Once again, it looks like when all is said and done, NXT TakeOver will have stolen the weekend.
Saturday night, WWE NXT presented TakeOver War Games 2 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, one night before the main roster will present Survivor Series at the very same venue. Though Survivor Series has yet to happen, it's a pretty safe bet that it won't top what we saw on Saturday night.
While the main roster's Survivor Series has two matches that could in the end prove to be show-stealing contests (Rollins/Nakamura and Murphy/Ali), the NXT event presented a show with absolutely no fat on it. All four (well, five, but we'll get ot that in a minute) matches were quite good. If you had to take a bathroom break, we pray for your bladder, because there's nothing you would have wanted to miss here.
The event started off hot right away with NXT's latest major signee, Matt Riddle, making an unexpected appearance. He called out Kassius Ohno, whom he had words with on the kickoff show, and the two had an impromptu match. It was over before it started, with Riddle hitting a running knee strike right after the opening bell and getting the immediate victory. The match wasn't much to speak of, but the crowd was overjoyed to see the King of Bros (Riddle).
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler and former champion Kairi Sane did battle in a two out of three falls match just weeks after Sane dropped the title to Baszler at Evolution. They had another really good match, though it was shorter than you would imagine given the match stipulation. Baszler took the first fall via submission, Sane took the second after her flying elbow, and they battled it out tooth and nail for the final decision.
Big reversal by @KairiSaneWWE!November 18, 2018
Two of the MMA four horsewomen, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, were at ringside and interfered profusely until Io Shirai and Dakota Kai ran out to help Sane. In the end, we had Sane hit another flying elbow that was quickly turned into a pin from Baszler for the victory.
The next two matches probably have equal footing when it comes to the honor of "Match of the Night," starting with Johnny Gargano taking on Aleister Black. It began with Black's always excellent entrance and concluded with some unbelievably stiff roundhouse Black Mass kicks from Black that gave him the victory. There was a great shot here after the first one, with a barely conscious Gargano leaning against Black's chest, until Black hit his second kick for the victory.
In between, there were jaw dropping moments galore. One of the highlights was Black screaming in the middle of the ring, sitting cross-legged, for Gargano to give him his best shot, absolutely begging for the running knee. He dodged the first one but Gargano eventually hit it for a near fall.
"Give me your best shot!"November 18, 2018
Gargano's recent heel turn, which is still odd to behold given how much of a pure babyface he has been for the duration of his NXT run, has undoubtedly given his character some extra dimension that was on display here. It really added to some of the tense moments in the match, like toward the end when he locked on his submission finisher and screamed "I'm the chosen one!" Moments later, Black blasted Gargano with a knee to the jaw on the outside as Johnny came flying through the ropes with a suicide dive. It was, indeed, awesome.
.@WWEAleister BLASTS Gargano out of midair! WOW! 😱November 18, 2018
Velveteen Dream, perhaps the hottest current name on the NXT roster, got his shot at the brand's top title and made the most of it. He came out dressed as Hollywood Hogan, complete with an nWo style "oVa" shirt that read "Dream Over" underneath. The L.A. crowd absolutely ate it up. He used Hogan's mannerisms throughout the match as well, including the big boot and leg drops.
Ciampa, as usual, was great here as well, but it was Dream who really shined. This guy's charisma is on a whole different level and I can't wait to see what he does when he is brought up to the main roster. Though Dream came up short in the end, as predicted, he came out just as big of a star in loss as he would have in victory. Big things are in the future for Patrick Clark.
There was never a dull moment during the War Games main event. As a long time fan, I'm still partial to the War Games matches of years past, but given the current restriction of WWE (read: no blood), I think they make the most out of what they can do here.
There were broken tables, garbage cans, chairs shots, and Ricochet hitting an insane 720 off the top of the cage. They were creative, and the mix of the big guys in War Machine hitting some massive power moves mixed with the flyers hitting their acrobatic moves worked well in contrast.
Watch out for @WarBeardHanson!November 18, 2018
The One! The Only! HIS NAME IS @KingRicochet!November 18, 2018
Surprisingly, the Undisputed Era took the loss here. Dunne and Ricochet pinned Adam Cole together at the conclusion of a 45 minute-plus contest. The closing shot of the show was Dunne, holding his U.K. championship, standing atop the stage staring down Ricochet, clutching his North American Championship. That's a match we wouldn't mind seeing once again.0comments
All in all, this was a great Saturday night of professional wrestling and well worth the subscription price of the WWE Network. I haven't watched a wrestling show that went by that fast since, well, the last NXT TakeOver show.
Your move, Survivor Series.