by Melanie Arvanitis
Blast some Black Sabbath, and let’s moonsault off the top of a steel cage with a garbage can on our heads, as I review the most extreme (and rad) night of the year: NXT Takeover Wargames!!!!!!
NXT has been bringing back old pay-per-view events like In Your House, Great American Bash, and Halloween Havoc for years now, and I absolutely love it! NXT brought back Wargames in 2017, and it is one of the biggest events of the year (at least in wrestling). From what I know, NXT Takeover Wargames is basically Survivor Series mixed with Extreme Rules, and it is RADICAL.
A Wargames match has two rings next to each other, with a steel cage surrounding them. The team who won the advantage match gets to have their teammates get in the ring first (alternating between teammates from each team) , which leads to a 2 on 1 situation or a 3 on 2 etc. until everyone has entered the match. Once everyone has entered the match, only one pin fall is needed to win, which is a lot harder than it seems with eight total people spread across two rings. If someone escapes out of the ring, their team will lose, and the win will automatically go to the other team. There are obviously no disqualifications and anything can be used in this type of match. There are two Wargames matches: the first match with Team Blackheart vs Team LeRae, and the main event, Undisputed Era vs Team McAfee. On to the matches!
Team Blackheart vs Team LeRae
Who Won: Team LeRae
This was an amazing way to open up Wargames!!! Raquel Gonzalez was definitely the star of this match; she really shined the whole way through. She really was the difference maker for Team LeRae. LeRae’s team was also pretty smart (as much as I hate to admit it) because they came in with a plan, which they used to basically forge their own advantage, even though Shotzi’s team won the advantage match. Raquel and Toni worked together to keep Io out as long as they could so their team would have an eventual three on four advantage, and whenever Shirai (the women’s champion) tried to get into the ring, Raquel basically threw her into the barricade each time and shut the cage door. I think Io finally was able to enter after kicking a chair into Gonzalez’s face! Later on, when no one was paying attention, Shirai did a moonsault, wearing a garbage can, off the top of the steel cage! She knocked out everyone! Then as payback, from the top rope, Dakota Kai stomped Shirai while she was wearing the garbage can! I’m sorry, but it looked really cool; Kai was even having trouble getting the crinkled garbage can off of Shirai’s head!
Another really cool move was when Ember Moon did the moon eclipse on Dakota Kai, in between two chairs! Oh, and I also LOVE Shotzi’s new tank!!!!! It even has a missile now! I do wish there was a bit more Shotzi in this match, but then again it’s difficult to give each woman a fair amount of spotlight in an eight woman tag matchup. I’m pretty sure Shotzi did do a senton off of a ladder onto Candice LeRae, who put a steel chair on top of herself to also do some heavy damage back, which was very cool to watch, even though I’m sure it hurt very much. Shotzi also came prepared with a toolbox and a sledgehammer, which her team did some nice damage with! Overall, this was an amazing match, and it was a great way to start the night! It’s just upsetting that Shotzi’s team didn’t win 🙁
Shirai’s moonsault with the garbage can on her head!
Shotzi’s new tank!
The winning team from left to right: Indi Hartwell (she wasn’t actually on the team, but she had an outside assist, while trying to keep the NXT Women’s Champ from entering) Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae, Raquel Gonzalez, and Toni Storm.
Tomasso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
Who won: Tomasso Ciampa
This was a pretty good match, but I think it could have been better. It was definitely more of a brutal war than a match, because these two men really gave it their all. Timothy Thatcher’s ear even got busted open, and it was bleeding badly. He held it together for the whole match, but after you could just see the pain on his face and definitely on Ciampa’s as well. Ciampa hasn’t gotten much of a push since he came back, but I’m thinking this will give him enough momentum to maybe start going after the NXT Championship (maybe after Karrion Kross likely gets his well-deserved match to get the NXT title back)! Overall, this match was a slow-paced hard-hitting war that I think I definitely need to give a well-deserved rewatch.
Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes (Strap Match)
Who won: Dexter Lumis!
This has been a very amusing rivalry; a really mysterious and cool creepy dude paired up with an annoying scaredy-cat cowboy that’s for some reason obsessed with going straight to the moon. Seriously though, this was a very fun match, and it was fun how easily Lumis was just throwing Grimes around with the strap. I also really liked the attention to detail when Grimes was continuously trying to blind Lumis, since he’s so afraid of Lumis’s signature stare. Grimes is also really great at conveying his emotions; whenever he was a bit over in the match, he got extremely confident, but right when Lumis gets back up, his facial expression did a complete 360 so well! Grimes turned into a scared little puppy! Just one more thing to mention: Grimes is usually called the Technical Savage, so it was very fitting when he started making a bit of a tiger growl when he hit Lumis with the strap, which really puts the “savage” in technical savage! This was a very fun match, because really any match with Lumis is as beautiful as his piercing icy blue eyes!
Johnny Gargano vs Leon Ruff vs Damian Priest (Triple Threat North American Championship Title Match)
Who won: Johnny Gargano
This was definitely one of the best matches of the night!!!!! It had comedy, spectacular moves, and even some sad moments; it really was a whole rollercoaster of emotions. I love how the ring announcer introduced the match. She introduced them in order according to how much each wrestler weighed, and it was a hilarious gag. For the record, Damian Priest (the one on the right) weighs around 249 pounds, Gargano (left) weighs 199 pounds, and Leon Ruff (middle) weighs around 150-something pounds! When the ring-announcer said Leon Ruff’s name, he just looked extremely confident right when she said his weight-it was just very funny, you should’ve been there. Anyway, there were tons of incredible moves, but the one that stands out was (that I’m pretty sure) that someone, somehow got hit in mid-air, and it really was a jaw-dropping moment. I’m not sure if it was Ruff who took the hit or not. Speaking of Ruff, Priest really cares for him, and he really did not want to hurt him in this match, but Ruff got in his way quite a bit, which led to Ruff getting thrown into a barricade, which also led to someone falling into another barricade; Priest felt really awful, and he even said he was sorry; which is the sympathetic side that the NXT universe hasn’t really seen much of from Priest before. Ruff ended up having to momentarily leave the match-up which made Priest feel even worse. Ruff did come back with a vengeance though! I think it was either a bit before or after Johnny Gargano’s ghostface goons came out to help him win the match. Priest even cleared out the goons with a whole bunch of dives, and Ruff almost scored a pinfall on Gargano when Priest wasn’t looking! Yeah, Priest wasn’t too happy about that. In this non-wargames match, I’m glad that they finally made use of the two rings, which they did not do in the past two non-wargames matches. It’s a special environment, so why not use it to make some incredible matches? I was a bit upset about that, but at least they made use of the two rings in this one; Gargano tied Priest up in the ropes, which led to Gargani almost scoring a pinfall on Ruff, right in front of poor Priest. Although, it wasn’t too long until Gargano pulled off the win with one of his finishers: the One Final Beat DDT on Ruff. One more thing to mention before the phenomenal main event, Johnny Gargano’s lead ghostface goon was Austin Theory, who is an absolute jerk (in real life, and in the ring, to put it EXTREMELY lightly), and it felt like a slap in the face that he’s still being pushed. Him and Velveteen should really be fired, it’s ridiculous that they are still around; they are continuously being pulled out of storylines, whether it’s due to injury or some unknown reason, yet they continue to push them back in, when they could’ve just fired these two awful human beings! Same thing with Matt Riddle, he really should not have been pushed up to the main roster, when his awful allegation was still up in the air. Sorry to go off of a tangent, but that reveal of Theory at the end of an amazing match, ruined said match quite a bit.
Undisputed Era vs Team McAfee AKA The Team United by Brotherhood (UE) vs the Team United by A LOT of Money (McAfee’s team)
Who won: UNDISPUTED ERA, BAY BAY!!!!!
The match everyone was waiting for was well worth the wait! Man, this match was absolutely incredible!!!!! There’s so much to talk about!! Let’s get started, shall we? I AM SOOOOOO HAPPY THAT MY BOYS, THE UNDISPUTED ERA, WON THIS MATCH!!!!!!!!! Ahem, anyway, now that I got that out of my (shocked) system, let’s really get started!
McAfee and Cole were the last ones to come out of the mini cages (which they were waiting in to enter into the match-up), and it was pretty funny, because McAfee wanted to go in first, but everyone on his team pushed him aside, because they didn’t believe in him. He can wrestle (not as good as the Era), but he certainly does not have the endurance that a Wargames match calls for; endurance is built by wrestling in many matches, and he’s only had two. A rookie may be passionate, but there’s only so long he can make it, since he hasn’t had much experience taking devastating blows, definitely not as much as the rest of the people in this match (at least in wrestling).
Anyway, I am very happy that Bobby Fish entered into the match second because he is the most underutilized of the Undisputed Era, and it’s great seeing him shine in this match! I am also very happy that Kyle O’Reilly started off the match for the Era, because it just shows how much he has grown since he came back to NXT, after being in his movie with Danny Day Lewis DeVito, which sadly got lost in a studio fire. I’m just very happy that he’s getting a big push! Oh, and remember when I said that Shotzi brought a sledgehammer with her? Well, Danny and Oney brought their own version, and it was two cricket bats. I’m sure it must hurt, but I think Shotzi definitely won that mini battle. Even though I despise McAfee, I did like the attention to detail how they made specific tables for each UE member to go through, but what I like way more is that basically most of McAfee’s team went through the tables instead! I also hate to say it, but McAfee did do a pretty cool moonsault off the top of the cage, but I think he was pretty jealous of Io, and was trying to one-up her. Even though McAfee and co. had an impressive performance, it was the Wargames veterans, the Undisputed Era, who took the cake, once again WITHOUT the advantage this time! The Era ended the match with each of them giving a shot (one from each of them!) at Dunne, Danny, and Oney, and they were like bowling pins! Oh, and Cole threw Pat into a table after Pat hit Cole with a low blow which felt like some good revenge. Definitely the match of the night, and I just want to say, IT SUCKS TO SUCK PAT MCAFEE!!!!
McAfee’s cool (I guess) moonsault.
The Undisputed Era after they wiped out the majority of McAfee’s team.
Pictures that Precede Fortunate Events: McAfee going through a table!
The Undisputed Era from left to right: Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, and Bobby Fish!
To conclude, this was an amazing NXT Takeover – one of my favorites all year. It’s closely behind In Your House, The Great American Bash, and maybe Takeover XXX for me. I am very excited to see what New Year’s Evil will hold next month and to witness the glory of Undisputed Era’s well deserved bragging rights on NXT this Wednesday!!!! LONG LIVE THE UNDISPUTED ERA, BAY BAY!!!!!