Moon. I was very surprised by Toni Storm turning heel since she’s a natural face, but I think she’ll be able to pull it off. Basically, I have confidence in NXT’s creative team. They have earned my trust.
All of the talking segments were effective in terms of setting up the Ruff/Gargano/Priest triple threat, the first Undisputed Era promo in a while to show they’re ready for WarGames. Rhea Ripley made it clear she’s staying in NXT (for now), but then she got attacked by LeRae’s WarGames team. Io Shirai was also attacked, so Ripley and Shirai should be on Shotzi Blackheart’s team at WarGames. Ember Moon makes sense as the fourth woman on the team.
Lastly, I thought Kevin Owens was a good fit on commentary with some funny one-liners while also providing plenty of insight. KO also had an entertaining talk show segment as well.
The last NXT Takeover event of the year is NXT Takeover WarGames on Sunday, December 6 on WWE Network. Here’s what we know so far.
WarGames Match: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong) vs. Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
WarGames Match: Team Shotzi Blackheart vs. Team Candice LeRae (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez and Toni Storm)
NXT North American Championship: Leon Ruff (c) vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano
Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes
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