NXT TakeOver: WarGames Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and HighlightsNovember 18, 2018
NXT TakeOver: WarGames Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Eight men entered two steel cages Saturday night at TakeOver: WarGames for the event's namesake match. Four emerged victoriously. None emerged the same.
The battle pitting The Undisputed Era against NXT North American champion Ricochet, United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne and The War Raiders headlined another explosive live event special on WWE Network.
With an undercard featuring a heated grudge match and two championship clashes, fans of NXT were treated to a presentation that set the bar incredibly high for the main roster Superstars to eclipse Sunday at Survivor Series.
Here is a look at everything that went down Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno
The self-proclaimed "King of Bros," Matt Riddle, made his TakeOver debut Saturday night, unadvertised, greeting the Los Angeles fans with a single "Bro."
Riddle offered to knock out Kassius Ohno in both rings if he wanted. Ohno responded, saying he would knock him out.
Ohno slid into the ring; Riddle delivered the jumping knee and scored a win in mere seconds.
Chants of "Bro!" spilled from the stands in celebration of the newcomer's first TakeOver victory.
Riddle defeated Ohno
This made a big deal of Riddle right out of the gate, and for that, it accomplished something good.
Where it failed was presenting Ohno as a jobber who can knock out enhancement talent in a few minutes but is dropped when he steps to someone with more credibility.
Hopefully, this leads to a more intense and focused Ohno, but the likelihood is low given past treatment of the character.
Best 2-out-of-3 Falls for the NXT Women's Title: Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler
Kairi Sane and NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler wrote the latest chapter of their rivalry, as they battled in a Best 2-out-of-3 Falls match.
Sane took the fight to Baszler from the bell, unloading on her with two neckbreakers, chops and a nasty sliding forearm. As The Queen of Spades diverted the referee's attention by selling an injury to her teeth, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir interfered, attacking Sane.
Baszler choked her out to score the victory in the first fall.
The champion continued her attack in the second fall, reapplying the choke, but Sane made it to the ropes, breaking the hold. Baszler followed up with a single-leg Boston Crab, her foot firmly planted in the face of her opponent.
Sane overcame pain and punishment at the hands of Baszler, delivering a nasty spike DDT onto the ring apron. She dodged attacks by Duke and Shafir, climbed the ropes and wiped out all three of the Horsewomen with an elbow from the top.
Back inside, the Insane Elbow evened the match at one fall apiece.
Duke and Shafir continued to interfere in the third fall until Dakota Kai and Io Shirai hit the ring, making the save and wiping out the Horsewomen at ringside. Sane delivered the Insane Elbow, but Baszler countered into a roll-up and successfully retained her title.
Baszler defeated Sane 2-1
This was a damn fine way to kick off the scheduled action on Saturday's show, a red-hot title bout that never slowed its pace or gave fans the opportunity to tune it out. It was explosive, action-packed and featured strong storytelling that should set the stage for a new series of opponents and matches featuring everyone involved.
Shirai made the greatest impact, her moonsault at ringside delivering a huge ovation from the fans. She would make the most sense as Baszler's next challenger, but Kai has her own unsettled business with Baszler, who sidelined her with an arm injury shortly into her run with the brand.
The pacing was perfect, the in-ring action was strong and the outcome was probably the right one.
Probably, despite the fact that there are so many quality heels looking for an opportunity right now.
Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano
After weeks of mystery and intrigue, Johnny Gargano was revealed as the assailant behind Aleister Black's sneak attack prior to TakeOver: Brooklyn 4. Saturday night, the darker and more disturbed Gargano battled the former NXT champion in a grudge match.
"Bring me the Black Mass," Gargano dared Black as he stood in the ring, daring the champion to make his entrance.
Gargano was elusive early, taking his fair share of licks but staying just enough ahead of Black that he was able to overcome them and catch him off guard with strikes of his own.
Nearly everything Black tried, Gargano countered.
He did not, though, counter a big kick to the face or a tope con hilo that leveled Gargano at ringside. Back inside, Black took months of frustration and anger out on Gargano, unloading with kicks to the chest. He followed with more strikes and scored a two-count.
The action continued at an electric pace, with hard-hitting strikes defining the match.
Late in the match, Gargano pushed Black to the outside. He followed with a tope suicida, but Black got his knees up, leaving his opponent reeling. Back in the ring, Gargano begged Black to finish him off. When the former NXT champion tried, Gargano dodged Black Mass and rolled him into the Gargano Escape.
Black fought out and delivered a spinning knee. He added a second without a knee pad and finished a stunned Gargano off with consecutive Black Masses.
Black defeated Gargano
This could not have been booked any better than it was.
Gargano was the pesky heel, ducking and dodging everything Black threw at him. One too many attempts at a dive to the outside left him susceptible to the strikes of the Dutchman, and the relentlessness of the babyface was too much even for the resilient heel Gargano to survive.
Both men were portrayed as equals, and even in defeat, Gargano can build momentum for himself, knowing he had Black reeling more than once.
Black can move on to the title picture while Gargano recoups, refocusing on winning the NXT title or creating chaos for those unfortunate enough to cross his persistent path.
NXT Championship Match: The Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Tommaso Ciampa looked to continue creating chaos as the face of NXT. Velveteen Dream sought to make history as the youngest NXT champion in brand history. They battled in one of the more unlikely matches of the year Saturday night.
Dream, clad in his Hollywood Hogan-inspired garb, frustrated Ciampa early, but the champion seized control and kept it for the majority of the bout as he wore down the inexperienced main eventer.
At one point, Ciampa scored a roll-up and appeared to win the match, but a handful of tights caused the referee to call off his count. This opened up Ciampa for a big superkick from Dream, who scored a red-hot near-fall that popped the crowd.
Ciampa responded, delivering Project Ciampa. He was still unable to keep his opponent down. Frustrated, Ciampa brought his title into the match, but the referee pulled it away. Dream rolled him up for two and followed up with a DDT onto the belt.
Ciampa exposed part of the concrete floor at ringside and, after going over the announce table with Dream, bullied commentator Mauro Ranallo. He paid for it, eating a DDT on the concrete. Back inside, Dream delivered the Purple Rain elbow drop, but Ciampa still kicked out.
He tried for another from the ring apron but crashed to the floor. His elbow wracked with pain, he fell prey to a DDT on the metal partition between the two rings. Three seconds later, Ciampa successfully retained his title.
Ciampa defeated Dream
This was an even better match than expected, thanks to that rare trait Dream has that allows him to save his best performances for the biggest stages. Yet another TakeOver event, yet another superb outing from the most charismatic Superstar on the roster.
As great as he was here, playing the role of babyface despite the fact that Dream has primarily been a heel, enough cannot be said about how great Ciampa has been all year long.
Fueled by the desire to prove his greatness after a disappointing knee injury kept him out of action, he has been an absolute buzzsaw. The best heel in the business, he turned in another genuinely great match here. Like he has so many times over the course of his heel run, he won by outsmarting his opponents and taking advantage of the elements around him.
In that vein, he is very much like classic heels such as Ric Flair and Harley Race, who won matches by being the most cunning competitors.
A date with Aleister Black almost certainly looms for Ciampa, but do not be surprised to see these two battle once more somewhere down the line.
More importantly, do not be surprised to see Dream hold gold sooner rather than later.
WarGames: Ricochet, Pete Dunne and War Raiders vs. Undisputed Era
The WarGames main event started with Ricochet and Adam Cole resuming their rivalry, the North American champion and the leader of Undisputed Era beating each other around the two rings and two steel cages.
A springboard uppercut by Ricochet floored Cole as the clock ticked down, signaling the arrival of the second member of Undisputed Era. It was Kyle O'Reilly who joined the fray, grounding Ricochet and pounding away with open-palm strikes.
O'Reilly and Cole, former Ring of Honor tag team champions, paired off on Ricochet until Hanson entered to even the odds. The big man unloaded on the smaller opposition before providing the base for a jaw-dropping Shooting Star Press from Ricochet to O'Reilly.
Cole and O'Reilly created just enough separation to allow Roderick Strong to enter next and unload on both Ricochet and Hanson. Cole, O'Reilly and Strong teamed up to lay waste to Hanson and Ricochet, including a big Angle Slam from Strong to the former.
Their dominance came to an end with the arrival of Rowe, who teamed with Hanson to obliterate the competition, sending Strong into the cage walls with reckless abandon.
Bobby Fish was the last Superstar to enter for Undisputed Era, but before he did, he injured the shoulder of Pete Dunne and locked him in the cage with another, unofficial lock and threw away the key.
The Undisputed Era systematically picked apart The War Raiders and Ricochet, using a steel chair to punish them as Dunne watched frantically and furiously from inside his holding cage atop the ramp.
The time for Dunne's entrance came and went as Undisputed Era punished and pummeled the babyfaces with little or no relief in sight for them. Referees found bolt cutters and unlocked the cage, springing the badass Dunne on his opponents.
Dunne retrieved a kendo stick and broke his way into the cage, running through O'Reilly and Strong before Ricochet recovered enough to wipe out Undisputed Era with a cross-body block. Throwing two trash cans, two tables and the aforementioned kendo stick into the match, he set the stage for a chaotic conclusion.
The babyfaces, united, teed off on the heels. Dunne manipulated the arm, wrist and hand of O'Reilly, but Cole broke the hold.
The heels regained control of the match, Cole and Strong delivering a gutbuster/backstabber combination to Ricochet. Dunne halted that momentum and pummeled each individual member of The Undisputed Era, finishing with a kneebar to Fish.
O'Reilly cut off Dunne's momentum, wrapping a chain around his ankle. Dunne, though, applied a kimura using the chain and nearly forced a submission. A steel-chair shot from Fish allowed O'Reilly to trap Dunne in a chain-assisted ankle lock.
The other heels fended off the babyfaces as the heels punished Dunne.
Ricochet flew through the air and broke up the submission. War Raiders set up the two tables, but one of the legs collapsed on one of them, robbing fans of a big high spot. The other, set up between the ropes, was obliterated as Fish drove Rowe through it with a spear.
The fight continued, Ricochet taking O'Reilly onto another table with a series of hard right hands. A jumping knee from Strong sent Ricochet into a triangle choke from O'Reilly. Hanson, though, came off the ropes with a big splash that put O'Reilly through that table. The referee's count was broken by a trash-can shot from Strong.
Cole scaled the cage as the commentary team reminded fans that escaping results in forfeiture for that Superstar's entire team. Ricochet joined him up top before Strong appeared and attempted to shove Ricochet to the floor.
What ensued was a massive tower spot that saw Hanson bring everyone but Ricochet crashing off the cage. Ricochet, recovering, delivered a rotating splash that wiped out everyone below.
All eight Superstars rose to their feet, the teams coming face-to-face as chants of "NXT" rang out.
Hanson delivered a handspring double elbow moments before Cole caught a flying Ricochet with a superkick. Cole followed up with the Last Shot to Dunne and nearly won, but Dunne answered with the Bitter End. Ricochet followed seconds later with another big splash, and the babyfaces finally secured the win.
Dunne, Ricochet and War Raiders defeated Undisputed Era
A+ (and seven million stars)
WWE should go ahead and cancel Survivor Series now because nothing on that card will come close to approaching this.
WarGames Saturday night was the wild, chaotic, emotional battle between two teams composed of enemies that Survivor Series should be. It was a classic match that brought a heated, months-long rivalry to a close in spectacular fashion. It was brutal, it was violent and it lived up to its beloved predecessors.
The different styles, the high-risk maneuvers and the incredible storytelling that played out before the NXT faithful resulted in a legitimate Match of the Year candidate that is as close to flawless as possible in today's wrestling world.
Dunne is a star, and he was showcased superbly here, exploding into the ring and proving the difference between victory and defeat for the babyfaces. Ricochet's ability to throw his body around the ring created memorable spots, while it was Hanson who might have been the most underrated Superstar in the match, using his size and agility to pummel the opposition.
For all the attempts to recreate the Four Horsemen over the years, The Undisputed Era and their booking in NXT are as close as we have ever gotten to the legendary faction. The idea of them departing for the main roster at some point is almost demoralizing because this writer selfishly wants them to continue bringing the awesome for years to come.