Well, the NXT preview on the WWE website isn’t working, so the only thing I know for sure going into this is that Shotzi Blackheart and Raquel Gonzalez will fight for the WarGames advantage. I also know that Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley have joined Blackheart’s WarGames team. I think it’s safe to assume a lot of the show will be dedicated to building to Sunday’s NXT TakeOver WarGames.
Damian Priest & Leon Ruff def. Legado del Fantasma
Cameron Grimes def. August Grey
Jake Atlas def. Tony Nese
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Imperium – No Contest
Shotzi Blackheart def. Raquel Gonzalez
The show opened with the entire NXT roster and staff on the stage for a tribute to Pat Patterson who died this morning. They played My Way with him singing some of it and lots of photos and videos from his long and storied career. It finished with a ‘Thank you Pat’ chant. A moving tribute.
Damian Priest & Leon Ruff vs Legado del. Fantasma (Santos Escobar & Raul Mendoza)
This one came about after Legado del Fantasma had a confrontation with Priest backstage. Johnny Gargano joined commentary for the match and was arguing with Damian Priest before Leon Ruff came out. Joaquin Wilde was not with Legado del Fantasma.
Ruff started the match and struggled, but a knee to the face sent him into his own corner and Priest tagged in. Going into a break, Priest was distracted by Ghost Face in the crowd and took a suicide dive from Escobar.
It was Priest who did the hard work for the pin, delivering the Reckoning to Raul Mendoza, but Ruff tagged himself in and stole the glory with a Frogsplash.
There was more arguing with Johnny Gargano after the match. And there were two Ghost Faces in the crowd behind him.
Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley unveiled something to team captain Shotzi Blackheart. Whatever it was, it made her very happy. I guess we’ll see it on Sunday.
There was an in-depth and very reflective look at Undisputed ERA. It’s probably easier to just watch it.
Candice LeRae mocked Shotzi Blackheart’s team and said she has everything she needs to win on Sunday. Indi Hartwell was still in a neck brace and LeRae praised her for taking a bullet for the team. Raquel Gonzalez said Blackheart is going to feel like she got run over by a tank after their match tonight.
August Grey vs Cameron Grimes
Cameron Grimes brought a strap in a bag to the ring, then took it out of the bag and hung it over the ringpost. His strap match against Dexter Lumis on Sunday clearly on his mind. It was a good match for August Grey to show off a bit more of what he could do, but it finished with Grimes’ Cave In.
After the match Grimes shouted to Dexter Lumis that he made a mistake if he wants to be strapped up to him. Then he gave a demonstration by attaching the strap to Grey and taking him down with a clothesline before whipping him with the strap. Grey rolled out of the ring and Grimes said he could still pull him in, only Lumis was on the other end of the strap. Grimes screamed and took a couple of punches and whips with the strap before he escaped.
Jake Atlas vs Tony Nese
Jake Atlas dedicated the match to Pat Patterson. Watching these matches makes me think I need to start watching 205 Live again. Jake Atlas is great. Tony Nese is great. Unsurprisingly, the match was great. Interestingly, commentary spent a lot of the match talking Atlas up, even if it was split-screened for a little while to show Pat McAfee and friends arriving.
Logically, if Jake Atlas doesn’t want to get lost in NXT’s immense talent pool, he needs to start picking up some wins. The night he dedicated the match to one of his inspirations, was a good time to start. He kicked out of a couple of finishers, including a kick to the head that should have put him out, and finished the match with that gorgeous cartwheel DDT.
Atlas had a post-match interview with McKenzie Mitchell. He said it’s three steps back to take one big step forward. His whole life he’s turned it around when he wanted to give up. He’s not champion but he’s turned it around with a win and he’s not giving up until he gets back to Santos Escobar.
William Regal narrated a WarGames video explaining the rules, but we’ll leave that for Sunday.
Pat McAfee, Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch, and Pete Dunne came to the ring. McAfee started by paying his respects to Pat Patterson, then insulted everyone else from fans to Undisputed ERA. He wasn’t impressed by Undisputed ERA’s night out. He talked about how amazing his crew are and said he wants all the wrestling fans to imagine they’re in Undisputed ERA on Sunday so they can feel everything he does to them.
Pete Dunne is still exceptionally, distractingly, orange. He grabbed the mic to say, ‘This Sunday we end the Undisputed ERA’. McAfee said that’s a promise, they’re the greatest and we all suck.
Xia Li were dunking their heads in water repeatedly on the orders of the one they called Master last week. When that was over they were ordered to stand up and hit across the back with kendo sticks.
Grizzled Young Veterans versus Ever-Rise was the scheduled match, but Imperium attacked Parker and Martel before Gibson and Drake got to the ring and threw them over the barricades. They were there to remind everyone, especially Grizzled Young Veterans that they own the tag division. So we got an upgrade.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Imperium
It’s always nice to get two good teams who know each other well. The tag division in NXT has been its weak point for a while, not from a quality standpoint, just suffering from robbery by the main roster. Grizzled Young Veterans and Imperium being back helps immensely.
Highly entertaining match if you like watching two teams beating the absolute hell out of each other. I do, so it was fun. They’re so evenly matched it could have gone either way from the first moment to the last. Fabian Aichner took Marcel Barthel out as well as Drake and Gibson, with his dive off the top turnbuckle to the floor.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, we were denied a result at that point. Ever-Rise came back and destroyed everyone then ran away when they started to get up. They walked straight out to their car, still shouting that they rule, and drove away.
Thatch as Thatch can was supposed to be on distraction, but Tommaso Ciampa was in the ring when Thatcher turned around to start the lesson. Ciampa said he was there to teach. Thatcher told Ciampa he doesn’t have a problem with him. Ciampa called him a disappointment. Thatcher eventually attacked him and got him on the mat, but a forearm from Ciampa put him down. Thatcher’s student attacked Ciampa and let Thatcher blindside Ciampa and take control. They went to ringside and Thatcher threw Ciampa into the barricades a couple of time then back in the ring. Ciampa fought back, but Thatcher put him to sleep.
We have our fifth WarGames match. Thatcher confirmed it after a break.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Raquel Gonzalez – WarGames Advantage Ladder match
As with the men’s advantage ladder match last week, the teams were isolated on separate podiums to watch the match and keep them out of it.
I question the sense of having a match like this less than a week before the WarGames match. At least the men had an extra week to recover. Ladder matches are never gentle things, and this one was brutal way before anyone had a serious climb of a ladder.
What Blackheart gave up in strength she made up for in speed and agility, but that didn’t help when she was being slammed face-first into the apron or hit with the steps. It did help her to dart up the ladder when Gonzalez was already near the top and prevent her retrieving the briefcase.
Gonzalez got her face smashed into the ladder by Blackheart’s body crashing into her back. Blackheart hurt herself delivering double knees from the top turnbuckle to the outside. While they were both down, Indo Hartwell put a ladder against the podium with LeRae, Kai, and Storm on it and they climbed down. By the time they got to Gonzalez, Ripley and Moon were down too.
Indi Hartwell tried to climb the ladder but Blackheart stopped her. Gonzalez levelled Blackheart with a clothesline and started her ascent. A scrap broke out at ringside so no one saw Io Shirai launch herself onto Gonzalez’ back from the top rope. Gonzalez had to get down and to the ropes to prise her off and Shirai low-bridged her over when she charged at her. Shirai went to the top and with a beautiful moonsault took down everyone at ringside, including at least one official. Shotzi Blackheart was the only person still standing because she was the other side, so she took her time and unhooked the case to give her team the advantage.
Team Blackheart – Shotzi Blackheart, Rhea Ripley, Ember Moon, & Io Shirai posed on the ladder to close the show while team LeRae scowled at them from the ramp.
Well, I’m ready for NXT TakeOver WarGames. Wade Barrett and Sam Roberts will be hosting the Pre-Show on Sunday with Ariel Helwani.
The card looks good, as TakeOvers generally do.
- Women’s WarGames match – Shotzi Blackheart, Rhea Ripley, Ember Moon, &, vs Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, & Raquel Gonzalez
- Men’s WarGames match – Undisputed ERA vs Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, & Danny Burch
- Leon Ruff (C) vs Johnny Gargano vs Damian Priest – Triple-threat NXT North American Championship match
- Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes – Strap Match
- Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher