The night has arrived, NXT TakeOver: War Games from Chicago, Illinois. After weeks of battling each other tooth and nail, it was time to settle scores inside the dangerous structure known as War Games. Both the men’s and women’s War Games matches will be hellacious and chaotic, but after tonight, the landscape will forever change.
Women’s War Games Match: Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai, & Candice LaRae) v. Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, & Bianca Belair) 4.75/5
The inaugural match of the evening was the women’s War Games bout between eight of the most dangerous and talented women in NXT. Mia Yim was supposed to take part in this match, but was attacked beforehand. She was ruled out of the contest and replaced by Dakota Kai.
The first two to begin this match was Candice LaRae and Io Shirai. The long-standing rivalry between Io & Candice came to a head right away. The two wasted no time swinging multiple shots and haymakers, neither wanting to give up the advantage.
Team Shayna had the person advantage heading into War Games after Io won the ladder match a few short weeks ago. The next person to enter War Games was Bianca Belair. Right away, Bianca and Io used the numbers games to their advantage. They dominated Candice.
Next to enter was team captain Rhea Ripley. Rhea came in with a full head of steam. She quickly took out Bianca using the cage door. Rhea would then bring in multiple chairs, trash cans and kendo sticks, as you need weapons to win a war. The weapons began being used to Rhea’s advantage. She began using the weapons to wear down the opposing adversaries.
The next to enter was NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray. She brought in more chairs herself. She began to attack Candice and Rhea with the chairs. The advantage was back in the side of Team Shayna.
Next to enter seemed to be Dakota Kai. But, in a shocking turn of events, Dakota turned around and viciously attacked Tegan. Dakota sent Tegan crashing into the cage and began attacking Tegan’s surgically repaired knee. Dakota was the one who attacked Mia earlier, but why Dakota why? Team Ripley now has to survive War Games with Rhea and Candice remaining.
NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler was the last to enter War Games. Once Shayna had entered, her team looked to isolate Rhea and Candice. But, this was not a War where the strongest survive. Rhea and Candice continued to fight the battle at hand, using their environment to their advantage.
Both teams continued to throw their best shots at each other, including a massive moonsault from the top of the War Games structure by Io Shirai. Shayna looked to be closing in on victory when she locked in the Kirifuda Clutch. But Rhea was able to use the handcuffs Shayna attempted to use on her earlier and break out. Once she broke out, she was able to deliver massive knee strikes, followed by a RipTide through a bed of chairs for the pin and the win.
Team Rhea overcame the odds and defeated the powerful Team Shayna. This opening match was chaotic and vicious. This match showed why the NXT women’s division is the best in sports entertainment today.
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Damien Priest v. Pete Dunne v. Killian Dain: Winner Challenges Adam Cole for the NXT Championship at Survivor Series 4.5/5
These three men have been at each other’s necks for a number of weeks, attacking each other from behind, not allowing one to get an advantage. That is why NXT General Manager William Regal came up with the idea for this triple threat match. Knowing what is at stake for these men, it opens the door for an actioned packed matchup.
The match started fast-paced, with each man trying to hit each other with massive strikes. There were no allegiances because each man wanted to head into Survivor Series with a shot at the NXT Championship.
Each man continued to one-up each other with massive counters and interrupting big moves, not allowing anyone to get an advantage. This match was nearly 20 minutes of hard-hitting, back and forth action. Massive strikes, big moves and destruction, this match was surely a TakeOver worthy bout.
Dain looked to be closing in on victory after taking out Damien. He then countered Dunne’s sleeper with a massive senton landing on Damien. But as Dain hit it, Pete landed on Damien for the pin and the win. Pete Dunne is now on his way to Survivor Series to challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship.
Matt Riddle v. Finn Balor 4.5/5
Finn Balor is back in NXT and is looking to reclaim the top of what he built a number of years ago. Since returning, Finn has shocked the world and has taken out Johnny Gargano, making Johnny miss TakeOver for the first time since 2016. But, Finn had a new challenge in front of him in the Original Bro, Matt Riddle. In this dream match, Riddle looks to show to Finn that NXT is a new era and the Finn Era is over.
The match started very strategic and methodical, showing the pure wrestling ability of these two wrestlers. Neither man seemingly gained a clear advantage.
This match was full of hard-hitting strikes and fast-paced offense. Both men were waiting to find openings to possibly secure a victory, but each had each other studied and knew their next move.
Matt has always been known for taking massive risks, but one risk was too much. He looked to go for his corkscrew moonsault, but Finn got out of the way and was able to hit the 1916 for the pin and the win.
Finn is back in NXT and he just defeated one of the top stars NXT has to offer. What is next for Finn Balor at reclaiming his NXT?
Men’s War Games Match: Team Ciampa (Tommaso Ciampa, Dominik Dijakovic, Keith Lee, & ???) v. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly) 4.75/5
It was now time for the main event as Tommaso’s built army takes on the Undisputed Era. Undisputed Era has become more dominant than ever since winning every Championship in NXT. But, with all those Championships, there are now targets on their backs. For weeks, these men have been trying to one-up each other with numerous attacks.
Roderick Strong of the Undisputed Era began the match with Tommaso Ciampa. Tommaso since returning a number of weeks ago has had one thing in mind and that is reclaiming Goldie (the NXT Championship), but he knows he has to take down the entire Undisputed Era to get to Adam Cole and the NXT Championship.
The match began dominated by Tommaso Ciampa. His new found intensity gave him a quick advantage in this match. But, the advantage is in favor of the Undisputed Era because Adam Cole won a ladder match this past Wednesday that gave then the advantage.
Kyle O’Reilly was the next person to enter War Games and the two members of the Undisputed Era used their advantage against Tommaso Ciampa. The two dissected and wore down Tommaso Ciampa until the next member of Team Ciampa entered War Games.
Dominik Dijakovic was the next to enter War Games. Dominik used his goliath presence to his advantage. He evened the odds back for Team Ciampa. However, it was temporary as Undisputed Era still had the numbers advantage.
Bobby Fish was the next to enter War Games. He assisted the Undisputed Era by using his massive kicks and strikes to wear down Tommaso and Dominik. The Undisputed Era would use the three on two advantage to beat down Team Ciampa until the next member came out.
Keith Lee was the next member of Team Ciampa to make his presence known. The massive Keith Lee ran through the entire Undisputed Era in the ring. But, the Undisputed Era is strongest when it works as a unit. The three in the ring singled out the members of Team Ciampa until NXT Champion Adam Cole entered War Games.
Adam Cole made his way to the ring and began bringing in numerous tables into War Games. He also leveled a table on the barricade. But, that would backfire as Tommaso put Adam through the table.
There was still no clue on who the fourth member of Team Ciampa might be, if there is even a fourth member. The Undisputed Era were dominating the match with their four on three advantage. The timer went off, but nobody came down to the ring.
In a shocking turn of events, the fourth member was Kevin Owens. He once again donned his NXT colors. The Allstate Arena exploded seeing the presence of Kevin Owens. Kevin Owens focused his attention on taking down each member of the Undisputed Era. Each team brawled with each other, each looking for ways to find victory.
Then, one by one, Team Ciampa put each member of Undisputed Era through tables leaving only two men on top of the War Games structure, Tommaso Ciampa and Adam Cole. Tommaso and Adam brawled on top of the massive structure until Tommaso locked Adam in massive backdrop through two tables for the pin and the win.
Team Ciampa won the War, but at what cost? Each man put their bodies on the line for victory in War Games. Team Ciampa stood tall and now Tomasso can put his focus back on bringing Goldie back to his grasp.
Yet again, what a night. NXT TakeOvers are some of the best wrestling shows in the world. From the intense and passionate crowds that lasts all throughout the night, to the incredible in-ring action.
NXT TakeOver: War Games was all of that and much more. NXT is the best brand in sports entertainment and the future only continues to get brighter.
Overall Grade: A