WWE NXT Results: Biggest Winners, Losers, Moments from NXT TakeOver WarGames
The latest NXT special, TakeOver: War Games, set the bar incredibly high for the main roster Superstars of Raw and SmackDown Live to follow.
Saturday night's WWE Network presentation featured title changes, a brutal and violent main event and the elevation of several young stars in terms of their overall importance to the brand.
Andrade "Cien" Almas earned the biggest victory of his career, becoming NXT champion at the expense of Drew McIntyre, who suffered an injury that could put him on the sidelines and led to his status as the night's most prominent loser.
Velveteen Dream broke out, and Kairi Sane's first TakeOver was something of a disappointment.
Delve deeper into why those Superstars earned recognition, for better or worse, with this recap of Saturday's explosive event.
Winner: Andrade 'Cien' Almas
When 2017 started, Andrade "Cien" Almas was an underachieving Superstar who was as synonymous with losing to more prominent NXT stars than anything remotely resembling success of his own.
Soon, the losing streak he found himself on became a trademark of his character. An unfocused playboy, he shook defeat off and moved on to the next night out with a bevy of beauties.
Then Zelina Vega arrived on the scene and refocused the Mexican Superstar. Under her guidance, Almas found his way, and Saturday night in Houston, he defeated Drew McIntyre to become the new NXT champion.
Almas, riding a wave of momentum following two Match of the Year candidate bouts against Johnny Gargano, turned in another superb performance and finally proved himself to be an elite NXT Superstar.
He undeniably benefited from the interference of Vega, who has been a revelation in her short time with the brand. Under the brightest lights of his young career, though, Almas rose to the occasion and delivered a performance deserving of the trust NXT management has suddenly put in him.
Now the NXT champion, his immediate future is intriguing.
With WWE.com reporting McIntyre possibly tore his biceps during the championship clash, a series of rematches between the competitors appears off the table, leaving some to wonder where Almas goes from here. The Undisputed Era's Adam Cole figures to be a prime candidate for a title shot. As does Roderick Strong and maybe even the unstoppable Lars Sullivan.
Then there is Gargano, who has not had a ton of success against Almas but has the potential to be the lead babyface in NXT sometime down the line.
Another series with Gargano would continue Almas' TakeOver hot streak.
Loser: Kairi Sane
Kairi Sane won the inaugural Mae Young Classic and was the first addition to the NXT Women's Championship Fatal 4-Way match. The Japanese star was a huge favorite to roll into Houston and win the title with her first try, setting her up for a big run in NXT.
Instead, she was greeted with the weakest of reactions from the fans and was then treated like an afterthought for the majority of the bout.
Sure, she fired up late and even delivered her trademark elbow drop to Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross, but she was a non-factor in the finish, relegated to watching from the arena floor as Ember Moon delivered the Eclipse and won the vacant title.
Sane will be just fine and probably lead the division sooner rather than later. Saturday night, though, she could have been spared her first defeat rather than being wasted in a match management knew she would not win.
She was not, and NXT Creative will have to rebuild her heat in the coming weeks.
Winner: Velveteen Dream
Perhaps the most unexpectedly great performance Saturday night came from The Velveteen Dream, who battled Aleister Black in a match that arrived in Houston with the best story behind it.
The young performer, known to the masses as Patrick Clark from the most recent season of Tough Enough, battled the veteran striker Black in a match that was both incredibly entertaining and hard-hitting.
Completely different from the standard, athletic and fast-paced NXT affair, the match was based in character work. Dream was eccentric and seductive as he countered Black's mind games with some of his own. From there, he delivered an in-ring performance far beyond what many thought he was capable of, hanging in there with one of the best strikers on the roster.
His facial expressions were superb, his body language was engrossing and his trash-talking was appropriate.
"Say my name," he demanded multiple times, determined to earn respect from the enigmatic babyface.
And he did.
Despite a technical loss that saw him put down by the Black Mass, Dream was one of the night's biggest winners when Black took the microphone and uttered the words, "enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream."
Commentators Nigel McGuinness and Mauro Ranallo put Dream over as the real winner of the match, and it is hard to argue with that.
Loser: Drew McIntyre
Now-former NXT champion Drew McIntyre suffered a biceps injury during his title defense against Andrade "Cien" Almas. Though the severity of the injury is not yet known, it is a huge setback for a Superstar who had been tasked with being the face of NXT following the departures of Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode.
The Scot was in the midst of a redemption tour in WWE, returning to the company that made him a star in the industry and achieving the greatness there he had not during his first run. Instead, the injury will likely take him away from the squared circle, killing any momentum he had established for himself.
It is a major disappointment for a Superstar en route to realizing his potential and enjoying what was sure to be a quality run with WWE's hottest brand.