21st Nov2018

‘NXT: Take-Over – WarGames 2’ PPV Review

by Nathan Favel


Welcome to this review of NXT: Take-Over – WarGames 2, right here on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and we have a small card but a big show, so let’s get to it.

Match #1: Matt Riddle def. Kassius Ohno

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

A wise man once said, “Do not bark up the wrong tree; that tree will fall on you.” For Kassius Ohno, that notion came clear in a matter of seconds against Matt Riddle at NXT TakeOver: WarGames II. Following a tense back-and-forth during the WarGames II Pre-Show, The King of Bros stepped inside the STAPLES Center and issued an impromptu challenge to The Knockout Artist. As he accepted Riddle’s pop quiz and stepped into the ring, Ohno quickly ended up on the receiving end of his own clean-your-clock reputation. Almost instantaneously after the opening bell rang, Riddle rammed into The Knockout Artist with a rushing knee, thus finalizing a painful close. The total match time? Six seconds. As The King of Bros soaked in the sweet taste of victory, a dazed Ohno came into realization that NXT General Manager William Regal’s “shiny new toy” packs a few tricks.

My Take: 2 out of 5 – There wasn’t any wrestling, but this stunt looked effective. Why couldn’t they just wrestle a full match?

Match #2: NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane (2-out-of-3 Falls Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane came unhinged while continuing their epic war inside the STAPLES Center. The deadly Baszler, who insisted she would do anything to continue her championship reign, and the incensed Sane, who came in hellbent on winning back the coveted prize, pulled no punches in their chaotic matchup. The epic matchup began with Baszler picking up the first fall by way of a Kirifuda Clutch, which came after her trusty MMA pals Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke pulled a well-timed distraction on a killer instinct-equipped Sane, who had no choice but to tap. The interruption only fueled The Pirate Princess, who fearlessly launched herself on the top rope to take out the trio with a devasting Insane Elbow. Sane followed up by tossing her nemesis back into the squared circle and dropping a second Insane Elbow right into Baszler’s sternum to tie the bout at one fall apiece. Sane received some outside assistance from Dakota Kai and Mae Young Classic finalist lo Shirai, and Shirai floored Shafir and Duke with a breathtaking moonsault to the floor. As all the drama unfolded outside of the ring, The Pirate Princess went for another Insane Elbow, but Baszler rolled her up for the controversial three-count. Even though Sane pushed her to her limits, Baszler retained the NXT Women’s Title in signature fashion: by any means necessary.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 – This was a bit slow, but it had the goods in the right places. Baszler works like a big, bad beast, which ought to make her a great candidate for Brock Lesnar, but since this isn’t Lucha Underground, then I don’t think that will happen.

Match #2: Aleister Black def. Johnny Gargano

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

After weeks of promising to make Johnny Gargano’s career “fade to black,” Aleister Black did just that – and then some. The brutal battle began with Gargano delivering a wicked slap across the face of Black and featured a series of hard-hitting offense and brash statements, but more importantly, it was debt collection for The Dutch Destroyer. Gargano even channeled his inner #DIY, setting up Black for a Meeting in the Middle, only for The Dutch Destroyer to sit cross-legged and dare his nemesis to go through with the move. After dodging Gargano’s initial attempt at the maneuver, Black was indeed wiped out by a brutal knee to the face, but he somehow got his shoulder off the canvas before the three-count. After the brutal fight saw the two NXT Superstars continue to go all-out with punishing maneuvers – between Gargano striking Black with a Superkick and Black reversing his opponent’s suicide dive with a jaw-dropping knee – it was a menacing “I will absolve you of your sins” and not one, but two Black Mass kicks from Black to secure what was owed.

My Take: 4 out of 5 – This was a great match that may have started off this rivalry on the right foot, if that is the goal. There were a lot of intricacies here that fit right into the big moments like a jigsaw puzzle for meat-heads. Black has a great presence that makes him feel like he above any pitiful story he gets stuck in, which really came through in this match.

Match #4: NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa def. Velveteen Dream

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

There’s only one thing that ties NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream together, and that’s the spotlight. Where Ciampa believes he is the main event and “greatest sports-entertainer of all time,” Dream, on the other hand, is certain that The Blackheart is merely the spotlight. That said, there was no setting more appropriate than the squared circle under the bright lights of the STAPLES Center for these two larger-than-life personalities. At the end of this motion picture clash, though, it was Ciampa strolling down the NXT Champion walk of fame. Just like Hollywood films, the contest took fans on an emotional rollercoaster thanks to a series of high-strung exchanges. With the support of the NXT Universe, Dream, who was appropriately draped in Hollywood-inspired attire, pushed The Blackheart to his limits. From dropping Ciampa with a Dream Valley Driver from atop the announcer table and onto the bare floor, to slithering away from a Fairytale Ending, Dream looked like he was moments from becoming the new NXT Champion. Dream brought the NXT Universe to a fever pitch and came within an eyelash of winning the title when he soared through the Los Angeles night to connect with the Purple Rainmaker, but Ciampa somehow got his shoulder off the canvas just in the nick of time. Tommy Sports-Entertainment simply had no plans of sharing the spotlight, however, and he scored the decisive blow by pulling Dream between the two WarGames rings, dropping him with a savage DDT onto the metal partition and rolling him over for the three-count.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 – Tommaso and Dream made for a fun pairing, but the match, as enjoyable as it was, felt like it belonged on NXT, not because of quality, but because of Dream simply hasn’t been able to establish himself as a great contender yet. The action was excellent and Dream definitely has potential to be an important name, but he’s not quite there yet. Overall, this was a fun one and I think you’ll like it.

Match #5: Ricochet, Pete Dunne & War Raiders def. The Undisputed ERA (WarGames Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Where there’s a wall, there’s a war – and that much was certain following the demolition derby that took place inside STAPLES Center. Whereas The Undisputed ERA claimed victory in last year’s devastating WarGames Match, the nefarious faction tasted defeat this year — as NXT North American Champion Ricochet, WWE U.K. Champion Pete Dunne & War Raiders stepped out of the intimidating double cage as masters of warfare. A rematch of the NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV started the first five minutes of the match, as NXT North American Champion Ricochet went toe-to-toe with Adam Cole. Picking up where their previous confrontations left off, the two unloaded a series of hard hits, including Cole catching a leaping Ricochet out of the air with a vertebra-pounding backstabber. Once the first period expired, Kyle O’Reilly, who won the WarGames advantage for Undisputed ERA earlier this week on NXT, rushed out of the shark cage near the entrance way and into the ring to lend a helping hand to Cole. Together, the Undisputed ERA brothers landed a devastating Ushigoroshi on The One and Only. After the second period ended, War Raiders’ Hanson was the next to enter the action, pushing Dunne aside and bulldozing his way into WarGames, laying waste to both Cole and O’Reilly. At one point, Hanson went down on all fours to allow Ricochet to springboard off his back and land a Shooting Star Press on O’Reilly.

Later, Roderick Strong and Rowe entered the ring, sending the brewing chaos in the dual ring to boiling levels. Drama unfolded when Bobby Fish, competing in his first match since undergoing knee surgery for a torn ACL, used the padlock from his cage to lock Dunne in his own cage before tossing the key into the crowd. To keep Dunne from grabbing his fingers through the cage, Fish attacked The BruiserWeight’s knee, which was injured last Wednesday night. From there, Fish and the rest of Undisputed ERA unloaded on Dunne’s teammates with ERA-branded steel chairs, exploiting their four-on-three advantage. The match turned into a battlefield, and the vestiges of war were apparent as bodies flew across both rings. But by the time referees finally broke Dunne out of his cage with a pair of bolt cutters, it was all-out bedlam.

A spear from Fish folded Rowe through a mounted table, and a springboard body splash by Hanson crushed O’Reilly through another table. In one of the most chaotic moments of the jaw-dropping melee, both teams locked into each other like Voltron to drop each other from the cage wall onto the canvas with a unified suplex. As the only competitor not involved in that ring-rattling maneuver, The One and Only worked his aerial magic, too, dropping from the skies with an incredible double-rotation moonsault from the top of the cage. Aching in pain but energized by the fight, all eight Superstars rose to their feet and unleashed fisticuffs in the middle of the two rings as the NXT Universe erupted in excitement. The action only escalated from there, with The Raiders crushing Fish with the Fallout, and NXT Tag Team Champions Strong & O’Reilly cut down Rowe with a high-low combination.

As the carnage spread across the two rings, with Superstars sprawled around damaged and beaten, Dunne mustered up enough strength to drop Cole with a Bitter End, which was followed up by an out-of-nowhere 450 Splash by Ricochet. Both Dunne and Ricochet swung their nearly lifeless arms across Cole to score the victory, winning the war against The Undisputed ERA, and the two titleholders celebrated by ascending the WarGames structure and triumphantly lifting their championship into the air as TakeOver: WarGames II concluded.

My Take: 4 out of 5 – This was a wild one. Dusty Rhodes would have been pleased with this match and so will you. If you like balls-to-the-wall action, then this match will be your buddy, because this thing runs on chaos as much as it does suspense. This whole thing looked grueling and beyond brutal, which is what a War-Games fight should look like. Over-all, this thing will give you a black eye just from watching it.

Final Verdict: 4/5

The full matches were exactly what they should have been and really delivered a fine show from a fine card. It’s a real thrill having War-Games back and with two good War-Games events in a row, this should be the clincher for these shows to be an annual event for years to come.


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