10th Dec2020

‘NXT Takeover: WarGames 2020’ PPV Review

by Nathan Favel

Welcome to this review of NXT Takeover: WarGames 2020, right here on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and we have five matches worth talking about. I ate a whole panda. I’m full. …need more panda. You need more wrestling. …want some panda? Okay, settle down you hungry monster…we’ve got wrestling to get to. WarGames! …and panda.

Match #1: Team Candice def. Team Shotzi (WarGames Match)

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In a stunning WarGames Match, Team Candice reigned supreme over Team Shotzi when Raquel González ended the brutal showdown by pinning NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. Dakota Kai entered the cage first for Team Candice. On the other side — after Shotzi Blackheart rode a newly constructed tank during her team’s entrance and even fired a missile from it — Ember Moon entered the cage to battle Kai for the first five minutes of combat. Next, Blackheart entered and brought a toolbox with her, as she instantly put Kai at a 2-on-1 disadvantage. González brought her uniquely powerful brand of enforcement to the contest and turned the tide quickly for her team. After that, Rhea Ripley entered to transform the matchup into a nightmare for her opponents. Before the next competitor could enter, the match saw the first use of the hammer and other implements to come out of the toolbox. Toni Storm then entered with a Kendo stick that she put to use in a hurry, blistering her foes with several savage strikes. Shirai came to play next and threw ladders, chairs and more Kendo sticks into the rings. However, González and Storm repeatedly prevented the titleholder from entering through the WarGames door. When Candice LeRae finally emerged as the final competitor, so did Indi Hartwell, and both took out Shirai to create a 4-to-3 advantage for Team Candice inside the cage. That was until Shirai climbed to the top of the cage, covered her upper body with a garbage can and fearlessly hurled herself down on top of everybody. With her entrance, Wargames officially began! Trash cans, trash can lids, chairs, Kendo sticks, ladders and hammers all came into play during a breathtaking brawl, which was highlighted by Kai placing Shirai in a garbage can and crushing her with a double stomp from the top rope, as well as Moon leveling Kai with a jaw-dropping Eclipse onto two chairs. Out of the carnage, González powerbombed Shirai off the top rope to send her splattering through a ladder between the two rings, claiming the pinfall over the NXT Women’s Champion.

My Opinion: 3.9 out of 5 – This was dull in the first half, but when Io got the garbage can in play during the second half, we were off to the races and the race was close. I’d say the garbage can kinda acted as an omen here, because the match relied heavily on garbage wrestling to get it to the next level. Fortunately, the foray into Plunderville gave this bad-boy the shot in the arm it needed. The cage was used satisfactorily before the match went into Hardcore over-drive, but once it did go crazy, it got bloody and nasty and wild. A few years back, women doing spots like these on a mainstream broadcast like this one would have been loathed like the plague, but now people may very well throw a fit if it didn’t get violent enough. I hold a golden Band-Aid in my heart for each whoop-assers and I salute you. Play ball!

Match #2: Tommaso Ciampa def. Timothy Thatcher

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In a highly personal showdown, Tommaso Ciampa emerged for an all-out fight with Timothy Thatcher. In the battle that followed, both Superstars got that and more, with Ciampa emerging victorious with Willow’s Bell. Early in the action, the sadistic Thatcher damaged the already injured neck of his opponent and continued to target the Ciampa’s throat and neck area throughout the matchup. Refusing to give in, Ciampa battled back and injured Thatcher’s ribs, making it difficult for Thatcher to breathe. Soon, Ciampa hit an awesome superplex off the top rope, but he hurt his neck further while executing the move. Still struggling to breathe, Thatcher struck back with a Guillotine that brought further pain to the neck of Ciampa. Moments later, Ciampa roared back by catching his opponent with a knee and left a grizzly battle scar on Thatcher’s ear. Ciampa emerged victorious when he countered a Guillotine into an earth-shattering Willow’s Bell for the three-count. After the match, each man rolled onto the apron, locked eyes and exchanged icy glares. Even as Thatcher begrudgingly exited up the ramp and left the ring to Ciampa, the two competitors continued to stare daggers through one another.

My Opinion: 4.5 out of 5 – Now this was great. You get intense, grueling grappling and brutal brawling to make a match that will really sink its teeth into you. Thatcher should have won this, but Ciampa is so bullet-proof at this point that a loss to him doesn’t look like the fate worse than death that so many others may have assumed it would be. There were no short-cuts here, nor were there any lame ideas on display. These guys aimed for a home run by way of force, rather than just running the bases one hit at a time. Thatcher came across as a tough customer here and Ciampa just as such. It’s a shame that Thatcher was pushed as a whiny heel here, because this could have been the battle of titans, as opposed to just a battle. This is the kind of match that wrestling needs more of…a lot more.

Match #3: Dexter Lumis def. Cameron Grimes (Strap Match)

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

Before the bell in his Strap Match against Dexter Lumis, Cameron Grimes presented his own strap. And when the official turned to place it on Lumis, Grimes unleashed a vicious pre-match assault on his opponent both inside and outside the ring as he tore at Lumis’ face and body with the strap. Nevertheless, Lumis battled back and attached himself to the strap to start the match. Although Grimes took the action outside the ring, Lumis came along for the ride and turned the entire ringside area into a destructive weapon. Grimes soon hurled his adversary over the barricade to get a breather, but like something out of a horror movie, Lumis kept coming at him. Grimes gained the advantage at ringside and, after placing a bag over his opponent’s head, used the original match strap to punish his foe relentlessly. Nevertheless, Lumis’ sixth sense kicked in, and the still blind Superstar roared back with a spinebuster. Grimes regained control by bashing Lumis into the WarGames support structure, but Lumis soon answered by using the strap to pull Grimes clear off the apron. Back in the ring, Lumis whipped his opponent senseless, though Grimes roared back with a thunderous German suplex into the upper turnbuckle and wasted little time attacking his opponent with a brutal steel chair assault. Out of a wild brawl, Lumis tied up Grimes’ legs and pulled him off his feet to drop him face-first into the chair before locking his opponent in Silence to force him to tap out.

My Opinion: 3 out of 5 – This was mostly just some brawling mixed with Grimes taking bumps, but the match worked as a fun spectacle that was not quite worthy of Pay Per View. Lumis has gotten a lot better recently, but he still isn’t ready for TV, let alone PPV. Still, Grimes is and held-up his end of the deal, so this bout was not bad. Grimes is definitely talented and it shows here. Overall, this wasn’t bad, but it needed more wrestling.

Match #4: Johnny Gargano def. Leon Ruff and Damian Priest – NXT North American Championship Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In a fast-paced Triple Threat Match, Johnny Gargano overcame Leon Ruff and Damian Priest to recapture the NXT North American Championship in controversial fashion. Ruff stormed out of the starting blocks to dispel Gargano’s notion that he was a “joke” and show that he was a true champion that deserved respect. After twice warning the titleholder to stay out of the action, Priest hurled Ruff through the barricade with the Razor’s Edge. The move created a momentary one-on-one between Priest and Gargano. After Gargano and Priest exchanged the advantage with a flurry of attacks, Ruff heroically remerged to throw himself into the action! In one standout moment, Gargano even tied up Priest in the ropes of the second ring, but Damian eventually used his size to fight free. Then, a barrage of ghost-faced assailants once again emerged to attack Priest. Priest fought them off and reengaged his opponents. But just when it looked like Priest might reign supreme on Gargano with the Reckoning, another masked assailant emerged on the apron and smashed Priest with a pipe. Gargano took advantage by blasting Ruff with One Final Beat to regain the title! After the match, the masked man unveiled himself as none other than Austin Theory!

My Opinion: 3.4 out of 5 – This was good when it was between Gargano and Priest, but Ruff certainly tried to make his part entertaining as well. The usual issues with Triangle matches were in place, including the halt in the action when all three men were in there. Still, there was no lack of trying here and we got some solid wrestling. Gargano winning was for the best and it allows Priest to come after Gargano while Ruff trains to get another shot at the belt. All in all, this was just fine, but it didn’t quite feel like a PPV prize fight.

Match #5: (Main Event) The Undisputed ERA def. Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (WarGames Match)

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In a WarGames showdown of absolute chaos for the future of NXT, The Undisputed ERA stood tall over Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. The Undisputed ERA returned to WarGames for the fourth time and sent Kyle O’Reilly to the cage first. In response, Pete Dunne started the match and battled O’Reilly for the first five minutes. Oney Lorcan next joined the fray, which definitely spelled “bad news” for O’Reilly (as commentator Wade Barrett might say). After O’Reilly suffered at the hands of a 2-on-1 disadvantage, Bobby Fish emerged, and Undisputed ERA took charge. Danny Burch entered next and brought a pair of dangerous cricket bats for his team to use to its advantage. Despite the damage the weapons caused, Roderick Strong joined next and took on all three of his opponents at once until the numbers game caught up with him, and Team McAfee again took over. McAfee entered next and brought steel chairs and tables labeled with his opponents’ names on them. He then sat back for a bit until the opportune time came to hit a moonsault on Strong off the top rope and through a table. Adam Cole joined last and sprayed his foes with a fire extinguisher, as Wargames officially began! For a while, McAfee sat back and only attacked when it served his purpose. That was until Cole smashed him with a chair. McAfee even managed to nail Cole from behind and lock him in the Figure-Four Leglock, but Cole reserved it and continued to dish out pain. As the action raged on, Strong catapulted himself off the top rope and drove Burch and Dunne through a table at the same time. Moments later, Cole hurled McAfee off the top rope and through another table below. Then, The Undisputed ERA placed Dunne, Burch and Lorcan between the ropes and the unforgiving steel and took turns ramming them into oblivion. This left McAfee on the wrong side of the 4-on-1 assault at the hands of The Undisputed ERA in a moment of poetic justice. However, the assault also gave Team McAfee time to get back in the action, setting up a brawl on the side of the cage that ended with Cole hitting Dunne with a neckbreaker and Strong hitting a Superplex on McAfee. Then, as both sides began to brawl in the middle of the ring, McAfee suddenly leapt off the top of the cage, somersaulting onto the Superstars below! Out of the fray, O’Reilly and Dunne battled one-on-one, and The BruiserWeight nearly got the pinfall with the Bitter End. O’Reilly then roared back and suplexed Dunne onto the metal floor between the rings. Nevertheless, McAfee put an end to O’Reilly’s onslaught with a chair strike. Cole tried to use the chair against him, but McAfee caught him with a low blow. After Fish tackled Burch through a table, Cole hit McAfee with a superkick as McAfee jumped from the top rope. Nevertheless, McAfee still kicked out of the Panama Sunrise! And when bedlam ensued once more, O’Reilly leapt off the top rope and drove the steel chair into the face of Lorcan for the three-count.

My Opinion: 4 out of 5 – This was less than dynamic than the women’s WarGames bout, but it was better wrestled and definitely felt like it had more at stake and intrigue over-all. Every-body worked hard to make this feel important, but the match also failed to make better use of the cage than it did. This felt less like a WarGames bout then just an excellent match that happened to be in a cage. McAfee was obviously the weakest in the match, but he did nothing to bring the quality down and knew when to let the pros take over. I’d call this a smart match if anything, but I wish it had been a more substantial bout. That all being said, O’Reilly got the fall and that made him look like a million bucks when he was trying to strike it rich playing the lottery. I wonder what his lucky numbers were? Overall, this was still one of the better WarGames matches in wrestling history, but it needed a bit more WarGames in it to really land the pitch off the mound, if you catch my drift.

News of The Night:

  1. Austin Theory was revealed as another Ghostface and he helped Johnny Gargano win the NA Title.

Final Verdict: 4.1/5

I’d say this was pretty fun and one of the better WWE shows of the year. Ciampa and Thatcher should become a feud for the new year, if these people want to make some money. McAfee has potential, but I’d rather have seen Gargano in his position for this card. If you were looking for a good show, then you got one, but it could have been great.


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