I chose to skip the Kickoff Show because I have four straight nights of WWE writing to do and I just don't feel the need to watch Kickoff Show hype shows. Let's get to it.
NXT Takeover: WarGames
From Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
November 18, 2017
The opening video focused on hyping up the WarGames match while showing highlights of old WarGames matches from 1980s-1990s NWA/WCW and comments from the three teams. They also focused on the other key matches.
There was a shot of the hot crowd. I saw some crowd shots of the building and there were a few sections tarped off, so it’s not a sell out. That's disappointing because most Takeover events are. Part of the reason is that tickets for Survivor Series are so expensive that it's tough for some people to go to both. The card is good, but not as strong as some Takeover shows in the past. There are two rings side by side for the WarGames match.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson welcomed us to the show.
Kassius Ohno is up first against Lars Sullivan. It’s easy to see why WWE might love Sullivan on the main roster one day because of how scary looking he is. He just looks like a badass.
Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan
Sullivan started with punches. Ohno came back with forearms. With Ohno on the floor, Sullivan nailed a shoulder block off the apron that knocked Ohno down. Ohno tried to come back with a kip up, but Sullivan crushed him with a clothesline. Ohno got a boot to the face, Sullivan launched up Ohno and hit a Popup Powerslam for a two count. There are three guys chanting “Lars.” The chant did not catch on. Sullivan went up top, jumped off and missed diving headbutt because Ohno moved. Ohno nailed Sullivan with a barrage of forearms followed by a running elbow to the back of the head. Ohno nailed a spinning Cyclone Kick for a two count. Ranallo noted it was the first time they have seen Sullivan down in the ring. Ohno kicked, Sullivan no sold it and Ohno just stomped away on him. Senton splash by Ohno for two as Sullivan did a power kickout. Ohno nailed a discus elbow. Sullivan picked him up and hit the Freak Accident lifting side slam for the victory after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Lars Sullivan
Analysis: **1/4 A hard hitting quick match to put over Sullivan as a dominant monster heel that is probably going to win a lot of matches for the next few months. Ohno got in a good amount of offense, Sullivan no sold a lot of it and kept coming back for more. I think Sullivan still has a long way to go to be a complete wrestler, but he’s got good facial expressions and power moves. This was the most obvious match result on the show.
Commercials aired for Survivor Series and some WWE action figures.
There was a shot of four British wrestlers Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews and Wolfgang in the crowd. All of them plus Pete Dunne should be NXT regulars since the UK show still hasn't started as a regular thing.
The Undisputed Era trio were in the locker room talking and GM William Regal showed up. We couldn’t hear them because of some generic rock music, so the idea was that Regal was explaining rules.
Video package aired for Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream. They keep mentioning the darkness of Black and the light of Dream as a key element for this feud with Dream wanting the silent Black to say his name as respect.
There was a huge pop for Aleister Black as soon as his music hit. That’s no surprise because he's got this special aura about him and the song is catchy.
Velveteen Dream’s entrance is cool. He is one of the most unique characters in the entire WWE, not just NXT. If you don’t watch NXT regularly you may know him as Patrick Clark from Tough Enough. He’s only 22 years old with a bright future. Dream has some Rick Rude style tights with his Black’s face on one side and his face on the other side.
Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream
The fans chanted “Velveteen” for Dream since the story is that Dream wants Black to say his name. The announcers hit on the experience factor in favor of Black. The first few minutes were dominated by Black slapping on an armbar and a front facelock. Black jumped on Dream’s back with an octopus hold style submission. Dream broke free, so Black slapped on another forearm. Dream hit forearms to the back and Black launched Dream over the top to the floor. Black teased a dive to the floor, Dream went into the ring, so Black jumped off the middle ropes and sat down in the middle of the ring. Dream responded with a Rick Rude like hip wiggle. Dream sat down in the ring across from him. They finally got going again with Black getting a rollup for two. Dream finally got control by sending Black’s arm into the top rope and Dream hit a running clothesline. Black was out of the ring. Dream teased a dive, but then he stopped by the ropes and flipped back into the ring. Back in the ring, Black sent Dream into the ropes and Dream came back with a superkick for a two count. Dream told the ref to say his name, which drew some laughs from the crowd. Dream hit the Rude Awakening neckbreaker for a two count. Dream slapped on a chinlock. They got back to their feet and exchanged strikes. Dream tied up Black in the ropes. Dream asked him his name. Black kicked him in the face, another kick, clothesline, sweep kick and a running knee to the head by Black. Forearm in the corner by Black. Black sent Dream into the corner sternum first and Black hit a moonsault press off the middle ropes for two. That was sweet. Dream fought off Black for a bit, but Black nailed him with two kicks. Dream hit a Death Valley Driver for a two count.
Dream set up Black for a move by the turnbuckle, but Black broke free and kicked him in the leg. Black hit the running knee to the face for two. Dream came back with a move where he did a roll the dice into a DDT. Crowd was going crazy for this because it was an amazing sell. Dream was slow to cover, so Black shot his left shoulder up to kick out at two. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Dream went up top, did a hip swivel and took too long as he jumped off. Black kicked him in the face, which led to Dream being tied up in the ropes. Black with a kick to the face. Dream with a superkick and another knee to the face by Black. When Dream got back to his feet, Black hit the Black Mass kick for the win after 15 minutes. Crowd cheered loudly.
Winner by pinfall: Aleister Black
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a very good match. Slow start to it with all the showmanship by both guys before they really got going. There were several great nearfalls for both guys. I loved the roll the dice into a DDT by Dream because that’s a move that can be used as a deadly finisher if he can manage to do it to any opponent no matter the size. Black’s style of wrestling is very believable because his strikes look as good as anybody in wrestling and that’s saying something because of how many wrestlers use strikes a lot in their matches. I’m not surprised that Black won since he’s on a roll and could be the next NXT Champion next year at some point. Dream has a very bright future and I really think he’s going to be a main eventer on the main roster in the next five years. He’s got so much potential as an overall talent. This was Dream's breakout match. Black is more of a proven vet that just reminded us how great he is.
After the match was over, Dream was in the ring selling pain. Black sat in the ring beside him with a microphone. Crowd was excited for this. Black: “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.” The crowd cheered that a lot. He finally said Dream’s name. Black left while Dream was still selling in the ring.
Analysis: Cool moment since a lot of the build was Black wanting him to say his name. I like the Black character a lot. He’s undefeated and a mystery type of face that stands out with his performance in the ring.
The Sanity group were in their locker room getting ready as William Regal showed up to give them instructions. Pretty funny how Nikki Cross randomly ran out of there because she's up next.
There was a shot of Asuka, Funaki and Finn Balor in the front row for this next match. Look at all those empty seats behind them. That’s not good to see.
The Women’s Title Fatal 4-Way video package was next to set up their match. The title was vacated when Asuka gave it up in August and moved on to the main roster.
The order of entrance for the women’s match: heel Nikki Cross, face Kairi Sane the pirate princess got a nice ovation, really good reaction for Peyton Royce as a heel that gets cheered with Billie Kay (Kay went to the back) and lastly face Ember Moon, who got the biggest reaction.
NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way: Nikki Cross vs. Kairi Sane vs. Peyton Royce vs. Ember Moon
The first fall wins the match and the title in a match like this.
There was a cool spot early on with Royce hitting a spin kick on Moon and Cross while they were battling and Sane broke it up with a neckbreaker. Moon hit a dive on Cross on one side of the ring. Moon went back in the ring and hit a suicide dive to take out Sane and Royce on the other side. Cross went after Moon and was met with a powerbomb by Moon on the floor. That sounded painful. Back in the ring, Royce slapped on a submission using the ropes as an assist because it’s no DQ in a match like this. Moon broke it up with a kick to the chest. Sane got a rollup on Moon for two. Forearm by Moon to Cross and Sane hit a Spear on Royce after Moon did a leap frog. Spinning back fist by Sane on Moon. With Sane on the top, Moon kicked her in the head. Moon went after Sane on the top, so Royce was there to slam them down German Suplex style in the Tower of Doom spot for a two count for Royce on each woman. Cross got back to her feet and went up top with a cross body block to knock the three women down. Cross set up Sane upside down against the turnbuckle. Cross hit a clothesline on Royce to send her to the floor. Cross hit a spinning neckbreaker on Sane for two as Moon broke up the pin attempt. Moon nailed a running kick to the face of Cross. They did a cool spot on the apron where Cross hit a neckbreaker off the top. Royce capitalized with a Perfectplex on Cross for a two count as Sane was there to break it up, but she may have been late. It was hard to see from the camera angle, but it looked like Sane was late to break it up. Sane with an Alabama Slam on Royce on Cross. Sane up top and hit the Insane Elbow drop off the top for a two count on Sane, but Moon knocked Sane out of the ring. Royce nailed a knee on Sane outside the ring. Royce went after Cross, so Moon jumped off the top rope with the Eclipse (stunner off the top) one both women and covered Cross for the win. It went ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall and new NXT Women’s Champion: Ember Moon
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a fast-paced match that didn’t slow down. The multiple women spots they did were really cool and also innovative at times. They did some cool stuff outside the ring as well to make it a physical match too. That powerbomb by Moon on Cross really looked nasty. I thought all four women were put in spots where it looked like they might win. The crowd seemed like they wanted Royce to win from the moment the match started, but they definitely weren’t against Moon or the others either. Sane hitting the elbow drop for a nearfall was a very good spot. Moon winning with the Eclipse on Royce and Cross was an emphatic way to look strong with the victory. It also protects Sane a bit because she might be featured heavily down the road. They made the most of their time with an exciting match. I enjoyed it.
The GM of NXT, William Regal, went down to the ring with the NXT Women’s Championship. Asuka went into the ring and gave her the title. Moon hugged Asuka, who she had some great matches with.
Analysis: Awesome moment for Moon. She is very popular and has a lot of talent, so I’m glad she got the win. She was my pick in this match. The story was that Moon came so close to winning a few times and that her losses to Asuka made her a better performer.
There was a commercial for the next NXT Takeover in Philadelphia on January 27 the night before the Royal Rumble.
The announcers shilled some Mattel action figures that were on the announce table.
The trio of the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong were talking to Paul Ellering when Regal showed up and talked to them.
Kevin Owens, my favorite former NXT Champion, was at ringside wearing an Undisputed Era shirt because he's close friends with Adam Cole. Samoa Joe was also in the crowd on the other side of the ring. He’s a former NXT Champion too. Both guys got good ovations even though they are heels because it’s cool to see them at these shows.
Video package aired to set up Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade Almas for the NXT Title.
The challenger Andrade “Cien” Almas made his entrance with his manager Zelina Vega. She has helped improve his act after he struggled to get over.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance with the NXT Title around his waist and he’s wearing a kilt because he’s Scottish. I miss the “Broken Dreams” song. It was so good. The reaction for McIntyre is good, but I think Black's reaction was louder.
NXT Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega)
Almas shoved McIntyre in the face before the match while Vega trash talked McIntyre.
There were some hard shots early on. Almas did his posing between the ropes and McIntyre kicked him in the face. They left the ring briefly, Almas distracted the ref, Vega went for a headscissors, McIntyre caught her and put her back on the apron, so her cheating didn’t work. Back in the ring, Almas with a rope assisted neck breaker. McIntyre charged in, Almas moved and McIntyre hit left shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Back into the ring, Almas got a one count after a backbreaker. Almas with an armbar using the ropes to pull on the arm. McIntyre came back with a suplex where he threw Almas across the ring. McIntyre was rolling with a belly to belly suplex. McIntyre went to the top rope and jumped off with a punch. McIntyre hit a Celtic Cross slam (or White Noise) like his buddy Sheamus for a two count. Almas came back with a dropkick. Almas with an inverted Tornado DDT out of the corner for a two count. McIntyre drove Almas into the corner. They did a spot where Almas tried an inverted hurricanrana, but McIntyre turned it into an inverted Alabama Slam for a two count. Rough landing. The fight went to the floor again as Almas hit a headscissors that sent McIntyre head first into the ring post. Almas went up top and hit a moonsault onto a standing McIntyre. That looked amazing. Almas sent McIntyre back in the ring for a two count. Great nearfall.
They battled on the top rope with McIntyre wanting a superplex, but Almas fought out of it with a double foot stomp in the corner followed by a running double knee attack for a two count. Another believable nearfall right there. McIntyre came back with a sitout Powerbomb for a two count that was well executed. They exchanged nearfalls and McIntyre hit the Future Shock DDT for a two count. Another nearfall that was very believable. Almas avoided a corner attack and sent McIntyre face first into the turnbuckle. Almas hit the running double knees to the back of the head of McIntyre for a two count. Almas left the ring, the ref yelled at him, Vega hit a hurricanrana that sent McIntyre into the mat and Almas hit a Hammerlock DDT for a two count as McIntyre kicked out. That was the best of the nearfalls so far. McIntyre got back to his feet and hit a Claymore Kick. McIntyre covered, Vega put Almas’ right foot on the bottom rope although it was more like he did it himself because she didn’t do it properly. At least that’s what it looked like. McIntyre wanted another Claymore Kick, but Almas moved and McIntyre was on the apron in pain. Almas pulled McIntyre out of the corner and hit a brainbuster into a DDT. Almas covered for the pinfall win after 15 minutes. New NXT Champion!
Winner by pinfall and New NXT Champion: Andrade Almas
Analysis: ***1/2 Surprising finish to an excellent championship match that was full of believable nearfalls by both guys. I did not expect a title change because McIntyre’s reign wasn’t that long, so I figured it would continue. I was impressed by both guys busting their ass and trying some cool moves during the match. That sequence by Almas where he sent McIntyre into the ring post followed by a moonsault off the top rope was impressive. I liked the story of Almas working on the arm early on to weaken McIntyre and it was a factor going into the finish too. The key spot in the match was when McIntyre got his Claymore Kick, Almas only got his foot on the bottom rope because of Vega. Her presence helped Almas win the match. She's a great part of the act that has made Almas more of a star. I’m shocked by the title change. Did not see that one coming.
Almas acted like he was shocked by the win. He was handed the NXT Title by the referee and Vega told him he did it. They hugged.
Almas left with the title. McIntyre was being checked in the ring by a doctor because it looked like he hurt his left arm. McIntyre looked dejected while a doctor talked to him. Almas celebrated with the title on the stage. Almas posed on the announce table with the NXT Title. Almas continued the celebration.
Analysis: It’s going to be interesting to see what the news is on McIntyre. I don’t know if he’s legit hurt or if it was just a very good job of selling. I’ll update this post in this spot when there’s news.
UPDATE: Drew McIntyre may have a torn biceps in his left arm that will likely require surgery according to a post show interview by Triple H. That means McInityre may be out 4-6 months. More will be known on Sunday. It was reported by PWTorch that Almas was supposed to go over, so it's not like WWE changed plans because of Drew's injury, which may have took place right at the end of the match.
A commercial aired for next year’s WrestleMania. Tickets available now. See ya there.
There were sirens going off as the WarGames two ring cage was lowered around the two rings.
Video package aired for the WarGames main event.
There was a shot of Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson in the front row since Dustin’s dad Dusty created WarGames and Arn competed in many WarGames matches.
The rules of the match were explained by ring announcer Mike Rome. Good job by Rome saying "Let The WarGames Begin" to start the match.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) November 19, 2017
The NXT Tag Team Champions trio of Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain were out first. Young went to the ring to start the match for the team while Wolfe and Dain had to stay in the shark cage by the entrance.
The Undisputed Era trio of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish were next up. Cole walked to the ring to start the match for his team.
The team of Roderick Strong with Authors of Pain members Akam and Rezar made their entrance with Paul Ellering. The wrestlers were wearing military style gear.
If you’re not watching, there are two rings with a giant cage surrounding them. The cage does not have a roof on it like a traditional WarGames, but this match has a rule that if you climb out you are eliminated in order to prevent the climbing issue. First fall wins the match.
WarGames: Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain vs. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong, Akam & Rezar (w/Paul Ellering)
The bell rang at 9:51pmET as a 5:00 clock started to begin this opening sequence.
It started with Strong and Young working together against Cole early on. With Strong and Young battling on the top rope, Cole knocked them down stomped away on them on the ground. Cole tossed Strong out of the far ring into the near ring. Cole hit the fireman’s carry into the neckbreaker on Young to keep him down. Cole went into the other ring to work over Strong. Cole hit a snap suplex on Strong followed by a neckbreaker and a neckbreaker on Young as well. Running clothesline by Strong took down Cole. More chops by Strong followed by running knee lifts on both guys. The 5:00 clock expired as The Undisputed Era duo of O’Reilly and Fish were next to enter.
Analysis: That no surprise because WarGames matches usually have the heels getting the advantage by having more men in the ring.
O’Reilly and Fish ran down to the ring. They kicked Strong and Young to beat them down. All three Undisputed Era guys hit running elbows on Young that sent Young into the cage. There was a 3:00 clock that was counting down. Cole shoved Young's face up against the cage. Fish hit a Wheelbarrow Suplex on Strong. O’Reilly slapped on a leg bar submission on Strong. The Undisputed Era guys worked over Strong in the far ring and stomped on Young in the near ring. The 3:00 clock expired with Akam and Rezar as the next men to enter the match.
When Akam and Rezar ran down to the ring, the Undisputed Era tried to keep them out, but that didn’t work. Cole was sent into the cage by one of the AOP. Young was launched into the cage. Rezar drove somebody into the cage. Akam threw Cole over the top rope in one ring and into the other ring. Back body drop by AOP sent Young into the other ring. AOP launched their partner Strong onto the four guys in the other ring. Akam and Rezar drove members of the Undisputed Era into other guys that were up against the turnbuckle. That was vicious. Rezar nailed Cole with a forearm to the back. The clock ran out leading to Wolfe and Dain running down to the ring.
The match officially began with everybody involved in the match. Wolfe had a nightstick in his hand and he destroyed everybody in the match. Dain brought some steel chairs, trash cans and a kendo stick. Young and Wolfe destroyed everybody with the weapons. Dain was about to enter the ring, but the crowd chanted “We Want Tables” and Dain brought out two tables. That drew a huge ovation. Dain took a while to get in the ring after he brought in all the weapons. Dain locked the door and swallowed the key or at least that’s what we are supposed to think.
All nine guys were in the two rings. Dain hit a running splash on the Authors of Pain in the corner. Running dropkick by Dain leading to a senton splash at the same time. Dain went to the top rope and hit a cross body block on nearly everybody in the match. Cool moment as the fans chanted “holy shit” for it. Fish saved Cole from an attack from Dain, but that didn’t work out as Dain hit a Michinoku Driver on Cole onto Fish, but O’Reilly was there to break up the pin. Dain sent O’Reilly into the cage. They did a spot where Dain and Rezar each did a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop combo in the separate rings although they only showed Dain's part. Dain got into a slugfest with Rezar. They each nailed eachother with kicks and Dain hit a running body attack. Akam kicked Dain and hit a Powerslam for a two count as O’Reilly broke up the pin with a chain. O’Reilly hit a Tornado DDT. Cole with an enziguri kick on Young. Double superkick into a brainbuster by O’Reilly on Strong. Running clothesline by Dain on Cole. Double kick to the chest by O’Reilly and Fish on Dain. Wolfe took out Fish and O’Reilly knocked down Wolfe with a kick. O’Reilly had an armbar on Wolfe with the chain, but Young broke it up with an elbow drop. Fish hit a moonsault onto Young to break up that pin. All nine guys were down.
The Authors of Pain did the super collider double Powerbomb spot where they collided the guys with Dain and that got a two count with Young breaking up a pin attempt. Dain was bleeding from the nose it looked like. Young hit a Death Valley Driver on Akam on top of Rezar for a two count, but it was broken up by Strong and Cole. Strong launched Cole in the air into a backbreaker. Strong hit a backbreaker on Young and a backbreaker for Wolfe too. Running knee strike by Strong on Dain. Strong hit the Olympic Slam on Dain for a two count as Cole gave Strong a superkick. They set up a spot between the two rings where Adam Cole was standing between the two rings. Both Authors of Pain did three man slams in each ring, so it was like a double Tower of Doom spot. It looked a bit silly and contrived, but I thought it was cool. Authors of Pain crotched Cole on the top rope. Authors of Pain set up both tables side by side in the far ring. Wolfe attacked the Authors of Pain, which saved Cole. That led to Cole climbing to the top of the cage. Wolfe hit a German Suplex on one of the AOP guys that sent them through two tables. Young hit a leaping neckbreaker on one of the AOP guys off the top rope. Wolfe had a lot of blood on his head from the table spot. Cole was crawling across the top of the cage to try to avoid getting attacked. Dain went up top and hit a Coast to Coast dropkick into a garbage can that nailed O’Reilly in the face. The match is over 25 minutes by this point.
Adam Cole was on top of the cage. He stood on top of the corner of the cage. He said “Adam Cole Bay-Bay” and the crowd chanted it with him. Strong climbed the cage to go after Cole. Fans chanted “please don’t die” at them. Strong hit a superplex OFF THE TOP OF THE CAGE on Cole onto the other guys in the match because they were all standing there together to break their fall. That led to a nearfall and a kickout while the crowd chanted “this is awesome” for the effort. Damn right. Dain and Akam got into a slugfest as they battled on the metal partition between the ring and Rezar hit a clothesline on Dain. O’Reilly and Fish did the Total Elimination leg sweep/high kick double team move. Wolfe picked up O’Reilly leading to a neckbreaker from Young. Strong hit a suplex on Wolfe sending him stomach first. Strong whipped Cole into the cage and Young sent Strong into the cage. Cole nailed Young with a kendo stick to the head. Young held a chair up and Cole hit a running knee strike on the chair onto Young. Cole covered Young for the win after 37 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Undisputed Era – Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
Replays aired of the key spots in the match.
Analysis: ****1/2 I thought it was a fantastic, memorable match that was a nice tribute to what WarGames used to be. It wasn’t the same as WarGames we grew up with, but I don’t mind the way they were able to do the match with more of a modern influence. Using the weapons in the ring was cool. No roof on the cage did look a bit weird, but they made up for it with the superplex spot. Great match featuring nine guys that busted their ass to put on a show while utilizing weapons in an intelligent way to help tell the story. Killian Dain was really impressive throughout the match with a lot of cool moments that allowed him to show off his athleticism as a big dude that can really go in the ring. Wolfe got his head busted open in the table spot and he still worked another ten minutes even though he was probably in a lot of pain. I figured the Undisputed Era would win since Cole is clearly going to be a featured singles star while Fish and O’Reilly are probably going to win the Tag Team Title soon as well. That trio are going to be major stars in NXT for a while, so putting them over in this match made a lot of sense. If I could change one thing about the match I would have had guys going for submission moves more or perhaps did it so you can only win by submission. That way it would really put over the physicality of the match and how hard it was to get the win.
The trio of Cole, O’Reilly and Fish stood together in the ring as the winners of the match while the announcers wondered what was in their future. Cole did his “Adam Cole Bay-Bay” gesture and the crowd chanted it with him. The show ended with The Undisputed Era wanting to get out of the cage, but the ref told them to stay in. The show signed off there.
This show had a run time of 2 hours, 33 minutes.
Great show that I’d rate at 8.5 out of 10. Maybe 9 out of 10.
I don’t want to go higher than that because the first match was just average. The other four matches were above average, fun matches that had predictable outcomes other than Almas winning the gold.
WarGames was an excellent match. I highly recommend it because it’s one of the longest WWE matches of the year in front of a hot crowd and there were a lot of entertaining spots. I think it lived up to the hype. It wasn't like a WarGames match exactly, but it was a violent 2017 weapons match that was a lot of fun to watch featuring nine guys that did a great job. I enjoyed it a lot.
Another great Takeover. No surprise. They always deliver.
Back for more tomorrow with Survivor Series. Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams.