Kurt: Welcome one and all to the official TJRWrestling preview for this Saturday’s NXT Takeover: War Games II! It’s taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this Saturday, November 17 and you can watch it on WWE Network, of course.
This card is so big, it looks like we’re only getting four matches instead of the traditional five. It makes sense when you have a War Games style match that will take over 30 minutes easily, and then a 2 out of 3 falls match that will now have plenty of time. I thought perhaps we’d get Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle, but according to various reports, that will be taped for TV before the live Takeover. Even with just four matches, this card looks to be just as strong as all the other Takeovers in 2018, and one could argue this was the strongest year ever for Takeover events. Joining me once again is everyone’s favorite TJR namesake, Mr. John Canton. How are you feeling about this card heading into Saturday?
John: This card looks amazing. It seems like every time Kurt and I are here to preview a Takeover we both feel like saying this is going to be the best Takeover of the year, but then you remember how great some of the other ones were (New Orleans got a 10 out of 10 from me), so it’s tough to say it’s the best of the year. I don’t see how any of it is going to be bad, though. I mean it’s only four matches on a show that will likely run 2 hours and 30 minutes. Everything is going to get a lot of time. What can be bad on here? I just don’t see it happening. If I have a gripe it’s that a lot of great talent in NXT aren’t even on this show. I would have loved something for a NXT newcomer like Keith Lee or Matt Riddle (I know he’s facing Ohno on the taping before the Takeover event), but I respect Triple H’s decision to keep it at just four matches rather than cutting the time out of some of the matches.
Before we begin, I’m going to put in the video previews of all the matches because the NXT crew does a great job with these videos. You need to watch them if you haven’t done so yet. Normally we put graphics in, but I want to put the videos over, so that’s what we’re doing. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano
Kurt: I listed this match first, but this has just as much appeal to be called the main event as any other match on the card. The storyline that ruled NXT for two months now, finally came to fruition with Johnny Gargano turning heel (?) and revealing himself as the attacker that took Aleister Black out. Aleister was of course nursing a legit groin injury and they needed to get him out of the Brooklyn triple threat main event. I thought they made the most of a bad situation and handled this situation beautifully. Somehow in all of this, Gargano looks stronger than ever, Nikki Cross became a top player, Velveteen Dream became a top babyface, and Kassius Ohno developed a personality. All from just one simple angle of “whodunnit?” It’s a hard match to predict because on one hand, you want Aleister to look strong on his return match and get him back to the main event picture. On the other hand, I could see this being Aleister’s last NXT match and moving on to the main roster, to which Gargano gets a big win and continues his quest to finally win the NXT title. I do think that Gargano will ultimately end up a babyface, once he wins the title, so this heel turn is just temporary. When you read between the lines, the reasons he had for taking out Black make sense, and you can’t really hate him for it if you were behind him trying to overtake Ciampa’s reign. Since I’m starting to strongly feel like this will be Aleister’s last match in NXT, I’m going to go with Gargano winning one hell of a battle. What say you John?
Prediction: Johnny Gargano wins
John: The actions of Johnny Gargano in the last few months have been surprising because I know it’s supposed to be like a heel turn, yet I have a hard time believing the crowd is going to hate him that much. Like Kurt said, this feels like a temporary thing with him and he’ll go back to being one of the most popular guys in NXT. Black is easy to root for and the story could be simple enough where Black gets the win for revenge for Gargano’s cheap attack on him. However, I’m leaning towards Gargano. I can see NXT wanting to build Johnny back up and if he doesn’t win the NXT Title in January or April next year I’ll be surprised.
I think Black is more than ready on the main roster especially on Smackdown where they have a lack of babyfaces now that Daniel Bryan is on the heel side. Black can slot in nicely on the blue brand while there’s not much more for him to do in NXT.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
NXT Women’s Title Match – Two out of Three Falls: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Kairi Sane
Kurt: I’m not exactly sure I was pining for another Shayna/Kairi match, but I also wasn’t expecting Shayna to recapture the title and for Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke to debut to help her get that title. This just means we’re a matter of time from these three women joining Ronda on the main roster for a big 4 on 4 match of some sorts. It would seem redundant for Shayna to lose the title right away, but when you look at the women’s division, there seems to be more ready made challengers for Kairi than there is for Shayna. However, since they got involved at Evolution, you have to assume Duke and Shafir are going to get involved in this match. So unless the ref kicks them out from ringside, which is obviously possible, it doesn’t make much sense for them to help Shayna win the title but not help her retain it. I’m not sure where Nikki Cross stands and if her match against Becky Lynch was a one time appearance or if she’s full time. If not, perhaps they can heat back up her feud with Shayna, should Shayna retain. They must have a plan for the three Horsewomen together, but as I watched NXT this week, Bianca Belair and Lacey Evans are primed for the next title opportunities, which would favor Kairi getting the title back. I’m going with her even though this is a true toss-up. How do you see this match going, John?
Prediction: New NXT Women’s Champion, Kairi Sane
John: It feels like this match has been so much that it has led to the most rematches of any NXT Women’s Championship feud in history. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have watched these two wrestle so much in the last year. I was very surprised Baszler won the NXT Women’s Title back at Evolution a few weeks ago and now I’m not sure if there is going to be another title change so soon. Since Sane was screwed out of the title in the last match, it makes sense for her to get revenge. Sane winning makes a lot of sense especially because women like Bianca Belair and Lacey Evans are likely going to be the next challengers. If Baszler keeps the title to get by Sane, then there are fewer options for her to face. Sane winning the title back is my pick.
Winner: Kairi Sane is the new NXT Women’s Champion
NXT Title Match: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Velveteen Dream
Kurt: The buildup for this match has been spectacular. Has Dream become a full fledged babyface, or did he just naturally slide into that role because Ciampa needed a challenger?? Both guys are at the top of the business talking on the mic and although it’s a match that really came out of nowhere, it’s a match they’ve sold you on. I think most people would name AJ Styles as MVP of WWE for 2018, and that would be hard to argue, but I think I would put Ciampa 2nd in the voting, and it’s a close second. He has been so damn good. We thought his injury last year would be a detriment to the potential of him vs Gargano, but really it just intensified it. His twitter game is second to none either. Dream has been the NXT darling for months now and it’s now culiminated with an NXT title shot. I would love to see a title change here because I think the reaction would be huge, and I don’t think anyone would complain with a Dream Era. Dream has a resume, in a short amount of time, that is worthy of being NXT champion. No one has more charisma than he does, he exudes personality, and I think would be something totally different than anything we’ve seen before in NXT as champion. But with all the effort they’ve put into Johnny Gargano, the end result has to be Gargano dethroning Ciampa finally. Title matches are always that much better with a fresh matchup such as this, and I think this match will tear the house down. John, you see a title change here?
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa retains
John: This should be a lot of fun because they are two of the best characters in NXT right now. Ciampa is so enjoyable as a heel champion while Dream is finding his comfort zone as a unique character that is unlike anything else on the show. I also think it was the right time to try to elevate Dream to that level of NXT Championship challenger. These guys have wrestled at live events for a few months now and likely worked together a lot at the Performance Center, so they’re going to have a very entertaining match with the crowd emotionally involved while rooting for Dream to get the win.
As much as I would love to see Dream win the title, it’s probably not the right time for him. Since Dream is only 23 years old, there’s plenty of time to develop him and put the title on him next year. I’d rather see Ciampa’s reign continue into 2019 because he’s so entertaining as the champion. This will probably go 20-25 minutes and I expect it to be the best match in Dream’s career. They’ll have every opportunity to deliver a classic match in front of a hot crowd and I think they will do just that. Look for Ciampa to win by using some heel tactics and his veteran savvy.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
War Games Match: The Undispusted Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) vs. Ricochet, Pete Dunne and War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson)
Kurt: This is the greatest gimmick match of all time, don’t at me. My personal favorite, the match that made me a wrestling fan as a teeny-tiny K-Tank, and the match I never thought I’d see under a WWE banner. Yet here we are for the second annual incarnation of Takeover: War Games! I was at last year’s in person, and despite the 3 team format and no cover on the top of the cages, it still did a great job upholding the legacy of War Games. Alexander Wolfe took a nasty bump, Adam Cole had a fantastic performance, and Killian Dane showed us what kind of potential he has. This year, they’ve made it even better, as we go to a traditional 4 on 4 style match. I can’t begin to tell you how happy that makes me. I love the dynamic of Undisputed Era all having War Games experience, while it’ll be the first time ever for their opponents. The least surprising aspect to this match is that the heels got the man advantage when O’Reilly beat Hanson on NXT TV this week. Can you imagine what Ricochet has planned for this match? Two rings and an open top for him to come up with ideas for? He’s going to do something that will melt our brains because we can’t believe he did that.
This is a hard match to predict as I feel the babyfaces should win due to all the matches that Undisputed Era have ruined over the last few weeks and they need their comeuppance. However, NXT higher ups have worked hard to protect Undisputed Era, especially Adam Cole, so they might not want to have the Era lose a high profile match like this. There’s something to be said for the Era if they can come out after this show and say they are two time War Games survivors. I’m only bringing this up because someone asked me about the possibility on Twitter, and with how NXT TV ended, I can slightly possibly see it happening. Dunne was favoring that knee quite a bit, so perhaps he gets taken out of the match and someone like EC3 takes his place? I don’t see that happening, but just wanted to throw it out there. I think realistically, Dunne will be first for his team, have his knee worked on the entire match and at the end just succomb to the pain and that’s how the Undisputed Era win. John, what are your feelings on War Games?
Prediction: The Undisputed Era wins
John: This is the second year that WWE has brought back WarGames and while I loved last year’s match, I like that they have gone back to the traditional 4 on 4 format this year. The Undisputed Era won last year and it’s nice to see Bobby Fish back in action after missing most of the year with a knee injury. That win last year did a great job of putting over the Undisputed Era in a big way just like winning titles put them over a lot this year.
I like the babyface side a lot with Ricochet and Pete Dunne as two of the best all-around workers that have such bright futures ahead of them. The War Raiders work so well as a team and I think it’s safe to predict that they are going to be the next NXT Tag Team Champions when they beat Undisputed Era in the near future. Ricochet is unlike anybody else in WWE in terms of the incredible aerial displays that he does. Dunne is so well rounded and is one of the best in-ring performers in WWE already and he’s only 25 years old. I’m so excited about his future.
This is probably going to be a 35 to 45-minute match and it will be outstanding. Like I mentioned earlier, I just don’t see anything on this show being bad. Out of everything on the card, this match probably has the best chance of being a match of the year contender although that’s a lot of pressure on them too. It’s just a case of the talent level being there, I believe in these guys being innovative and coming up with some cool shit that I can’t predict right now.
Here’s a thought for the Undisputed Era in the future. Imagine them on Smackdown with Daniel Bryan leading them as a five-man group? All regular sized dudes that are proficient at technical wrestling and work so well together. It would be a lot of fun to watch. I don’t know if it’s happening, but it would be so entertaining.
I’m going with the faces for the win because I think it fits the story better because of what Kurt said where the Undisputed Era have been interfering in matches. The Undisputed Era won WarGames last year and if they do it again then they can become even cockier as heels. I just think NXT is going to want to put Ricochet over as a guy that’s going to win for his team and continue to give him as much momentum as possible. This pick isn’t that confident and it’s far from a lock. I just think Ricochet, Dunne and the War Raiders getting the win is the right call in this case. By the end of this match, people will be talking about Ricochet doing something incredible again. He’s going to be the “face” of NXT next year and this match is going to help propel him to that spot. That’s what I believe.
Winners: Ricochet, Pete Dunne and War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson)
Kurt: That’s it for our preview. It should be a fun event and I hope you’ll join me for live coverage on Saturday evening here at TJRWrestling.net with a start time of 7pmET/6pmCT/4pmPT on WWE Network. John will have his own recap posted by Sunday morning as well.
John: Sometimes when I write these previews I have people asking me about my star rating predictions for the matches. I don’t really do those publicly, but in this case I would say there’s probably not going to be anything under ***1/2 out of five at least. The women’s match might be under four stars, but I think it can reach that level. The three men’s matches should be over four stars and I think WarGames has a chance to be five stars for sure. If we get four matches all over four stars, that’s a 10 out of 10 type of show to me. In other words, you better watch NXT Takeover WarGames because it’s going to be outstanding.
To get you ready for WarGames, we’ve posted this video showing highlights of last year’s incredible match.
Follow us on Twitter: Kurt – @KTankTJR, John – @johnreport