Takeover: WarGames II
Date: November 17, 2018
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Percy Watson
Yeah I think this is going to do just fine. Not counting the show’s namesake match, it’s a big card with a 2/3 falls title match, an NXT Title match and what could be a heck of a grudge match. As usual, NXT knows how to present a big card with all the junk trimmed off to give us the best show possible. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at the four matches on the card, with WarGames getting a little more attention than everything else.
The announcers preview the show with Mauro talking about Stan Lee passing away and comparing the main event to the Infinity War.
Here’s Matt Riddle, who isn’t scheduled to be on the show. He’s supposed to face Kassius Ohno on NXT this Wednesday but since they have a ring….two rings right here, let’s do this right now. Ohno comes out and says ring the bell.
Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle
Bell, Riddle knees him in the face, pin in six seconds. Oh yeah I think they’ve got something with Riddle.
Women’s Title: Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler
Baszler is defending and this is 2/3 falls after they’ve traded the title a few times over the last several months. Sane dropkicks her in the corner at the bell and hits a neckbreaker, followed by a running Blockbuster. The running seated clothesline sends Baszler outside and a running elbow from the apron takes her down again. With the referee checking on Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir run in and beat Sane down. Back in and the Kirifuda Clutch makes Sane tap for the first fall at 2:00.
The fans aren’t happy and Sane makes it worse by trying it again early on, sending Sane to the ropes this time. Baszler stomps her in the head and puts on the neck crank before going back to the Clutch. Sane flips back for two and the break before going into a slugout. That goes badly for her too as Shayna knocks her silly and hits a hard clothesline.
Baszler takes her to the apron for a suplex but Sane reverses into a DDT, freaking out Duke, Shafir and the referee. With Shayna confirmed to not be dead, Sane ducks some kicks from Duke and Shafir, setting up the big dive onto everyone. Back in and the Insane Elbow ties things up at 7:37.
Three straight spears and a pair of spinning backfists look to set up another Elbow but Baszler pops up. They slug it out on top with Sane managing a sunset bomb for two. Duke offers a distraction so Shafir can shove Sane off the top. Cue Dakota Kai and Io Shirai for the save with Shirai hitting a moonsault off the top onto everyone. The distraction lets Sane get up top for the Insane Elbow, but Shayna reverses it into a rollup for the pin to retain at 10:56.
Rating: B. Where’s the rest of this match? This felt like the first two thirds or even one half of a great match but they cut it off as things were starting to cook. You would think this sets up a six woman tag as Shayna shifts over to either Kai or Shirai. Either way, good match, but I could have gone for a lot more of this. I do remember hearing something about Baszler being hurt so maybe that’s why it wasn’t quite as long.
X-Pac is here.
We recap Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano. Black was attacked by a mystery man, sending NXT into a month plus long whodunit story. It turned out to be Gargano, who was rapidly losing his grip on reality as he became more and more obsessed with stopping Tommaso Ciampa. He did one horrible thing for the sake of the greater good and has started living in the darkness. The problem: he’s starting to like it there.
Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black
Gargano: “Bring me the Black Mass!” Black’s rising up entrance is back and now his vest has horns. They stare each other down to start as the fans seem split. Gargano slaps him in the face so Black kicks him right back. Another kick puts Gargano on the floor and it’s time for Johnny to duck some right hands. Gargano avoids them so well that he sits in the middle of the ring to taunt Black even more. A few more punches are ducked so Black kicks him in the face and a knee sends Gargano outside.
Black moonsaults into the seated position and gets kicked in the face for his efforts. The fans aren’t happy as Gargano stomps away in the corner and it’s off to a surfboard. The over confident Johnny slugs away in the corner but misses the rolling kick to the head. Instead a running big boot sends Gargano outside for the big flip dive. Back in and a Lionsault to a standing Gargano for two and Black kicks him outside again. The middle rope moonsault misses so Johnny hits a suicide dive DDT. A slingshot DDT gives Gargano two and the chance to say that he’s the chosen one.
Black, apparently not one to have Jeff Jarrett’s good name sullied, strikes away but gets caught with a reverse hurricanrana. Gargano charges into a knee to the face though and they’re both down again. The slingshot spear is kicked out of the air and Black hits a springboard spinning knee to the chest. A German suplex gives Black two and we have dueling THIS IS AWESOME chants. Johnny is fine enough to spin into the Gargano Escape, which Black escapes by rolling Gargano up.
The Lawn Dirt sends Black face first into the middle buckle and it’s time for the DIY superkick. Hang on though as Black sits down and demands Johnny’s best shot. Gargano does just that, followed by a running knee for two. That’s too much for Johnny and he’s not sure what to do next. He lifts Black to his knees and forearms him in the head, starting the slugout.
This goes badly for Gargano but he shoves Black of the top to break up a springboard. Another suicide dive is kneed out of the air though and they’re both down on the floor. Gargano begs both off and forgiveness before asking for Black Mass. That’s reversed into a rollup and then the Gargano Escape, with Black again rolling his way out. A jumping spinning knee to the face rocks Gargano and Black Mass knocks Johnny silly. Black won’t let him go down though and hits a second Black Mass for the pin at 18:06.
Rating: A-. The story here was Gargano trying to go to the levels of evil that he needed to beat Black but not being able to get that deep yet. There’s still too much humanity in Johnny and the old good guy held him back just enough from being able to beat Black. On the other hand, this match was about two guys hitting each other in the face really, really hard and that’s entertaining every single time. Black winning is a little surprising, but you know Gargano isn’t done with Ciampa yet. Losses don’t affect him like they do with most people so we’re a long way from done.
How to help with the California wildfires.
We recap Tommaso Ciampa vs. Velveteen Dream. The Dream accused Ciampa of attacking Black and said he wanted a title shot to give the fans an experience at Takeover. The match was made and Dream is ready to stop Ciampa from stealing the spotlight any longer.
NXT Title: Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Dream is dressed as Hollywood Hogan (complete with boa) so the announcers make as many Hogan references as they can, complete with Nigel reciting Real American lyrics. Ciampa makes sure to step into the middle of the ring for the spotlight during the Big Match Intros. The fans are behind the Dream here and a lockup nearly sends Ciampa to the floor. Instead Dream takes him to the mat and poses a bit as Ciampa covers his head. Ciampa even goes for the hair so Dream slaps him in the face.
The Fairy Tale Ending is broken up but Ciampa manages to steal the headband. That’s cool with Dream, who rolls outside and grabs the title. Ciampa isn’t having that so the chase is on with Dream hammering away and snapping Ciampa’s throat across the top (Dream: “Welcome to the experience!”). Dream gets the head band back and puts a hand to his ear, setting up a big boot but Ciampa rolls away before the big leg. Instead Dream settles for a top rope ax handle to the floor, only to have a springboard broken up.
Back in and the running knee (with the brace) knocks Dream silly and a second one sends Dream outside again. The chinlock goes on (with a long piece of spit falling out of Dream’s mouth) with Ciampa shouting NIGHT NIGHT. Dream comes back with a neckbreaker and a forearm into the nipup. Now the three right hands set up the big boot and a pair of legdrops (Is he trying to kill him???), followed by a spinebuster for two.
Ciampa bails so Dream dives on him but it’s too early for the Purple Rainmaker. Dream goes after the knee instead and puts on the Figure Four around the post. Ciampa taps, but it doesn’t matter since they’re in the ropes. Back in and Dream wisely goes with a regular Figure Four so Ciampa tries to roll it over. In something I’ve never seen, Dream lifts his leg, kicks Ciampa in the face, and puts it right back down to keep the hold on. The hold is finally broken so Dream suplexes him over the top but falls outside with him. They’re both down on the floor, with Ciampa untying his boot.
Both of them are back in at nine and Ciampa rolls him up with tights but the referee catches it just in time. The Dream Valley Driver gets two but hits springboard crossbody is kneed out of the air. Project Ciampa gets two more so Ciampa unlaces the boot even more and tries to walk out. Dream isn’t having that and hits the twisting DDT onto the title for a VERY close two. Another Figure Four is broken up and Ciampa loses his boot, setting up the hanging DDT for an even closer two.
With nothing else working, Ciampa pulls the floor mats back but another hanging DDT on the floor is broken up with a crash over the announcers’ table. Ciampa actually stops to yell at Mauro, allowing Dream to hit the Dream Valley Driver on the exposed concrete. Back in and the Purple Rainmaker connects for a crazy close two but a second on the apron completely misses. Ciampa hits the hanging DDT onto the steel partition between the rings to retain at 22:26.
Rating: A. There was no reason for this to so good but egads Dream pulled off another classic here. I bought the heck out of some of those near falls, even though Dream winning the title was a long shot at best. This was a great example of two guys doing everything they could when the spotlight was on bright and that’s a great sign. Outstanding match here as Dream continues to come up huge on the grand stages.
Dream is still out cold after the recap video.
Nita Strauss is here.
The cage is lowered.
We recap WarGames. The Undisputed Era have been tormenting Ricochet, Pete Dunne and the War Raiders for months, causing the four of them to reluctantly band together to fight them off. This led to a bunch of brawls and of course that means WarGames. The Undisputed Era won last year so they have some experience, but that doesn’t mean much in this match.
Pete Dunne/Ricochet/War Raiders vs. Undisputed Era
There is a big cage (still no roof) over both rings. Both teams will send in one man to start the match and the two of them will fight for five minutes. After that, the Undisputed Era (who won the advantage in a match on NXT) will send in a second man for a 2-1 advantage for three minutes. When that time is over, the other team can even things up for three minutes. They alternate until all eight are in and then it’s first pin or submission to win. You cannot win the match until everyone is in. If you escape or leave the cage, you forfeit the match for your team.
Cole and Ricochet (with which face paint just like his partners) start things off. They each stay in their own ring until Ricochet comes across to start the fight. Some early right hands don’t do much to Ricochet, who bounces back up with his headscissors into the dropkick. Ricochet dives into a Backstabber though and the fireman’s carry backbreaker keeps him in trouble. The slow beating continues (makes sense as you want to conserve energy) until Ricochet kicks him out of the corner.
A springboard (from one ring to the other) uppercut drops Cole and it’s Kyle O’Reilly coming in next (albeit a little after five minutes). O’Reilly goes straight after the back and takes out Ricochet’s knee with a dragon screw legwhip. The double stomping continues until Ricochet sends them into each other. Another fireman’s carry backbreaker, this time from Cole onto O’Reilly’s knee, keeps Ricochet in trouble and it’s Hanson, with a bad knee, coming in to even things up.
The big man starts cleaning house with a seated senton out of the corner and a cartwheel just to annoy Cole. A long series of running corner clotheslines sets up a double Bronco Buster and Ricochet is back up. That means Hanson dropping down to be a launchpad for a running shooting star (cool) to O’Reilly. The spinning powerslam is broken up though and it’s back to Ricochet chopping Cole in the corner.
Roderick Strong is in to make it 3-2 and the pace picks up again with running knees in the corner. A half nelson backbreaker drops Ricochet and a torture rack backbreaker does it again. The Era is back up for the triple teaming on Hanson, including an Angle Slam from Strong. More running strikes in the corner keep Ricochet and Hanson in trouble as the announcers are already saying the Era is going to win.
Rowe evens things up and the Era is smart enough to be waiting on him in the same cage. That doesn’t seem to matter as Rowe starts throwing suplexes and heavy forearms. O’Reilly’s choke goes nowhere as Hanson is back up. Just to show off, Rowe hits a powerbomb on Strong and a World’s Strongest Slam on O’Reilly at the same time. That’s not normal by any definition. Cole immediately bails but backs into Ricochet so the Raiders send him face first into the cage. Bobby Fish is released from his cage but steals the lock and doubles up Dunne’s cage in a smart move, throwing the key into the crowd.
Fish pulls out some Undisputed Era chairs and the Era starts unloading. Rowe gets Rock Bottomed through an open chair and the dominance is on. The clock runs out but the referees can only open one lock. Back to back superplexes have the Raiders mostly done, allowing Cole to talk trash. The referees finally find some bolt cutters so the also injured (knee) Dunne limps to the ring and finds a kendo stick to battle his way inside. Ricochet adds a dive to take out all of the Era, allowing Dunne to find some more weapons.
That includes some tables and Dunne finally gets in, meaning the match is now officially on. The weapons are in full force with the Era taking a heck of a beating. Dunne starts breaking fingers and Hanson puts a trashcan over Cole’s head so Rowe can lift him up and drive Hanson into Cole in the corner. Rowe slams Hanson onto O’Reilly and Strong takes a German suplex/springboard clothesline combination. A trashcan to the head saves Strong from the same fate and the comeback is on again.
Dunne is surrounded but fights off all four of them at once, including a kneebar on Fish. O’Reilly makes the save and finds a chain but Dunne ties him up with it and grabs a guillotine choke. That’s broken up with a chair to Dunne’s bad knee and the ankle lock goes on with the chairs being used to hold off Ricochet and the Raiders. Strong pulls back on Dunne’s face with a chair at the same time until Ricochet dives over for the save. Everyone is down again until Hanson gets up to start punching.
Ricochet is up with a super hurricanrana to Fish while Dunne hits a butterfly superplex on Strong at the same time. Hanson loads up a table, which breaks as soon as he puts Cole on it. Instead it’s a pop up powerslam for two on Cole but Fish drives Rowe through a table between the rings. O’Reilly gets Ricochet in a triangle choke on a table, allowing Hanson to splash him through the table for the break (in more ways than one). Strong makes a save though and everyone is down again.
Cole and Ricochet go up top for a slugout but Strong has the bright idea of trying to knock Ricochet off, which is the same as forfeiting. I guess we needed a tribute to the Bunkhouse Stampede as well. Dunne and Rowe come over for the save and it’s a Tower of Doom off the side of the cage. Ricochet is left on top of the cage though so everyone stands up right in front of him (never liked that) for a near 720 moonsault onto everyone for the big knockdown. Mauro: “MAMA F’N MIA!” Oh I think that one was deserved.
Everyone gets up with each team standing in one ring and it’s time for the big standoff, which does look rather cool. They all get between the rings and erupt. That doesn’t last long so it’s Fallout to Strong with O’Reilly making another save. Hanson handsprings O’Reilly and Fish down but gets superkicked by Cole. Ricochet gets superkicked as well and Dunne takes the Last Shot for two. Dunne hits a quick Bitter End and Ricochet adds a shooting star press for the double pin on Cole at 47:06.
Rating: A. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this. First of all, the original format is WAY better. Having nine people on three teams was too messy and didn’t really suit the way this match has gone over the years. WarGames is one of those nearly perfect concepts and there’s very little reason to tweak it that much. This style was much, much better and made it a lot more enjoyable.
I liked the match a lot, though it felt like it dragged at some point (which can happen in WarGames) it really could have been about ten minutes shorter. They did a very good job with building up the drama and it felt more like WarGames, but it wasn’t quite as brutal as last year’s match. The ending was the right call as there wasn’t anything to be gained by having the Undisputed Era win again. That spot with all eight of them going into the center was excellent and drew me right back in though and the double pin was a great way to wrap it up.
Above all else, this felt more like WarGames, which was lacking last year. I could still go for less weapons in there and more use of the cage (the lack of a roof doesn’t bother me and makes for better camera shots) and of course blood, but that’s just not going to happen, which is understandable. Anyway, great match but it didn’t quite hit the level of the best WarGames matches.
Dunne and Ricochet look at each other and then pose on top of the cage with their titles.
Overall Rating: A+. With that kind of match quality up and down the card, what else could you go with here? Just one incredible match after another with a lot of doors being left open for the next Takeover in January. The people were on their games tonight with Dream and Black looking awesome (Black/Dream vs. a reunited DIY anyone?) in particular and WarGames blowing the roof (ok the non-existent roof) off the place. Another incredible entry in the series with a level of match quality that you just don’t get anywhere else.
Matt Riddle b. Kassius Ohno – Jumping knee to the face
Shayna Baszler b. Kairi Sane – Rollup
Aleister Black b. Johnny Gargano – Black Mass
Pete Dunne/Ricochet/War Raiders b. Undisputed Era – Shooting star press to Cole
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