Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of NXT TakeOver: War Games from the Capitol Wrestling Center in Florida featuring two War Games matches.
Later tonight, Braden Herrington & Davie Portman will have an NXT TakeOver: War Games POST Show and are hosting a LIVE Watch Along.
*War Games: The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong) def. Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch) in 45:00
*NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano def. Leon Ruff (champion) and Damian Priest in 17:30
*Strap Match: Dexter Lumis def. Cameron Grimes in 12:55
*Tommaso Ciampa def. Timothy Thatcher in 16:46
*War Games: Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez) def. Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai) in 35:22
On the pre-show, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani joined hosts Wade Barrett and Sam Roberts for the final segment hyping up the War Games show. Helwani made fun of Roberts and essentially cut a heel promo on him while promoting past War Games and comparing Team McAfee to the L.A. Lakers. It was a pretty entertaining segment.
Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, and Wade Barrett are calling the event.
TEAM SHOTZI (Shotzi Blackheart, Io Shirai, Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley) VS TEAM CANDICE (Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez) IN A WAR GAMES MATCH
Shotzi Blackheart came out in a new tank and fired a shot towards Dakota Kai in the ring.
The match began with Dakota Kai and Ember Moon with a five-minute period. Kai hit the Kai-ropractor off the turnbuckle attacking Moon’s back as the clock counted down.
Shotzi Blackheart was the third entrant into the match. She brought a crowbar and toolbox into the ring. Moon was down allowing Kai and Blackheart to isolate themselves in a separate ring. Blackheart and Moon took turns selling, so it was never 2-on-1 for the babyfaces against Kai until they executed one double-team maneuver near the end of the time period.
The fourth entrant was Raquel Gonzalez. Moon and Blackheart attacked Gonzalez immediately but were fought off quickly.
Rhea Ripley entered the match next for the showdown with Gonzalez. The others got involved as the two monsters were separated with Ripley paired with Kai. In the other ring, Blackheart came off the middle rope with a Code Red on Gonzalez. Ripley took a mallet out of the toolbox and attacked Kai. Ripley and Gonzalez cleared the way in their respective rings and fought in the center.
Toni Storm joined the match and brought kendo sticks into the ring allowing the heels to take control. Ripley sold her back after being sent into the exposed buckle and tossed into the cage.
The final entrant for Team Shotzi was Io Shirai, who brought a ladder inside the ring. Gonzalez repeatedly blocked Shirai from entering the ring, which was a clever way to prevent the numerical advantage for Team Shotzi until the clock ran out. Storm used her belt to lock the door while Gonzalez stopped Shirai from climbing the cage to enter.
Candice LeRae was the final entrant and was confronted by Shirai outside the ring. Indi Hartwell came from behind and attacked Shirai. LeRae entered the ring and they used a chain to lock the door with Shirai outside and Hartwell taking the key. Team Candice attacked Team Shotzi with the weapons.
Finally, Shirai appeared on top of the cage, placed a trash can on top of her head (The Great Sasuke spot), and leaped off the cage onto everyone inside the ring. The babyfaces ran wild with the addition of Shirai.
Kai hit a double foot stomp onto a trash can covering Shirai and led to a near-fall where the camera cut away and they explained that Moon made the save.
Moon set up two chairs and hit the Eclipse on Kai onto both, which looked wild.
Blackheart came off a ladder with a senton onto LeRae, who had a chair that Blackheart landed on.
It ended with Gonzalez blocking a ‘rana by Shirai on the top of the buckle and was put through a ladder that was draped across two chairs with Gonzalez pinning the NXT women’s champion.
WINNERS: Team Candice (Raquel Gonzalez pins Io Shirai) at 35 minutes and 22 seconds
This was a spectacular War Games match with Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez being the two with the largest spotlight including the ending sequence that should set up a future championship match.
There was tremendous risk taken by Shirai with the two spots involving the trash can covering her upper body when she came off the top of the cage and taking the double stomp from Kai. I’m never a fan of stunts where the performer cannot anticipate the impact of the spot with their vision eliminated.
They had a nice struggle involving Shirai being left out of the match until the grand entrance coming off the cage and no doubt with a live audience, this would have torn the house down.
TOMMASO CIAMPA VS TIMOTHY THATCHER
This was a completely different match than anything else we are likely to see on the card. It was a physical match including Thatcher bleeding from the left ear that added an intensity to the match to convey the struggle.
Thatcher was working for submissions early on before going after the neck and throat area. The announcers played a big role in explaining that when Ciampa went for neck surgery, they had to enter through the throat to add an extra layer to Thatcher’s attack while also being a prelude for his guillotine submission.
Referee Drake Wuertz was checking on Ciampa and seeing if he could continue. Thatcher applied the standing guillotine that he used this past Wednesday but Ciampa fought the hold and they went to the floor. Ciampa applied a bulldog choke and used strikes to weaken Thatcher, who got to the rope.
Ciampa used a backslide and Thatcher went into the ropes where Ciampa caught him, attacked with chops and a knee strike before hitting Willow’s Bell off the rope, and pinned Thatcher.
WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 16:46
In a vacuum, it was a strong effort from both with a different style than your typical WWE/NXT presentation but it worked along with the announcers assisting with the story involving the throat. For the life of me, I don’t understand why KUSHIDA submitted Thatcher two weeks ago as it downplayed the significance of this win, which wasn’t even a submission. It’s not like KUSHIDA was being heated up for something on tonight’s show and that match could have been held off until after tonight.
Afterward, they implied the two had a newfound respect for the other.
DEXTER LUMIS VS CAMERON GRIMES IN A STRAP MATCH
Grimes brought his own strap, which had a blindfold attached and was the one they used. Prior to Lumis being attached to the strap, Grimes attacked before Lumis fought back and attached his wrist.
Grimes was attempting to escape from Lumis and was tossed around ringside. Lumis was thrown over the barricade but his hand appeared and rose from the ashes. In the ring, Grimes placed the blindfold on Lumis, who still hit a spine buster.
Lumis was seated on a chair as Grimes went for the Cave-In and was caught with the head-and-arm choke (“Silence”) and tried to counter. It ended with Lumis knocking Grimes into the chair and tying his legs before applying Silence and submitting Grimes.
WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 12:55
Grimes is a great character and a solid performer, but this feud has never hit big with me. I thought this match dragged at many points and was awaiting the inevitable ending where Grimes was caught in the submission. I don’t know how far you can take the Lumis character on this roster where the bar is so high for an in-ring performer and he’s not at that level. On the main roster, they may love the character but it’s an interesting question of where you go next with this feud appearing to reach its expiration after this match.
There was a promo spot teasing Killer Kross’ return with the words “Tick Tock”.
LEON RUFF VS JOHNNY GARGANO VS DAMIAN PRIEST FOR THE NXT NORTH AMERICAN TITLE
The match had its moments including Ruff’s near-falls where he plays his role great as the underdog that’s overmatched trying to backdoor his way to victory.
Priest didn’t want to hurt Ruff but finally got frustrated and sent him through the barricade with a Border Toss to temporarily remove him.
Gargano was smooth throughout the match and was the glue throughout. Ruff returned with a dive off stage into the ring followed by a somersault dive to the floor on both.
Ruff’s big spots were hitting the crucifix bomb on Gargano, which is how he won the title and landing a frog splash while Priest had his back turned.
The ending was overdone as six people in Scream masks appeared and Priest took them all out. He appeared to be on the verge of victory going for the Reckoning when a seventh “Ghostface” appeared and hit Priest with a pipe. This eliminated Priest and Gargano hit One Final Beat and pinned Ruff.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano to win the North American title in 17:30
After the match, the final Ghostface was revealed to be Austin Theory, so he’s back.
Booking wise, it was a wise choice to get the title back on someone credible for the sake of the belt, although Ruff was entertaining for the short reign he had.
It would appear the long-term story is Priest battling his way back to the championship but has another obstacle placed in his way in Austin Theory.
I liked the match, they tried to be clever using Ruff and come up with some interesting three-way spots.
There will be a special edition of NXT called “New Year’s Evil” airing Wednesday, January 6th, 2021.
THE UNDISPUTED ERA (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong) VS TEAM McAFEE (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch) IN A WAR GAMES MATCH
The match began with Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne, who began with a grappling match. I could have watched these two go for a half-hour, excellent chemistry. O’Reilly used a standing guillotine and drilled Dunne with a knee. Dunne went for the X-plex and transitioned to an armbar, while O’Reilly countered with a heel hook as time expired.
Oney Lorcan entered the match next. Dunne used a surfboard on O’Reilly as Lorcan delivered strikes. The two attacked O’Reilly’s left knee.
Bobby Fish was the fourth entrant in War Games followed by Danny Burch. Burch brought a cricket bat into the ring to use as a weapon. O’Reilly caught Burch in a kneebar, Burch started to tap, but the match cannot end until everyone is in the ring. When Burch was free, he blasted O’Reilly with the cricket bat across the back.
Roderick Strong was next to enter and even the numbers. Lorcan & Burch immediately attacked Strong.
Pat McAfee brings tables into the ring with the names of each member of The Undisputed Era on them. They place Strong onto his table and McAfee hit a moonsault off the turnbuckle putting Strong through it.
Adam Cole is the final entrant and War Games begins. Cole used a fire extinguisher on Team McAfee upon entering. There is a faceoff between Cole and McAfee, but Dunne stops Cole. Cole briefly got his hands onto McAfee before he was stopped.
Cole sent McAfee off the top and went back first through a table. Dunne, Lorcan, and Burch were placed in front of the cage as they took turns ramming them into the fence. The four members then shifted their attention to McAfee in the other ring and he tried to escape. McAfee was destroyed until his teammates came to his aid.
Strong hit a superplex on McAfee and all eight men were down. They got up and began brawling when McAfee appeared on top of the cage and hit a Swanton to the seven on the canvas.
Dunne snapped O’Reilly’s fingers and hit the Bitter End for a near-fall at the forty-minute mark. O’Reilly suplexed Dunne onto the steel between the two rings for his own near fall.
Cole stopped McAfee with the chair, McAfee hit him low but missed the punt kick. Burch stopped Cole and McAfee hit his own superkick, went for his own Panama Sunrise but Cole stopped it with a superkick and hit the Panama Sunrise and McAfee kicked out.
Cole was hit with the Bitter End onto a chair and he was removed and led to the remaining TUE members winning it for the team after O’Reilly came off the rope and drilled a chair into Lorcan’s face and pinned him.
WINNERS: The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly pinned Oney Lorcan) at 45:00
It was a strong main event but also a very long one.
The objective of the match appeared to be making Pat McAfee into a credible threat rather than just being the Bobby Heenan character finally getting his comeuppance. He was given the most spectacular stunts of the match and the big one kicking out of the Panama Sunrise. McAfee is an incredible athlete and given how few matches he’s had, it’s remarkable where he’s at and his willingness to do anything.
I liked how the finish didn’t include Cole and McAfee, which keeps that climax for another day and put the spotlight on O’Reilly get the big victory for the team.
Personally, I thought O’Reilly and Dunne were the standouts of the match and O’Reilly is every bit on par with the top talent in the industry.
Once you’re going over thirty minutes, I think you’re going to be judged that much harsher and it needs to be a match of the year caliber match for that allotment of time, I wouldn’t say this was at that level but it was a very strong match.