There have been four WWE NXT WarGames matches as we head into tonight’s NXT Takeover WarGames event. What I’m here to do today I share my reviews of those four WarGames matches and then I’ll add in some 2020 thoughts in blue font as well. Let’s get to it.
The first NXT WarGames match happened during Survivor Series weekend in 2017. Check out my recap of NXT Takeover WarGames 2017 right here and read all about the match below.
NXT Takeover: WarGames
From Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
November 18, 2017
WarGames: Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain vs. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong, Akam & Rezar (w/Paul Ellering)
It started with Strong and Young working together against Cole early on. With Strong and Young battling on the top rope, Cole knocked them down stomped away on them on the ground. Cole tossed Strong out of the far ring into the near ring. Cole hit the fireman’s carry into the neckbreaker on Young to keep him down. Cole went into the other ring to work over Strong. Cole hit a snap suplex on Strong followed by a neckbreaker and a neckbreaker on Young as well. Running clothesline by Strong took down Cole. More chops by Strong followed by running knee lifts on both guys. The 5:00 clock expired as The Undisputed Era duo of O’Reilly and Fish were next to enter.
Analysis: That no surprise because WarGames matches usually have the heels getting the advantage by having more men in the ring.
O’Reilly and Fish ran down to the ring. They kicked Strong and Young to beat them down. All three Undisputed Era guys hit running elbows on Young that sent Young into the cage. There was a 3:00 clock that was counting down. Cole shoved Young’s face up against the cage. Fish hit a Wheelbarrow Suplex on Strong. O’Reilly slapped on a leg bar submission on Strong. The Undisputed Era guys worked over Strong in the far ring and stomped on Young in the near ring. The 3:00 clock expired with Akam and Rezar as the next men to enter the match.
When Akam and Rezar ran down to the ring, the Undisputed Era tried to keep them out, but that didn’t work. Cole was sent into the cage by one of the AOP. Young was launched into the cage. Rezar drove somebody into the cage. Akam threw Cole over the top rope in one ring and into the other ring. Back body drop by AOP sent Young into the other ring. AOP launched their partner Strong onto the four guys in the other ring. Akam and Rezar drove members of the Undisputed Era into other guys that were up against the turnbuckle. That was vicious. Rezar nailed Cole with a forearm to the back. The clock ran out leading to Wolfe and Dain running down to the ring.
The match officially began with everybody involved in the match. Wolfe had a nightstick in his hand and he destroyed everybody in the match. Dain brought some steel chairs, trash cans and a kendo stick. Young and Wolfe destroyed everybody with the weapons. Dain was about to enter the ring, but the crowd chanted “We Want Tables” and Dain brought out two tables. That drew a huge ovation. Dain took a while to get in the ring after he brought in all the weapons. Dain locked the door and swallowed the key or at least that’s what we are supposed to think.
All nine guys were in the two rings. Dain hit a running splash on the Authors of Pain in the corner. Running dropkick by Dain leading to a senton splash at the same time. Dain went to the top rope and hit a cross body block on nearly everybody in the match. Cool moment as the fans chanted “holy shit” for it. Fish saved Cole from an attack from Dain, but that didn’t work out as Dain hit a Michinoku Driver on Cole onto Fish, but O’Reilly was there to break up the pin. Dain sent O’Reilly into the cage. They did a spot where Dain and Rezar each did a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop combo in the separate rings although they only showed Dain’s part. Dain got into a slugfest with Rezar. They each nailed eachother with kicks and Dain hit a running body attack. Akam kicked Dain and hit a Powerslam for a two count as O’Reilly broke up the pin with a chain. O’Reilly hit a Tornado DDT. Cole with an enziguri kick on Young. Double superkick into a brainbuster by O’Reilly on Strong. Running clothesline by Dain on Cole. Double kick to the chest by O’Reilly and Fish on Dain. Wolfe took out Fish and O’Reilly knocked down Wolfe with a kick. O’Reilly had an armbar on Wolfe with the chain, but Young broke it up with an elbow drop. Fish hit a moonsault onto Young to break up that pin. All nine guys were down.
The Authors of Pain did the super collider double Powerbomb spot where they collided the guys with Dain and that got a two count with Young breaking up a pin attempt. Dain was bleeding from the nose it looked like. Young hit a Death Valley Driver on Akam on top of Rezar for a two count, but it was broken up by Strong and Cole. Strong launched Cole in the air into a backbreaker. Strong hit a backbreaker on Young and a backbreaker for Wolfe too. Running knee strike by Strong on Dain. Strong hit the Olympic Slam on Dain for a two count as Cole gave Strong a superkick. They set up a spot between the two rings where Adam Cole was standing between the two rings. Both Authors of Pain did three man slams in each ring, so it was like a double Tower of Doom spot. It looked a bit silly and contrived, but I thought it was cool. Authors of Pain crotched Cole on the top rope. Authors of Pain set up both tables side by side in the far ring. Wolfe attacked the Authors of Pain, which saved Cole. That led to Cole climbing to the top of the cage. Wolfe hit a German Suplex on one of the AOP guys that sent them through two tables. Young hit a leaping neckbreaker on one of the AOP guys off the top rope. Wolfe had a lot of blood on his head from the table spot. Cole was crawling across the top of the cage to try to avoid getting attacked. Dain went up top and hit a Coast to Coast dropkick into a garbage can that nailed O’Reilly in the face. The match is over 25 minutes by this point.
Adam Cole was on top of the cage. He stood on top of the corner of the cage. He said “Adam Cole Bay-Bay” and the crowd chanted it with him. Strong climbed the cage to go after Cole. Fans chanted “please don’t die” at them. Strong hit a superplex OFF THE TOP OF THE CAGE on Cole onto the other guys in the match because they were all standing there together to break their fall. That led to a nearfall and a kickout while the crowd chanted “this is awesome” for the effort. Damn right. Dain and Akam got into a slugfest as they battled on the metal partition between the ring and Rezar hit a clothesline on Dain. O’Reilly and Fish did the Total Elimination leg sweep/high kick double team move. Wolfe picked up O’Reilly leading to a neckbreaker from Young. Strong hit a suplex on Wolfe sending him stomach first. Strong whipped Cole into the cage and Young sent Strong into the cage. Cole nailed Young with a kendo stick to the head. Young held a chair up and Cole hit a running knee strike on the chair onto Young. Cole covered Young for the win after 37 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Undisputed Era – Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
Analysis: ****1/2 I thought it was a fantastic, memorable match that was a nice tribute to what WarGames used to be. It wasn’t the same as WarGames we grew up with, but I don’t mind the way they were able to do the match with more of a modern influence. Using the weapons in the ring was cool. No roof on the cage did look a bit weird, but they made up for it with the superplex spot. Great match featuring nine guys that busted their ass to put on a show while utilizing weapons in an intelligent way to help tell the story. Killian Dain was really impressive throughout the match with a lot of cool moments that allowed him to show off his athleticism as a big dude that can really go in the ring. Wolfe got his head busted open in the table spot and he still worked another ten minutes even though he was probably in a lot of pain. I figured the Undisputed Era would win since Cole is clearly going to be a featured singles star while Fish and O’Reilly are probably going to win the Tag Team Title soon as well. That trio are going to be major stars in NXT for a while, so putting them over in this match made a lot of sense. If I could change one thing about the match I would have had guys going for submission moves more or perhaps did it so you can only win by submission. That way it would really put over the physicality of the match and how hard it was to get the win.
(This was three years ago when I wrote that the Undisputed Era group were going to be big stars in NXT for a while and they are still together with Strong added to the group as well. I remember this well as a chaotic match with an extremely vocal crowd that was into everything they did in the ring. I think my rating for it is fair. Outstanding match.)
The next WarGames match was at the NXT Takeover WarGames event (read my recap here) during Survivor Series weekend in 2018. Here is that match.
WWE NXT Takeover WarGames II
From Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
November 17, 2018
WarGames: The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish) vs. Ricochet, Pete Dunne and War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson)
Ricochet and Cole stood in different rings as the match began with a five-minute countdown clock in the bottom right corner of the screen. There’s a camera guy in the ring positioned between the two rings just like they did last year. Ricochet went into Cole’s ring, hit a hurricanrana and then a dropkick. Ricochet with a forearm to the face. Ricochet went for a diving attack off the middle ropes only for Cole to counter it with a Backstabber double knees to the back. Cole with a neckbreaker on Ricochet. Cole hit a fireman’s carry neckbreaker correctly called the Ushigoroshi from Ranallo. Cole sent Ricochet into the other ring on the far right. Cole raked the face of Ricochet against the cage, which would have led to a blade job in another era, but not today. Ricochet came back with kick out of the corner followed by a dropkick. Ricochet did a springboard attack from the far right ring and he connected on Cole with an uppercut. That was impressive.
The five-minute clock expired and Kyle O’Reilly was up next for the Undisputed Era because they earned the man advantage on last week’s NXT. O’Reilly attacked Ricochet with punches as Cole took a break. Ricochet managed to fight both guys off briefly, but O’Reilly hit a dragon screw leg whip against the middle rope to slow down the high flier Ricochet. There was a hard kick to the chest by O’Reilly to Ricochet. When Ricochet tried to fight back, he was greeted by a bicycle kick by Cole and Cole dumped Ricochet off his shoulders onto O’Reilly’s knee. The three-minute clock expired leading to the fourth man in the match.
Next up for the face team is the bearded big man Hanson. Hanson with a sidewalk slam on O’Reilly, a splash and a slam for Cole. Hanson did a nice cartwheel to avoid an attack leading to a clothesline on Cole. Hanson with running clotheslines on both heels against the turnbuckle. He did about ten of them or more. I lost count. Hanson with a running Bronco Buster on O’Reilly and Cole at the same time. That allowed Ricochet time to recover. Ricochet jumped off Hanson’s back leading to a Shooting Star Press on O’Reilly, which was incredible and led to “Ricochet” chants. The heels got back into it a bit with Cole working over Hanson with elbows while Ricochet took out O’Reilly. The clock ran down again after three minutes of action.
The third Undisputed Era entrant is Roderick Strong, who last year was against the Undisputed Era in the WarGames match, but this time he’s on their side. Strong with an impressive dropkick on Ricochet along with a step up knee on Ricochet and Hanson. Strong hit two backbreakers on Ricochet followed by a double knee attack to Ricochet’s back. Hanson caught Strong, Cole kicked Hanson, O’Reilly with a forearm splash and Strong hit an Olympic Slam on Hanson as some fans chanted “Undisputed” for them. The heels were in full control as O’Reilly hit a jumping knee off the middle ropes onto the back of Ricochet as the three minute period expired leading to the next entrant.
The third guy for the face side is Rowe of the War Raiders as he ran down to the ring. Rowe with an impressive overhead suplex on Strong. Cole with a forearm, no effect and Rowe hit a running knee on Cole. O’Reilly slapped on a sleeper on Rowe, but it had no effect and Rowe slammed Cole down. Rowe had O’Reilly in his arms, Hanson put Strong on top and Rowe did a Powerbomb/Powerslam combo at the same time that was incredible to see. Rowe and Hanson tossed O’Reilly and Strong into the cage. The War Raiders picked up Cole and tossed him into the cage. That used to lead to a blade job too, but not in today’s WWE. Ricochet worked over Strong with chops as the clock counted down to zero again.
The last man from the Undisputed Era is Bobby Fish and he attacked Pete Dunne in his cage. Fish drove Dunne shoulder first into the cage. Fish had his lock and he locked the cage that Dunne was in. Fish tossed the key into the crowd. Fish grabbed four steel chairs from under the ring that had the Undisputed Era logo on them, so it was a clever strategy from the heel group. That led to all four Undisputed Era guys working over the faces with chair shots to the back to keep them down. Fish and Strong whipped Hanson into the steel cage. Strong picked up Rowe and slammed him into a chair that was opened up in the ring. The Undisputed Era also whipped Rowe into the cage. Fish was favoring his left knee, which caused him to miss most of the year. The clock counted down to zero for the last man in the match.
The last man on the face side was supposed to be Pete Dunne, but he wasn’t in there yet. The referee opened the first lock and then he said his key didn’t work on the other lock that Fish put on the cage. Dunne remained in the cage. O’Reilly and Fish hit suplexes off the top rope. Referees brought out bolt cutters to cut the lock to free Dunne from the cage. Dunne went down to the ring. Dunne grabbed a kendo stick and hit Undisputed Era members with it as they tried to block him from entering. Dunne whipped the cage door into Strong’s head. Ricochet up top with a cross body block to take out Undisputed Era. Dunne brought two trash cans into the match along with a table, which drew a big pop. Dunne brought a second table into the ring. Dunne entered the ring as the last man in the match.
All eight men were in the ring as WarGames officially began at that point with two referees going into the rings to join them to count the fall or witness a submission. The faces worked over the heels with kendo sticks, a chair and Dunne had a chain around his hand. Dunne bent back the fingers of O’Reilly and stomped on the elbow. Hanson did something nasty to Strong, but we didn’t see it because the camera was showing the other side. Dunne slammed Strong onto O’Reilly and Cole came back with a chop block on the knee of Dunne. Hanson and Rowe got back into the mix with Rowe slamming Hanson ass first into Cole’s face, which was covered by a trash can. Ouch. Rowe with a body slam on Hanson on O’Reilly. The War Raiders hit a double team clothesline into a German Suplex on Strong for a two count. Hanson was hit with a garbage can to stop his momentum. Fish and O’Reilly worked over Rowe with several kicks to the upper body. Strong with the double knees to Ricochet and Cole hit the Backstabber to Ricochet. Dunne was all alone as the Undisputed Era worked together against him. Dunne fought them off with strikes and a German Suplex to strong. Enziguri kick by Dunne hit O’Reilly in the head. Dunne slapped on the kneebar submission on Fish’s surgically repaired left leg leading to O’Reilly breaking it up. O’Reilly used a chain to wrap it around the right leg of Dunne, but Dunne tried to fight it off. Fish with a chair to Dunne’s right leg and O’Reilly applied an Ankle Lock on the right leg of Dunne. Strong used a chair to choke Dunne as well while Cole and Fish tried to fend off the other faces. Ricochet hit a leaping attack onto the heels in the other ring. Ricochet saved Dunne from the hold. Hanson with a back body drop on Strong from one right to the other.
The grueling match continued with most of the guys down in the two rings. Dunne got back into it with a kick to the head of Fish. Ricochet hit a hurricanrana on O’Reilly off the top and Dunne hit a slam off the top on Strong leading to a two count for Ricochet. War Raiders set up a table in the ring on the far right side. Hanson set up Cole on the table, but it wasn’t set up properly, so Cole slipped off. Rowe launched Hanson into the air for a powerslam that got a two count. Fish hit Rowe in the back with a kendo stick and Fish tackled Rowe through a table that was set up between the two rings. Ricochet set up Cole upside down against the turnbuckle in the tree of woe position. Ricochet worked over O’Reilly with punches and Strong was back in with a running knee to Ricochet’s face. O’Reilly applied a submission on Ricochet’s head/arm and Hanson made the save by jumping off the top rope on the other ring onto O’Reilly to put O’Reilly through a broken table. Wow that was impressive. That got a two count for Hanson. All eight guys were down in the two rings until Cole barely got to his feet using the ropes.
Cole climbed to the top of the cage possibly going for an attack, so Ricochet went up after him to fight him off. Strong helped Cole to try to push Ricochet out of the cage, but Ricochet managed to fight them off with Nigel putting them over for being brilliant by trying to put Ricochet out of the cage. They were setting up for a huge mutli-man spot with Cole upside down on the cage, then the foursome of Rowe, Dunne, O’Reilly, Strong, Hanson and Fish with a slam off the cage. It was a Tower of Doom spot to the extreme with Ranallo yelling “what the hell was that?” as they all went crashing to the mat. I thought it was very creative. Meanwhile, Ricochet was on top of the cage looking down at the other seven guys in the ring. Ricochet turned his back and did a double moonsault onto the seven guys in the ring! Wow! Holy shit! I’ve never seen that before. That was amazing. Ricochet didn’t connect with all seven of them, but they sold it like he did as everybody went down at the same time. The crowd popped huge for that. That was amazing.
All eight guys stood up together in opposite rings as if this was a battle between armies and the fans were chanting “NXT” for them as it turned into a brawl again. The guys split apart with some of them going into one ring and others into the other ring. Rowe with a knee to the face of Fish and Hanson up top with a leg drop into a slam. That was impressive. Strong and O’Reilly with a high/low knee combination to take down Rowe. Hanson with a handspring double back elbow to take out O’Reilly and Strong. Cole decked Hanson with a superkick. Ricochet with a springboard attack, but Cole hit a superkick on him. Dunne worked on the fingers of Cole and Cole hit a DDT followed by a neckbreaker to the knee. Cole with a Shining Wizard on Dunne for a two count. Dunne avoided knee attack and hit the Bitter End slam. Ricochet off the top with a 450 Splash on Cole as Ricochet and Dunne covered Cole at the same time with the ref counting one…two…three for the win for the faces. The match went 47:10.
Winners by pinfall: Ricochet, Pete Dunne, Rowe and Hanson
Analysis: ****1/2 That was an incredible match. I was in awe of the work in the ring, the stories they told throughout the match and the creativity shown throughout the match. My minor complaint is that I felt that maybe it went too long because if it was closer to 35-40 minutes it might have been better. Last year’s WarGames match was 36 minutes and that felt just right, so that’s what I mean by going ten minutes more hurting the match a bit. I also would have liked to see more submission attempts because that’s something that made WarGames special in the past. It’s hard for me to nitpick something like that when you go nearly one hour in the most unique match in pro wrestling and deliver an incredible performance like these eight guys did. What I liked the most was that Ricochet and Dunne were put over huge because they are two huge stars for the future. Ricochet’s performance was as impressive as any singles match he has had in NXT so far. That double moonsault off the cage was so amazing. Adam Cole stood out on the heel side, which is no surprise since he’s the best guy on that team and was in the match the longest. Hanson really impressed me too with some of his aerial maneuvers. The finish was good because it put over Dunne and Ricochet in a strong way.
(That’s the same rating I gave the first WarGames match and the only minor criticism I have of this match is that I think they went too long at 47 minutes. There was so much that happened here and I think it’s fair to say that they topped the previous year’s match in some ways, but it may have been too long as well. I’ll always remember that Ricochet spot off the top of the cage. I thought it was booked well with Ricochet and Dunne winning at the same time for the babyface team.)
There were two WarGames matches at the next NXT Takeover WarGames event (read my recap here) during Survivor Series weekend in 2019. There was the first-ever Women’s WarGames match up first and then the Men’s WarGames match was the main event. Here they are.
WWE NXT Takeover WarGames III
From Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois
November 23, 2019
There was an injury angle before the show with Mia Yim getting attacked, so she wasn’t able to compete for Team Ripley and Dakota Kai was chosen in her place.
WarGames Match – Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray and Bianca Belair) vs. Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai)
LeRae was in control early with a slam that put Shirai down. When LeRae went for a dive, Shirai stopped her with a kick and then two 619 kicks followed from Shirai. Running knee attack by Shirai. Shirai ran across the top ropes and hit a dropkick. That was impressive. The fans were chanting for both women because that’s what NXT fans tend to do. Shirai drove LeRae’s face against the steel cage and stomped away on her. LeRae with a dropkick. The fans were chanting about the clock because it wasn’t on the screen. Shirai with a suplex. The clock returned with under 10 seconds left and the fans counted down.
Bianca Belair was next to enter for Baszler’s team because they won the advantage two weeks ago on NXT. Belair picked up LeRae and slammed her stomach first into the mat. Belair with a standing SSP. LeRae with a reverse rana on Belair. LeRae attacked both women against the turnbuckles, but Belair came back with a forearm on LeRae and Belair hit two Powerbombs followed by Belair launching LeRae back first into the steel cage. The fans cheered that even though it was a heel attacking a face. Belair held LeRae leading to Shirai running the ropes with a dropkick. LeRae was sent into the turnbuckle and they rolled into the second ring that was further away.
Rhea Ripley ran down to the ring as the next member on her team. Ripley grabbed a trash can she tossed it into a ring and slammed the cage door on Belair’s head. Ripley brought two trash cans into the ring, plus two kendo sticks, Ripley also brought three chairs into the ring and the fans wanted tables, but Ripley did not bring a table in. Ripley slammed Belair front first onto a trash can. The fans chanted “Rhea’s gonna kill you” for Ripley. The faces tried a double team suplex on Belair onto chairs, but Shirai saved Belair. The clock ticked down again.
Kay Lee Ray was the third woman for Baszler’s team. Ray grabbed two steel chairs and she teased bringing in a table, but then she put it back under the ring. Ray hit Ripley and LeRae with chairs to the back followed by a Tornado DDT on Ripley onto a chair. Belair went up top, LeRae went after her, Ripley went over there and Shirai tossed Ripley into the cage. They set up for the Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with LeRae taking a brutal bump onto the steel chairs while Shirai and Kay went crashing onto the chairs as well. Belair hit a 450 Splash on Ripley. All five women were down.
Dakota Kai was the next woman to enter and when she left the cage, she kicked her best friend Tegan Nox in the cage! The fans were going crazy about Kai’s turn. Kai tossed Nox into the side of the cage repeatedly and Kai drove Kai’s body into the side of the cage. Kai grabbed the cage door and slammed it against the right knee of Nox. It was Nox’s knee that was seriously injured in the past. Kai slammed the cage door onto Nox’s knee some more. The NXT GM William Regal went out there to try to stop Kai and Kai shoved Regal. When it looked like Kai was leaving, she went back out there and Regal pulled her off again. Ranallo was screaming about this heel turn saying this was absolutely disgusting. Ripley was freaking out in the ring while Baszler was smiling while she was in the cage.
Analysis: That was a great heel turn by Kai. I figured that was coming when they had her replace Mia Yim earlier in the show and it was executed perfectly. The story was that Kai wanted to be on Ripley’s team, but they looked past her and then when she finally was able to be on the team because of Yim’s injury, Kai turned on her best friend Nox. I thought it was really well done.
Shayna Baszler was the last woman for her team while medical personnel checked on Nox inside the cage she was in. Baszler made a slow, confident walk down to the cage since her team has the 4 on 2 advantage in the cage. They announced that because Nox was injured and Kai was taken out of the arena, the pinfalls and submissions are legal with referees in each of the rings there. LeRae hit a double DDT on Ray and Shirai. Baszler had handcuffs, she wanted to cuff Ripley to the rips, but LeRae saved her partner.
There was a staredown with Ripley and LeRae in between Baszler, Belair, Ray and Shirai. Ripley took down Baszler with punches while LeRae used the trash can lid to get in some shots on Ray and Shirai. Ripley whipped Belair into a trash can. Ripley with a dropkick on Ray and Ripley suplexed Ray into the cage. Ripley grabbed Shirai on the top rope and slapped on a leg submission on her. Baszler also slapped the Kirifuda Clutch on LeRae, but LeRae broke free while Ray kicked Ripley to break her hold. LeRae with a moonsault off the ropes onto Baszler for a two count as Belair hit LeRae with a trash can. Belair with a press slam on LeRae from one ring onto Ripley in another ring. Ray hit a Gory Bomb on LeRae. Shirai went up top and hit a Shirsault moonsault for two because Ripley tackled Ray to break up the pin. Belair got back into it with her hair whip attack and then LeRae went after Belair with repeated kendo stick shots to the back. Shirai with a backbreaker on LeRae. Shirai went to the top of the cage, but LeRae climbed up after her. Ray had LeRae on her shoulders and LeRae hit an avalanche poison rana (reverse hurricanrana) off the top on Ray for a two count because Belair made the save. That was an incredible display of athleticism by LeRae. Shirai stood on top of the cage and hit a moonsault onto LeRae and Belair in the ring! Wow. That was incredible. Ranallo said “Mama F’N Mia” and the fans chanted “Mama Mia” as well. All six women were down.
The match continued with Ripley grabbing a steel chair and she hit Baszler in the back with two chairshots. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Ray jumped off the top on Ripley, but Ripley hit Ray with a trash can. Baszler took advantage of that with a Kirifuda Clutch on Ripley. Baszler had the hold locked in, but Ripley used her handcuff to cuff herself to Baszler. Ripley hit her Riptide slam onto Baszler on two steel chairs that were folded open and Ripley covered Baszler to win at 27:47. Ranallo was freaking out about it saying he couldn’t believe that happened. The crowd popped big for the finish.
Winners: Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae)
Analysis: ****1/4 That was a wild match with some big moments in the ring and out of the ring as well because of the heel turn of Kai. It seemed like the match would be won by the heels since they had a 4 on 2 advantage, but instead, Ripley was put over huge by beating the NXT Women’s Champion Baszler. They put together this match so well by using weapons to add to the violence of the match, they had plenty of big spots like the Tower of Doom and Shirai hitting the moonsault off the top rope. The ending was great with Ripley cuffing Baszler and then hitting her finisher through two chairs to end the match in an emphatic way. A WarGames match is supposed to feel like a big deal, be over the top in every way and be a little bit crazy. That’s what this match was. I enjoyed it a lot.
(I remember the Dakota Kai heel turn so well. When Kai turned on Tegan Nox, it was a huge shock and it got so much heat. This was also one of the key moments in the rise of Rhea Ripley because she was put over in such a big way in this match and then she would go on to win the NXT Women’s Title from Shayna Baszler. That’s smart booking. Great finishing sequence during this match with Ripley finding a way to win. Here we are one year later, some of those faces are now heels and vice versa. Time flies when you’re having fun.)
Here’s the men’s match. There was a mystery partner for Team Ciampa and we found out who that was during the show.
WarGames Match – The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong) vs. Team Ciampa (Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic and TBA
Ciampa offered the crutch to Strong, who tossed it out of the cage. Ciampa was in control with three clotheslines, then he missed a kick and Strong capitalized with a backbreaker. Ciampa came back with a suplex that sent Strong ribs first on the top rope and then a kick to the face. Ciampa then hit ten punches to the face, I think he said “f**k you” because it was muted on this replay of the show that I was watching. Ciampa hit a running kick to the face. Strong came back with punches, but Ciampa hit a running knee into Strong’s face by the turnbuckle. They battled in between the two rings leading to Ciampa hitting a clothesline that sent Strong over the top rope and into the ring. Strong came back with a double knees gutbuster to the ribs. The clock ran down to put an end to the opening five-minute period.
Kyle O’Reilly was the second man to enter for the heel team. O’Reilly worked over Ciampa with punches, knees and kicks including a leg sweep to trip up Ciampa. Strong and O’Reilly took turns stomping on Ciampa to keep him down. Ciampa tried to fight back, but Strong connected with seven forearm shots to the face while O’Reilly held Ciampa and then O’Reilly hit a knee drop off the turnbuckle on Ciampa. The fans had dueling “Undisputed / Daddy’s Home” chants as the clock went down to zero for the next entrant.
Dominik Dijakovic was the next man in for Ciampa’s team. Dijakovic with a boot to the face of Strong and a boot to the face of O’Reilly. Dijakovic with a superkick and a clothesline on O’Reilly, who did a flip bump to sell it. Dijakovic kicked Strong down again. Dijakovic with a suplex into a slam where he launched O’Reilly onto Strong. Dijakovic whipped Strong into the cage three times. O’Reilly tried a tight headlock, but Dijakovic tossed O’Reilly back first into the steel cage. Dijakovic worked over O’Reilly with punches while Ciampa knocked Strong down.
The third man for Undisputed Era was Bobby Fish, who ran into the ring with an elbow smash on Ciampa against the cage. There was a high/low Total Elimination double team kick by Fish an O’Reilly on Dijakovic. There were double team moves on Ciampa as well including a suplex into a kick combo. Strong took down Dijakovic with a rising knee against the cage. There was more aggressiveness by UE as they all connected with strikes on Ciampa to keep him down. The clock counted down for the next entrant.
Keith Lee was the third entrant for Team Ciampa as the big man ran down to the ring to clean house on all three Undisputed Era guys. Lee did a leapfrog over both guys followed by a double cross body block and the fans cheered him big time for that athleticism. Lee with a slingshot attack over the ropes to take out Fish and Strong. The fans were chanting “oh bask in the glory” for Lee since “bask in the glory” is one of his sayings. Undisputed Era kicked Lee in the back of the leg to knock Lee down and Strong hit a running knee strike. Ciampa tried to fight back, but the UE guys kept him down. Dijakovic with a body slam on O’Reilly into the ring on the far side. Fish jumped on Lee’s back with a sleeper to wear him down.
Adam Cole as the final man for the Undisputed Era and he’s the team captain. Cole stopped before he got in the ring. Cole grabbed a table from under the ring and handed it to his UE buddies. Cole set up a table against the barricade. Cole put two more tables into the ring as fans chanted “thank you Adam” because they wanted tables. Cole put two more tables into the ring, so there were five in the rings and one against the barricade. When Cole went to the door, Ciampa kicked him and Ciampa shoved Cole back first into the table against the barricade. Rough landing there. Ciampa brought Cole inside the cage. It was a 4 on 3 showdown in the far ring followed by some brawling. Strong with a back body drop on Dijakovic. Fish hit a low blow on Lee to stop him from doing a big slam. The clock ticked down for the mystery man.
The final man in the match was…Kevin Owens! Huge pop for Owens, who walked into the arena with a “KO” t-shirt. That was one of the loudest pops of KO’s career. Owens walked down to the ring looking ready to go.
Analysis: That was cool. I thought this was a possibility as a surprise. What isn’t known is if this means Owens is only NXT now and if he is off the Raw team at Survivor Series. This past week on Raw, Triple H tried to convince Owens to join NXT, so here he is. That’s some story continuity at least.
Owens was on fire with punches on the UE guys, plus a Popup Powerbomb on Fish. Owens with a cradle suplex into a backbreaker. Owens with a sleeper suplex on Strong across the ring. Owens gave Fish a Powerbomb onto the back of O’Reilly. Owens had a long staredown with Cole, who is one of his best friends as fans chanted “welcome back” at Owens. Owens told Cole to “suck it” and he hit a Stone Cold Stunner on Cole for a two count. Lee hit a forearm on Strong. Lee and Dijakovic launched Strong into the UE guys that were in the other ring. Owens rattled the cage as the fans cheered him. Ciampa hit a draping DDT on O’Reilly. There were tables set up by Lee, Ciampa and Dijakovic. Cole worked over Owens with punches while other wrestlers paired of as well. Ciampa was sent into the cage by Cole. Lee went up top and hit a cross body block on four wrestlers that were nice enough to stand there and break his fall. O’Reilly jumped off with a knee drop on Lee’s left leg and O’Reilly applied a leg submission. Dijakovic hit a springboard moonsault on O’Reilly to break it. Fish hit a moonsault off the top on Dijakovic. Ciampa with a slam on Fish, then Owens hit a Senton Bomb and Cole made the save leading to superkicks.
Lee set up Cole on the top rope, but Strong hit Lee in the back with punches. Strong hit an Olympic Slam off the top rope on Lee. Double team strikes by O’Reilly and Strong on Lee got a two count. There was another high/low combo on Dijakovic. Owens saved his partner by whipping Strong and O’Reilly into the cage. Owens teased a piledriver on the steel between the two rings, Cole got out of it, then Cole kicked Owens and Cole hit a Panama Sunrise, which his a flip into a piledriver. The piledriver is banned in WWE apparently, but Cole does it any time he does that move. The fans chanted “holy shit” with Owens selling it like he was hurt by it. Strong and Fish set up two tables in the ring. Ciampa fought back, he whipped Fish and Strong into the steel cage while Ciampa hit the double knees to the back of O’Reilly. Ciampa hit several running knees in a row and then Cole hit a superkick. Ciampa sent Cole into the cage and hit three running knee attacks. Ciampa and Cole battled by the turnbuckle where there were two tables. Ciampa sent Cole’s head into the cage and then Cole sent Ciampa into the cage a few times. Cole went to the top of the cage. Dijakovic grabbed Strong and gave him a Chokeslam through a table. O’Reilly went for a dragon sleeper, but Dijakovic powered out and he put O’Reilly on a table. Owens went up top and drove O’Reilly through a table with a Frog Splash. Lee gave Fish a Powerbomb off the turnbuckle and through a table.
The focus was back on Tommaso Ciampa and Adam Cole as they were brawling on top of the cage. Ciampa had Cole on his back as Ciampa stood on top of the cage. Ciampa fell backwards while holding Cole in an Air Raid Crash and they went crashing through the two tables. Ranallo: “OH JESUS NO!” Something like that. That was an insane bump. Ciampa laid on top of Cole and the referee countered the pinfall win for Ciampa’s team at the 38:27 mark.
Winners by pinfall: Team Ciampa – Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic and Kevin Owens
Analysis: ****1/2 Awesome match. One of the best WWE matches this year. That doesn’t surprise me that much because I had high expectations for it considering the names involved and the surprise factor with Owens as the fourth man meant for an even hotter crowd. The fans exploded when Owens showed up and the action picked up from there with a very exciting final ten minutes. I’m happy that hard-working guys like Lee and Dijakovic got to be in this match and showed how good they are. They set up the finish really well with the three faces taking out the UE guys, which left Ciampa alone with Cole how it should be. That ending looked crazy to me, but they did it about as safely as you possibly can, so Cole and Ciampa should be praised for doing it the right way. The win by Ciampa sets him up as the obvious next number one contender for Cole’s NXT Title, so that’s why it was booked that way. Why isn’t five stars? I thought they could have gone for pinfalls or submissions a bit more than they did. The last part of the match with everybody going through tables was a cool sequence, but I just think they could have done a bit more near finishes before that. It’s hard to get five stars. Getting 4.5* is pretty damn good.
(I didn’t realize until right now that I gave the same 4.5* star rating for the three men’s WarGames matches. I had no idea I did that, but here we are. That should tell you that they’re all outstanding matches worth going out of your way to see. I loved the Kevin Owens surprise here and the crowd popped big for it too. The ending of the match was insane, but it also was something they probably felt they had to do in order to end with a bang…so to speak. It was also the second year in a row where the Undisputed Era lost to their babyface opponents. This year they are the babyfaces, so we’ll see how it goes for them.)
If I had to rate them, I’d probably put the Men’s 2019 WarGames match in the top spot. I think that was the best of the four, but it’s a tough call. They’re all great.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy NXT Takeover WarGames 2020 this year.