Wrestling Review: NXT Takeover: WarGames II (2018)

Two teams. Two rings. One cage. One winner. For only the second time ever in NXT, it is the return of WarGames, as the team of The Undisputed Era – Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish – will enter the cage for the second time, against the team of first-timers Ricochet, Pete Dunne and the War Raiders, Rowe and Hanson. The NXT Championship is on the line in the co-maine vent, as champion Tommaso Ciampa defends his precious title against the up and coming Velveteen Dream, while the NXT Women’s Championship is on the line ina 2-out-of-3 falls match as Kairi Sane looks to regain her belt from the sadistic Submission Magician, Shayna Baszler. And in perhaps the biggest grudge match in NXT history, Aleister BLack returns to the ring to confont his attacker: none other than Johnny Gargano in what is sure to be less of a wrestling match and more of a fight.

+ The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish): vs Ricochet, Pete Dunne & The War Raiders (Raymond Rowe & Hanson) (War Games Match): these War Games matches are a hard one to judge; on one hand, they are brutal, violent and often full of big moments to make good gifs from. On the other hand, the timing (competitors from alternating teams entering at pre-determined intervals) means that nothing of importance happens until everyone has entered. Compare this to both a Royal Rumble (where people can lose) or a Scramble match (where someone can win) and it just feels like a bit of dead air. All that said, there were big spots here, there were comebacks and shenanigans and all that fun stuff, so this was still enjoyable, it all just felt a bit meaningless
+ Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs Velveteen Dream (NXT Championship): I was hesitant for NXT to have this follow Gargano/Black, but it was well worth it. This started a little bit slow, seemingly wanting to play to characters more than in-ring work, but once it picked up it was everything you could hope for in a big title match. Dream is absolutely phenomenal for his age and experience, and if the WWE doesn’t capitalise on having him (young, good in the ring, good talker, black, real character) then they are missing out in every way you can imagine. And Ciampa is one of my favourites for a reason. This was great
+ Johnny Gargano vs Aleister Black: holy cow this was fantastic. From both men’s entrance attires, it seemed Gargano was out to deal some punishment to Black, and the number of knees, kicks and backhands that seemed to knock the other silly were just incredible. This was back and forth between two of the top tier talents in NXT, and it was very easily the match of the show, and most definitely will be the match of the weekend
+ Shayna Baszler (c) vs Kairi Sane (2-out-of-3 Falls for the NXT Women’s Championship): whilst there was a bit too much going on towards the end, I still really enjoyed this match. As I said at Evolution, these two work really well together, and I have no issues with them becoming career rivals, but whichever way this match went, I do hope they can stay away from each other for the foreseeable future

Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno: this was silly. I didn’t like it

> for the first time in as long as I can recall, there was no ‘big inside star signing’ sitting in the crowd. It was a refreshing change

Should you watch this event: Aside from the awkward Riddle segment to start the show, this was everything you could want. Every one of the four big matches was incredible, and after the build up of months on end, none were a disappointment. Gargano/Black will easily live as one of the best wrestling matches of the year, and the NXT title match is another in a very long line of great title matches for the show. Do yourself a favour and watch this show.

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