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NXT Takeover War Games II: The Good, the Bad and the Weird



Well that was bloody brilliant wasn’t it? Almost every NXT Takeover that comes around tries to outdo the ones that came before it. This one was no exception, taking the bedlam of last year’s War Games match and throwing it into a card with some of the best matches NXT has put on this year. It would be no surprise to see more five-star ratings emerge from this exceptional show with at least two matches providing the unbelievable quality NXT has become known for. Now without any further hype let’s break down this NXT super-show.

The Good

Horsewomen of Defeat

When Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir came to Shayna Baszler’s aid at Evolution, it was an omen of things to come. The Horsewomen of MMA were starting to make themselves known and placed one of their own back at the top spot of the NXT women’s division. With Shayna back as champion, Kairi Sane had one more match to overcome the submission specialist and take back her title. The two out of three falls stipulation was put in to balance any potential help Shayna may get from the Horsewomen and give us a decisive winner in this feud that has spanned over a year now. Sane came out swinging from the gate, hitting Baszler with a flurry of offense but was soon cut down by interference from Duke and Shafir, allowing Baszler to take advantage and get the first fall in rapid fashion with a tap out to the Kirifuda Clutch.

After this fall it was up to Sane to make up the difference and she did in outstanding fashion, hitting a destructive DDT on the apron and taking out the Horsewomen. She would get a pin fall of her own with the Insane Elbow evening the scores. After that it was another back and forth affair before more interference came from Duke and Shafir. This brought out Sane’s allies Dakota Kai and Io Shirai who dealt with the Horsewomen whilst Sane set up for a final Insane Elbow. This was reversed by Baszler into a roll up that allowed the champion to retain. Despite it’s shorter than expected length, this match packed a lot in and allowed more of a build up for Shayna’s Horsewomen faction as well as giving us an underdog babyface team to get behind too. Sane may not be the champion again but the Pirate Princess gave Shayna everything. It’ll be interesting if this continues or if we see a new challenger step up to take on the bullying Baszler and her stablemates.

No Man is Ever Truly Good

Johnny Gargano may have embraced the dark when he attacked Black a few months back but he was left seeing the dark when Aleister Black was finished with him. Another perfect Takeover grudge match that saw the two men beat the hell out of each other. There were mind games to start off with, Gargano especially trying to get under his skin by mocking the sitting pose of Black. This only lead to him eating more strikes.

Both men got their licks in and there were multiple times were it could have gone to either one of them. There were tense spells with Black in the Gargano Escape, Running Knee strikes and the eventual Black Masses to put Gargano down for good. After all the months of investigation and intrigue it was good to see the who attacked Aleister Black storyline come to a solid conclusion in one of the most tense matches in NXT history. This is one of those matches where it is better to watch than it is to read as there is so much to enjoy.

We got to see Black at the top of his game and Gargano revel in the darkness he has come to utilise since his feud with Ciampa. It should also be noted that it took two Black Mass kicks to put Gargano down as the first one, in an act of storytelling genius, left Gargano leaning against Black. There was no mercy, only cold, dark vengeance and one hell of a match to enjoy.

PS. Aleister Black if you ever read this, where did you get that jacket from? I really want one…

Dream Over

This match was a hit from the moment Velveteen Dream came out in a Hollywood Hogan inspired gear to it’s eventual heart-breaking conclusion. It went from a match where it seemed the outcome was inevitable with Dream losing to Ciampa to everyone in the audience being made believers as the Dream took it to Ciampa and kicked out of the impossible. This just made his crushing loss all the harder to take.

From the start this match was a fight. Both men exchanged strikes and mind games as Ciampa took Dream’s headband. In retaliation Dream took Goldy, the NXT title. After that it became a brutal match of stiff strikes, unbelievable grapple exchanges and more false finishes than you could imagine. At least half the match had everyone on the edge of their seats as we saw DDTs onto the title, DVD’s onto the concrete, Purple Rainmakers, Purple Rain misses and the eventual Draping DDT onto the steel divider that ended it all.

Dream will go down a hero for the effort he took in trying to take down NXT’s biggest villain, Tommaso Ciampa. Dream may have lost the battle but he certainly stole the spotlight and the match of the night slot. Another example of a match that needs to be seen to be believed and another reason why Velveteen Dream may be one of NXT’s best. So many moments could have been gasped at, gifed and had the audience in shock. This match deserves every accolade it will get.

When Two Tribes go to War

War! Huh! Good God y’all what is it good for? Putting on killer matches apparently. Last year’s War Games match was chaos. Three teams went in there, brutalised each other and eventually the Undisputed Era were the last one’s standing. This year we had two teams of four with enough personal animosity that it needed to be caged. The Undisputed Era returned to the steel structure to take on the team of War Raiders, Ricochet and Pete Dunne, four men who either wanted their titles or their heads. What followed was about 48 minutes of carnage as every few minutes a new member would be let loose to terrorise the inhabitants of the cage.

What started as a back and forth between NXT North American Title rivals Adam Cole and Ricochet soon became a two on one as the Undisputed Era got their first man, Kyle O’Reilly. This assault continued until Hanson came in to even the odds and flatten both Cole and O’Reilly with his hybrid style of power moves and surprising athleticism. This would carry on in this matter until the last member of the Era was unleashed, Bobby Fish. Instead of instantly running to the cage, he instead took the padlock from his cage and locked Dunne in further, throwing the key away. He would also introduce a number of Undisputed Era branded chairs into the match.

Dunne could no longer be instantly let into the match when the timer ran out and had to wait for some back up referees to cut him out with bolt cutters. When he was free he certainly made an entrance. As the Undisputed Era tried to hold the cage door shut he would smash their bodies or their hands with a kendo stick and went one step further by introducing Roderick Strong’s face to the cage door. He would then bring in some trash cans and tables into the match and with that, the door would be locked as all eight men were finally in the match.

With both teams fully in the match, the carnage only intensified. We had spots where the Era were mauled by the members of the face team with chairs, chains and kendo sticks, chain assisted submissions, Rowe being speared through a table by Bobby Fish, Hanson hitting a springboard splash across rings to put O’Reilly through a table.

The two most chaotic and heart stopping spots in the match though were a six man tower of doom spot with Adam Cole unfortunately in the top spot and Ricochet stealing the show with a double Moonsault off the top of the cage onto everyone below. To list every spot in this match would take up a whole page and probably require its own PowerPoint presentation. The eventual finish saw everyone fight in the centre divider before Cole would exchange finisher predicaments with Dunne who ate one Last Shot, kicked out and narrowly avoided a second before hitting the Bitter End. Before he could make the pin, Ricochet hit a Frog Splash and both men made the pin.

The last shot of the show was them both posing together, titles in hand in a sign of mutual respect at the top of the cage. For a near 50 minute match it flew by with so much to remember and the perfect main event for such a strong card.

The Bad/Weird

Ohno Bro

See this could go in either section depending on how you personally feel. The show didn’t open with any scheduled match but with the surprise appearance of Matt Riddle. The King of Bros was set to have a match with Kassius Ohno on next week’s NXT so the audience was understandably shocked to see him. He had a mic in hand and decided to call out Kassius Ohno as they had had a small stand-off during the pre-show. The bitter Ohno came out and obliged Riddle’s match request and the two set up for a match. The bell rings and before anything can really happen, Riddle hits a running knee strike and pins Ohno. It’s over in a grand total of about 10 seconds. The audience is justifiably confused and once again Ohno seems to look like an idiot. After weeks of taunting Riddle and demanding higher quality competition, he gets knocked out after one move. It’s not a good look. That’s all there is and Riddle leaves the ring happy with himself.

Now this doesn’t instantly get the down vote as it could be leading to a much bigger story come Wednesday. Ohno could have gotten too overconfident and challenges Riddle again where we get the dream match we were hoping for there or we see an even bitterer Ohno attack Riddle. Either way we will get more between the two with the promise of a much better blow off established from the encounter they had here.

I won’t lie though; it was definitely a weird way to start the pay per view as it went from exciting the audience with something unexpected to confusing them with something even more unexpected. Let’s just hope this isn’t the start of a downward spiral for Kassius Ohno as he becomes no more than a jobber to the stars. The man deserves way more than that. Still all this being said there is hope for something more for this and it doesn’t require too much dwelling one, especially given every other match that followed it.

In Conclusion

Wow, for such a small card we certainly got a lot out of it. Four incredibly varied, exceptional matches that delivered on the level they needed to. War Games was once again the most hectic match we will see all year from the WWE programming whilst also offering the feel good moment of the faces triumphing. Black/Gargano and Ciampa/Dream were both masterpieces of matches and deserve to be in the running for match of the year when it comes to WWE.

NXT once again proves it’s the dominant brand in WWE and although it may be unfair to compare the two, Survivor Series has its work cut out for it following this. The phrase “best Takeover yet” gets thrown out a lot but War Games II definitely deserves entry into contention as this had to be one of the most consistent Takeover’s yet. The roster is stacked with talent that will only continue to shine on. This is definitely one to watch if you haven’t already seen it. Words will not do it justice.

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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