Sovereign S.A.M. here and I have the pleasure of writing the Afterglow for TakeOver: WarGames. I was excited for this year’s event because I thought it had been built rather well. Both WarGames matches had solid builds and so did two out of three of the other matches. The exception being Thatcher/Ciampa because it had the fewest amount of time for the build. I did give the women’s WarGames match up to Queen and you will see what she thought of that match. Let us see what NXT had for us this year with WarGames.
Team Candice vs Team Shotzi – WarGames Match (Queen KB)
Seeing Dakota start this match brings me back to the last WarGames and her fantastic heel turn on Tegan Nox. Then Shotzi came out in her new tank and I was in awe. They really went all out with this new tank for her, which she totally deserves. I loved how Trip and the guys made sure she had a helmet with horns when all of her stuff was stolen along with her car, so I knew they’d make her an epic new ride to the ring.
I loved seeing Ember and Shotzi readying for Raquel entering the ring, then they looked like a couple of gnats trying to beat on her and getting nowhere. That was expected as she’s an absolute physical force! I’m excited to see her face Charlotte, Shayna, Nia, and even Lacey, when her NXT run is done, which will be a while. Well, maybe. I could see her short-listed for the main roster, though I thought the same for Rhea and she’s still killing it in NXT. Though Rhea is about the only one who can stand up to Raquel in NXT right now.
One thing about matches like this is that they need to come up with new things each time to make them fresh. Io’s work outside the ring was new, creative, and unexpected. Adding in how Toni used her belt to keep Io out of the match and then finally chaining it closed. Even though Nox and Kai didn’t make it into the match last year and it ended, but couldn’t end this time until Io was in felt a bit #WWELogic for me, but they have to do things like this to keep these matches fresh.
As much as I loved this match, I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. It was perfect that Raquel got the three, though over the champion makes me think she’s next to go after Io, but it just didn’t feel enough like the end the way a lot of the other near-falls did. So, a great match with lots of big moves and serious bumps, but it’s just not as good as last year, for me.
One last thing I have to mention is the camera work for this one. I honestly didn’t feel like I got everything from this match that I could and that’s because the camera work seemed off, as if they didn’t know where to be and when, and I feel like we didn’t have a very good view of a lot of the best work in this match – compared to last year.
Finn Balor Promo
This was a short promo from Finn and he spoke about how everybody is tuning in for WarGames tonight. He then said that all eyes will be on him on Wednesday because the Prince will be back. I am interested to see who his next challenger will be because there are plenty of challengers for him.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
I was a bit worried when this match first started because it felt a bit slow at first. Thatcher’s style does tend to have matches take place in a slower pace and this was one of them. This also ended up being a nice physical match as well so that was a pleasant sight to see. It has been some time since I saw Ciampa engage in a match as physical as this and he was certainly up for the challenge. Thatcher is so good at working his submission game on people and isolating a body part. He worked on Ciampa’s neck and Ciampa sold the pain very well. Thatcher would also get his ear busted open and the sight of him smiling with blood running down his face was quite the sight. Ciampa would end up picking up the win here and the two shared a look after the match. I have a feeling this may not be the end of their feud and I am all for that.
Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis – Strap Match
I knew this match would be fun based on who was involved and it certainly lived up to it. I loved that Grimes came out with his own strap and would not participate in the match unless they used that one. I loved how Lumis didn’t say a word and the match would be on. Grimes got the jump on Lumis before the bell and he hoped that would give him the edge. Lumis would rebound though and the match was on. This match was a lot of fun and the two would deliver some nice strikes with the strap. They have good chemistry and it showed here again. Grimes looked to have the momentum but Lumis would fight back and would tie him up and put him in the Silence. Grimes would attempt to take the strap off to get out of it but Lumis would wrap the strap around his eyes and Grimes would tap. Really fun match and I cannot wait to see what Grimes and Lumis do after.
Karrion Kross Vignette
Vic and Wade were talking about a new toy from WWE when the lights would flicker. A vulture would appear atop the entrance ramp and a very familiar vignette would be played. Tick tock! It looks like Karrion Kross is coming back sooner rather than later and I am all for it.
Damian Priest vs Johnny Gargano vs Leon Ruff – NXT North American Championship Match
This match was so much fun but there was one odd thing. We did not get the full Damian Priest entrance and I do not remember a time in which that has happened at a TakeOver. I loved the story of Priest ignoring Ruff and being reluctant to engage him in the match. They did such a good job in building Ruff as this underdog and it was great to see that story progress during the match. I loved how Priest would finally give in and attack Ruff and sent him through the barricade with a Razor’s Edge. His reaction was perfect and it seemed like Ruff was done. This gave Priest and Gargano a chance to work on their own and it was fun. The match would pick back up when Ruff would return. Ruff really shined here and then Ghostface would appear. There would be six that would appear in the match to help Gargano and Priest was a house of fire in taking them out. He looked to be closing in on the win when a seventh Ghostface would appear and hit him with a lead pipe. Ruff then tried valiantly to retain his title but Gargano would hit him with his finisher and become a three-time champion. The man in the Ghostface mask would reveal himself to be Austin Theory and I couldn’t help but laugh at his impression of Vince McMahon when he was revealed as the higher power. This was an amazing match and was my favorite of the night. That was until the main event.
The Undisputed Era vs Team McAfee – WarGames Match
No words. There are no words that I can type right here can do this match justice. This was an amazing main event and easily slides in to the discussion of match of the year. This honestly could be the best WarGames match NXT has ever put on. This was just a masterclass in storytelling, ring work, characters and everything in between. There are two things that really came out of this match. Pat McAfee continues to prove how much of a natural he is at this and really proved himself by the bumps he took. The other thing is that Kyle O’Reilly can truly be a star if he ever strikes it solo. The way he smack talked McAfee in the ring and how much damage he took really showed how strong he is. There were so many spots that I lost track of how many times I yelled out “MAMMA MIA!!” because they came in droves. This was just an amazing main event and Kyle would be the one to get the pin for the Undisputed Era. All eight men showed out here and this truly is a match of the year contender. Bravo!
And That Is Undisputed
TakeOvers have a special place in all our hearts and this was a great one. No match was a dud and they all delivered in their own special way. The women’s WarGames match was a ton of fun and I do agree with Queen that the one from 2019 was better. That does not take away from how good the match was though. Thatcher/Ciampa was a good physical match and the strap match between Lumis and Grimes was great too. The lone title match was stellar and I hope Leon Ruff will be here to stay and they continue to build him. I am curious as to who will challenge Balor next and I am pleased that Kross will be returning. The main event was amazing on every level and it truly is a match of the year contender. All in all, a great outing by NXT.