On a historic weekend for the WWE, Chicago plays host to four nights of consecutive action, the second of which comes in the form of the brutal structure known as NXT TakeOver: War Games. For the first time ever, two separate War Games matches will take place, including the first ever meeting of two women’s teams, when Shayna Baszler leads her team of dastardly ne’er-do-wells against the underdog quartet led by Rhea Ripley. For the men of the NXT roster, The Undisputed Era will be in a massive War Games match of their own, as they face off against the unlikely team of Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic, with one more as-of-yet unknown partner to be decided. Aside from these two monstrous matches, a triple threat between Pete Dunne, Killian Dain and Damien Priest will decide the next challenger for Adam Cole’s NXT Championship, and in a huge grudge match, Matt Riddle will face off against The Prince of NXT, Finn Balor.
+ Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair & Kay Lee Ray) vs Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRay, Mia Yim & Tegan Nox) (War Games Match): a pre-match lineup change was already expected, but the way it played into the match was a fresh surprise. Shirai was the absolute standout of this match (as she is in any match she’s in), but Shayna and Ripley were both great, too. This was not as extreme as the previous two men’s NXT War Games matches, but it certainly achieved everything it was aiming for
– The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs Team Ciampa (Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic & TBD) (War Games Match): with all the talent in this match, not to even mention the surprise of who the fourth member of Ciampa’s team might be (which was well worth it, just by the way) of course it was going to be good, but far too many convoluted set-ups and some real ‘turn your brain off and enjoy it’ moments that go against all the tenets of pro wrestling made this one I just can’t recommend
– Finn Balor vs Matt Riddle: I am really sad to say that this did nothing for me at all. Both these guys are would-, could- and should-be top stars in any company, so to see them have a match basically just for the sake of it (it’s no secret Riddle only had this match because of Gargano’s injury) was a real disappointment. Win, lose or draw, there was nothing on the line here, and despite his character change, this was the same old Finn we’ve seen flounder for years
– Pete Dunne vs Killian Dain vs Damien Priest (Winner received a match against Adam Cole at Survivor Series for the NXT Championship): this was a good match, but I’m listing it as a negative because it was just too damn long. If this match was cut in half it would have been perfect, but as it stood, the longer it went the less interested I became
– Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Angel Garza: Garza is so good. I love Andrade, but if that experiment fails (and I feel like it might), then Garza is the way to go for that demographic. These are both capable of putting on an all time classic, but this wasn’t it, and frankly when given 10 minutes on a pre-show, I can’t really blame them
> Me too, Britt Baker. Me too.
Should you watch this event: This show was fine, if you like these extra long, NXT/PWG/old-ROH style matches that Triple H and HBK are so very fond of these days. For my money, adding one more match (maybe some sort of tag match number one contendership?) and cutting a total of 30 minutes from the triple threat and both War Games matches would have been the best bet. Still, like the Royal Rumble and the Survivor Series Elimination matches, it is almost impossible to not have a good War Games match, but neither of these tonight were at the top of the list.