Going into WarGames, I’m apprehensive. It really has become one of my favorite PPVs of the year. It’s right up there with the Big 4 for me. It’s not to the level of the Rumble, but it’s getting there.
One of the biggest issues I had with this WarGames show was the building of superstars who were not even on the PPV. I get that NXT 2.0 is building superstars because McMahon took it away from Trip and it’s all gone to shit, but I want to see the time dedicated to the matches, not to Tiffany talking about money or Elektra telling the backstage blonde that she’s a woman! Though I will admit that the GYV had me laughing aloud in a way they never have before.
Raquel González, Io Shirai, Cora Jade, and Kay Lee Ray vs. Dakota Kai and Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, and Jacy Jayne)
From the start with KLR holding her green bat and Kai with the kendo sticks, I knew this was going to be greatness. This is KLR’s type of match and I knew she would give us some wonderfully creative moments.
I knew Jade would bring a skateboard into the match. Johnny Ace might have ridden a skateboard down the ramp to the ring, but Darby Allin and Cora Jade are taking the skateboard as a weapon to the next level. Sadly I worry that it’s all part of the character and she’s not at all a skater. Anyone know for sure? Either way, the way she blew through Io and KLR playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would fly, to climb to the top and take out Jacy the way she did. The entirety of that part of the match was kinda epic, if she did a poor job of landing that one. Then Io ‘popping’ Jade’s shoulder back in with medical outside screaming at her not to. It’s something we have never seen happen, so I love that it was women who did it in such a high-profile match. Totally floored by what I just saw, and I love Io and Jade that much more from it.
Then there’s Mandy who looked like she was putting in the work, but half of her moves were executed badly in this match. Her knee on Jade, with Gigi and Jacy holding the young one, still missed by miles and looked horrible.
I thought, before a certain point, that this was going to be a 5 crown match, and then things started falling apart. It started with Jacy joining the match and devolved from there. I get that they want to push these young kids, but putting them in such a high profile match out of the gate is asking for trouble. I get wanting to push them, but Jade wasn’t ready to fly from the top, Jacy just can’t keep up with the rest of the younger generation, and Mandy looks like the mom to half of them out there. Her overly made-up look with the truly hoochie ring gear made her look 20+ years older than the rest, that she’s trying way too hard, or, maybe that she should have been performing in the Attitude Era. Her skills and look are much more suited for that era than to be working with these kids who are miles better than that.
Tag Team Championship Match
Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner
This was exactly what I expected from this match. Imperium were tight-lipped from the start while O’Reilly was sweaty and Wag all flying hair and uncertainty. I’m hoping he grows out of that uncertain look he has more often than not, but it might just be his look that he will always have and has very little to do with how nervous he actually is.
From there they gave us an amazing match with some truly beautiful moments. Hard-hitting, high flying, solid mat work, and everything in between. While O’Reilly doesn’t scream top WWE guy, he sure has been performing like once since UE started crumbling.
The love for Kyle O’Reilly at the end of the match was lovely. We all think he’s leaving, but that attack on Wagner makes me wonder if he’s sticking around and turning heel. I don’t know why he would, but I’d love it if he did.
Hair vs Hair
MatchCameron Grimes vs Duke Hudson
Technical Savage? Auntie Beth said it as if this was something we’d heard before. Either that or I have toned out announce much more than I ever thought possible. Now, I can’t say I disagree with the name, but it took me a while to truly see that Grimes was more than a bumbling idiot when I first saw him. I’ve since learned that he’s one of the shiningest stars on the NXT roster.
This was a fun match to watch but wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. That being said, no one ever seems to get how to use clippers when on TV and it’s time to remove hair. Hudson didn’t have much hair to start with, and he looks so much better without it.
NXT Cruiseweight Championship Match
Roderick Strong (c) (with The Diamond Mine) vs. Joe Gacy (with Harland)
I really didn’t know what to expect from this match going in. We’ve seen very little of Gacy in the ring. His snowflake character is something I’m more annoyed with than love or hate. I just don’t think he’s that great at getting it all across to the fans. Maybe it’s just me, but I think he’s failing miserably with the character. It feels very flat. Going off being very flat, Strong is beyond very flat, he’s truly boring. The man has no discernable charisma, and has never shown that he has even an ounce of personality. Possibly he’s a great guy in real life, but as a performer, he’s done nothing but bore me. That I don’t recognize him each time he comes out should say that he’s just not that good of a superstar. Yes, he has all the moves in the ring, but that doesn’t mean he’s great. It simply means that his body can do the physical side of the job, but that’s only 1/9 of what’s needed to be a great superstar.
This match left me with more confusion than anything. Gacy as a wrestler seems so different from Gacy the character, and I have serious issue with that. It’s not like Festus who turned into a wrestler when the bell rang, just a serious disconnect between the character and the work. In many ways Strong is also that way as he’s great in the ring, he just has no personality, ever! This match won’t be remembered, possibly beyond the week, because this just didn’t work. Gacy’s character hasn’t worked, and Strong just makes me yawn. Worst match of the night, by leaps and bounds.
Team Black & Gold (Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne, and LA Knight) vs. Team 2.0 (Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, and Tony D’Angelo) (with Trick Williams)
I missed part of the start of this match, which I’m sorry about, but I have to say that what I did see of the start wasn’t anywhere near as strong as the start to the first War Games match of the night. One thing I will say about the build to everyone being in the rings was all about Waller! That Aussie took some solid abuse, especially to his hands, from Dunne and the rest.
On the other hand Baby Steiner totally didn’t get into the match as easily as he was expecting to. Kane basically had to simply lift the HIAC door off the hinges as it was set up for him to get into the HIAC easily, so all the shaking and angst was for show. Bron (who will go by his first name for a while, even though I refer to those I truly respect by their last names, because it’s wrong that he’s not Steiner) was all bluster, but struggled with the bolt cutters to get into the ring. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been because he did know what he was doing, used the leverage of his chest for a solid base, and knew he had to cut both sides of the chainlink he was working on, but it didn’t look great because of all the bluster he had behind it.
I have to say that while I don’t think of Knight as old school NXT, he impressed me more in this match than he has in the past, and that’s including his pre-WWE work, but he really impressed me in this match.
I will say that Waller proved himself coming off that corner so much more than Coda Jade did. Jade impressed in other ways, but coming off the corner of the cage, it was all Waller. I see that video clip following his career for many years because of how that table exploded in all directions when he hit it.
I also have to admit I love the moment with D’Angelo and Dunne up top and the crowbar was used across Dunne’s face after the mouthguard was removed. It all looked good to the camera, even though I think the D’Angelo character is incredibly out of date and out of touch for WWE. Racially it’s just wrong.
DIY getting together for one last time in this match was a beautiful thing. My heart is broken that he’s leaving WWE as he and Ciampa were a major part of me falling in love with NXT in the first place. It makes me sad that they will be no more.
While I got the prediction of this one correctly, and I honestly figured Bron would take the three over Ciampa as they are building him to be The Guy on NXT, and pinning the Champ in this War Games was another massive step in the right direction.
Shut Up, I’m Venting Here!
Sadly this show wasn’t what I had hoped, but the War Games matches were both solid and were my most anticipated. There were great moments, but I expected a lot more than the young wrestlers could give at this point in their careers. I get that’s what NXT is about, but a lot of that feel that made NXT great was missing. I’m just sad right now.