November 24, 2019

NXT TakeOver WarGames – REVIEW

At the beginning of the Pre-show it was announced that Mia Yim had been attacked backstage. We saw footage of her being seen by medics, and were later told that she won’t be able to compete. Rhea Ripley didn’t have long to find a replacement because their match was set to open the show. Obviously, she picked Dakota Kai… see where this is going yet? There was also a Pre-show match for the first time ever – see below. The Pre-show was weird because they hosted it from the stage, so it was echoey and felt disjointed. Finally, Pat McAfee did some kind of weird hype thing. Genuinely not sure what the hell that was.

WarGames Rules

One member of each team starts.

After five minutes a member of the team with the advantage is released from the holding pen.

Three minutes later a member of the opposition is allowed to join then they alternate every three minutes until everyone is in the ring.

Only when everyone is in the ring does the match officially start.

If anyone escapes from the cage, they forfeit the match for their team. Only a pinfall or submission can end the match.




Angel Garza def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott

Team Ripley – Rhea Ripley & Candice LeRae def. Team Baszler – Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, & Kay Lee Ray

Pete Dunne def. Damian Priest and Killian Dain

Finn Balor def. Matt Riddle

Team Ciampa – Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, & Kevin Owens def. The Undisputed ERA




Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Angel Garza – Pre-show match

This was the first time there has been a match on a TakeOver Pre-show, and it was a fun little warmup for the crowd. Lots of personality, lots of charisma, and lots of talent and a fair amount of posturing on both sides. Both these guys are looking to rise up through the ranks after the Breakout Tournament, and a TakeOver match is a good endorsement even on the Pre-show. It got longer than I expected from a match on a half-hour show. A Death Valley Driver and a double stomp on the outside looked to have taken Garza down, but he kicked out after the House Call. A knee delivered after Swerve had caught the attempted low blow gave Garza the opportunity to deliver the Wing Clipper. He took it and got the win.

Isaiah 'Swerve' Scott flies onto a posing Angel Garza
All photo credits:


Team Baszler – Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, & Kay Lee Ray vs Team Ripley – Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai – WarGames match

Io Shirai opted to start for Team Baszler, so Candice LeRae went in for Team Ripley. They went at it much too hard for the first five minutes, but you would have expected nothing less.

Team Baszler had the advantage, courtesy of Io Shirai’s assisted victory over Mia Yim, so Bianca Belair joined the match next. Candice LeRae resisted the numbers as long as she could, but she basically got beaten up for two of the three minutes.

Rhea Ripley was next out for her team. She brought trashcans and kendo sticks and chairs into the ring, then set about using them. Kay Lee Ray joined three minutes later and brought more chairs. The crowd were chanting for tables to Ray pulled one half out from under the ring then shoved it back under with a sneer.

The compulsory tower of doom happened with Rhea Ripley bringing down Io Shirai, Lay Lee Ray, and Candice LeRae. Bianca Belair was left on the top turnbuckle, and hit the chairs as well as her target with her 450 onto Ripley.

Dakota Kai was released from the pen, but instead of joining the match, she beat up Tegan Nox, including smashing her knee in the door and taking the brace off Nox’s knee. She also attacked William Regal when he came out to drag her away. She was forced off the stage, but came back and had another go at Nox before screaming at Ripley from the stage.

Dakota Kai slams Tegan Nox's knee in the holding pen door

Shayna Baszler took a moment to look at Tegan Nox when she was released, but Nox was so out of it she didn’t do anything. Baszler strolled to the ring and it became Baszler, Belair, and Ray, against Ripley for a while.

Commentary announced the official start of the match because Kai had been removed and Nox was unable to compete. So, four on two it was.

Despite being outnumbered, Ripley and LeRae fought hard and had each other’s backs and Team Baszler struggled to put them away as the moves got bigger and the strikes got more intense. Candice LeRae’s poison-rana on Kay Lee Ray from near the top of the cage, and Io Shirai’s moonsault onto LeRae and Kay Lee Ray from the very top, were just two of the highlights.

Io Shirai moonsaults off the top of the cage onto Bianca Belair and Candice LeRae

It got weird when Ripley handcuffed herself to Shayna Baszler while in the Kirifuda Clutch. It worked though, she delivered a Riptide onto the chairs and pinned Baszler to take the win.


Damian Priest vs Killian Dain vs Pete Dunne

They had a tough job to follow that WarGames match, but Pete Dunne’s enduring popularity with the NXT crowds helped. Brilliantly crafted match. Pete Dunne got thrown onto an announce desk. Damian Priest got cannonballed through a barricade. Fingers got snapped. People got flattened and levelled and kicked and stomped into oblivion. There were dives and moonsaults and all that good stuff. It was genuinely great.

Pete Dunne had to break up Priest’s pin on Dain after a Razor’s Edge. Dunne would have tapped out Priest with an armbar if it were not for Dain kicking him in the head. Killian Dain had his pin on Priest broken up by Dunne, and Dunne’s Bitter End pin on Dain was also broken… and so it went on.

Killian Dain holds Pete Dunne upside down with Damia Priest laying at his feet.

Eventually, the deadlock was broken when Killian Dain dropped Pete Dunne on Damian Priest. Dunne kicked Dain out of the ring and pinned Priest before he could get back in.

Pete Dunne faces Adam Cole for the NXT Championship at Survivor Series.


Finn Balor vs Matt Riddle

Balor is back to reclaim NXT as his own. Matt Riddle is… well, Matt Riddle is Matt Riddle and that’s ok. He pretty much always looks like he’s having the time of his life, and there’s something very enjoyable about that.

Balor has a new attitude in and out of the ring. He’s going for hyper-aggressive and mildly sadistic judging on this performance. Riddle can play that way too, which led to an entertaining and impactful match, if a little methodical in places. I like both Balor and Riddle in the ring generally, but something about this match didn’t really click for me. The match wasn’t bad, there was nothing wrong with it. It was clearly very good in places. It just didn’t draw me in. The match finished with Balor’s 1916 DDT.

Matt Riddle tries to submit Finn Balor


The Undisputed ERA vs Team Ciampa – Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic

Ciampa was in face paint, so he really meant business. When he came out he went straight to the ring, leading from the front. Roderick Strong went down to join him and the match, or pre-match, began. But the fourth member of Tommaso Ciampa’s team was not revealed and locked in the pen. Ciampa had the crutch with him. He left it for Strong to pick up, but Strong said he didn’t need it to beat him and threw it out. Weird, when neither one can beat the other in the opening segment. The object is just to do damage, and the crutch would have helped.

That said, they did a pretty good job of damaging each other before Kyle O’Reilly joined the match – Adam Cole having won the advantage for his team on Wednesday’s NXT. Predictably, Tommaso Ciampa spent a lot of the next three minutes getting beaten up.

Dominik Dijakovic came in to even the numbers and took on both Strong and O’Reilly. It was all Team Ciampa for that section, then Bobby Fish came in.

In contrast to the women’s WarGames match, there were no toys in the ring at that point. Undisputed ERA quickly took over with the numbers advantage restored, and Ciampa and Dijakovic took a lot of punishment before Keith Lee was released from the holding pen.

Keith Lee is one hell of an equaliser, which explains why all three members of Undisputed ERA tried to take him out.

Undisputed ERA's Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly kick the backs of Keith Lee's knees to stop him spirit bombing Roderick Strong

Adam Cole took a long time getting tables out from under the ring and passing them into the ring. Suspiciously, Cole set a table up against the barricade opposite the door, and was promptly sent through it by Ciampa. At this point we still didn’t know if Ciampa’s team would have a fourth member, but the clock was counting down as the two teams brawled.

Of course, there was a fourth member. After a suitably dramatic pause, during which Undisputed ERA derided Ciampa for not finding anyone, Kevin Owens came out.

It was perfect. Owens got beaten up by Undisputed ERA on RAW, so having them all trapped in a big cage was just what he wanted. And It’s a long time since I’ve seen Kevin Owens look this into it. He almost pinned Adam Cole within the first minute or two.

Adam Cole delivered a Panama Sunrise to Kevin Owens on the metal plate connecting the two rings, but couldn’t capitalise.

Adam Cole climbed the cage and just laid on the top. Tommaso Ciampa climbed up to join him and they scrapped up there.

Kevin Owens splashes Kyle O'Reilly through a table to get him to let go of Dominik Dijakovic. Adam COle and Tommaso Ciamp on top of the cage in the background

The tables were teased for a long time before they were used. Roderick Strong was the first to go through one, courtesy of Dominik Dijakovic. Kyle O’Reilly went through the next thanks to Kevin Owens, and Keith Lee put Bobby Fish through a third.

Tommaso Ciampa finished the match by putting Adam Cole on his back and jumping off the top of the cage, putting them both through two tables and landing in a pinning position. Good job, because neither of them moved for a good couple of minutes afterwards.

Undisputed ERA's Adam Cole lies under TOmmaso Ciampa having been pinned



Final word

A mid-show update informed us that both Mia Yim and Tegan Nox were taken to a ‘local medical facility’. Tegan Nox is having an MRI on the knee she previously injured.

On the post-show Facebook Live, Rhea Ripley was named Survivor Series team captain. She named Candice LeRae first, as the only person she knows she can trust. She also picked Bianca Belair and Io Shirai, and her final pick was Toni Storm. That’s a hell of a team.


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