The Saturday night before Survivor Series played host to one of the wildest gimmicks that has been brought back in recent years: War Games. NXT had their big show of the recent weeks with most of their titles on the line. The show began with Matt Riddle coming to the ring to talk. Since he was on the left ring the commentary team probably had a bad view. Riddle said that was not scheduled to fight on this show. He called out Kassius Ohno, who interrupted him on the Takeover Pre-show. They are scheduled to fight on Wednesday, but he wants to fight now. Ohno came out and accepted the challenge.
Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno
Riddle hit Ohno with a flying knee to end the match instantly. It looks like on top of Riddle’s “Bro” thing that he’s got going that they will try to push his MMA background and how he could KO people.
Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler (2 Out of 3 Falls Match) (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
After the very quick first segment we went head on into the Women’s Championship match. No promo video or anything, we just got right to it. The match was the third title bout between these two, with their past dating back even farther than that. Their first big bout was in the finals of the Mae Young Classic. Fitting that the two finalists of the women’s prospects tournament are now on top of the NXT Women’s division. Sane was hot out of the gates getting lots of moves in. After Sane pushed Baszler into the ring Baszler’s friends appeared and attacked Sane while the ref was distracted. Baszler landed the first point after putting in a Rear Naked Choke. A little later Sane found herself in the move again but made it to the ropes. Sane almost got her first fall with a roll-up. Sane reversed a Rear Naked Choke into a pin but Baszler got out of it. Baszler tried for a move on the apron but it got countered into a DDT. It looked like Baszler legitimately landed on the top of her head from this. Sane did an Elbow Drop off of the top rope to the outside onto the trio. After that she rolled Baszler back into the ring for an Insane Elbow for her first pinfall, and to tie it up. Sane reversed a move into a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top rope for a close count. When Sane tried to go to the top rope for another Elbow Drop, Baszler’s two friends interfered with one pushing Sane off of the top rope. Dakota Kai and Io Shirai came out to even the odds with Shirai doing a Moonsault to everyone (including Dakota?). Baszler dodged another Elbow Drop from Sane and turned it into a Roll-Up Pin to win.
A few things about this match rubbed me the wrong way. For one, the finish seemed out of place since Sane had her friends come out there to make it more fair. Also, I don’t like ring apron spots. They always make me cringe. The 2 out of 3 falls gimmick doesn’t really make sense to me under any context (unless it’s a tag match). X-Pac was shown at ringside before the next match. Is he signing with NXT? Just kidding.
Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black
The next match had no stipulation and no title involved. This match was explosive from the very start. Here was some of my favourite parts of the match. Black did a front flip off the apron onto Gargano who was on the outside. Gargano did a Tope Suicida into a DDT outside the ring, which looked insane. It was all happening so quickly that I couldn’t write a lot of it down. At one point when they were both laid out the crowd was cheering loud in appreciation. Gargano threw Black head first like a dart into the second rope at one point. As Gargano was setting up for a move Black sat up and said “give me your best shot.” Black kicked out from a Running Knee that happened after another quick combo of moves. After both wrestlers traded blows Gargano sent Black to the ropes then pushed him to the outside. Gargano did a dive to the outside but went head first into a knee. Back in the ring Gargano was holding Black’s leg out of mercy. Black got tricked into thinking that Gargano wanted to get finished, with Gargano reversing a kick into a roll-up and then a submission move. He eventually escaped and then landed a Spinning Knee. Black did a Step-Up Knee and two Black Mass’ for the finish.
This match was fast and wild. It went so fast that I missed like 90% of it. Even if I had a play-by-play written down, it’s worth watching in its entirety. Both wrestlers absolutely tore the house down and exceeded my expectations.
Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Championship Match)
The Velveteen Dream got a title shot against Tommaso Ciampa before the main event. He came out dressed as Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Early on in the match Ciampa took Velveteen’s weightlifting belt, so in return Velveteen took his Championship. After Velveteen was dominating in the ring Ciampa tried to escape outside the ring. Ciampa was given no breathing time as Dream dove onto him seconds later. Velveteen tried doing something on the ropes but was thrown to outside the ring. Later on, Velveteen hit a trio of Legdrops and a Spinebuster for a two count. Velveteen did another Figure Four after doing one on the ringpost outside the ring. As the match was nearing its end a Project Ciampa was hit for a very close pinfall. Velveteen hit a Sister Abgail onto the title which was in the ring. Velveteen went for a pinfall but Ciampa kicked out. After that Dream was thrown out of the ring by Ciampa then was given a Draping DDT for a close count. Ciampa tried for a Draping DDT on the outside without the ring mat, but instead Dream pushed Ciampa into the commentary table seats. Ciampa swung at the commentators which got him distracted. He was given a Rolling Fireman’s Carry on the floor and then was brought into the ring for an Elbow drop. Ciampa kicked out. Ciampa then took Dream to the metal grid in-between the two rings for a Draping DDT for the win.
This match was amazing, maybe even better than the match before. We saw in two bouts with two completely different styles. One was of a very fast, sometimes hard to keep up with style. The second one was slower and more dramatic match, but might have even gotten the attention even more from the crowd than the match before. I didn’t have any complaints whatsoever about this match. The crowd went nearly silent once Ciampa had officially won.
The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe), Pete Dunne & Ricochet
The main event was of course the War Games match. The match starts with one member of each team, with more joining throughout the match. The starting wrestler for The Undisputed Era was Adam Cole. The other team had Ricochet starting. With five minutes on the clock, Ricochet and Cole were in a standoff deciding who goes to whos ring. Ricochet did an amazing Springboard Uppercut from the rope of the ring beside the one that Cole was in. The next entrant was Kyle O’Reilly. Three minutes later Hanson came out, holding back Dunne who wanted to come out instead. Hanson did a spot where he took turns clotheslining Cole and O’Reilly in their respective corners. After that he did a Bronco Buster onto both wrestlers. I was surprised that he wasn’t dead after this spot because it looked extremely tiring. Ricochet did a Shooting Star Press onto O’Reilly, jumping off of Hanson’s back. The next wrestler to join the ring was Roderick Strong. I thought it was somewhat awkward each time a door was opened because the referees would take a good five seconds to open the door. Rowe got in next for his team. Rowe did an amazing spot where he slammed O’Reilly and Strong at the same time. Bobby Fish was taken out of his cage and went over to Pete Dunne’s cage. He attacked Dunne’s arm through the cage and then put his lock on Dunne’s lock and threw away the key. Fish brought in Undisputed Era branded chairs and was using them liberally on his opponents.
Dunne’s countdown eventually ended but he still couldn’t come into the ring. The referees eventually found a wrench and broke the lock. Dunne came in with a kendo stick. Before Dunne entered the ring Ricochet did a Crossbody off the top rope onto all of The Undisputed Era. Dunne threw two trash cans and two tables into the ring as well. After The Undisputed Era had the momentum for the longest time Dunne’s team was finally getting it back. Rowe bodyslammed Hanson onto O’Reilly then did a double team Clothesline onto Cole. UE regained control after throwing a garbage can at a War Raiders member. Cole gave Ricochet a Backstabber. This laid out all members of a team except for Dunne. Pete Dunne fought all four of them off, putting Fish into a Leg Lock. UE put Dunne in an Ankle Lock while everyone else from Dunne’s team were seperated in the other ring. Ricochet broke into enemy territory by going flying. Ricochet and Dunne both did a spot off of the top turnbuckle at the same time. After War Machine set up the two tables, Rowe got speared through one by Fish.
O’Reilly put Ricochet in a Triangle on a table, but Hanson broke it up by diving onto O’Reilly and going through the table. The pinfall was broken up by a garbage can hitting them. Ricochet and Cole both climbed to the top of the cage and traded blows. Cole was turned into a Superplex spot that included everyone except for Ricochet. Ricochet did a 450 Backflip onto everyone in the ring. Once everyone was up the two teams were separated by the two rings. They joined each other in the middle and started slugging it out once again. War Raider did a Fallout, then shortly after Hanson did a Handstand Double Back Elbow which was unexpected. Dunne tried for a move but Cole countered it into a DDT. Two moves later Cole did a Last Shot for a two count. Dunne hit a Bitter End, then Ricochet hit a splash for the three count.
This match was nothing short of madness. Absolute madness, and I loved every second of it. This really put the war in War Games. This didn’t win match of the night for me, but it was still great. The crowd was engaged from start to finish, much like they were for every other match on this show. I’d give match of the night to Gargano vs. Black since it was great wrestling with no gimmick stipulations. It’s been a while now since an NXT show was a let down to viewers. Dunne and Ricochet posed on top of the ring as the show went off air.