NXT TakeOver: War Games

Okay, so I’ve given myself some time to absorb what I saw last night.  As we all know, “NXT TakeOver”-anything is for us – the hardcore wrestling fans.  This is the one that we’re destined to enjoy from top to bottom.  This is the one we can get completely caught up in and really get excited about.  For once, though, this show wasn’t perfect.  I’m still going to do what S.A.M. did last time and suspend grading because it’s pointless.  The issues I had with this show had nothing to do with the ring work.  It was just a couple of strange booking/producing things that merit mention.   Let’s get into it.

 

Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno

I’m honestly not quite sure why I saw what I saw.  This match wasn’t advertised as part of the show which, in reality, was a very smart move.  Riddle talked some trash in response to what Kassius said in the pre-show and while it certainly wasn’t good mic work, it wasn’t the train wreck that this past Wednesday was.  It then culminated in a “match”.  I put “match” in quotes because it lasted only about 5 seconds.  It was completely bizarre and while I’m sure they know where this is going, it wasn’t really done that well.  I get that Riddle is a big deal but I’m not invested in the least bit yet.  The knee delivered by Riddle to Ohno didn’t look great and it wouldn’t have felled a german shepherd let alone anyone else.  Anyway, the whole thing was over before it began and it didn’t really hurt that much so no real harm done.

 

Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane

Now, things get good.  This was just an excellent match.  This one had more involvement from Shayna’s buddies, Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir than any other match.  Lots of great back and forth between both of them.  Shayna is always vicious but we got some nice viciousness from Sane as well.  She also sells incredibly well.  Nothing Shayna did would have mattered if Sane hadn’t sold it so well.  Dakota Kai and Io Shirai came out to lend a hand when Jessamyn and Marina became too much for Sane.  The end was great too.  Loved that Sane looked to be winning the whole thing with the Insane Elbow only for Baszler to reverse the pin in an instant and keep her title.  Apparently, the aim is to keep some down in NXT and use it as a third legitimate brand.  Maybe the FS1 thing might not be just a rumor?  Time will tell.  Either way, Shayna is clearly staying.  As I said in my predictions, this feud is pretty long in the tooth so hopefully they’ve blown it off now but given the interference of Jessamyn, Marina, Io Shirai, and Dakota Kai, we may get that match before all is said and done.

 

Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano

Do you suppose Aleister and Johnny could just give us one terrible match?  Just to let us know they’re actually human?  This was an incredible match.  Heck, they all were but this was incredible-er than what came before it.  Yeah, I’m resorting to making up words now but whatever.  Shows like this warrant that.  The storytelling here as just phenomenal with Aleister just daring Johnny and Johnny unafraid to deliver.  Aleister’s “cross-legged” psychological games are just amazing.  The action just didn’t stop and there wasn’t much talking from us in “Dignified Discussion” last night.  In the end, it took repeated Black Mass Kicks to put Gargano down and Black gets his revenge.  Stellar match

 

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Velveteen Dream

How do you top a match with Aleister Black & Johnny Gargano in it?  You follow it with this one.  This match was even more incredible-er!  Really.  Velveteen Dream is an interesting character in that wins and losses mean nothing for him.  His ring work makes you believe that he’s never out of his depth and that he can win any match he’s in.  I’m not sure what his win/loss record is but I’m not even bothered to do the research.  It doesn’t matter.  Tommaso is quite simply a machine.  He also sells spectacularly well.  Dream was merciless on Tommaso’s knee and Tommaso sold the whole thing brilliantly.  Neither man was afraid to take this outside the ring and Tommaso even involved Mauro by throwing something at him and yelling at him before the match ended.  Tommaso took this one in the end and I like that decision.  Will Velveteen Dream get called up?  I fear for his gimmick as Vince has shown to not love gimmicks like this in the past.  Look what happened to Tyler Breeze when he was called up.  Tyler Breeze, like Velveteen Dream, is one heck of a worker and deserves so much better than he’s currently getting (which, really, is absolutely nothing).

 

War Games:  The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole [Bay Bay], Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, & Roderick Strong) vs. The War Machines (Rowe & Hanson), Ricochet, and Pete Dunne

The Undisputed Era was in the last War Games match and absolutely ripped the house down with Sanity.  I couldn’t imagine a War Games match being any better than that one.  I was right to think that way.  This one, while being a lot of fun, wasn’t as good.  During the chat, “Lewis” commented that it felt slower and I agree with him.  It also had some rather odd booking.  While I loved the idea of Fish getting out of the cage and locking Dunne in with another lock so that the refs couldn’t let him out, I didn’t love the refs just standing there while Fish put the lock on the door.  I mean…I know they had to but that makes zero sense.  Two refs could have stopped Fish from doing it…but they didn’t.  He got it done and really sold getting rid of the key.  Of course, they found some bolt cutters and got Dunne out.  The match never really picked up any noticeable speed but that didn’t keep it from being fun.  Cole suckering Ricochet up onto the top of the cage so he could attempt to throw him off was fun.  The table spots weren’t as big a deal as they should have been but Dunne is a master with the kendo stick/Singapore cane.  In the end, The Undisputed Era got beat and while that’s not what I predicted, I get it totally.  I’m also hearing that Bobby Fish had to be assisted out of the cage.  I hope he’s okay but he hasn’t been back from injury that long so I’m hoping something wasn’t re-aggravated.  He messed up both his ACL and MCL and has been wearing a big brace since his return a la Lars Sullivan.  Either way, despite the slow speed, this was a really fun match.

 

All in all, another great show from NXT.  This one had a few problems but on the whole, I am quite happy.  Velveteen Dream is absolutely a star and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  I’m also curious what happens with Aleister Black next now that Gargano has been vanquished.  See you next week when we find out!