NXT TakeOver WarGames has a four-match card instead of the usual five. Triple H apparently said he didn’t want to be tied to a five-match format, which is fine, but he could have gone with six and given a few more people the opportunity. That said, with a WarGames match and a Two out of Three Falls match on the card, there is definite potential for the matches to go long. TakeOver events have never let us down before, so I’m sure it will be great.
Undisputed ERA vs War Raiders, Pete Dunne, and Ricochet – WarGames match
Tommaso Ciampa (C) vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Championship match
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Kairi Sane – NXT Women’s Championship – Two out of Three Falls match
Johnny Gargano vs Aleister Black
Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano
This is the culmination of one of the greatest injury covering storylines of all time. Let’s get caught up. Johnny Gargano accidentally cost Aleister Black the NXT Championship when his interference in Black’s match against Tommaso Ciampa went wrong. Black laid Gargano out for the mistake and they ended up scheduled for a triple threat match for the title at TakeOver. The week before the match Aleister Black was found unconscious in the parking lot of Full Sail and the mystery began.
Black had no idea who attacked him and was absent for a long time. William Regal’s investigations threw up no answers. Only Nikki Cross knew, and she wasn’t telling. When Aleister Black returned to interrupt Cross’ match with Bianca Belair, she told him. The rest of us didn’t find out until the following week when Black stormed the ring to demand William Regal tell him where his attacker was, and a Johnny Gargano superkick to Black’s head revealed it to be him.
Why? In Gargano’s own words, collateral damage. Gargano wanted Ciampa and Black was in the way. Sounds simple and it is. Except, this is not the same Johnny Gargano we used to know. This Johnny Gargano says he’s still the good guy, the hero at the end of the story, but he also says he’s starting to enjoy the dark and sometimes you have to fight a little dirty.
Aleister Black is just pissed off. Cheated out of his title, attacked from behind and put on the injury list, kicked in the face on his return, and then called collateral damage, I think that’s a reasonable reaction.
There’s some unpredictability here. We don’t know exactly what to expect from the new attitude Gargano, just how low is he prepared to stoop to achieve his aims? And will he even get a chance against an Aleister Black who’s had plenty of time to plot his revenge?
I think this has match of the night potential, but all the matches on the card could feasibly take that title. As for who will win, I don’t know. Gargano could take it if he pulls really underhand tactics and gets away with it. But I don’t think the breaking down of Johnny Gargano is over yet, and the anger of Aleister Black is righteous indeed.
Prediction: Aleister Black
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Kairi Sane – NXT Women’s Championship, Two out of Three Falls, match
I think I’ve run out of things to say about this feud. They first fought in the finals of last year’s Mae Young Classic, where Sane was victorious. They picked it up in NXT and it’s been going on ever since. That makes it sound like I’m hating it, and that’s not the case, but there are a lot of extremely talented women sitting in the NXT locker room with nothing to fight for because the title picture has been tied up by Sane and Baszler.
I’d really like to see Kairi Sane with this, justice for Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke being instrumental in her defeat at Evolution. But this is already the rematch of a rematch of a rematch, and that would lead to another. It’s got to stop somewhere. However, despite Sane’s assertions that Baszler wouldn’t have her friends with her this time, there’s no guarantee of that. There is nothing in the stipulation that stops them getting involved, as long as they don’t get caught.
There are two ways it could be finally over. Either Baszler retains, preferably clean, and Sane has no more reason for a rematch. Or Kairi Sane takes the belt back and Shayna Baszler turns up in the spare place on the SmackDown Survivor Series team on Sunday. Either works and I can’t pick it.
In the end, I’ve got to pick something and, while I want it to be Kairi Sane, I don’t think it will be. The match format favours Baszler’s intensive training techniques, especially if she can do some kind of damage to Sane early on. Sane is the more skilled wrestler, but Baszler’s hard-hitting style is a lot to endure for a match of this length. One of the few predictions where I actively hope I’m wrong.
Prediction: Kairi Sane
Tommaso Ciampa (C) vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Championship match
I’m completely intrigued by this match. There hasn’t been that much build, a couple of verbal and physical exchanges to get people interested, but it’s largely happening for the old-fashioned and honourable reason that Velveteen Dream has earned a shot.
Is it Velveteen Dream’s time. Probably, but I can’t see him walking out of WarGames with the belt. Tommaso Ciampa hasn’t really done much since winning the title, except developed an unhealthy attachment to the belt. The storyline with Aleister Black has taken precedence, and I think Black is still due a rematch. It just seems like it would be a weird time to take the belt off Ciampa, there’s too much left for him to do.
The only way Velveteen Dream doesn’t become NXT Champion at some point is if he’s called up (are we still saying called up? Surely, it’s called across now). I don’t think this is the TakeOver it happens on.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa
Undisputed ERA vs War Raiders, Ricochet, and Pete Dunne – WarGames match
This is a match where the build has been lengthy but convoluted. Everyone has different problems with everyone else. Actually, they’re all similar problems with a common cause, Undisputed ERA cheat and no-one likes them. War Raiders have had their sights set on Undisputed ERA’s tag titles since Rowe and Hanson arrived in NXT. Ricochet and Pete Dunne have had a plethora of issues with Adam Cole, and with the rest of Undisputed ERA (and with each other for that matter, although hopefully, that’s an issue for another time). And Pete Dunne hates everyone, but particularly Roderick Strong after Strong turned on him a few months back. It’s got to the point where they can’t all be in the same building without a brawl breaking out, so now they have to fight it out in the ring. Or, more accurately, in two rings surrounded by a steel cage, in a WarGames match. Let’s have a quick run through the rules.
One man from each team starts, the rest of the teams will be in separate shark cages at the top of the ramp.
After five minutes a member of the team with the advantage is released.
Three minutes later a man from the opposing team is released and every three minutes thereafter, alternating teams, until all eight men are in the cage.
Only when all superstars are in the ring can the match be won, which must happen by pinfall or submission. If anyone leaves the cage during the match their team loses.
Kyle O’Reilly and Hanson had a match on this week’s NXT to decide who wins the advantage of the third man into the cage being from their team. The match descended into chaos, and O’Reilly won after smacking Hanson in the head with a title belt when the ref was distracted.
The outcome of this one is tough to predict. Kyle O’Reilly winning the advantage for Undisputed ERA edges things in their favour, but there are so many options for story outcomes whatever the result. And, of course, we now don’t know if Pete Dunne will be one hundred percent for the match. He finished this week’s NXT sat in the ring holding his knee after an attack by Bobby Fish.
Undisputed ERA won WarGames last year as well, so they have more of an idea what to expect. They are so conniving, it’s kind of hard to bet against them. Except for the quality of their opposition. Predicting this one (like the rest of the card) is tough. Luckily, my predictions are just for fun and I have an ongoing policy of being happier to be wrong than to predict and Adam Cole win.
Prediction: War Raiders, Ricochet, and Pete Dunne.
It’s an odd card with two of the championships not being defended, but it can’t be helped with the North American champion and the tag champions being involved in the WarGames match. The four-match format is weird too. Obviously, the WarGames match is going to be long, it will take long enough just to get them all in the rings, but it does suggest at least one of the other matches is likely to be lengthy.
I’m always excited about NXT TakeOver. I don’t believe there has ever been a bad one. But I have a feeling this one might be something really special.
Check back on Rear View Reviews a few hours after the show for the full review, and to see if it lived up to expectations.