Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts and Pat McAfee formed the pre-show panel. In addition to the usual hype packages and panel speculation, they had interviews with Nita Strauss and Matt Riddle. Strauss commented on the two out of three falls match. Kassius Ohno interrupted Riddle’s interview. Ohno said he never realised one word could make someone physically ill, but the Bro stuff feels like he’s got a migraine. He sees through Riddle and will expose him when they get in the ring together. Riddle said he used to think Ohno was cool but now he sees he’s just bitter. Maybe instead of being bitter, he should try being better, Bro. Their match is due to be shown on Wednesday.
Matt Riddle def. Kassius Ohno
Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane
Aleister Black def. Johnny Gargano
Tommaso Ciampa def. Velveteen Dream
Pete Dunne, Ricochet, and War Raiders def. Undisputed ERA
Matt Riddle opened the show, which was weird because he wasn’t on the card. He said he’s not scheduled to have a match at TakeOver but on the Kickoff Show, Kassius Ohno interrupted him. They’re scheduled to have a match on Wednesday but they’re both in LA, there are two rings, and he’ll knock Ohno out in both of them.
Ohno told Riddle he’s too stupid to know he’s not supposed to be out there, and too stupid to know he’s not ready for TakeOver, so they’ve got a ref, they’ll have a match, and he hopes Riddle enjoys his moment because he won’t be able to remember it after he knocks him out.
Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno
Matt Riddle kneed Kassius Ohno in the face and pinned him.
Ohno was still staggering around asking Riddle to fight him when Riddle had finished celebrating
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Kairi Sane – NXT Women’s Championship, two out of three falls, match
Kairi Sane started hard, attack is the best form of defence after all. She got Baszler out of the ring and landed an elbow from the apron.
Baszler got back in the ring holding her mouthpiece and asked for the ref’s help. As soon as he was suitably distracted, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked Kairi Sane and slammed her into the ringpost then tossed her back into the ring, Baszler got the Kirifuda Clutch on, and Sane had to tap. First fall to Shayna Baszler.
With the momentum on Baszler’s side, she tried hard to get the second fall straight away, going for pin attempts and getting the Kirifuda Clutch back on. This time Sane got to the ropes with a foot. Submission hold after submission hold wasn’t enough to wear Sane down. She fought back and built momentum with a couple of pin attempts of her own.
Sane turned the table in her favour, sort of, by countering Baszler’s attempt to suplex her on the apron into a DDT, spiking Baszler’s head into the apron. While Baszler was still recovering Jessamyn Duke aimed a kick at Kairi Sane’s head and got her leg hooked up on the ringpost. Sane sent Marina Shafir into the steps when she charged at her. Then Kairi Sane went to the top turnbuckle and launched herself onto all three women.
Sane rolled Baszler back into the ring and went to the top again for an Insane elbow to even the score. Second fall to Kairi Sane.
This time Sane had the momentum and delivered three spears to Baszler, but Baszler was back on her feet before Sane could hit another InSane Elbow. They punched it out on the top turnbuckle until Sane got a sunset flip powerbomb which resulted in a two-count.
Jessamyn Duke got up on the apron to distract the ref while Marina Shafir pushed Sane back down off the turnbuckle. Dakota Kai ran down and hit Shafir from behind then kicked Duke in the face. They piled onto Kai and Io Shirai came to make the save with a spectacularly beautiful moonsault.
As Kairi Sane landed another InSane elbow Baszler grabbed her around the neck and rolled her shoulders onto the mat for the three count. Shayna Baszler took the decisive fall to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
X-Pac brought his dog to the show.
Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano thought the best way to start this match was to slap Aleister Black’s face. Black kicked him in the face, and they were off. Black was fighting with an emotion he doesn’t normally show, and he missed a few strikes as a result, which clearly pleased Gargano. Johnny Gargano, on the other hand, had an odd kind of manic composure.
When Aleister Black bounced off the ropes into his cross-legged pose, Johnny Gargano went around the side of the ring, got back in, and kicked him in the head. The momentum shifted in Gargano’s favour, and he even seemed to be enjoying the boos of the crowd where he’d been searching for his supporters during his entrance.
Black took control back with a dive over the top rope onto Gargano and a barrage of kicks. There was so much content in this match (and the rest of them) that even a tiny fraction of the highlights makes for a long review and is still woefully inadequate.
Johnny Gargano went for a suicide dive but twisted to deliver a DDT on landing, the follow-up slingshot DDT when they got back into the ring marked Gargano’s best chance to that point, but still only earned him a two-count.
They exchanged blows that should have put a normal opponent away and just kept going. When Gargano went for his old DIY finisher, Black sat cross-legged in the middle of the ring and told him to give him his best shot. He ducked that and tried to get Gargano in a roll up, but Gargano got out and the next kicks to the head hit their target and got another two for Johnny Gargano.
After another striking contest, Gargano shoved Black out of the ring and went for another suicide dive. It worked out less well for him this time because he caught a knee from Black as he came through the ropes and crashed hard to the floor.
Black got him back in the ring and Gargano appeared to start begging for mercy. Then Gargano was begging Black to finish him, putting his head on Black’s boot for the Black Mass. When Black went for it, Gargano grabbed him and rolled him up and managed to lock in the Gargano Escape when Black kicked out.
Aleister Black was in the hold for a long time before he rolled Gargano’s shoulders to the mat to make him break it. He caught Gargano with a spinning knee and a step up one, then lifted Gargano’s head with his foot. This time when he stood Gargano up for the Black Mass he didn’t miss, and Gargano pitched forward, still standing, with his head on Black’s chest. Black lifted Gargano’s head to look at him and said, ‘I absolve you of all your sins’. A second Black Mass finished the job.
Tommaso Ciampa (C) vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Championship match
There aren’t many matches where I can honestly say I’ve got little to no idea what to expect, so this was quite refreshing. It was also awesome. Velveteen Dream’s outfits have become something of an NXT TakeOver event. This time he went Hollywood Hogan themed, which carried through into his moveset of the night in places.
After a lengthy feeling out process, Tommaso Ciampa ended up with Velveteen Dream’s headband and mocked him a bit. Velveteen got the NXT title belt and held it to his face, Ciampa chased him and then ended up back in the ring.
There was so much posturing, posing, and mind game playing, but Velveteen Dream did manage to get his headband back.
Double axe-handle to the outside took Ciampa down, but Ciampa knocked Velveteen Dream off his seat on the top rope and Velveteen Dream hit the apron hard on the way down.
Ciampa’s stomped on velveteen Dream in the corner, then a running knee saw his knee brace crash into the side of Velveteen’s head in the corner and it looked like Velveteen Dream was out cold. Instead of covering him, Ciampa went for more punishment, with a side of humiliation, including another knee brace to the face while Velveteen was laid over the edge of the announce desk.
Honestly, I could have done without the spit play while Ciampa had Velveteen in a choke hold, but each to their own.
A neckbreaker from Velveteen Dream gave him a moment to recover and they got back into it. Velveteen Dream hit a big boot and two leg drops in his Hogan-esque tribute. It didn’t do him any favours and the spinebuster he followed up with only got him two.
Velveteen Dream hanging off Ciampa’s leg wrapped around the ringpost had Ciampa tapping, but the move was illegal so the tap wouldn’t have counted even if the ref had seen it. A figure four in the centre of the ring almost made Ciampa tap but he rolled over to reverse the pressure and the rolled around until Ciampa got to the ropes.
Ciampa kicked Velveteen Dream into the barricade and tried for the draping DDT when he got back in. Velveteen suplexed Ciampa over the top rope to the outside, which looked faintly terrifying, and they both laid recovering as the ref counted. Velveteen Dream rolled Ciampa back in at eight and just made it in himself on nine. Ciampa was undoing his boot on the side of his injured knee and looked to be in considerable pain.
The ref almost took a kick in the face from Velveteen Dream which nearly led to Velveteen getting rolled up. Ciampa had a handful of tights and the ref spotted it. A Dream Valley Driver, delivered while Ciampa was arguing with the ref, didn’t quite get the job done. Ciampa managed to stop him delivering a second one.
Ciampa kneed Velveteen Dram out of the air for two, Project Ciampa only got two and Ciampa had had enough. He was still undoing his boot and in pain. He grabbed the title belt and brought it into the ring. Velveteen Dream tried for a roll-up while the ref was trying to take the belt away. Ciampa kicked out and DDT’d Ciampa on the belt. It was an exceedingly close two-count, but somehow Ciampa kicked out.
Velveteen Dream kicked out of another draping DDT, and Ciampa, now only wearing one boot, pulled the mats around the ring away to expose the concrete and went for another. Velveteen Dream powered them both over the announce desk. Ciampa heard Mauro Ranallo say this might be what the sick SOB deserves and threw something at him (a notebook, maybe). The distraction let Velveteen Dream deliver a Dream Valley Driver on the outside and follow up with a Purple Rainmaker in the ring. Somehow, Ciampa still kicked out.
Velveteen Dream went for the Purple Rainmaker with Ciampa on the apron but Ciampa moved and he thudded to the floor screaming in pain.
Ciampa dragged him back into the ring and delivered the draping DDT on the metal connector between the rings that finally finished Velveteen Dream’s title hopes.
Undisputed ERA vs War Raiders, Pete Dunne, and Ricochet – WarGames match
Ricochet and Pete Dunne had face paint on to match Rowe and Hanson. Adam Cole and Ricochet started the match.
Nice calm start to the proceedings really. Ricochet versus Adam Cole, we’ve all seen that before, it’s a good time. It was fun, but it really strikes you at this point how damned long this match is going to be. Five minutes is what about half the matches on tv get, and some get considerably less, and that was how long they had before adding the first of six more entrants. Even with the gap reduced to three minutes after the first, that’s a long old match.
When the five minutes were up, Kyle O’Reilly was the first man freed from the shark cage. Strong tried to go as well, but the ref held him back. His addition gave Adam Cole a chance to get himself together while O’Reilly beat up Ricochet before they beat up Ricochet together.
Pete Dune was clearly ready to be the next one out, but Rowe held him back so Hanson could go. Running between the corners yelling, crashing into first O’Reilly then Cole and back and forth until he threw O’Reilly into Cole and gave them both a bronco buster.
Roderick Strong was the next competitor in and the effect of being a fresh man was immediately obvious. After he decimated Ricochet and Hanson with a flurry of offence, Cole and O’Reilly joined in and they used their three minutes of advantage to make sure Ricochet and Hanson had no opportunity to recover.
Rowe and Pete Dunne tussled over who was going to be next to go to the ring. Rowe pushed harder, so he joined the fray next.
Rowe held O’Reilly across his body. Hanson sat Strong on top of O’Reilly and Rowe sent them crashing to the mat in a powerbomb/powerslam combo. Adam Cole was thrown headfirst into the cage.
Bobby Fish didn’t go straight to the ring. He went to Pete Dunne’s cage and used the padlock from his cage to double lock Dunne’s before pitching the keys into the crowd. He went down to the ring but pulled four chairs with the Undisputed ERA branding on them out and threw them into the ring before allowing himself to be locked in the cage. Unsurprisingly, the chairs proved to be a serious advantage.
As commentary pointed out, this meant Pete Dunne wouldn’t be able to join the match, which means the match couldn’t officially start. When the time was up the refs tried to unlock the door anyway and seemed surprised that the key didn’t work on the wrong lock. Someone went to get bolt cutters, but Dunne was stuck watching his team get destroyed and Adam Cole mocking him.
Happily, for Dunne, it didn’t take long but he was limping slightly when he got to the ring and he still had strapping on his knee after Bobby Fish’s attack on NXT. Dunne brought kendo sticks two trash cans, two tables in with him. A steel chain appeared from somewhere as well.
Now the match proper could finally start, and it was chaos.
Dunne decided Kyle O’Reilly’s fingers were going to take the brunt of his displeasure for while, bending them and stomping on them
Hanson put a trash can on Adam Cole’s head, and Rowe drove Hanson into it. Rowe then bodyslammed his partner onto Kyle O’Reilly on the partition.
Hanson got hit on the head by a flying trash can. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly took down Rowe with some huge kicks. Another Undisputed ERA double team took down Ricochet. Pete Dunne took them all on and nearly submitted Bobby Fish. Kyle O’Reilly broke it up, wrapped Dunne’s knee in the steel chain, and Dunne turned it into a submission of his own until Fish hit him with a chair. Strong and O’Reilly tried to submit Dunne while Cole and Fish tried to keep the rest of his team at bay, until Ricochet flew over their heads to make the save.
Bobby Fish speared Rowe through a table. Hanson splashed O’Reilly through the other table to make him let go of Ricochet. Roderick Strong saved O’Reilly from being pinned with the aid of a trash can but neither Hanson not O’Reilly moved for ages. Rowe and Fish were still down as well.
Adam Cole climbed up to the top of the cage for reasons unclear. Ricochet followed him, and they started punching each other. Roderick Strong climbed up and tried to push Ricochet over the top so he’d be classed as leaving the cage and would forfeit the match.
A mega-tower of doom involved everyone except Ricochet who was left on top of the cage by himself. He chose the quick way down somersaulting onto his team and Undisputed ERA alike. Adam Cole took the worst of the tower of doom (he was right at the top of the cage) and Ricochet’s dive.
Everyone was down, and Undisputed ERA crawled to the other ring to regroup. They all faced off in rows as they crossed the ring and punched it out on the partition between the rings. How any of them were still going is a mystery, but they fought it out until only Dunne and Cole were standing.
Pete Dunne Kicked out of the Last Shot and hit a Bitter End on Cole. Before he could cover him Ricochet landed on Cole from off the top rope and they pinned him together.
The show closed out with Ricochet and Pete Dunne standing on top of the cage celebrating with their respective titles.
That was an epic NXT TakeOver, again. I can’t pick a match of the night, but I will take a moment to gloat that all my predictions were correct.
The addition of the Matt Riddle five-second classic kept them to the five-match format (Triple H said he just lied about wanting to change it) and saved them opening with a title match.
Neither title changed hands tonight, and it didn’t matter. Velveteen Dream’s time will come, and he’s kept his run of top quality TakeOver matches. We’ll see what’s next for Kairi Sane. Could she be main roster bound, maybe, but even if she’s not I’d like to see someone else get into the title picture for a while.
A quick word on Bobby Fish. He was shown holding his knee and in obvious pain during the WarGames match and there was some speculation as to whether he had reinjured his knee. Triple H said afterwards that he was checked out and he’s ok. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any major injury worries post-TakeOver, which is wonderful to hear.
I included about one in five of the highlights and high points from each of the matches, and this was still a long review. I think that probably says everything you need to know about just how good NXT TakeOver WarGames was. Theoretically (because you can never quite tell in wrestling) this TakeOver concluded several storylines, so the next few weeks on NXT will be particularly interesting.