WWE NXT WarGames 2020 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2020

WWE NXT WarGames 2020 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: WWE.com

    War was hell for the top stars of NXT on Sunday night at TakeOver: WarGames, where Team Shotzi and Team Candice sought to settle their differences in the most barbaric gimmick match in professional wrestling, while Undisputed Era looked to silence the loudmouth Pat McAfee and his associates Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan.

    Those two matches, taking place inside two rings surrounded by two unforgiving steel cages, headlined a live special that also featured the culmination of top rivalries, hard-hitting in-ring action and storyline developments that propelled the brand forward as 2020 comes to an end.

    Who emerged victoriously and what did it mean for the immediate future of the brand? Find out with this recap of the December 6 spectacular.

Match Card

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    Announced for Sunday's WWE Network special:

    • WarGames: Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Io Shirai, Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley) vs. Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez and Toni Storm)
    • WarGames: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong) vs. Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
    • Triple Threat match for the North American Championship: Leon Ruff vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano
    • Leather strap match: Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes
    • Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher

Women's WarGames Match: Team Blackheart vs. Team Candice

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Appropriately, TakeOver: WarGames kicked off with the namesake match featuring the most talented women's division in professional wrestling. Toni Storm, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez and captain Candice LeRae battled Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, Ember Moon and captain Shotzi Blackheart in a match months in the making.

    By way of Blackheart's win Wednesday, the babyfaces held the rare one-woman advantage. Shotzi emerged from the locker room on a brand-new tank, rebuilding it after LeRae ran it over a few weeks back.

    Moon and Kai started the match for their respective teams, further intensifying their own rivalry.

    Kai weathered the storm of Moon first, raking her face into the mat, but the arrival of Blackheart (toolbox in hand) brought with it a two-on-one disadvantage for the heels. Kai found herself on the shoulders of Moon and then flat on the mat following a dropkick from Blackheart.

    Gonzalez joined the fray next, overpowering both babyfaces and bowling them over with clotheslines and big boots. A slam to Moon gave way to a powerbomb into the cage on Blackheart as Gonzalez wreaked havoc.

    With the help of Gonzalez, Kai launched herself from one ring to the next, wiping out Moon and Blackheart with a double clothesline.

    Ripley entered the match and immediately came face-to-face with Gonzalez. With Moon and Blackheart immobilizing the heel, Ripley rocked her with a pump kick. A pair of clotheslines and a ripcord dropkick flattened Kai as the Aussie rolled.

    Ripley opened up the toolbox, retrieved a mallet and blasted Kai with it. She strapped in the arms of Captain Kota and forced her right into the cage. Again, Ripley and Gonzalez teed off on each other, the titans of the division engaging in a relentless brawl.

    Storm entered next for Team Candice and retrieved a handful of kendo sticks. After working on a turnbuckle pad, she joined Gonazlez in punishing Ripley with the stick. She whipped Ripley into the exposed turnbuckle, driving the air out of her in the process.

    All six women in the match came together for a stereo tower of doom spot, leaving the competitors laid out on the mat. Just in time for NXT women's champion Shirai to enter the battle, bringing a ladder with her.

    Gonzalez prevented Shirai from entering, kicking the door back into The Genius of the Sky and knocking her off the apron. Repeatedly, Gonzalez prevented Shirai from entering the match despite eating a dropkick that drove a chair into her head.

    LeRae finally entered the match but came face-to-face with Shirai. Luckily for her, Indi Hartwell attacked from out of nowhere, leaving Shirai lying on the floor. She locked the door to the cage and stuck the key in her shirt, making it difficult for Shirai to enter the squared circle.

    In the ring, the heels took turns pummeling Blackheart with kendo-stick shots, obliterating her. LeRae tried for the pin, but the referee refused, citing the fact that not all eight competitors had actually entered the ring.

    Shirai, with a garbage can over her head, launched herself off the top of the cage and wiped out all other competitors as WarGames officially began.

    The babyfaces came together to unleash hell on the opposition, punishing them one-by-one en route to a moonsault by Shirai to Gonzalez. LeRae and Co. broke up the pin, though, ensuring the bout would continue.

    Blackheart and Moon trapped Storm in a double submission, but LeRae broke it up. Blackheart unloaded on the heels with a kendo stick until a chair shot from Kai halted her momentum. She followed up with a big kick to Shirai, followed by a top-rope double stomp into the trash can, driving it into the body of the women's champion.

    Moon delivered an Eclipse onto two chairs, but Storm broke it up with a trash can. Toni delivered Storm Zero to Moon onto a trash can, but Shirai narrowly broke up the fall.

    LeRae wiped out Ripley but was knocked off a ladder. Blackheart delivered the senton but came back-first into a chair positioned expertly by LeRae. Shirai delivered a moonsault onto Kai, but Storm speared Ripley into the champion, breaking up the pin.

    Shirai tried to deliver a headscissors onto Gonzalez, between the rings, but the unstoppable force powerbombed her through a ladder and scored the win for Team Candice.



    Team Candice defeated Team Blackheart






    Wade Barrett pointed out that Gonzalez's victory elevated her from an insurance policy to a genuine threat in the women's division, and he is absolutely right. If the war with Ripley a month ago was not enough, this match served as her coming-out party.

    Gonzalez was a star here, overwhelming the competition and obliterating anyone in her path en route to the defining victory of her young career. Do not be surprised for a moment if she channels this win into an NXT Women's Championship victory over Shirai sometime in the near future.

    Major props to Dakota Kai, who was very much the glue that held this one together, taking big bumps and popping up just in time to stay relevant throughout despite being one of the first two competitors into the match.

    While some would insist the babyface team should go over, none of the participants on that side of the match loses anything in defeat. They are all established, while the heels needed a big win to set up challengers for Shirai. The finish was the right call, and now the NXT women's division has yet another star it can build around.

    Great booking, creative violence and strong performances from the wrestlers involved helped make this a fantastic way to kick things off. A late-surging challenger to NXT Match of the Year, for sure.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In what promised to be one of the most physical matches of the night, Tommaso Ciampa battled Timothy Thatcher. The Blackheart of NXT sought revenge for an assault that left him unconscious just five days earlier.

    Ciampa controlled early, but Thatcher quickly turned the match into a ground-and-pound display of joint manipulation and physical punishment. He targeted the throat of Ciampa, which is where doctors entered while operating on his neck.

    Ciampa attempted to mount a comeback, but Thatcher caught him with a slap to the side of the throat. The competitors threw hard rights and lefts at each other moments later, but a collision of heads left both reeling.

    The former NXT champion finally strung together a flurry of offense and brought Thatcher off the top rope with a superplex. The fight spilled to the floor and then back into the ring, where Ciampa applied a tight headlock, looking to sap the fight out of Thatcher. Blood poured from his ear, but the mat magician refused to quit.

    He instead answered with a side suplex and then a German, a sadistic look across his face. Thatcher teased a German suplex on the apron while Ciampa sold his injured neck, but The Blackheart fought out. As Thatcher tried to reenter the ring, Ciampa tried for the draping DDT. Thatcher, instead, hung him up on the top rope.

    Ciampa recovered, applied a guillotine in the ropes and turned it into Willow's Bell for the pinfall victory.



    Ciampa defeated Thatcher






    If you like good, hard-hitting and incredibly physical pro wrestling, Ciampa and Thatcher gave it to you in this one.

    With the most minimal of build, they went out there and beat the ever-loving hell out of each other for little more than bragging rights.

    The shot that broke Thatcher's ear open was wicked, and some of the strikes the combatants unloaded on each other were sickening.

    They had a realistic wrestling match that looked like it hurt, made the viewer believe it did and ended with a resourceful former champion seizing an opening for a much-needed win. The nod from Ciampa to Thatcher after the match was a nice show of respect, but the reaction of the heel suggests these two are far from finished with each other.

    That is a good thing for fans, but not necessarily the bodies of the performers.

Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Dexter Lumis spent an entire month haunting, stalking and terrorizing Cameron Grimes. Grimes spent that same time running, cowering and avoiding his foe. He would not have that opportunity in the third match of TakeOver: WarGames as he met the stoic Lumis in a strap match.

    He got the jump early, attacking Lumis before the bell and beating him around the ringside area. Back inside the ring, though, he fell prey to the overwhelming fury and strength of Lumis. The bell rang and the enigmatic competitor unleashed on Grimes, sending him crashing into the guardrail on multiple occasions.

    Grimes finally answered, sending Lumis into the same guardrail and dropping him back-first across it. Lumis recovered, only for Grimes to use the strap to flip him over the guardrail and onto the floor.

    Grimes produced a blindfold, not unlike the one he wore in his most recent match with Lumis. It benefited him until Lumis delivered a spinbuster. He tied Grimes up in the steel rigging structure, but Grimes again utilized the strap to his advantage, pulling Lumis into it.

    He blasted Lumis with a steel chair across the back, doing more damage to Lumis than we had seen anyone else inflict to this point.

    Lumis recovered and sent Grimes flying with a fallaway slam, kipping up and firing off a flurry of right hands. Again, Grimes used the strap to pull Lumis to the mat.

    Late in the bout, Grimes countered Silence twice, only to be driven into the steel chair via the strap. Lumis applied Silence and added the strap around the face for the win.



    Lumis defeated Grimes






    There were a lot of questions heading into this match about Lumis' ability to perform up to the level of his opposition in NXT. His character work had been great to this point, but he had yet to deliver that one match that left fans convinced he was at the level of the rest of the roster.

    Grimes is great. He busted his ass in this to help make it more than a tired old gimmick match, and it worked. He was fantastic and really deserves a more prominent position on the roster than he currently has. This was all about Lumis, though, who rose to the occasion and delivered his first real above-average match on a night when he absolutely had to.

    Grimes can easily recover from the loss and become a main event attraction next week if NXT officials want. He's that good of a performer and an even better character. Lumis needed the performance, can benefit from the win and hopefully moves on to a new program that allows him to further explore his character.

North American Title Match: Leon Ruff vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Unlikely North American champion Leon Ruff had been at the center of the rivalry between Damian Priest and Johnny Gargano for weeks. It was in that position that he won the title in the first place. Sunday represented his opportunity to prove that he belonged, that he was the rightful champion.

    To do so, he would have to defeat Priest and Gargano in a Triple Threat match.

    Ruff used his speed and agility advantage early to evade and then fend off Gargano. Priest tossed Ruff aside and pummeled Gargano. The champion answered with a missile dropkick that earned the wrath of Priest. He set up for a chokeslam on Ruff, but Gargano broke it up and then joined the champion in ridding the ring of Priest.

    A slingshot spear downed Ruff, but the champ kicked out at two.

    Frustrated by Ruff's repeated interference in his battle with Johnny Wrestling, The Archer of Infamy delivered a Razor's Edge that sent the champion crashing through the guardrail. Trainers helped Ruff out of the arena, leaving familiar foes to battle for the gold.

    Priest and Gargano resumed their rivalry until Ruff emerged from the back and wiped out both men with a top-rope splash. He hit a springboard twisting cutter to Gargano for two. He accumulated several near-falls before Priest returned and stood between him and Gargano. Priest flattened the champion with a big boot and then delivered a double flatliner on him and Gargano.

    Gargano recovered and sent Priest into the turnbuckle. With Priest tied in the bottom ropes of one ring, Gargano applied the Gargano Escape. Priest freed himself, broke up the submission and rocked Gargano. As action broke down, an army of Ghostface-clad attackers jumped Priest. He fought back, wiped out the costumed cowards on both sides of the ring and caught Gargano with a chokeslam on the ring apron.

    Ruff came from out of nowhere with a big splash, but Priest narrowly broke up the pin.

    The Archer of Infamy leveled Gargano, but one more Ghostface, this one with a lead pipe, blasted Priest. Ruff tried for a roll-up, but Gargano rolled through, delivered a superkick and finished Ruff with One Final Beat for the win and title.

    After the match, the lead Ghostface revealed himself to be Austin Theory.



    Gargano defeated Ruff and Priest






    At least the Ghostfaces made sense within the context of the story and the foundation that had been laid in the weeks prior to the show.

    There will be some who say they were unnecessary, and while those people may have a point, what the Ghostfaces did was allow Priest to look like an unstoppable badass as he fended them all off, only to fall prey to one last unsuspected assailant.

    Ruff looked like a star despite his smaller stature as he hung in there with both Gargano and Priest en route to a damn fine showing. Gargano winning probably makes the most sense, and his star power can help bring Theory along, but one can only hope Ruff is not out of the picture entirely.

    Furthermore, that Priest does not lose any momentum as his fantastic 2020 comes to an end.

Men's WarGames Match: Undisputed Era vs. Team McAfee

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Pat McAfee led his team of himself, Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team champions Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan into battle against Undisputed Era's Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong in the night's main event WarGames match.

    O'Reilly and Dunne started for their respective teams, looking to establish mat dominance while reversing, countering and grappling for the advantage. Dunne rocked O'Reilly with a stiff kick to the back and then tried to manipulate the joints of his opponent. The Bruiserweight brought O'Reilly down and into an armbreaker, but O'Reilly countered into a heel hook.

    Lorcan entered the match for the heels, who possessed the man advantage. Lorcan and Dunne punished O'Reilly until Fish entered for Undisputed Era, evening the odds for the next three minutes.

    Burch again turned the tide in the favor of Team McAfee, complete with a cricket paddle that he blasted across the back of O'Reilly. Strong entered next for Undisputed Era, exploding into the ring and taking the fight to anyone in his path.

    McAfee entered as the fourth and final member of his team and loaded the ring with weapon after weapon, including tables and chairs. Each table had a member of the opposition's name on it, in hopes of driving them through them.

    "He combines the athleticism of Seth Rollins with the hate-ability of The Miz," Wade Barrett said on commentary as McAfee directed traffic.

    Cole exploded into the match, neutralizing the opponents with a fire extinguisher and then downing each of the tag champions. He fired off rights and lefts at Dunne and then countered Bitter End with a DDT. After a cheap shot from McAfee allowed the heels to down Cole, O'Reilly suckered the former Indianapolis Colt into a trap that included a beatdown at Cole's hands and then his.

    With the heels in the grasp of Fish, O'Reilly and Strong, Cole reversed a Figure-Four on McAfee. The heels ultimately broke it up.

    Cole and Dunne showcased the sort of chemistry that made their match at last year's Survivor Series special.

    Moments later, when a powerbomb from Undisputed Era failed to drive Dunne and Burch through a table, Strong jumped off the top rope and put them through forcefully. Cole shoved McAfee off the top rope and through another table.

    With Dunne, Lorcan and Burch sandwiched between the ropes and cage, Undisputed Era launched a concentrated attack. They teed off on McAfee, but the other three heels regrouped and brought the fight to the babyfaces.

    The action broke down, each competitor taking the other down in a crash of action that left all eight men battered and broken.

    With a brawl breaking out, McAfee delivered a Swanton Bomb from the top of the cage that wiped everyone out.

    Nearing 45 minutes of competition, O'Reilly and Dunne came to blows in the center of the ring. Dunne delivered the Bitter End for two, and O'Reilly delivered a suplex onto the steel connector between the rings for a near-fall of his own.

    McAfee knocked O'Reilly off the top rope with a steel chair to the leg. Cole attempted a steel-chair shot, but McAfee delivered a low blow. He tried for a punt, but Cole rocked him with a bicycle kick. McAfee tried for a Panama Sunrise, but Cole caught him with a superkick. The former NXT champion delivered the finisher for two.

    Cole missed the Last Shot, which sparked another breakdown in the action. Ultimately, O'Reilly delivered a knee into a steel chair, driving it into the face of Lorcan for the win.



    Undisputed Era defeated Team McAfee






    This was appropriately wild, chaotic and violent. It was everything it needed to be, with some great sequences from O'Reilly, Cole and Dunne to boot.

    The story of the match was McAfee defying the odds and proving he belonged, as well as O'Reilly's continued rise to the top of NXT as a singles competitor. Him getting the shine that he did, and scoring the pinfall victory, supports that idea.

    As good as the match was, this event was proof positive that we really only need one WarGames match per show.

    McAfee's dive off the cage would have meant more had we not seen it from Io Shirai earlier in the show. The setup to that was eerily similar, too. Maximizing those spots instead of replicating them should be the goal, and while it is admirable that management wants to make sure both women and men get the match type, WarGames is a match best utilized in small doses.

    Still, it was excellent, physical and absolutely deserved the main event spot. Kudos to McAfee for taking all the bumps and proving how natural a pro wrestling star he is.


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