NXT Takeover: WarGames— Outcast Overview (OO)
MATCH I — KASSIUS OHNO vs. LARS SULLIVAN
A solid start; not stellar, just solid. A progressing story in that of Lars Sullivan got the nod and that’s fair enough, though I am using the term story very loosely; I more refer to the character development of Sullivan. Getting what can be dubbed in 2017 as the ‘Strowman Treatment’, he is being made to look the unstoppable beast, and this time, he only went through a month or so of squashing jobbers and local talents. Sullivan swiftly moved on to the likes of No Way Jose, and tonight Mr. Ohno, showing that he is ready to ascend to the peaks of NXT, wherever that may lead him.
As I said, a solid start to the show, very much base camp, but my word, did we ascend Everest.
MATCH II — ALEISTER BLACK vs. THE VELVETEEN DREAM
So often the grudge match on Takeover cards ends up being a highlight but never quite the show-stealer, but had this not been WarGames evening, this one would have robbed the show blind. It was built excellently, despite not having a tonne of time to work with, but Dream constantly trying to get the attention of Black, whether it be beating the same opponent as him, or stealing his attire, or, eventually, attacking him, it was reminiscent of a child’s tantrum; and with Dream having only three years in the business and Black having nearly five times that (a fact well played up to by the commentators), it made sense. But then when the fight actually had to go down, Black could prove that his demeanor wins out, but that Dream is nothing to be messed with, which is exactly what was shown. A tremendous blend of story-telling and wrestling, with unique psychology at play; so many times the athleticism took a back-seat to simple acting; simple story-telling.
It blended everything that sports entertainment should be; sports and entertainment (my, what a simple concept), and should be regarded as the feud and match to kick-start The Dream, with Black finally saying his name, making him bona-fide in many an eye.
MATCH III — NIKKI CROSS vs. KAIRI SANE vs. PEYTON ROYCE vs. EMBER MOON — NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
A four-way tie for the match I was anticipating most on this card, and this one took a backseat, but never left my noggin. A guaranteed new champion along with a burgeoning roster of lasses leaving everything in the ring, emphasised by the fact that Billie Kay and Royce had a touching moment of the former leaving the latter to do it alone, which for a brief moment highlighted the immense friendship the two have on and off TV, but with Royce gradually reverting back to the cocky heel, all was done well; who says we can’t humanise the bad guys? To the match itself, bad news first and then good news to cheer you up, it was a tad short and a tad messy for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, solid match, but when you’ve got four distinct personalities told to fit everything into ten minutes, it ain’t gonna fly so well. That being said, they did the best they could with that time, seriously; everyone got a chance to shine; Royce looked predatory, Sane looked streets ahead, Moon looked determined and Cross looked… Crazy. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I was rooting for Ms. Royce to emerge victorious, but Moon being crowned in her hometown isn’t a bad thing at all, and to do it in a match filled with quality multi-woman spots, great wrestling, and a genuine sense of ‘who’s it gonna be?’ was sweet as oot.
MATCH IV — DREW McINTYRE vs. ANDRADE ALMAS w/ZELINA VEGA — NXT CHAMPIONSHIP
Finally. This is all I’ve wanted for like, two years now. A culmination, a story, a plot, a character. Month after month, Takeover after Takeover, I have been subjected to the most recent indie darlings on the scene in NXT dominating the title picture; gone are the days of a well-told, thought out title reign like that of Bo Dallas and Neville (yes, I’m aware of his independent pedigree, but his reign was handled differently), and here we are in the era of immediate hype, immediate reward. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big Drew McIntyre fan, have been since I first saw him in 2006 on Smackdown alongside Dave Taylor, and at least his NXT Championship victory did have some form of redemption in there; so a modicum of story, but the tale of Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and Zelina Vega, has been told compellingly, non-stop over the past year. See, Almas debuted as one of those indie darlings, and dropped off the radar because he perhaps relied too heavily on it, then he went to the party boy who didn’t care about results and only cared about women, partying and money before Zelina Vega (fantastic in her role) turned his fortunes around. Since Ms. Vega’s been knocking about, Almas has had cracker after cracker, and this was no different. A match with story, stakes and skill, everything you need to have a successful match, the near-falls got more and more compelling, the eventual winner changed in fans’ minds with every minute that passed, and the pace never let up; the best part of this match; Almas never let up, he continued to strike, to sell and then swerve the fans with his performance, and the slightly clunky finish actually leant itself to a finish that left most fans shocked. Great match with a great story gets a great rating. Long may this type of thing continue in the NXT Championship picture.
MATCH V — sAnitY (ERIC YOUNG, ALEXANDER WOLFE and KILLIAN DAIN) vs. THE UNDISPUTED ERA (ADAM COLE, KYLE O’REILLY and BOBBY FISH) vs. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN and RODERICK STRONG w/PAUL ELLERING — WARGAMES
Whoever said ‘war is hell’ must have been looking at the top of Alexander Wolfe’s bonce when they said it.
This was chaos, and not only thanks to sAnitY. Everyone in this match shined, looking back, even after only one watch, I can think of at least one moment when each individual shined… Actually, I can think of about four for Killian Dain. While Dain was heralded as the standout performer in terms of spots, we can’t forget Young and Cole’s character work, as well as Roddy’s, something he has clearly had trouble with since joining NXT. Then there’s the ever-improving, ever-crazy Alexander Wolfe chiming in with some madness (the super-German suplex through two tables being the highlight), even The Authors Of Pain, probably still considered the weakest workers in the match despite the plethora of classics on their CV, shone like the stars they are. Credit to them for finding Roddy a matching outfit as well.
There were a few clunky spots in the match, but by and large, the major spots were handled expertly and executed with aplomb. The entrances all made sense in a storyline sense, rivalries were addressed, and the right, logical team won. When a multi-man stipulation match can accomplish the basics while looking spectacularly different to anything WWE-TV has seen in years, you know you’ve got a classic on your hands. Everyone benefited from this, even Paul Ellering, and whatever happens to these nine lads from here, they are bound together in history for the rest of time now.
Wow. Just up there with the best Takeovers ever for me. Three outstanding matches, one great one and one good one is a fantastic ratio, especially for WWE-TV. There wasn’t a low point to the whole show, it was just one that you could keep watching, every outcome and the journey there was compelling to discover and view, respectively. While NXT-TV may be flagging from what it once was, shows like this prove that they can make cracking decisions when they want to, and they know where the talent lies. In terms of ‘where do we go from here?’ the main event may have helped settle a few scores, but the victorious team is still a mystery in the eyes of many fans; we still haven’t seen a tonne out of Cole, Fish and O’Reilly, and it’ll be interesting to see if they send Cole after Almas and go for a heel-on-heel angle. There are other stars to push up onto the card now; Ohno’s had his crack this time round, and with Hideo Itami heading up to 205 Live, it might be the best opportunity to see if NXT’s best kept secret BUDDY MURPHY wants a go… Other than that, I do hope to see a return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, as teams such as Street Profits, Moss and Sabbatelli and Heavy Machinery could all use a big stage to shine; early prediction for winners; Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan.
OVERALL RATING: 6/8
Keep it streets ahead,