The Real Winners and Losers from 2021 WWE NXT WarGames
NXT WarGames was the beginning of a new era. The first major NXT weekend event without the TakeOver label felt at times like one of those classic nights company, but it was many of the newest young stars who shined.
This show gave young stars a platform in long memorable matches against some of the stalwarts of NXT.
While Johnny Gargano was on his way out, he helped put over the young talent of NXT 2.0, especially Carmelo Hayes. Tommaso Ciampa put over Bron Breakker to end the match, giving a definitive win to the future of NXT in Team 2.0.
Kyle O'Reilly could also be on his way out after losing at WarGames and setting up a potential final match against Von Wagner in a steel cage. Imperium that took the win, carried by an incredible performance from Fabian Aichner.
Cora Jade put on a show in the women's WarGames match, including taking the pinfall win. She established herself as the future of the division.
Duke Hudson tried to get his own big win over an NXT stalwart. Instead, Cameron Grimes defeated him and shaved his head.
This was a night for the future, and some members of the young roster showed up more than the rest, no matter the results in the double rings at NXT WarGames.
Winner: Cora Jade
Cora Jade is only 20 years old. If you didn't know that before, WWE made that clear repeatedly at WarGames. It led to a huge win for the youngest wrestler to ever compete in WarGames.
She landed a top-of-the-cage senton bomb through a table. She fought through a kayfabe shoulder injury and kicked out of the Mandy Rose bicycle knee before stealing a pinfall on Jacy Jayne after a Chingona Bomb.
Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez, Toxic Attraction and Dakota Kai all had their moments in the contests. It was a match built on the stories of the women involved, but no one was more important than Jade.
It is unclear when NXT 2.0 will play this out, but it was the biggest moment any woman has gotten in the new-look NXT.
Winner: Fabian Aichner
NXT has struggled to showcase the talented Fabian Aichner as well as Marcel Bartel. However, Imperium got time to deliver at NXT WarGames and had the best match of the team's career.
On a night of great wrestling all around, Imperium vs. Kyle O'Reilly and Von Wagner was the show-stealer, and a big part of that was the Italian Superstar. Aichner showed off his impressive strength by deadlifting Wagner. His incredible high flying with springboard moves also should not be possible at his size.
While much of Imperium's storyline has been delayed by the disappearance of WALTER, this match showed Imperium can shine as a duo without The Ring General.
NXT 2.0 has been rebuilt as a developmental brand for Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown. If WWE officials were watching WarGames closely, Aichner had to make a lasting impression.
The work of Aichner was reminiscent of Cesaro, who has always impressed despite an up-and-down career. At 31 years old and in the best shape of his life, the time has come to let Aichner and, by extension, Imperium shine.
Loser: Duke Hudson
Duke Hudson is the kind of star WWE should strive to push. He has shown off his charisma in his latest role, but it's unclear how much will change with him having his head shaved.
He was never going to win over the popular Cameron Grimes, but it is hard to explain why he was pushed in a hair vs. hair match in the first place. This forces another character change on Hudson, who seemed to have settled well into a role as a poker player.
On a night where three matches were good enough that they could have worked on an NXT TakeOver, this was a clear NXT 2.0 match. Grimes and Hudson wrestled to a standstill where an unimpressive roll-up stole the win.
While The Technical Savage has made this story work, the result was forgettable. This was not up to the level of his rivalry with LA Knight. Hudson lost this rivalry without gaining anything.
Winners: Team 2.0
In the battle of the black-and-gold brand and NXT 2.0, the future won out. Bron Breakker pinned the NXT champion and likely earned himself a future title match against Tommaso Ciampa.
However, this win was about every young member of Team 2.0. Carmelo Hayes saved Breakker at the crucial moment and played a role in taking out Johnny Gargano. Tony D'Angelo and Grayson Waller took out their rivals in Pete Dunne and LA Knight.
While the crowd hated the result, that was a result of the booking selling this as overconfident rookies outshining beloved favorites. The talent gave their all in this battle.
Hayes is already NXT North American champion and likely will be for a long time to come. Breakker looks like the future NXT champion. D'Angelo showed out as he continues to rise the ranks. Waller proved he is a highlight reel performer with solid upside and hit a ridiculous top-of-the-cage elbow drop.
This was the night where the future shined, and no team shined together more clearly than Team 2.0.