NXT War Games Report: Bron Breakker pins Tommaso Ciampa in War Games

John Pollock reviews the NXT War Games event highlighted by the men's War Games match and NXT Tag Team Championship match on Sunday night.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

The first major special under the NXT 2.0 banner went down Sunday with a fitting main event being a battle of the NXT of old versus the new vision, a battle that probably exists in many fans’ eyes that have become disenchanted with where the brand has shifted.

The show was a perfect encapsulation of the state of the NXT 2.0 where you can see many young talents with varying degrees of success and experience – some with tremendous upside while others are at best, question marks, and others would never cut it on previous TakeOver specials where the bar was exceptionally high and producing the consistently best cards in the industry.

But, it’s a new vision and edict and Sunday was an attempt to prove they could do these big specials that could not rely on promos, vignettes, and short matches to hide people. The key is the veterans that are the glue of these big shows and are necessary to help the younger talent rise up.

If you removed Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, and Kyle O’Reilly from this show it would have drastically affected your viewing.

This was not a high-level TakeOver-calibre card but was highlighted by a strong men’s War Games match and a terrific tag title match where O’Reilly performed at a super-elite level.

There were many stories in the main event, to the audience, it was the continual tease of Johnny Gargano’s farewell while also reuniting with his former DIY teammate for the key moments of the match.

The takeaway was Bron Breakker’s pending ascension as the brand’s top star, pinning the NXT Champion and guaranteeing a rematch with Ciampa with the title at stake. With the limited experience he has, he has been the standout of NXT 2.0 since September and continues to step up in big situations while being paired with tremendous talent that is all working to create a new star that is very young in the business.

RESULTS
*War Games:
Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller & Tony D’Angelo over Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, L.A. Knight & Pete Dunne in 38:11 [Recommended]
*Cruiserweight Championship:
Roderick Strong (champion) over Joe Gacy in 8:27
*Hair vs. Hair:
Cameron Grimes over Duke Hudson in 10:24
*NXT Tag Team Championship:
Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner (champions) over Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner in 14:54 [Recommended]
*War Games: Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray over Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne & Dakota Kai in 31:23

WAR GAMES MATCH: Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne & Dakota Kai vs. Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray

The match begins with two members with a third entering after five minutes. From there, new entrants enter every three minutes until all participants are out and War Games begins.

Kay Lee Ray and Dakota Kai started the match. Ray brought a baseball bat into the ring while Kai had several kendo sticks.

Kai got control of the bat, but Kay landed a flying cannonball and used the kendo stick on Kai. She dropped Kai front first onto a series of kendo sticks balanced on the ropes.

Cora Jade was the third entrant and entered with her skateboard. Phoenix called her the “youngest competitor in the history of War Games at 20 years of age”. Ray and Jade had the advantage the entire period and a light chant of ‘We Want Gigi’ began.

The fourth entrant was Gigi Dolin, which a portion of the crowd her name as she grabbed a garbage can and a gym bag to bring in. the match is featuring a lot of kicks and punches and just racking up minutes to progress the match along. Jade hit a sit-out dropkick to Dolin with a garbage can over her head, Ray followed with the Gori special to Kai on top of the can with Dolin inside.

Io Shirai is the next entrant to the match bringing chairs and a trash can followed by Jacy Jayne, who joined the match with a table.

Shirai did a handstand on the turnbuckle and came down with double knees driving a trash can lid into Kai, who was seated in the corner.

Jayne was placed on a table; Jade climbed the cage and came down with a scary-looking Swanton and immediately grabbed her left shoulder as Ray & Shirai checked on her. Shirai waved off the referees and grabbed Jade’s shoulder to pull it back into the socket. It would seem they are playing up the injury to eliminate the numbers advantage for the babyfaces.

Raquel Gonzalez entered next and has the shovel that’s been used in her feud with Kai. They tried to lock Gonzalez out, but she used a fire extinguisher and entered.

Gonzalez placed Kai’s entire body into the trash can and swung it around.

The final entrant is Mandy Rose as War Games commences. Rose went for Jade and grabbed her by the arm until Shirai saved Jade.

After a standoff, Toxic Attraction had the advantage of Gonzalez and prompted Jade to get back into it by using the kendo stick. It was 4-on-1 against Jade with Rose badly missing with a running knee strike leading to a two-count.

Jayne was hit with the chokeslam by Gonzalez and all eight were down, Jade was up and saw Jayne prone on the mat and just pinned her.

WINNER: Cora Jade (pinned Jacey Jayne), Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez & Kay Lee Ray in 31 minutes and 23 seconds

Jade was designed to be the star of the match, overcoming the injury and fighting through it before capitalizing and scoring the winning fall.

I wouldn’t rank this among the better War Games matches as some of the inexperience certainly showed in various spots that were mistimed or came off clumsy.

Shirai and Kai stood out among the eight women with the latter having some creative spots being stuffed in the trash can by Gonzalez.

One big positive is this crowd at the Performance Center is so supportive of these matches and allowed it to come off better with their constant chanting.

Next, was a series of vignettes for Tiffany Stratton, Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs (the same promo that ran on television playing horseshoes and eating steaks like real men. They censored “shit”, which they don’t typically do on USA), and one for Boa.

They advertised that MSK will reveal “the shaman” this Tuesday.

NXT 1.0 is in the locker room. Johnny Gargano said, “this might be my last War Games”.

NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: FABIAN AICHNER & MARCEL BARTHEL (champions) VS KYLE O’REILLY & VON WAGNER

This was a tremendous match with Kyle O’Reilly putting on a phenomenal performance. Barthel and Aicher do not receive enough credit as a tag team as Barthel has the presence down pat while Aichner seems to have terrific timing with all his key flying and power spots.

Wagner played the powerhouse but felt a step below the others in the match. O’Reilly would find himself in a hole and Wagner would get the tag. O’Reilly’s selling and fighting from underneath was a major highlight.

O’Reilly did the Bombs Away knee drop on Barthel’s leg and applied a heel hook, and it was broken by a double springboard moonsault by Aichner.

Wagner’s knee was attacked but they recovered and hit the High-Low on Barthel for a near-fall.

With Wagner out of the match, O’Reilly hit a brainbuster on Aichner, applied a triangle but Barthel tagged his partner as Aichner lifted O’Reilly to be hit with an Imperial Bomb as the champions retained.

WINNERS: Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner in 14 minutes and 54 seconds

This was a great match as they kept Wagner limited and allowed the others to excel.

The crowd was chanting ‘Thank you, Kyle’ and giving him a standing ovation when Wagner tried to attack his partner but was struck down by O’Reilly, who got the better of Wagner. Wagner looked foolish and the crowd chanted for O’Reilly.

Legado del Fantasma was interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell promoting Santos Escobar’s match with Xyon Quinn on Tuesday. Elektra Lopez said she’s a “grown-ass woman” and what she does in her private time, with Quinn, is her business and not Mitchell’s.

HAIR VS HAIR MATCH: DUKE HUDSON VS. CAMERON GRIMES

For most of the match, Hudson was in control and it was very slow and plodding until Grimes got a burst of energy and got on offense.

The referee caught Hudson using the rope for leverage on a cover attempt. Grimes fired up with a poison ‘rana, Helluva kick, and high cross for a two-count.

As Hudson attempted a Border Toss into the corner, Grimes countered with a ‘rana and Hudson bounced off the turnbuckle into a roll-up where Grimes grabbed the trunks and pinned Hudson.

WINNER: Cameron Grimes in 10 minutes and 24 seconds

I didn’t think it was anything special as a match, although Grimes had a few bursts that lifted it.

Hudson attacked Grimes and was going to shave his head, but Grimes came back with the Cave-In and started shaving Hudson’s head. Hudson ran away embarrassed after a portion of his head was shaved.

They ran a promo for their next USA Network special, which will be the second annual New Year’s Evil on Tuesday, January 4th. So, that’s going to be a quiet week in pro wrestling.

CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: RODERICK STRONG (CHAMPION) VS JOE GACY

All the members of Diamond Mine are in Strong’s corner while Harland is in Gacy’s corner.

Strong was lighting him up with chops, a CM Punk step-up knee in the corner, and hitting Gacy with a superplex.

Strong went for a gut buster sending Gacy off his shoulders but missed. Gacy landed an up kick and went for a crossface before knocking Strong to the floor and landing a dive.

Ivy Nile walked up to Gacy and Harland lifted her but was stopped by Gacy.

Strong recovered from a gut-wrench bomb and hit End of Heartache to retain the title.

WINNER: Roderick Strong in 8 minutes and 27 seconds

This was way closer to a match you would see on television as it didn’t have a lot of time and was basic.

Strong looked very good and a mild surprise to see him retain the title rather than take the championship the gimmick route with Gacy.

The match was fine for the time it was given. If you were hoping for a major Roderick Strong singles match had this been a TakeOver special of old, you would be disappointed.

Mitchell interviewed Kyle O’Reilly and told Von Wagner he smelled that turn a mile away. He wants Wagner inside of a steel cage match this Tuesday.

WAR GAMES: Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, L.A Knight & Pete Dunne vs. Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller & Tony D’Angelo

Johnny Gargano came out to his old ‘Rebel Heart’ theme and got a massive reception with the tease that he could be wrapping up.

Gargano and Hayes started the match as the audience chanted, ‘Johnny War Games’. It was good back-and-forth action between the two with Gargano in the defined babyface role. Gargano rammed Hayes’ head into the cage and hit a sunset bomb off the top rope as the period expired.

Grayson Waller was the third entrant. Waller and Gargano had a brief singles interaction until Hayes got involved for the 2-on-1 edge. Hayes and Waller teased the DIY spot but missed and struck each other. They continued to attack Gargano and he started bleeding from the nose.

The fourth entrant is Pete Dunne. Dunne wrapped Waller’s finger around the chain-link fence. Gargano applied the Gargano Escape on Waller as Dunne put Hayes in a crossface with both kicking the other opponent simultaneously. Waller hit a pair of rolling cutters to Dunne and Gargano in opposite rings.

Tony D’Angelo entered next and brought tables and other weapons into the ring. Trick Williams was climbing under the ring looking for more weapons when Dexter Lumis crawled out to take care of Williams and give a ‘thumbs up’ to Gargano. D’Angelo locked the door with a padlocked chain. The three 2.0 members beat down Gargano and Dunne with weapons.

L.A Knight was the next one to join and could not enter with the door locked, so he climbed the cage to join. The veterans regained control using the weapons on 2.0 including Dunne attacking the fingers and ear of Waller with the kendo stick.

Bron Breakker entered next. Breakker struggled to cut the chain with bolt cutters but finally got it and entered through the door, not a great plan by D’Angelo. Breakker was dominating everyone once he entered.

The final entrant is Tommaso Ciampa and War Games begins.

Hayes was about to strike Ciampa when Gargano used a crutch to save his former partner as use the crutch as a callback.

After the Black & Gold was beaten down, they rallied and fought back as the crowd chanted ‘War Games’.

Waller climbed up to the top, Knight scaled up and suplexed Waller off the top and through a table with a belly-to-belly.

Hayes took the worst of a Tower of Doom followed by Knight hitting the BFT as D’Angelo broke up the cover.

Ciampa hit Breakker with an Air Raid Crash off the turnbuckle onto a trash can for a two-count.

Knight was placed on a table and Waller came off the top of the cage with an elbow drop. D’Angelo tried to capitalize and pin Knight, but Dunne saved.

D’Angelo had a crowbar hidden and attacked Dunne with it. He removed the mouthguard from Dunne’s mouth and hit a swinging neck breaker using the crowbar off the top turnbuckle.

Breakker hit Ciampa with a Frankensteiner. Gargano assisted Ciampa as the audience chanted ‘DIY’. Gargano and Ciampa hit DIY on Breakker and went for the double cover but Hayes yanked the referee to stop the count. Hayes gouged Ciampa in the eye and hit Gargano with a low blow.

Gargano held Hayes for a knee shot from Ciampa. Ciampa went for the Fairy Tale Ending but was speared by Breakker through a table and hit with the military press into the powerslam and Breakker pinned Ciampa.

WINNERS: Bron Breakker (pinned Tommaso Ciampa), Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller & Tony D’Angelo in 38 minutes and 11 seconds

The match was very strong and the crowd loved it with the length not being a factor.

Everyone worked incredibly hard and that was across the board with a finish that made the most sense for where they are going and giving Breakker his win over Ciampa while the championship still eludes him.

About John Pollock 3366 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.