WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 2
This week's episode was the final show before Sunday's TakeOver: WarGames event, so it was all hands on deck to prepare for the pay-per-view.
Ahead of their teams doing battle inside the WarGames cage, Shotzi Blackheart and Raquel Gonzalez competed in a ladder match to determine which team would have the advantage heading into Sunday.
Prior to Wednesday's show, Legado del Fantasma attacked Curt Stallion ahead of his NXT debut in addition to having some unkind words about Leon Ruff.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on the pre-TakeOver episode of NXT.
Damian Priest and Leon Ruff vs. Raul Mendoza and Santos Escobar
NXT opened with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, William Regal and the entire roster on the stage observing a moment of silence for the late Pat Patterson before a tribute video played.
When we returned after the usual intro song, Damian Priest was in the ring waiting on Leon Ruff and Legado del Fantasma to arrive. Ruff convinced Priest to let him start for their team.
Santos Escobar grounded Ruff and then stood up and allowed him to stand up so he could show how much better he was than his opponent. Raul Mendoza tagged in, and Ruff took him down with a dropkick for two.
After Ruff took a brutal knee to the face, Priest tagged himself in. Escobar immediately tagged out so Mendoza had to lock up with him. Legado del Fantasma gained control during the commercial break when Priest was distracted by someone in a Ghostface costume in the crowd.
Ruff finally tagged back in and took it to Mendoza and Escobar with a flurry of quick maneuvers. Priest tagged back in to clean house a few moments later. Ruff tagged himself in and hit a big splash for the pin.
The pre-show attack to set this up robbed Stallion of his debut, but Ruff and Priest made for an interesting one-time combination.
Johnny Gargano was great on commentary as the antagonist who is still bitter about losing his North American Championship. He knows his character and plays it perfectly.
Legado del Fantasma looked like the more cohesive unit, but that is to be expected from a group with a lot more experience working together. This bout could have been better, but it was good enough to keep the viewer's interest.
August Grey vs. Cameron Grimes
August Grey took on Cameron Grimes in the second match of the night. The Red Dead NPC brought a strap with him to intimidate his opponent ahead of his strap match Sunday.
Grimes took control right away and taunted Grey as he tried to inflict as much pain as possible. Grey began to make a comeback and hit a big crossbody from the top rope for a two-count.
About 20 seconds later, Grimes hit the Cave-In for the pin and the win. As he continued to attack Grey, Dexter Lumis arrived and took him down with his own strap.
This was a short match designed to give Grimes some momentum before his match at WarGames. It accomplished its goal but was still too quick to be memorable.
The post-match attack on Grey as Grimes spoke to Lumis was entertaining and made him look a little more dangerous than usual, at least until Lumis showed up.
Jake Atlas vs. Tony Nese
The announcers said Jake Atlas was dedicating this match in Patterson's honor. He locked up, and Tony Nese took control early using his strength advantage.
Atlas turned things around and hit a suicide dive. He tried to climb to the top rope, but The Premier Athlete knocked him down with one big jumping strike.
Nese lifted him up for a torture rack, but Atlas broke free and started to fight back. He hit a release German suplex and a spinning forearm for a near-fall.
After a few acrobatics, Nese hit a huge kick to the face for a close two-count. Atlas recovered and hit the cartwheel DDT for the win.
This was a fun match between two of the most versatile performers on the NXT roster. It had high-flying spots, a little technical wrestling and plenty of striking.
Nese is an underrated performer who can make anyone look good, but Atlas hardly needs help. He has been impressive since his debut, and his more aggressive attitude has helped him in a lot of ways.
After the match, Atlas gave an interview and promised that this win was just the beginning. It was short but effective.
The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Imperium
Pat McAfee and his trio of friends came out to deliver a promo directed at The Undisputed Era. McAfee did a good job being a heel you want to see get punched in the face.
The next segment saw Ever-Rise prepare to battle The Grizzled Young Veterans, but Imperium came out and attacked Ever-Rise first. This led to a new match between the two former NXT UK teams.
Fabian Aichner started off with Zack Gibson. Imperium got the upper hand right away and employed some double-team tactics before James Drake helped turn the tables.
The two teams continued to trade control back and forth for quite some time. Nobody had an advantage for more than a minute. After the break, Gibson and Drake were dominating the match.
Marcel Barthel planted Gibson with a rough side slam for a two-count. They both tagged in their partners after a bit, and Drake had the advantage until Barthel helped his partner hit an impressive suplex for a near-fall.
Aichner took out both opponents and his partner with a huge dive from the top rope to the floor before Ever-Rise returned to attack both teams and cause a disqualification.
There were a couple of sloppy spots because they were trying to work a quick pace, but it didn't do anything to make this bout any less enjoyable. Missing a suplex counter isn't a huge deal.
These are two teams who have worked together before and put their chemistry on full display. Imperium had the technical game down, while GYV brought the brawling.
Ever-Rise was an unfortunate casualty, but seeing as the team is still new, it didn't have any momentum to stall so it can recover quickly. The post-match attack certainly helped. If this is a future NXT tag title feud, it will, hopefully, give us more fights like this one.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Raquel Gonzalez
Gonzalez took control almost immediately by employing her significant size advantage. Blackheart kept herself in the fight, but it took help from a ladder to get in any real offense.
The green-haired grappler kicked the ladder into her face at ringside before trying to bring it into the ring. Gonzalez picked her up and dropped her hard, but Blackheart was right back on her a moment later.
Blackheart climbed onto the divider on the barricade and hit a coffin drop on the floor. We returned from a break to see Blackheart and Gonzalez almost botch a DDT on the apron. Gonzalez slammed her onto the apron to give herself some time to recover.
Blackheart pushed over the ladder to prevent her opponent from reaching the top. She sent Gonzalez's face into the ladder in the corner by using her whole body as a weapon. She hit a nasty looking senton on the floor, and both women went down hard.
The other women from the WarGames match came down and started a huge brawl. Io Shirai came out of nowhere to prevent Gonzalez from winning. She took out everyone at ringside with a moonsault. This left Blackheart alone to climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase with the golden ticket.
Blackheart's style involves taking a lot of risks, so you have to account for the occasional botch, especially in a match like this. That said, there was only one or two clear mistakes. Everything else looked good.
Io Shirai seemed like an obvious choice to join Team Blackheart, but it's hard to think of a better pick right now. She isn't defending the title Sunday, so putting her in WarGames was a smart call.
This was a good way to close the show and send us into this weekend's event. TakeOver always has the potential to be an awesome show, and the lineup for Sunday is no exception.