The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: The WarGames!
Live from Houston, TX
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness & Percy Watson
Kassius Ohno v. Lars Sullivan
Lars reminds me of the French Angel and will undoubtedly be on the main roster any day now from the looks of him. Not only that, he has a SPECTACULAR wrestling name. Lars attacks to start and shrugs off the Ohno elbows, decidedly not saying “Oh no” like the song says. WE’VE BEEN LIED TO! IN MUSICAL FORM! Lars tosses Ohno and follows with a shoulderblock off the apron, then drops him on the apron (the hardest part of the ring!). Back in, Ohno comes back with a big boot out of the corner and enzuigiri, but Sullivan kills him with a lariat off the kip-up. Ohno escapes to the apron, but walks into the pop-up powerslam for two. Lars goes aerial and misses, and Ohno makes the comeback with more elbows that only mildly annoy Sullivan. A discus boot gets two for Ohno as Sullivan finally goes down, but now he’s MAD. A giant monster sitting up and yelling “I WILL END YOU!” is never not awesome. Ohno gets a senton for two and Sullivan has had enough, blocking a discus elbow and slamming Ohno for the pin at 5:22. Not really sure what the finisher was supposed to be exactly, like an attempt to deadlift Ohno into a chokeslam maybe, but that’s the only blemish on a quality mean guy debut for Sullivan. ***
Aleister Black v. Velveteen Dream
The video package here is really well done, explaining the feud and stakes for casual viewers like myself. Dream has his own face, and Black’s, airbrushed onto his tights, which instantly makes me a fan. Dream tries a cheapshot and that goes badly for him, as Black evades him and grabs the arm. Dream fights him off from the ropes, so Black leaps on him like a spider monkey and wraps him up in a crucifix hold. Dream finally escapes with clobbering forearms, but immediately gets tossed onto his face outside. Black does his cross-legged taunt, so Dream gives him pelvic action while the crowd chants “Say his name” and it’s a WAR of mindgames. Black goes back to the armdrags, so Dream necks him on the top rope escape and pounds away in the corner to take over. Black bails, so Dream fakes him out with a highspot tease and gets a superkick for two. Rude Awakening gets two, which is very apropos considering the tights. Dream with the rear chinlock as Black steadfastly refuses to say his name, so Dream ties him up in the ropes, but Black makes the comeback with kicks and a springboard moonsault for two. Great timing there. They slug it out and Dream hits the death valley driver out of nowhere for two. They head up and he tries another one from the top, but Black escapes and kicks him down to the mat, followed by a running knee for two. Dream rolls the dice and both guys are out, but Dream rolls over for two. Dream goes up and lands on Black’s foot, and he himself is now tied in the ropes. Another well-timed spot there. Black batters him with kicks, but Dream fires back with his own, and Black puts him down with a knee. Dream yells at him again, but Black puts him down one last time with the Black Mass for the pin at 15:43. What an amazingly constructed match this was, and a great effort from Dream, who has a big future in the sport. **** And then Black finally says his name after the win, giving him respect. This was all great pro wrestling.
NXT Women’s title: Kairi Sane v. Ember Moon v. Nikki Cross v. Peyton Royce
Big brawl to start and Royce hits a spinkick on Moon for two, and Sane saves with a neckbreaker on Royce for two. Ember takes out everyone with dives and just destroys Cross with a powerbomb on the floor. Now THERE’S a reason for someone to be on the floor for 5:00. Back in the ring, Sane slugs Moon down in the corner and spears her, but Royce cuts her off with a Tarantula on the ropes, which Moon breaks up. Sane rolls up Moon for two and spears Royce, but goes up and gets kicked down by Moon. This sets up a Tower of Doom spot, and Royce gets two. Cross reappears with a flying bodypress on all three and cleans house, before hitting Sane with a fisherman’s neckbreaker for two. Moon saves and boots Cross down, but tries a slingshot and gets caught with a draping neckbreaker by Cross. Royce hits Cross with a neckbreaker for two (with the ref screwing up the count), but Sane saves and hits the flying elbow on both Royce and Cross for two. Moon saves there and goes up, but Royce crotches her and goes after Cross, at which point Moon comes down with the Eclipse on Royce and pins her to finally win the title at 9:53. Well that’s good, she was getting into Luger territory there if she didn’t win it. That being said, she probably should have just won it from Asuka since she was leaving anyway. And then Asuka pops into the ring to present her with the title and she’s very adorably happy to do so. All action here, although I think they should have omitted Sane and kept her more of a special attraction instead of having her fail in her first attempt. ***1/2
NXT title: Drew McIntyre v. Andrade Cien Almas
Almas comes in with some slaps and grabs a headlock, but he tries to leapfrog him in the corner and Drew just clobbers him, then boots him to the floor. Vega tries a flying headscissors on Drew, but he casually flips her back onto the apron like a gentleman and then goes back to beating on Almas in the ring. McIntyre is such a star it’s ridiculous. This man should be on the main roster and winning titles yesterday. Finally a blind charge misses and Drew posts himself, allowing Almas to take over. Neckbreaker gets two. Almas goes to work on the arm, so McIntrye hurls him across the ring to break and comes back with suplexes and a forearm off the top. White Noise gets two. The crowd chants “3MB” as Almas tries the double knees in the corner, but it misses, so Almas hits a tornado DDT instead for two. He tries the hammerlock DDT, but Drew escapes and hits him with an inverted Alabama Slam for two. That was a neat sequence, with Drew trying an electric chair, Almas trying to turn it into an inverted rana, and then Drew turning that into the Slam. They head out and Almas manages to take him into the post with a headscissors and follows with a moonsault to the floor, and then tosses him back in for two. Great intensity here, as they’re MOVING between moves. McIntyre gets tied in the Tree of Woe and Almas gets the double stomp and running knees for two. Another hammerlock DDT attempt is escaped and McIntyre jerks him into a powerbomb for two. They slug it out and Almas rolls him up for two, but Drew hits the Future Shock DDT for two. They head up and Almas escapes and pulls him down, following with another double knees for two. Finally Almas can take no more and he grabs the belt in frustration, but this allows Vega to sneak in and lay out Drew while the ref is distracted. Hammerlock DDT gets a very tense two count as everyone bought it as the finish. Almas sets up to finish, but Drew destroys him with the Claymore Kick and Vega puts the foot on the ropes. Another kick misses and Drew crotches himself on the ropes as a result, which allows Almas to hit a hammerlock DDT off the ropes and win the title at 14:55! Well that’s quite the career turnaround for Almas. Drew was wasted in NXT anyway and hopefully this means he’s on the way up. That was a legitimately shocking upset, but credit to Almas for working his ass off after getting the loser character months ago. ****1/4
And after an awesome celebration from Almas, there’s only one thing we can get for a topper…
WARGAMES – Sanity v. The Undisputed Era v. The Authors of Pain & Roderick Strong
So one person from each team starts, with the other two locked in a shark cage. Then it’s 5:00 to start and one more team enters every 3:00. Strong is an honorary Author tonight, complete with Shield-style gear. So we begin with Strong, Young and Adam Cole (BAYBAY!) with everyone else locked up. Strong fires off a backbreaker on Young to start and slugs it out with Cole, who tries to run away and gets caught. However, Strong and Young slug it out on the top rope and Cole takes the opportunity to crotch them and take over. Cole hits Young with an Ushigoroshi and then beats on Strong and hits a snap suplex. Strong comes back with a running clothesline and comes back on both guys with knees in the corners, but Fish & O’Reilly are the next team in and lay waste to everyone. They triple-team Strong with elbows into the cage on one side and beat on Young some more until the Authors come in to save. The Era tries to hold the door closed, so the Authors slam the door on O’Reilly’s head and hurl people around the ring. Cole takes a bump from one ring to the other, as does Young, and then they toss their own partner onto everyone as well. Then they hang Fish & O’Reilly in the Trees of Woe and take Cole and Young in with death valley drivers into them. Finally Sanity is the last team in and Wolf smuggles a nightstick in while Dain throws in garbage cans and assorted weapons. The crowd wants tables, so Dain capitulates. Funny spot with O’Reilly taking a swing with a chair, hitting the top rope, and knocking himself into a german suplex from Wolf. Fish gets powerbombed onto a garbage can while Dain locks the door and swallows the key, just to show he means business. He splashes both Authors in the corner, then dropkicks one while hitting a senton on the other, then hits a cross body onto a pile of guys and gets two on an Author. Wait, no “submission or surrender” stip? Dain goes after Cole and Fish saves, so Dain hits a Michinoku Driver on Cole, onto Fish, for two. Dain and Rezar slug it out in fine mean guy fashion, but Achim makes the save and powerslams him for two. O’Reilly gets a cage-assisted tornado DDT and they hit Chasing the Dragon on Strong, but Dain comes back with a clothesline on Cole. Fish and O’Reilly kick him down and O’Reilly wraps up Wolf with the chain and hooks the armbar, but Young breaks it up with a flying elbow. And then Fish moonsaults HIM and everyone is down and out. AOP recovers first and hits the SuperCollider on the Era guys, but Young catches Rezar with a death valley driver onto Achim that gets two. Strong slugs it out with Cole and hits backbreakers on everyone, and an Angle Slam on Dain for two. And then everyone piles onto the top rope and we get a double Tower of Doom spot, with only Adam Cole left alive. He stops to pose on the top rope and gets beaten by the Authors, with Chekhov’s Tables finally getting set up. Sanity saves while Cole tries to climb out of the cage, and Rezar gets suplexed through the tables by Wolf. Dain then decides to hit a Van Daminator on O’Reilly, because WHY NOT? Cole is left alone on top of the cage, so Strong follows him up while the crowd chants “Please don’t die” and they follow with a superplex onto the pile of guys. Somewhere in that, the ref finds a pinfall attempt and Strong has to kick out at two. The Authors hit the Last Chapter on Dain in between the rings, but Fish & O’Reilly hit Total Elimination on Achim , then Sanity hits a double team neckbreaker on O’Reilly. This leaves Cole and Strong to slug it out, but Young sends Strong into the cage to break it up and then Cole uses a kendo stick on Young, and then knees a chair into his face to win at 36:30. Lemme just say here, it wasn’t really Wargames, it was just using the name. The actual Wargames is more about spreading out the violence and hatred and then going to a quick finish because everyone is just so beat up. This was about rushing everyone into the ring and then doing a crazy brawl for 20 minutes and ending with a pinfall. That being said, it was still absolutely great and an amazing brawl to end an all-time great show. ****3/4
I just don’t see Survivor Series coming close to touching this one, but stranger things have happened, I suppose.