Within an hour or so of NXT TakeOver War Games being announced, the men’s match had been decided. It will be Undisputed ERA versus Pat McAfee and his… friends? Colleagues? Pawns? Lackeys? Whatever they are Pete Dunne will be representing them in a ladder match against one of Undisputed ERA to earn the advantage in the match. Ember Moon faces Candice LeRae after LeRae and Indi Hartwell attacked her and Toni Storm last week. Those are the only advertised matches, but we do get Kevin Owens on commentary for the night.
Candice LeRae def. Ember Moon
Kushida def. Timothy Thatcher
Cameron Grimes def. Jake Atlas
Pete Dunne def. Kyle O’Reilly
Candice LeRae, with Indi Hartwell, vs Ember Moon
Indi Harwell’s distraction backfired when Moon caught LeRae’s baseball slide and dumped her face-first on the announce desk. Before Ember Moon got back in the ring, she punched Hartwell in the face. Candice LeRae wasn’t interested in fighting, she had to be brought back from escape attempts a couple of times before she decided to stay.
Once she did, it was a good match. Unfortunately, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez turned up heading into a break, leaving Moon in a four on one situation. They were at ringside when we came back, but LeRae wasn’t in need of their help. She could have done with it a little later, after she’d failed to put Moon away with a Gargano Escape and a sleeper.
Ember Moon got LeRae in position for an Eclipse with the help of a couple of suplexes but Kai and Gonzalez distracted the ref while Hartwell shoved her out of the way and took the Eclipse herself. Before Moon could recover from delivering it, LeRae superkicked her in the head and finished it with the Wicked Stepsister.
After the match, LeRae, Kai, and Gonzalez surrounded Moon and started the attack, but Moon escaped. Toni Storm arrived and helped her up and hugged her. They agreed to rush the ring together but as Moon slid in Storm pulled her back out and threw her into the steps then back into the ring. Ember Moon fought back but was quickly overcome.
Legado del Fantasma had a very self-congratulatory about all the people they’ve taken out since they teamed up. Looks like Curt Stallion is next on their hitlist.
Undisputed ERA came to the ring for a chat. It is surprisingly good to see them, it’s especially good to see them all healthy at the same time. They’re not impressed by Pat McAfee and company. Adam Cole is looking forward to getting at McAfee in the WarGames cage though. Actually, they’re all looking forward to getting the whole group into the cage because WarGames is their match.
Kyle O’Reilly asked if he could take the match. He said he needs it because of Halloween Havoc. They agreed and Adam Cole talked him up. This is a different Kyle O’Reilly, an angry one. He looked it, and also like he may not have slept for a while. And this time Undisputed ERA are fighting to drag McAfee and co. to hell.
Candice LeRae introduced McKenzie Mitchell to her WarGames team, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, and Toni Storm. Storm said she told people they’d see a new Toni Storm when she came back.
Timothy Thatcher vs Kushida
Tommaso Ciampa watched the match sat on a chair at the bottom of the ramp. Kevin Owens amused me by commenting on how many of the intricate holds and submissions in the match he couldn’t do, and excitedly pointing out moves he could do.
There was a lot of intricacy to comment on, and a lot of brutality. Timothy Thatcher landed on his face in a spill out of the ring and bloodied his nose. He also ran himself into the post because he was staring at Ciampa for too long. Kushida couldn’t capitalise, or maintain the advantage but Thatcher got distracted again when Ciampa stood up and found himself tapping in a Hoverboard Lock.
Ciampa looked into the camera and said, ‘Maybe he has a problem with me now’, then left. Looking at the way Thatcher started after him, I think he probably does.
Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai talked through their match last week. Ripley still doesn’t have full feeling in one arm and the table destroyed her back. They said a lot of nice things about each other, only some of them grudgingly. And it finished with Ripley questioning where she goes from here.
Pete Dunne had Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch backing him in his pre-match interview. He said Kyle O’Reilly put Balor out for two months, but he would have put him out for two years. He’s convinced he’ll win the ladder match, of course.
Before he introduced Leon Ruff to the Kevin Owens Show, Owens said any time he’s invited back to NXT he’ll be there. As soon as Ruff was out and seated, Owens turned the floor to him to tell his story.
He only signed his contract seven weeks ago and it’s been a whirlwind. Owens showed the clip where he put the belt on and it fell down. Ruff wasn’t pleased because it was embarrassing. Ruff was talking about living his dream and wanting to be an inspiration. Owens tried to get him to be louder and more confident and he did, but he mentioned beating Johnny Gargano twice.
Owens said when you mention someone on the KO show they always come out. He was off on the countdown to Gargano’s music hitting, but only by a few seconds. Gargano mentioned Damian Priest, and the same thing happened, including Owens being off on the count. Owens kept offering people chairs, then just sat and watched them arguing. One of the chairs came in handy when Gargano pushed him over into one.
The arguing continued with Priest saying he never got a rematch for the title and reminding Ruff he said he’d take them both on. Owens said it was a shame they didn’t have Teddy Long to come out and make a triple-threat. If only there was an NXT version. William Regal came out and made the triple-threat for War Games. He even threw in a ‘Playa’ which got a laugh out of Owens (and me).
Is Shotzi Blackheart going to advertise all the NXT PPVs now? I’m more than ok with that because the Halloween Havoc and now War Games promos have all been great.
Cameron Grimes vs Jake Atlas
Cameron Grimes could do with regaining a bit of credibility after the Halloween Havoc related shenanigans. Jake Atlas badly needs a few wins. Sadly, he didn’t get one in this short match. There wasn’t even time for him to showcase himself further. It lasted just about long enough for Owens to say nice things about both of them before Grimes finished it with a Cave In.
Dexter Lumis arrived post-match, with a bag in his hand and pointed to the video wall which showed a cartoon drawing of Grimes running away and some footage from their Haunted House of Terror match. He produced a strap from the bag and threw one end to Grimes. Lumis wants a strap match, presumably to stop Cameron Grimes running away from him all the time. Grimes made it very clear he does not.
After a break, Grimes denied he’s still scared of Dexter Lumis. William Regal intercepted him leaving and said he thinks Dexter Lumis’ suggestion is something the NXT Universe wants to see. Grimes said he wasn’t doing it. Regal told him he was, at NXT TakeOver War Games. Cameron Grimes asked Regal why he hates him so much. William Regal said it’s probably his personality.
Rhea Ripley said Io Shirai is one of the toughest women she’s stepped in the ring with. There’s been some speculation about her future since last Wednesday. She understands the hug caused it but that was nothing but respect. It wasn’t a send-off and she’s not going anywhere. She’s focused on the title and she won’t stop.
Candice LeRae and Toni Storm appeared on the stage and LeRae talked a lot of trash about Ripley and Shirai. She finished by saying Ripley talks but can’t back it up but she can talk the talk and walk the walk, at which point Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai joined them. Gonzalez had an unconscious Io Shirai over her shoulder.
They dumped Shirai on the ramp and rushed the ring. Ripley bypassed LeRae, Kai, and Storm and met Gonzalez then headed back to the ring for the fight. Considering it was four on one, Rhea Ripley did pretty well for a little while. She was quickly overpowered though and Gonzalez threw her shoulder first into opposing ringposts.
Boa and Xia Li were being driven somewhere. They addressed the person who greeted them as Master and were both visibly distressed. They cried and begged forgiveness from a hooded figure until they were told to stop and symbols were put on their hands. There was the briefest flash of the eye of the figure as the segment ended.
Grizzled Young Veterans are back in NXT. They attacked Ever-Rise and reminded everyone who they are. Well, Zack Gibson reminded everyone, James Drake made sure Ever-Rise stayed down.
Candice LeRae, with Indi Harwell in a neck brace, said anyone stupid enough to join Shotzi Blackheart’s team will be run over. She’s going to win at War Games and next week Raquel Gonzalez will secure them the advantage by beating Shotzi Blackheart.
Pete Dunne vs Kyle O’Reilly – WarGames Advantage Ladder Match
So, whoever wins this one gets a member of their team released from the WarGames cages first. Undisputed ERA and Burch & Lorcan were watching from separate platforms, so they wouldn’t be able to interfere.
Pete Dunne got back into the ring after being catapulted into the barricades face first, and shoved over the ladder O’Reilly was halfway up. O’Reilly fell off and the ladder fell on him as well. He put the ladder on O’Reilly’s hand when he started climbing. O’Reilly wrenched it free and pulled Dunne’s leg through the rungs. As payback, Dunne powerbombed him into a ladder so hard he bounced about a foot. Heading into the break, Pete Dunne suplexed O’Reilly off the apron and they both crashed through a ladder balanced between the ring and barricades.
O’Reilly tried to put Dunne to sleep but had damaged his hand punching a chair and couldn’t keep it on, so he kneed him and suplexed him onto a ladder laid in the ring. He went to the top but when he jumped down his knee made contact with the ladder and he rolled out of the ring screaming. Pete Dunne climbed the ladder, but O’Reilly was back in time to drag him down with an ankle lock. Dunne went for a dropkick but got ladder when O’Reilly moved.
They had an exchange where they were pulling each other into a ladder, then shoving it at each other, before they both climbed to the top. Neither of them could get the case. Dunne hit O’Reilly with a chair and gave him a Bitter End onto and over the barricade then climbed the ladder, but O’Reilly tipped him off onto a ladder propped in the corner. O’Reilly slowly climbed up, but a masked figure appeared and tipped him down to the floor after a brief tangle in the ropes.
Pete Dunne climbed the ladder and picked up the advantage for his team.
Four matches and easily the longest NXT review I’ve done in a long time. That reflects how much talking there was tonight. Building to NXT TakeOver War Games with just three weeks in total to do it requires a lot of telling rather than showing.
Kevin Owens was a delight on commentary. He’s funny and insightful and very genuine in the way he talks about the wrestlers and the action. I wish they’d bring him back for TakeOver.