Welcome to our coverage of the NXT TakeOver War Games card from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
This show features the return of Mauro Ranallo, calling the show with Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson.
You can leave feedback for the POST Show on the POST Wrestling Forum. I will be reviewing the show with Braden Herrington and Davie Portman tonight and the show will be free on the site.
On the pre-show, Matt Riddle was interviewed on the panel and confronted by Kassius Ohno, who said he would expose Riddle.
They did tape a match between Nikki Cross and Candice LeRae before TakeOver.
MATT RIDDLE VS KASSIUS OHNO
Riddle hit a flying knee and pinned Ohno in six seconds.
Ohno was dizzy trying to get to his feet after the match.
WINNER: MATT RIDDLE IN 0:06
It was a solid way to present Riddle, although I really wanted to see this match.
SHAYNA BASZLER VS KAIRI SANE IN A 2-OF-3 FALLS MATCH FOR THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE
Sane started off strong by attacking Baszler and sending her to the floor. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir appeared and send Sane into the steel post behind the referee’s back before rolling her inside.
Baszler applied the Kirifuda clutch and gets the submission at the 2:00 mark.
Baszler began the second fall with a running knee and tried for the choke a second time and had it applied. Sane rolled to the rope for the break. Baszler stomped her head, but Sane fought back with several roll-up attempts. Baszler had her on the apron, Sane countered with a brutal-looking spiked DDT onto the edge of the apron. This looked frightening.
Sane hit an Insane Elbow onto Baszler, Duke & Shafir on the floor and the place was going nuts. Baszler was rolled in and took another Insane Elbow and Sane pinned her at the 7:35 mark of the match.
Sane reversed a gut-wrench off the top into a sunset flip powerbomb, this audience was so electric. Sane went for another Insane Elbow but Duke distracted the referee, allowing Shafir to knocks Sane off the turnbuckle. This led to Dakota Kai running down to stop them and was beaten down 2-on-1. Io Shirai ran down to even the numbers and hit a moonsault to the floor onto the three on the floor and it looked incredible.
Sane returned to the top for the Insane Elbow, but Baszler turned it into a crucifix and pinned Sane to retain the title.
WINNER: SHAYNA BASZLER AT 10:53 TO RETAIN THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE
The crowd heat was incredible, but it was so rushed that this would have been much better served as a straight match without three falls.
It naturally lends itself to a six-woman tag program and gets Kai and Shirai into programs.
The time restriction didn’t allow this to be their best match together, but the crowd was ready to make it such.
JOHNNY GARGANO VS ALEISTER BLACK
Gargano’s gear was patterned off The Punisher.
Gargano started with a slap and Black kicked him in the face.
Black booted him off the apron and connected with a tope con giro. Black went for a moonsault off the buckle, landed on his feet and a took a tornado DDT through the ropes from Gargano.
Black connected with a flying knee as both went down and there was a loud “NXT” chant. Gargano tries to slingshot inside the ring and was hit with a knee. The striking exchanges were solid.
Gargano sent Black into the buckle with a lawn dart and he smiled. Gargano went for a superkick, Black sat cross-legged and told him to deliver his best shot. Black ducked an exposed knee, but Gargano landed a follow-up superkick and a running knee for a two-count.
Gargano shoved Black over the top during a quebrada attempt, went for a suicide dive and was nailed with a knee in mid-air that looked incredible.
Gargano was wobbly, got to his feet and ducked the Black Mass and applied the Gargano Escape, rolled him into the middle, but Black escaped and hit a spinning knee. Black removed his knee pad, hit a flying knee, lifted Gargano and blasted him with Black Mass.
Gargano was held up by the chest of Black, he looked into Gargano’s eyes and told him, “I absolve you of all your sins” and hit a second Black Mass for the win.
WINNER: ALEISTER BLACK AT 18:11
Excellent match, the storytelling was terrific with Gargano turning to this evil side of his character and still failing.
This was two elite level performers at the top of their game with a super-compelling story element to the match.
TOMMASO CIAMPA VS VELVETEEN DREAM FOR THE NXT TITLE
Dream came out dressed as Hollywood Hogan, complete with a weightlifting belt. Ciampa walked out clutching the title.
The audience was 100% behind Dream when the bell rang.
Ciampa grabbed his “Hollywood” headband and cupped his ear to loud boos. Later in the match, he put the headband back on and hit the big boot, teased the leg drop and Ciampa rolled to the floor.
Ciampa took over, hit a running knee in the corner with his knee brace. Dream pointed at him like Hogan would, yelling “you”. He hit another big boot and then three leg drops for a big reaction as he was Hulking up. Dream went after the previously injured right knee of Ciampa with a figure-four around the post. Ciampa tapped.
Next, Dream applied a figure-four but Ciampa reversed and later received a rope break. A vertical suplex attempt sent both over the top to the floor.
Dream nearly superkicked the referee, Ciampa pulled the tights for a roll up and was caught, Dream hit the Death Valley Driver for a huge near fall.
Ciampa caught him with a flying knee and hit Project Ciampa, which Dream kicked out from. Ciampa was trying to remove his right boot. He grabbed his title and the official took it away. Dream hit the swinging DDT right onto the title and Ciampa kicked out.
Dream was sent to the floor, returned and hit with a draping DDT for another big near fall. They were giving Dream everything.
Ciampa exposed the cement floor, he set up for a draping DDT, but Dream tackled Ciampa over the announcer’s table. Mauro Ranallo called him a “SOB”, and Ciampa attacked Mauro. Dream capitalized by hitting the DVD onto the exposed floor and Purple Rainmaker in the ring for the biggest near fall of the match.
Dream missed an elbow drop to the floor and was hit with a draping DDT onto the steel partition between the two rings as Ciampa dragged Dream in and pinned him.
WINNER: TOMMASO CIAMPA AT 22:25 TO RETAIN THE NXT TITLE
This was Dream’s best match of his career, surpassing the match with Aleister Black last year.
They took a match with two great characters, but one where few believed Dream could win and by the Purple Rainmaker spot, I think most bit on that near fall.
It was a great pace of near falls and the crowd clearly wanted to see Dream win the title. This over delivered for me by a wide margin.
Ciampa screamed, “Dream over” on his way to the back.
WAR GAMES MATCH
Ricochet, Pete Dunne & War Raiders vs. Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
The match starts with a five-minute period between the first two and a new entrant every three minutes.
Adam Cole started for The Undisputed Era and Ricochet from the opposite side. Cole took control after hitting a backstabber off a reverse elbow by Ricochet off the turnbuckle. Ricochet hit a beautiful springboard European uppercut from one ring to the other.
Kyle O’Reilly was the third entrant into the match as they double-teamed Ricochet. They put him down with an Ushigoroshi from Cole onto the knee of O’Reilly.
Hanson ran down as the fourth entrant as he stopped Pete Dunne from exiting the shark cage when the time was up. Hanson fired up with a phenomenal sequence with the continuous clotheslines into opposite corners. Ricochet launched off Hanson’s back to deliver a shooting star press onto O’Reilly.
The fourth entrant was Roderick Strong. He attacked Ricochet with several backbreakers onto the knee and hit the End of Heartache. Undisputed Era had the numbers advantage and the audience started chanting for them.
Ray Rowe entered fifth as both he and Dunne fought to be the first one out of the shark cage. Rowe hit a powerbomb and powerslam combo to Strong and O’Reilly together.
The final entrant for the Undisputed Era was Bobby Fish. He went over to Dunne and attacked him in his cage. He used the padlock from his cage to lock Dunne in and threw away the key. Fish came down and brought chairs into the ring, allowing O’Reilly to play the chair guitar.
The time expires but they cannot unlock the cage for Pete Dunne. The referees find bolt cutters and open the cage for Dunne to enter the match. He is limping to sell the injury from this week’s episode. Dunne used a kendo stick to enter the ring and smashed Cole’s hand with it. He slammed the cage door onto Strong. Then, he brought out a table for a monstrous reaction.
Dunne stomped the fingers of O’Reilly as everyone was attacking each other with weapons.
Dunne applied a figure-four kneebar to Fish, but O’Reilly stopped him. He applied an ankle lock to Dunne with a chain wrapped around his knee. Strong pulled back on Dunne’s neck with a chair while Cole and Fish tried to stop the others from saving.
Cole was placed on a table, the leg gave out, so Hanson shoved Cole off to fix it and I found that amusing.
O’Reilly applied a triangle to Ricochet while laying on the table, Hanson came off the top with a splash onto O’Reilly putting him through the table.
Cole and Ricochet met on the top of the cage and exchanged strikes.
They designed the craziest Tower of Doom with seven of the eight leaving Ricochet on the top of the cage by himself. He stood up and hit a double moonsault to the seven on the mat. This was so insane.
The two teams standoff in opposite rings and started going at it. Hanson hit a handspring double back elbow.
Ricochet went for a double springboard into a superkick from Cole.
Cole countered the Bitter End with a DDT, hit the Ushigoroshi and Last Shot for a near fall on Dunne. He got up and hit the Bitter End, Ricochet came off the top with a 450 splash and both Dunne & Ricochet covered Cole to win.
WINNERS: RICOCHET, PETE DUNNE & WAR RAIDERS AT 47:06
This was something else, especially the final ten minutes.
Ricochet and Dunne held their titles and had a stare down.