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NXT Takeover: War Games
November 18, 2017


by Scrooge McSuck

NXT War Games

- Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on November 18th, 2017, from the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and the spirit of Percy Watson are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. I know I shouldn't complain, but I'm a little peeved that Pete Dunne vs. Johnny Gargano is being taped for TV instead of featured live, but at least we'll get to see that match later this week. Oh, one last thing... THERE ARE TWO RINGS! YES!

Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan:

Simple reasoning for this one taking place: Sullivan is undefeated (and indestructible), and Ohno wants to accept the challenge to try and get himself back in the title hunt. Sullivan wastes little time bull rushing Ohno into the corner. Ohno retaliates with forearms, but Lars shrugs them off and bulldozes him with a shoulder tackle. To the floor, Sullivan dives off the apron with another shoulder tackle. Back inside, Ohno with a big boot and reverse enzuigiri. He nips up and gets turned inside out with a clothesline. Another comeback is cut short with a pop-up Powerslam for a near fall. Sullivan goes to the high rent district and misses a splash. Ohno with more signature strikes, finally rocking Sullivan. Cyclone Kick takes Sullivan off his feet for two. Ohno with some curb stomping to finally get Sullivan to sell. Running senton for only a one count. Ohno with a discus elbow. He tries for a second, but Sullivan counters with the Freak Accident for three at 5:15. Good move to keep it short. Solid for what it was: Sullivan standing up to Ohno's knockout strikes and getting a victory over someone with credibility. **1/2

- The Undisputed Era are backstage discussing strategy or talking about the old Konami code, take your pick.

Aleister Black vs. The Velveteen Dream:

Dream has been pestering Black for weeks, demanding respect in the form of just being acknowledged, which Black has refused to do until accepting a match. The Velveteen Dream has toned down the use of violet tonight, but has airbrushed images of himself and Black on his tights. Dream paintbrushes Black early. They do some chain wrestling, with Black out-wrestling Dream at every instance. Black turns a crucifix cradle into a modified octopus-lock. Dream goes flying over the top rope leading to a teased tope and Black posing. They spend the next minute or so ripping off each other's pose. Dream finally gets significant offense, hanging Black across the top and laying him out with a running clothesline. Dream teases a high spot, but decides to play to the crowd, instead. Black escapes the DVD but gets nailed with a super-kick for two. Dream with a hangman's neck breaker for two. Dream cuts off a comeback, trapping Black in the ropes, making his usual demands. Black escapes and unloads with kicks. He charges into the corner with a forearm and springs off the ropes with an Asai moonsault for two. Dream forces Black into the corner, but gets pushed back. They trade strikes until Dream hits the Death Valley Driver for two. He tries for a Super-DVD, but Black counters and hits a running knee strike for two. Dream with a modified DDT for a delayed cover and two-count. He goes to the top for the big elbow, but Black gets a boot up, and in the process, traps Dream in the ropes. Black wastes no time giving him a kick to the face, but walks into a retaliation Super-Kick. Black bounces off the ropes with a twisting jumping knee strike, and the Black Mass finally finishes at 14:39. Post-match, Black uncharacteristically has a microphone and acknowledges his opponent, telling him "enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream." I was expecting the showmanship early on, but Dream held his own to deliver a great match combining athleticism, charisma, and storytelling, and I don't know if it was intended, but got the crowd behind him in the process. ****

- Sanity is backstage comparing notes on defeating Calamity Ganon.

NXT Women's Championship Match:
Ember Moon vs. Kairi Sane vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross:

Fatal-Four Way to determine the NEW Women's Champion, a title that has remained vacant since Asuka last defended in Brooklyn. Sane earned a spot as reward for winning the Mae Young Classic, Moon and Royce won Triple Threat Qualifying Matches, and Cross won a Battle Royal to fill the last spot. Sane has new music that sounds less likely to be stolen from a knock-off of the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. Royce seems to get the better of the early exchanges, hitting Cross with a spinning heel kick for two. Sane with a rolling neck snap on Royce for two. Moon with a pescado on Cross, and Sane with a diving forearm from the apron on Royce. Moon hits them both with a tope suicida. Cross sneaks up on Moon, but gets planted with a Powerbomb. Sane with axe-handle chops on Moon. She marches across the ring and charges in with a spear. Royce ties up Sane in the ropes, but Moon "saves" with a super-kick to the chest. Sane with a spear on Royce and back-fist to Moon. She goes to the top, but Moon surprises her with a jumping kick. Royce jumps in for a Tower of Doom. Cross returns from the dead, hitting all three with a flying body press. She gets to run wild on everyone and hits Sane with the fisherman neck breaker for two. Moon with a bicycle kick to Cross. Royce with the Perfect-Plex on Cross for a near fall. Sane drops Royce across Cross with an Alabama Slam, climbs the ropes, and hits the In-Sane Elbow on the stack, but Moon makes the save. Moon goes to the top rope, but Royce straddles her across the turnbuckle. Moon recovers, hitting both women with the Eclipse, and covers Cross for three at 9:49. Asuka joins Regal in the ring to present Moon with the belt. I honestly expected this to go much longer, especially considering how much hype was put into crowning a new Champion. Good match, but a disappointment. ***

- Roderick Strong is getting some last-minute advice at proper Tetris game-play while the Authors of Pain argue over how worthless an X-Box One X is when you already own an X-Box One.

[Note: At this point, my WWE Network stream decides to completely give up. I love the only option on-screen is to "check your internet connection." Um... pretty sure it's solid, maybe your network needs to not bug out every other gosh darn event! So with that out of the way, yeah, I'm delayed recapping the show, and have lost my train of thought.]

NXT Championship Match:
Drew McIntyre © vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas (w/ Zelina Vega):

Not much to this one, honestly. Vega demanded a title shot on Almas' behalf, McIntyre offered it up if Almas would ask for the match himself, and Almas cheap-shots him a couple of times to get heat. Due to my system crash, I'm recapping this match last. Almas pie-faces McIntyre before the bell. Lockup to the corner and Almas with a shove and slap. Almas with side headlocks, but McIntyre finds ways to escape each time. Almas hangs out in the ropes and takes a boot to the face for the showboating. Vega tries for a hurricanrana from the apron, but McIntyre casually puts her back on the apron. Back inside, McIntyre misses a charge to the corner, meeting the post. Almas with a combo back breaker and inverted DDT for two. Hanging cross arm-breaker for another two-count. Almas slips out of a power-slam, but gets caught with a throwing suplex. McIntyre with a clothesline, followed by a release overhead belly-to-belly suplex and flying sledge. Celtic Cross for two. Almas surprises Drew with a dropkick and hits a tornado inverted DDT for two. McIntyre blocks a reverse hurricanrana and plants Almas with an Alabama Slam for two. Almas knocks McIntyre to the floor with a springboard dropkick, and follows with a flying hurricanrana, sending McIntyre into the post.

Almas with a spectacular moonsault from the top rope to the floor for a near fall. Back to the top rope, Almas traps McIntyre in a tree of woe, hits the double stomp, and charges in with the double knees for another two-count. McIntyre escapes the hammer-lock DDT and plants him with a sit-out Powerbomb for two. Almas with a surprise victory roll for two. McIntyre with the Future Shock DDT for two. McIntyre fireman carries Almas to the top, but Almas slips free, sweeps McIntyre off his feet, and hits the double knees to the back of the head for two. Almas lures the referee out of the ring, allowing Vega to sneak in the ring to hit McIntyre with a spike-rana. Almas rushes back in and hits the hammer-lock DDT for two. McIntyre from out of nowhere with the Claymore, but Vega puts Almas' foot on the ropes to save him from defeat. McIntyre gears up again, but ends up straddling himself across the top rope. Almas spikes McIntyre with a DDT... FOR THREE AT 14:43! WE HAVE A NEW NXT CHAMPION! I didn't see that one coming. Possible audible, or did McIntyre work hurt? Even without the luster of a strong feud, they delivered a great match and a surprise result. That heel-turn sure did wonders for Almas, didn't it? ****1/4

WarGames Match:
Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dane, and Alexander Wolfe) vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O'Reilly) vs. Roderick Strong & The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering):

Chaos has run rampant since Brooklyn, with the Undisputed Era targeting Sanity and trying to recruit Strong into their group, while The AOP are looking for revenge since losing the Tag Titles and being assaulted moments later by Fish and O'Reilly at Brooklyn III. No roof on the cage, but that's no big deal. The roof is too low, and looks too much like Hell in a Cell. One man from each team starts. After 5-minutes, the remaining 2 from a given squad enters. After 3-minutes, another set of 2 enter, and then after another 3-minutes, the remaining two, and at that point, the match can be decided by either pin-fall or submission. Anyone that leaves the cage forfeits the match for his team. No, I'm NOT one of the many complaining about the lack of "traditional" WarGames, I'm just looking forward to a wild brawl. Considering the last GOOD WarGames I've watched live on a Pay-Per-View was in 1991, I'm just glad to see something like it back.

Eric Young, Roderick Strong, and Adam Cole start, which seems like the best option since that means the remaining members are more of the "teams" suitable for the situation. Strong is decked out in AOP gear to show UNITY, making them the second team in WarGames history to wear camouflage. Cole backs off to start, with Strong and Young in pursuit. They do a clunky little exchange to start, with both men wanting a piece of Cole. Strong with a back breaker on Young, opening the door to trade forearms with Cole. Strong counters a dropkick with a slingshot, but Cole grabs the cage and climbs. He gets double teamed, but ends up straddling Young and Strong. Cole with the Ushigoroshi on Young, followed by a pair of hangman's neck breakers. Strong comes back with chops and a diving clotheslines, followed by a flurry of running chops and high knees in opposite corners of the ring.

O'Reilly and Fish enter, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. They quickly target Strong before joining Cole in putting the boots to Young. Young gets sandwiched between the ropes and cage for a trio of diving forearms. O'Reilly and Fish with a vicious wheel barrow suplex on Strong, and now it's his turn to get stuck between the ropes and cage. The clock is just a tad slow, running about 3 minutes, but that might be for the lightshow to reveal the next entrants. Akem and Rezar enter, slamming the door into the head of O'Reilly. O'Reilly and Cole get thrown across the ropes into the other ring. Young tries his luck and takes a somersault bump clean across both set of ropes. AOP use Strong as a missile, launching him onto the field of competition. Young and O'Reilly get trapped in the tree of woe while the AOP drop Cole and Fish onto them with running Death Valley Drivers. Wolfe and Dain enter last, kicking off THE MATCH BEYOND!

Akem and Rezar stand in Wolfe's path, only to find out he has a police baton in hand as an equalizer. Meanwhile, Dain pulls out a bunch of weapons to bring in with him, including chairs, garbage cans, kendo sticks, a chain, and even the fan requested tables! He chains the door shut after entering and even acts out swallowing the key. That's going to be a fun adventure. Wolfe and Young attack everything that moves with the chairs. O'Reilly whiffs with the chair, smacking the ropes for the comedy spot, and Wolfe takes him over with a German suplex. Fish gets dropped across a garbage can. Dain crushes both AOP in a corner with an avalanche and hits a combo shotgun dropkick and senton. Dain to the top rope for a super-sized body press onto a the pile of bodies. Cole finds a safe place with the kendo stick, but Dain quickly disarms and punishes him, as well as Fish. He sits down on a sunset flip while planting Cole with a Michinoku Driver for a pair of two counts. Dain continues to dominate, hitting O'Reilly and Strong with a combo Samoan drop and Fallaway slam.

Dain and Rezar eyeball each other and trade blows between the two rings. Rezar with a big boot and Dain responds with a bicycle kick. Rezar connects with a power-slam, but O'Reilly saves. He springs off the cage to take Rezar down with a Tornado DDT. The Undisputed Era hit Chasing the Dragon on Strong, but don't cover. Dain folds Cole in half with a crushing clothesline. O'Reilly wraps the chain all over Wolfe's body and hooks a cross arm breaker, but Young saves with a flying elbow. The AOP hit a super collider from separate rings, catching Dain in the crossfire, but Young breaks the pin attempt. Young avoids certain disaster, slamming Rezar across Akem with a Death Valley Driver. Strong runs wild with back breakers to anyone that gets in his way. Jumping knee strike and Olympic Slam on Dain for a near fall.

Cole, Young, and Strong climb the ropes for a mid-ring striking contest. Here comes the rest of their gangs for the largest synchronized Tower of Doom spot in WWE HISTORY, leaving Cole (mostly) unscathed. The AOP recover first, straddling Cole across the top rope. They fetch the tables, but Wolfe inadvertently saves, driving Rezar through the tables with a super-German Suplex, and ripping his head open like a melon in the process. OUCH. Young hits Akem with a leaping neck breaker. Dain no-sells some strikes from O'Reilly and levels him with a clothesline. He traps O'Reilly in the corner with a trash can and manages to connect with the Coast-to-Coast! Cole has somehow made it to the top of the cage, but Strong climbs up too to bring him down with a Super-Plex onto all the participants (sans Wolfe, who is still gushing blood and being attended). Dain and Akem trade strikes while the crowd rallies behind Wolfe. AOP with the Last Chapter on Dain between the rings! Wolfe and Young with the tandem back breaker/neck breaker on O'Reilly. Strong and Cole find each other back in battle in the middle of the ring. Young from behind to wheel barrow suplex Strong into the cage. Cole with a kendo stick to Young. Young grabs a chair, but Cole hits him with the unassisted chair shining wizard to finally finish at 35:56. That seemed out of nowhere, but with everyone playing dead, it's a better finish than a cheap arm-bar. Rough start but things kicked into high gear quickly and turned into a colossal train wreck (the good kind). It was just non-stop carnage, that's all you could ask for in hardcore WWE matches. ****1/2

Final Thoughts: Even though the show didn't promise a blow-away event on paper, most everything met or exceeded expectations, capped off by an incredible (WWE version of) WarGames that I'm sure will get unjustified hate because it didn't follow the same exact formula as a WCW match. Velveteen Dream has really stepped up since his "debut" and Andrade Almas has been on fire for several months. The only disappointment was the Women, but it was still a technically fine match. Once again, it looks like NXT is going to blow the WWE event out of the water based on quality performances and booking decisions.

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