WCW and War Games
Going back in time and reliving what made us fall in love with something is a great joy in the lives of those who long for youth that has escaped them. One of the things older wrestling fans miss is the NWA. The days of Harley Race, Ric Flair, the Four Horsemen, and Dusty Rhodes.
With the WWE Network, it is easier than ever to relive to Golden Age of Sports Entertainment. With Triple H taking over more and more of the creative stuff in the WWE, we have someone who understands not just the power of nostalgia, but the importance of it.
NXT and War Games
That is why when NXT brought back War Games, it was not just a hit, but one of the most talked about events in recent memory. That is saying a lot for a brand that is not on television. It helped that there was not a bad match on the card, and the performances in the main event were some of the best of those competitors’ careers.
Enter TakeOver: War Games
The show was live from the Honda Center in Houston, Texas on November 17, 2017. Officially, it was billed NXT TakeOver: War Games. The show was significant for several reasons.
The vacant NXT Women’s Championship would be awarded. Asuka vacated the belt when she was called up to SmackDown, and due to a collar bone injury.
The NXT Championship would be under contention when a former jobber, and current NXT Champion, Drew McIntyre, squared off against an up-and-coming Latino sensation (and someone the WWE is banking on to be the Hispanic face for the WWE in years to come) in Andrade “Cien” Almas.
The main event was not for the biggest belt in NXT, but the War Games match itself, and it was a barn burner.
NXT TakeOver: War Games was voted as Takeover of the Year on NXT and is widely considered one of the most solid WWE branded shows of the 2017 year. So, let’s get on with it.
Breaking down the action
The show opened with a promo cutting Franklin Roosevelt’s speech announcing World War II with highlights of the storylines leading up to War Games. It also highlighted the other matches on the card. As usual, it was a goose bump raising promo package. The WWE’s promo team should get a medal.
Is there a more perfect marriage of an announcer to a brand than Mauro Ranallo and NXT? The three men team of Ranallo, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness work so well together. It is one of the many reasons NXT is a must-watch show.
Ohno it's Lars!
The first match on the card was Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) versus Lars Sullivan. It is interesting to point out that the KO gimmick was originally meant for him, but due to injuries and squabbles with the office, it was given to Kevin Owens. Speaking of reused gimmicks, Sullivan was being referred to as the Leviathan. That was Batista’s name in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Maybe all the creativity is used on the video packages and not on the names of the characters.
Ohno was looking for redemption. Sullivan was a man on a mission to make a name for himself. Before the bell rang, the two men argued and had to have the ref keep them apart. As soon as the bell rung, Sullivan picked up Ohno and drove him into the corner. Ohno came back with an elbow that just seemed to tick off the bigger Sullivan. As Sullivan charged back, he was met with an Ohno knee.
Ohno tried to mount some offense early, but Sullivan was not having any of that. Lars knocked Ohno around and kneed Kassius to the outside. On the outside, Sullivan kept up the high impact maneuvers. Back in the ring, Sullivan threw Ohno into the corner. KO came out with a knee. Another kick was caught, but Ohno, being the in-ring veteran he is, spun and kicked him with his plant leg, ala an enziguiri. For the first time in this match, KO had the advantage.
It didn’t last long. A kip up by Ohno was met with a hard clothesline by Sullivan. This was quickly becoming a squash. Ohno got a knee in, but after springing off the ropes, he was hit with a pop-up Powerslam. It would be good for the first near fall of the contest.
Sullivan, after stalking his prey for a few seconds, climbed to the top rope. He went for the diving headbutt, but Ohno rolled out of the way. Could this be the opening for the once Hero of Ring of Honor?
Ohno blocked a clothesline with a kick, then landed a series of shots. Six hard shots by Ohno still couldn’t take the big man down. A Cyclone Kick from Ohno finally knocked Sullivan down. A quick pinning predicament by Ohno got him his first near fall. Sullivan kicked out at two.
Ohno went to work with his right foot to the head of Sullivan. When I say he went to work, he pummeled Sullivan with several shots worthy of a mudhole stomping. However, this seemed not to hurt Sullivan, but just tick him off. He responded much the same way Ric Flair’s chops did to Sting.
After trading shots in the center of the ring, Sullivan went to the ropes, and was met with a huge discus elbow by Ohno. Ohno went for another discus elbow, but it was reversed into Sullivan’s special move, a Freak Accident (the best way to describe it is a side belly-to-belly slam). That would be it for this one.
5:11 after it started, Lars Sullivan was the victor over Kassius Ohno. It was Sullivan’s first Takeover experience, and he defeated a man who was one of the greatest talents many have never heard of before he joined NXT.
On the side note...
Next came a video package for Survivor Series, coming from the same arena the following night. That event featured one of the last appearances by Enzo Amore, two Survivor Series matches, one women’s and one men’s. The men’s had special significance since if Raw lost (they didn’t) Kurt Angle would be fired as GM of Raw. It also saw the unification of the SHIELD, US Champ (Baron Corbin) versus IC Champ (The Miz), The Usos (SmackDown Tag Champs) defeat The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro, Raw Tag Champs), and the SmackDown Women’s Champ beat the Raw Women’s Champ (Charlotte over Alexa Bliss).
Let’s get back to the show at hand. At ringside, we see Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews, and Wolfgang. We cut backstage to see the Undisputed Era talking strategy in the locker room. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly have become one of the best stables NXT has ever produced. With a recent addition of a man who they competed against on this night, they became stronger. (Roderick Strong joined the Undisputed Era at NXT Takeover: New Orleans the night before WrestleMania 34.)
"Say my name"
Here comes a video package for Aleister Black and the Velveteen Dream. Black has become one of the favorite wrestlers of many WWE fans. His much-anticipated call-up will be huge. As far as the Velveteen Dream, he is the very definition of eccentric. He is another one of those guys with quite a following.
This match came about because Dream wanted to be acknowledged by Black. As the days kept coming, Dream got more and more violent in his quest to be noticed. All Dream wanted was for Black to say his name. What came from this was a physical match-up that might have stolen any other card that didn’t feature a War Games match.
The Undertaker has a great entrance. Bray Wyatt does too. But Aleister Black, he has probably the best in the WWE. From the music, to the candles, from the board that brings him from a prone position to a standing one and out of the fog is something that can send chills down the spine of even the most jaded fan. The signs of the occult and logos for the Illuminati help this. In fact, he has been the subject of a few YouTube videos saying he and the WWE are promoting Satanism.
The Velveteen Dream has an interesting entrance as well. The blue lights and the fog fit him exceptionally well. Another thing, of the many, that sets Dream apart is the Rick Rude-esque tights with the airbrushed faces of his opponents for big matches.
This match was in the second ring, where the first match was in ring one. For the first minute, the two do not move. Dream yells at Black that the crowd, who is chanting for Dream, knows his name, and that Black should say it.
The two meet in the middle with a collar and elbow tie up. Neither man can get an advantage. Black dodges a slap from Dream and gets the first offense of the contest with an arm drag into a standing wrist lock. Dream fought out and went for a rear chin lock, but Black maintains control with a reversal. The match begins slowly with Black in control. It began very much like a main roster match, and not the Indy style that has made NXT popular.
One of the more eye-popping moments was when Black locked Dream in a standing crucifix. All of Black was across the shoulders of Dream, eventually forcing him to the mat for the first pinning attempt of the match. After another dodged punch into an arm bar, Dream rolled through and nailed Black with a forearm to the head.
In the middle of the ring, the two traded shots, and that is not something you want to do with Aleister Black. However, Dream got the best of the exchange and got Black down to a knee. A charging Dream was dumped to the floor by Black. Aleister sprung into the ropes, but saw Dream sliding back in. Black turned in mid-air, did a backflip, and landed in his trademarked cross legged seated position.
The mind games were great. Dream could not believe it and Black sat there, as if he was annoyed by the situation. Dream got in front of Black and swung his hips ala Rick Rude. When that did not get the attention of Black, Dream sat a mere two feet from the striker from Amsterdam, mocking his opponent. It would be Black’s turn to mimic his opponent now, as he used one of Dream’s signature poses. Ring psychology like this is often lost on the main roster. It is good to see it thrive in NXT.
Black went back on the offensive. A series of moves got him another near fall, but Dream hung Black on the ropes to break a submission. Dream took over with a huge clothesline and began to stomp Black. Dream started to get violent, eventually knocking Black from the ring. With Black on the outside, Dream sprung off the ropes mimicked Black’s fake drive through the ropes and showboated to the crowd.
Letting Black rest might have been a mistake. The two exchanged a series of awkward holds before Dream got Black on his shoulders, looking for the Death Valley Driver. Black fought out but ate a Superkick from Dream. It would not end for Dream, as a two count was all that came from it.
Dream continued the offensive assault with some mounted punches to the skull of Black. A Rude Awakening (hanging neck breaker) would get another two count for Dream. Dream was firmly in control as he locked in a rear chin lock on Black.
Black fought to his feet but was hit with a forearm. The two began duking it out in the middle of the ring, but Dream maintained control. He would lock Black in the ropes and try to make him say his name again. Alas, it would not come to be as Black would escape and fight back with a hard forearm.
Black would come back like a ball of fire and land several hard strikes. After sending Dream into the corner, chest first, Black would hit a huge springboard moonsault onto a standing Dream and roll through for a near fall. That move got a big gasp from the impressed fans in the Honda Center.
Black signaled it was the end. He used his foot to bring Dream up, but Dream drove him into the corner. Dream tried to do something, but Black blocked it and used his feet to push Dream halfway across the ring. Black went to the second rope and leaped. Dream ducked and as Black charged back, Dream looked for the Death Valley Driver. Black wiggled off Dream’s shoulders. A big kick sent Dream reeling, but in an act of desperation, Dream finally hit the DVD.
The referee was out of position and only got to two before a leery Aleister Black kicked out. Both men were down as the crowd chanted for Velveteen Dream. Dream got to his feet first and put Black into the corner. He got Black on his shoulders and looked to be setting him up for the Avalanche Death Valley Driver. Once again, Black wiggled out, leaving Dream perched on the second rope, facing the ring post.
A swift kick to the back of Dream’s knee and a hard knee to the head of Dream gave Black an opportunity for a pin. A 2 count would all that would come from it. Dream, reaching down into the reserves, got to his feet, groggily, and landed a DDT on Black.
Both men were in the middle of the ring and down. Dream slowly rolled over and draped an arm over Black. Dream got a two count. He crawled to the ropes and used them to get to his feet as the crowd chanted “This is awesome!”
Dream went to the top rope and swung his hips. He leaped and ate the foot of Black. The resulting fall back locked Dream in the ropes. As the referee tried to free Dream, Black got to his feet and gave the tied up Dream another taste of the sole of his boots with a kick to the teeth.
Dream, now freed as the referee backed Black off, hit a superkick of his own. This put Black into the ropes, and coming off, Black nailed Dream with a spinning high knee. These two were letting everything hang out. Both men were down again.
The crowd was now chanting for Black. A Black Mass followed and this one was over after 14:37. It was quite possibly, the NXT Match of the Year. Black sat in the ring, cross legged as usual, while the highlights played. With the blue light being the only separating the ring from darkness, Black pulled a microphone from seemingly nowhere.
The crowd chanted say his name. “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.” Finally, Black acknowledged the Dream. It was a fitting end to the sequence. As Dream was recuperating in the ring, Black got halfway up the ramp, turned and looked at Dream, before going to the back.
After we saw an aerial shot of Houston, SAnitY was in the back and was met by William Regal. In the audience, we see more WWE stars, like the longest reigning NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka, SmackDown’s Number One Announcer, Funaki, and the first ever Universal Champion, Finn Balor. All that leads to the fatal four way for the NXT Women’s Championship video package.
Preparing for Asuka...
As the ring announcer is announcing the match, Regal is in the ring holding the belt. Out first is the unstable Nikki Cross. Next out is the Japanese Pirate Princess, and first ever winner of the Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane. The third entrant is one half of the Iconic Dou, the Australian beauty, Peyton Royce. The last lady to compete has another one of those great entrances. Her music is pretty fantastic too. Ember Moon completes the quartet of competitors in this match.
The match begins with all four women acting cautiously. The action began with Peyton Royce going after Ember Moon and Nikki Cross going after Kairi Sane. Reversal of Irish Whips sent Moon onto a collision course with Cross, and Moon hit a flying reverse kick onto Cross. Royce went after Moon and dispatched her before attacking Sane.
Cross seized the opportunity to go after Ember, but Royce broke that up and had the upper hand on all three women in the match early. That did not last long as each woman took turns hitting eye popping moves. Royce was the first to gain a near fall, going for a double pin on Moon and Cross. Sane broke that up with a neck breaker and got a near fall for herself.
Cross and Royce rolled out of the ring, leaving Moon and Sane in the ring. The exchange was short lived, as both women went over the top and hit big moves on the women outside. Moon flew into Cross and Sane into Royce. Moon then flew between the ropes and nailed both Sane and Royce on the outside.
Cross came from nowhere and began attacking Moon on the outside. Cross received a huge powerbomb from Ember Moon that got a huge reaction from the crowd. Back in the ring, Sane and Moon fought, with Sane getting the upper hand. The crowd was divided chanting for both women in the ring. Sane made a critical mistake, going after Peyton Royce as she attempted to get into the ring. Royce locked in some form of an Octopus Hold, using the ropes as leverage. There are no disqualifications in a match like this, and Sane looked to be in some serious pain.
As Nigel pointed out that Royce was vulnerable to an attack, Ember Moon did just that. A swift kick to the sternum of Royce broke the hold she had on Sane. Royce was dispatched by Ember, and Sane rolled up Moon quickly for a near fall. Royce tried to get back in the ring and ate a huge spear from Sane. The action slowed down a bit, but these women did not compete like they were in a typical women’s match. This was something right out of an Intercontinental Title match you would see on Monday Night Raw.
Sane went to the top rope, but Moon prevented a move from the Pirate Princess. Both Sane and Moon fought on the top rope. Royce sprang to her feet and turned what could have been a Super plex from Moon into a powerslam on Ember, completing her super plex on Sane. High impact on that move put those three women down, and Cross was still down on the outside.
With the crowd chanting ‘NXT’, Royce crawled over and got a two count on Ember Moon. She crawled over and did the same to Sane and got the same result. With Royce and Moon beating down on Sane, enter Nikki Cross on the top rope. She flew and nailed a cross body on all three women. Cross got to her knees first and went insane.
She beat down Moon, tied Sane in the Tree of Woe, and knocked Royce from the ring. She took Sane down and got herself a near fall, as it was broken up by Moon. Sane rolled from the ring and Moon hit a huge kick on Cross. Moon went to the apron and traded shots with a charging Cross. As Moon was getting ready to leap over the top rope, she was met with a forearm of Nikki Cross. With Ember balanced on the top rope, Cross hit a swinging neck breaker.
With Cross grasping at Moon to keep her in the ring, Royce came back in and performed a beautiful Fisherman’s Suplex on Cross with a bridge pinning predicament. At the count of two, Cross was assisted in her kickout by Kairi Sane, who broke up the count.
Kairi Sane showed off her strength, using an Alabama Slam, thrusting Royce into Nikki Cross. Sane went to the top rope and with Royce on top of Cross, landed an Insane Elbow. She hooked the leg and sat on the chest of Cross, only to have her cover broken by Ember Moon.
The crowd was not firmly behind Ember Moon as she went to the top rope. Royce knocked her from her perch and kicked Sane. With a gust of energy, Royce went after Cross. Cross, with every ounce of energy she had left, prevented the Australian beauty from performing her special move, but it set up both women in the middle of the ring.
Moon, now back on her feet and back on the top rope, hit the Eclipse on both women. Royce rolled out of the ring and Moon rolled to Cross. Kairi Sane could not get back in the ring fast enough as Ember Moon got the pin fall and became the new NXT Women’s Champion. It took just eight seconds short of ten minutes (9:52) for Moon to become the sixth NXT Women’s Champion in history.
William Regal walked into the ring as the highlights played. Asuka showed up and asked Regal if she could present the belt to Moon. These two had one hell of a rivalry over that belt, and it was a tear jerking moment as Asuka handed Moon the belt and the two embraced in the middle of the ring. Asuka looked genuinely happy for Moon. It was the feel-good moment of the show.
We saw a preview for the next NXT TakeOver in Philadelphia. An outside shot of the Honda Center gave way to Mauro and the announce team plugging new WWE toys. Backstage, Roderick Strong was talking with AOP leader Paul Ellering as Regal arrived and briefed the four men on the rules of the match. In the audience we see Kevin Owens wearing an Undisputed Era t-shirt under his sport coat. Samoa Joe, one of only two men who were two-time NXT Champions.
Legionnaire vs Luchador
The next match is coming, but before we get there, we get a recap of how the match between NXT Champion Drew McIntyre and Andrade “Cien” Almas came to be.
Out first was Almas. Selena was dressed to kill in black, and Almas looked sharp in a white and true-blue attire. The kilt wearing McIntyre came out next. Before this, McIntyre was a poster boy for under-utilization in the WWE. He was now the NXT Champion. This match was in ring number two. McIntyre placed the belt on the mat between himself and Almas. The ring announcer announced the match and both competitors as the ring was illuminated in a brilliant white light.
Before the match began, Vega got in the face of McIntyre talking trash to the much larger man. Even on a bended knee, McIntyre still dwarfed Selena Vega. The referee held the belt high as Almas took Vega’s place and the two men went face to face for the photo op the WWE loves to use.
A slap to the face of McIntyre by Almas preceded the bell. The two locked up in the middle of the ring, as McIntyre showed his superior strength backing Almas back into the corner three times. Almas fought back with a stiff chop and went after the much larger McIntyre and locked in a side headlock. McIntyre tried to reverse the move into a slam, but Almas flipped in midair and reapplied the hold. McIntyre tried to send Almas into the corner, but Almas leapfrogged a charging McIntyre who followed him in and once again applied the side headlock.
McIntyre was able to send Almas into the ropes and hit a back elbow, knocking the third-generation superstar down for the first time in this match. Almas got back to his feet and gave a hard kick to the leg of McIntyre. The former member of 3MB gained the upper hand, only momentarily as he broke the hold, sending Almas into the corner. As Almas was down, McIntyre went to pick him up and received a jaw breaker for his troubles.
McIntyre tried to throw Almas through the ropes, but Almas caught himself on the second and top rope and posed, laying on the middle rope. McIntyre was not impressed and introduced Almas to the sole of his boot, sending Almas to the floor. Almas tried to regroup, but McIntyre served him a plate of chops before rolling him back in the ring.
As McIntyre tried to get back in the ring, and with Vega close by, Almas gave Drew a hard kick to the jaw. With Almas distracting the referee, Vega went to the apron and tried for a hurricanrana. Drew caught her mid turn and slung her back to her feet on the apron. It did nothing but tick off Drew McIntyre. Almas went to dive between the ropes and was met with a forearm by the Scotsman.
McIntyre crawled into the ring and got the first near fall as Almas kicked out at one. Almas countered a powerslam from Drew twice. Andrade found himself in the corner and dodged a spear from McIntyre, sending the NXT Champion shoulder first into the ring post, back first onto the steel steps and to the outside.
Almas took control of the match, gaining a near fall and then locking in a hanging armbar over the top rope. It was an illegal hold but did damage to McIntyre. Almas went after the injured arm and shoulder of McIntyre. The match slowed as Almas had Drew in an armbar in the middle of the ring. McIntyre fought out of the hold but could not hit a powerslam as Almas reversed it. McIntyre kept the grasp and hit his challenger with a snap Suplex throw, sending Almas halfway across the ring.
Both men were down and in pain. They got to their feet at the same time and the two traded shots in the center of the squared circle. Drew got the upper hand and sent Almas reeling into the ropes. On the rebound, Almas was met with a back elbow and a double handed chop to the chest. McIntyre had the momentum and used his strength to man handle Almas.
He went to the top rope and nailed Almas before kipping up. Almas reversed a fireman’s carry but got nailed with a Celtic Cross for a two count. As McIntyre was looking for the Claymore, Almas hit a dropkick to Drew in the corner. Almas went for the double knees, but McIntyre moved. Almas adjusted and hit a back elbow. Like a cat, Almas sprung to the top rope and hit an Inverted DDT from the top, netting him a near fall.
In a series of events that looked painful, Almas found himself on the shoulders of McIntyre. Almas fell back, looking for a reverse hurricanrana. McIntyre blocked it and hit a crushing inverted Alabama Slam. To say it looked like it hurt is like saying the sky is blue. DUH! It would get McIntyre a near fall.
McIntyre rolled out to the apron and gingerly climbed to the top rope. It would give Almas enough time to recover and hit a springboard dropkick, knocking the Champion to the outside. Almas pounded, but Drew caught him. As Drew went for a powerslam, Almas countered into a hurricanrana, propelling McIntyre into the ring post, shoulder first on the outside. Almas looked to be in control now, but the referee was in the process of counting both men out.
Almas sprinted to the top rope and flew amazingly through the air, landing a moonsault over the ring post and connecting with McIntyre. Quickly, Almas rolled Drew into the ring, but at two, McIntyre kicked out. Almas and Vega could not believe it.
Almas went to the high rent district. McIntyre knocked him off his perch and after another chop, was looking for a huge super plex. A desperation move put McIntyre, crotch first onto the top turnbuckle. He fell back and was caught in the Tree of Woe. Almas went back to the top rope and fell with a double stomp to the chest of Drew.
McIntyre was set up, and Andrade introduced McIntyre to both knee pads with a drive through double knee to the cranium of McIntyre. Almas pulled McIntyre into the middle of the ring but did not hook the leg and McIntyre kicked out.
Almas was to his feet first, but both men reversed high impact moves until McIntyre hurled Almas to the mat with a powerslam. It would only get Drew a two count. McIntyre got both men to their feet and went for a double underhook slam. Almas wiggled out and slapped McIntyre hard enough in the chest the crowd gasped in horror. McIntyre came back with a headbutt, but as he charged back at Almas for another, Almas ducked and rolled the Champion up for a near fall.
Almas ducked a clothesline but could not escape a Future Shock DDT. He would escape the pin and kick out at two. It was McIntyre’s turn to be shocked. Both men were down once again, with McIntyre up to his feet first. He put Almas on his shoulders and climbed the turn buckles. McIntyre was looking for the Avalanche, but Almas got free and looked for the powerslam. McIntyre countered, but only for a second, as Almas pulled one of McIntyre’s legs from underneath him, sending him face first into the top turn buckle and down to the mat. McIntyre rolled into the bottom turnbuckle and onto his stomach. Another drive through knee strike, this time to the back of McIntyre’s head still only got Andrade a near fall.
Almas mounted McIntyre and rained down forearms onto the head of the Champ. Almas left the ring and grabbed the NXT belt. With the referee distracted outside, and with McIntyre on his knees, Selena Vega came in and hit a hurricanrana, which turned into more of a DDT, on McIntyre. Almas sprinted into the ring and seized the opportunity to hit a Hammerlock DDT. McIntyre was cooked, but still managed to kick out at two. By this time, Mauro was about to have a heart attack.
Vega and Almas looked to be having a mental breakdown. Almas took a lot of time to get to his feet, allowing McIntyre to recover. As Almas charged across the ring, McIntyre fired out with a Claymore. Vega reached into the ring and put Almas’ boot on the bottom rope, saving the match.
McIntyre slid on his glutes into the corner and went back into the corner. He went for another Claymore, but Almas ducked. McIntyre, being six and a half feet tall, hung himself on the top rope, with his twig and biscuits taking the brunt of the stress, thanks to the top rope.
Both men were on the same side of the ring and used the ropes to get to their feet. McIntyre grabbed Almas by the hair and climbed to the top of the corner. Almas reversed the hold and got McIntyre set up. He nailed a Hammerlock DDT with McIntyre laterally from the corner. The ref made the count and we have a NEW NXT Champion.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas was the new champion, defeating Drew McIntyre. Almas and Vega couldn’t believe it at first but began to celebrate as the highlights played. The match lasted 14:52 and was dynamic.
As Almas and Vega celebrated on the stage, the doctors checked out McIntyre, who seemingly was injured. Almas went over to the announce table to rub it into the face of Nigel and Percy. He climbed to the top of the announce table as Mauro praised the new Champion. The celebration seemed to last a while, presumably so the doctors could check out McIntyre.
Some last minute reminders
They aired a promo for Mania in New Orleans. Let the good times roll in New Orleans, and they certainly did at WrestleMania 34. We see another promo for a main roster event, as Survivor Series was promoted for the next night. They thanked a band for donating a song and hyped Triple H’s appearance on Facebook Live. The sirens went off as the War Games cage was lowered.
The video package for this match was just this side of epic. Between SAnitY beating AOP for the Tag Team Titles and the attacks by the Undisputed Era, all narrated by Adam Cole fit perfectly. The spurning of the Undisputed Era by Roderick Strong added a personal element to the feud. This was a three way; nine men brawl in two rings and one cage and one of the most anticipated matches of the year.
In the crowd, Arn Anderson and Dustin Rhodes (aka Goldust) were at ringside. According to Mauro, Arn had been in 18 different War Games matches. Astounding.
Here are the rules. The match begins with all three teams in separate shark cages, with one member from each team starting the match. After five minutes, the remaining two members from one team will be released to enter the match. After a three-minute period, the remaining two members from a second team will enter the match. Following another three-minute period, the final team’s members are released to enter the match. A victory via pin fall or submission can only be attained once all three teams have entered War Games. If you escape the cage, you forfeit the match for your team.
Let the War Games begin!
SAnitY is the first team out. It looks like Eric Young will be the first representative from his team. Young is a former TNA Knockout’s Tag Team Champion and a former World Champion with 20 years of experience in Sports Entertainment.
The Undisputed Era is next to come out. Fish and O’Reilly will be the ones in the cage as Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) will be the rep for his team. Cole has spent time all around the world and is a former ROH Champion. Cole goes to the unoccupied second ring, with Young in the first.
The third team is AOP and Roderick Strong. The menacing Paul Ellering walks out first before being joined by AOP. Strong follows, dressed as a member of AOP. I will give you two guesses as who goes into the cage. The three captains of the teams begin the match, as Strong made his way into the War Games cage. Just the three of these guys in a triple threat would be main event worthy.
All three men begin in the first ring. The bell rings and all three men stand surveying their opponents. The five-minute count begins in the corner of the ring. Adam Cole retreated into the second ring and was followed by both Strong and Young. Strong was the first to throw hands, knocking Cole to his knees in the corner. Young decided to get involved only to be pulled away by Strong. As Strong grabbed Young in a waist lock, Cole came charging in and was met with the boot of Eric Young. A standing switch reversed Young and Strong. As Cole charged again, a kick from Strong sent him reeling. He charged once more, only for Young and Strong to dodge his advances. Everyone was separated, and another standoff had begun.
This time it was Young who resumed the hostilities. Young and Cole took turns trying to launch the other into the steel cage, only to be blocked by the other. Cole ate a stiff right hand, giving Strong the opening to go after Young. The Messiah of the Backbreaker executed one on Young over his knee.
Cole came back to his feet, and two of the biggest names on the Indy Scene in NXT began trading shots. Strong got the better of the exchange and wound up with in a position to fling Cole into the cage. Cole stopped himself and began climbing the structure. The other two men in the match followed suit.
With everyone perched on the middle of the top rope, Young and Strong began pelting the back of Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) with forearms. Cole was knocked from the top rope, leaving Strong and the leader of SAnitY to go blow for blow. Cole ran from across the second ring and bounced into the top rope Young and Strong were perched on. Both men went crotch first into the top rope, giving Cole the advantage.
Cole stomped each man, before sending Roddy into the first ring and turning his attention to the former Knockouts Tag Team Champion from TNA. Cole had the upper hand, planting Young with a painful neck breaker. He turned his attention to Strong in Ring 1. Cole brought Young into Ring 1 and maintained his control of the match.
After a pair of swinging neck breakers, first to Strong and then to Young, Cole may have taken a little too much time. Strong fought back with a forearm and a plate of chops. A reversed Irish Whip from Cole sent Roddy into the ropes. A running lariat knocked Cole down. Strong was on fire, and ran from corner to corner, chopping the hell out of both Young and Cole.
Reinforcements were on the way as the five-minute period was up and headed to the ring was both members of the Undisputed Era, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, sprinted from their shark cage to the rings.
Fish and O’Reilly went to task immediately on Roderick Strong. With a three on one advantage, both Strong and Young were reeling. Both Strong and Young got hit with running forearms while they were up against the cage by all three men of the Undisputed Era. The three-minute countdown was over.
AOP was the next ones out of the cage. Razar and Achem burst into the ring and the Undisputed Era were taken to task by the fresh men. A huge move came from Achem, as he threw Adam Cole from Ring 1, over both sets of ropes, and onto Kyle O’Reilly. The move was repeated with Erick Young going into Ring 2 the hard way. They would jettison their own partner, Roderick Strong, over both ropes and into a senton, taking out the other four men in this match.
AOP continued to lay waste to their opponents. With Eric Young and Kyle O’Reilly locked in the tree of woe in opposite corners, Achem and Razar put Fish and Cole on their shoulders and drove them back first into the men in the corners, getting a huge reaction from the crowd.
With Strong and AOP dominating things, the countdown from 10 began. Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dane were on the way. Once all nine members of the match were in the ring, the match was official. Wolfe produced a nightstick and went to task. On the outside, Dane went under the ring and threw in a pair of chairs, a pair of trash cans, a heavy-duty chain, a kendo stick, and pulled two tables from the ring. The Beast of Belfast brought the tables in, and now War Games was getting hardcore.
SAnitY used the weapons to perfection. Dane locked the door and used the chain to lock the door. No one was going to escape. Dane locked the door with a padlock and swallowed the key. The largest man in the match took AOP to task. Dane showed his athletism after splashing both members of AOP in the corner. With Razar on his back, just a few feet from his partner, Dane charged and landed a senton dropkick on both members of AOP. One thing was for sure, the crowd was loving this innovative match from yesteryear.
Dane was not done. As a mass of humanity was collecting near a turnbuckle, Dane climbed to the top turnbuckle. Using the cage as balance, he leapt from the high rent district and took out no less than seven men with his mass of humanity flying from five feet above the mat.
He crawled over and covered Achem, but Adam Cole came from seemingly nowhere to break up the first pin fall attempt of the match. Cole retreated to the first ring and acquired the kendo stick. He egged Dane into the empty squared circle. Cole swung for the fences with that Singapore Cane, just to have Dane grab it mid swing. Dane grabbed Cole by the neck and was looking for a two handed chokeslam, but Bobby Fish saved the leader of his team with a strong kick to the knee of the big guy.
Fish went off the ropes and was looking for a Sunset Flip. Dane was just too massive, boxing the ears of Fish. Cole advanced with speed towards Dane, got caught in the air by Dane, and was driven head first into his partner, Bobby Fish. Dane tried a double pin on two of the members of the Undisputed Era, but the third man, Kyle O’Reilly, made the save.
Dane continued to dominate the Undisputed Era. With O’Reilly on his shoulders, enter Roderick Strong. Roddy leaped for a cross body. He was caught by Dane, who flung Strong over his head and executed a Samoan Drop onto O’Reilly. While he was doing that in Ring 1, Razar was executing the same move on Erik Young and Alexander Wolfe in Ring 2.
It was then that he and Razar locked eyes. The two met on the metal partition connecting the two rings. The two behemoths of men traded shots and found their way back in Ring 1. Dane seemed to have an advantage until he ate a boot from Razar. Dane responded with a boot of his own. Dane ducked a clothesline and hit a cross body, knocking Razar to the deck.
However, there was another big man in this match. Achem ran into Ring 1 and powerslammed Dane. It might have been the first time an offensive maneuver knocked Dane from his feet. A pin fall attempt was broken up by O’Reilly and a steel chain.
Six of the nine men were in Ring 1, along with most of the weapons. O’Reilly ran at Achem, and used the cage for a Tornado DDT, spiking one half of AOP into the mat. Eric Young decided to rejoin the fracas and went for a German Suplex on Cole. Cole blocked and kicked Young right in the jaw with an enziguiri.
Taking the focus of the match was Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. O’Reilly wanted in on the action. He grabbed Strong and lifted him for a brain buster. A kick from each of the other members of the Undisputed Era to the back of Strong came before the finish of the brain buster.
Dane was back to his feet and turned Adam Cole inside out with a clothesline as stiff as laundry hanging outside in February. Dane was set up and went for a double clothesline on Fish and O’Reilly. They ducked and took Dane down with a series of kicks. Alexander Wolfe tried to come to the aid of his Irish partner, but the Undisputed Era dispatched him as well.
O’Reilly was the only man in the match to make it to his feet, and when he rose, he brought with him a steel chain. He pulled the chain tight across the face of Wolfe. He tied Wolfe up with the chain and went for this special submission, an armbar he calls Armageddon. Using the chain for leverage, O’Reilly had it locked in. One guy we may have forgotten about recently was Eric Young. He came flying from the top rope and landed a diving elbow, breaking the submission.
Eric Young, ever the opportunist, covered O’Reilly. Bobby Fish made the save with a picturesque moonsault onto Young. All nine men were down. O’Reilly and Achem found themselves in Ring 2. In Ring 1, Razar had Bobby Fish. Killian Dane was in between the rings. AOP hit a huge Super Collider, sandwiching the Beast of Belfast in the middle, before slamming two thirds of the Undisputed Era to the mat with authority. Razar went for the cover, and again Eric Young broke things up to keep the match going.
The AOP now set their sights on EY. As Achem picked up Young, Young flipped over him and sent the large man into his opponent, perched on the top rope. Young showed off his strength by taking Razar from the top turnbuckle and getting him in a fireman’s carry. One Death Valley Driver on Razar, planting him on his partner, and Young went for a cover. Both Strong and Cole broke things up.
The two men who started the fisticuffs, Strong and Cole, traded shots in the middle of Ring 1. Cole got the better of things, but it was Roddy who flung Cole into an unsuspecting Eric Young. As Cole bounced off Young, Strong picked him up and nailed a leaping backbreaker. Strong was up and on fire. A swinging backbreaker on Young, a knee to the face of Fish and O’Reilly, and another backbreaker to Wolfe put Strong as the only man on his feet, until Killian Dane rose.
It would be no matter for Strong. He ducked a clothesline and smashed his knee into the beard of Dane. He hit a strong looking Olympic Slam and crawled over to Dane for a cover. Just as we thought the match was over, Adam Cole shattered the dreams of Strong with a superkick.
Cole was the first man to his feet and climbed to the top. Behind him, Eric Young made his way to the top turnbuckle of Ring 2. As the two began to duke it out, Cole found himself perched between the two rings. Strong climbed to the top as well.
SAnitY climbed one set of turnbuckles and attacked Strong. The Undisputed Era did the same on Eric Young. Each group was going for a super plex. Achem and Razar decided to join and climbed between each tag team. Are you ready for this? Achem and Razar power bombed the two men, who super plexed Young and Strong, leaving Adam Cole as the only man standing in between the two rings, with four men down in each ring. It might have been the eye-popping moment of the match, so far.
As Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) took in the carnage, AOP struggled to get to their feet. The look of satisfaction on the face of Cole turned to dread when both members of AOP got up and began setting their sights on Cole. He tried to climb the cage to escape, but both members of AOP introduced the Bay-Bay maker of Cole to the turnbuckle supports.
AOP made their way into Ring 1 and found some furniture. Both men went to the tables and the spirit of the Dudley Boyz seemed to live through these young up and comers in the NXT Tag Team Division. The tables were taken to Ring 2. With Cole having his back to the set up tables. Achem and Razar climbed to the top. Wolfe came to the save of Cole.
As Wolfe distracted one of the members of AOP. Cole climbed to the top of the cage and laid prone across the top of the double cage. As the crowd was distracted with the potential escape of Cole, Wolfe got into position and nailed a huge Super German Suplex through both tables.
The other member of AOP was still trying to get at Cole, until Young slung him to the mat with a reverse Bulldog. With everyone off their feet, Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) was inching himself on his stomach across the top of the cage. O’Reilly got his legs underneath him, albeit wobbly legs, and had a garbage can with him. He charged across the piles of humanity towards Killian Dane, who had just gotten back to a vertical base himself.
Dane knocked O’Reilly down and took control of the garbage receptacle. O’Reilly responded by a roundhouse kick to the thigh of Dane and a shot to the side of his head. O’Reilly’s offense was short lived, as Dane used a clothesline to nearly decapitate the much smaller member of the Undisputed Era. By this time, Cole has made his way to the corner of the cage.
Dane, back on his feet, is the only man standing. He grabs the garbage can again and wedges it between the second and third rope and in front of O’Reilly. Dane climbs to the top turnbuckle, and makes sure Adam Cole is watching. Dane goes Coast to Coast into the garbage can and into O’Reilly.
Cole is now on his feet, perched atop the cage in the corner. Using the wire holding the cage in place, Cole stands. He gets the crowd to say his name (Bay-Bay). Roderick Strong now climbs to the top of the cage. The two men begin to fight in the corner on top of the 20’ steel cage.
Strong is setting up for a super plex. Oh my GOD! Strong landed it on five of the seven men Wolfe and half of AOP are still in Ring 2) in the match.
In the mass of humanity, Strong threw his arm over Cole. Somehow, Cole got his shoulder up. Bodies begin to crawl and it’s Achem and Dane fighting in between the two rings. Dane seemed to get the upper hand and went for the discus clothesline. Achem ducked and put the Beast of Belfast in a side Russian leg sweep hold. It was momentary as Razar leaped from the turnbuckle. A clothesline, leg sweep combo put Dane on his back, slamming him into the steel that connected the two rings.
Razar became victim to a sleeper hold by Kyle O’Reilly. Bobby Fish went to work on the body of Razar, before the Undisputed Era hit a combo move (dropkick/leg sweep) of their own, titled Total Elimination. SAnitY hit one of their own (modified cutter and back drop) onto O’Reilly.
The only two men left were the two men who started it, Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) and Roderick Strong. The two men slugged it out in the center of ring one. Cole went to fling Strong into the cage, only for it to be reversed and Cole to go face first into the unforgiving cage. As Strong rebounded, Eric Young grabbed Strong, and wheel barreled suplexed Strong into the cage on the opposite side of Ring 1.
Remember the kendo stick SAnitY brought in? Cole found it and introduced it to the back of Eric Young with authority. Cole was pulling himself to his feet using the ropes. Young had one of the chairs. As Young tried to use the chair to get back to a vertical base, Cole charged and drove his knees into the chair, and into the skull of EY. Three seconds later and War Games was over.
Winners of this contest: The Undisputed Era (and the fans).
As everyone is down, we get a video package of the ending of the match. Good Ol’ JR might have said this looked like a car wreck. No one, even two minutes after the bell rang, were on their feet.
The Undisputed Era finally rose in the middle of the ring and surveyed the damage. As the crowd once again identified the leader of the Undisputed Era (Adam Cole Bay-Bay), the victors celebrated as the show ended.
Do you think NXT should continue War Games? Is it the best TakeOver ever? Let us know in the comments below.
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