Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: War Games (2020)

Eight participants. Four members per team. Two rings. One cage. WAR GAMES. The Capitol Wrestling Centre once again plays host to a night of wrestling action as NXT TakeOver: War Games is unleashed upon the NXT Universe. In the main event, The Undisputed Era continue their run inside the steel structure, as Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish face the self proclaimed Kings of NXT, Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne and the NXT Tag Team Champions, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Not to be outdone, eight of NXTs top women will face off in a four versus four War Games match, as Shotzi Blackheart leads Rhea Ripley, Ember Moon and the NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai into battle against Candie LeRae and her backup trio, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai and the monstrous Raquel Gonzalez. The unlikely NXT North American Champion, Leon Riff, will also defend his title against Johnny Gargano and Damien Priest in a triple threat match, while Timothy Thatcher and Tomasso Ciampa beat each other up, and Cameron Grimes and Dexter Lumis find themselves tethered together in a Strap Match.

+ Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch & Pete Dunne) vs The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) (War Games): Pete Dunne was such a standout in this match that he genuinely should be getting the next shot against Finn Balor. I’m a big fan of Oney and Kyle O’Reilly, and while frankly I don’t much care for a babyface Undisputed Era, I feel like they played the role well. Pat McAfee is an athletic freak, so the stuff he did in only his second match was amazing to see. This was a good main event, even if it was just slightly longer than it needed to be
+ Leon Ruff (c) vs Johnny Gargano vs Damien Priest (NXT North American Championship): if there’s one thing I hate in wrestling is when a new character (here referring to Ruff) falls for the stuff that bad guys (here, Gargano) have been doing on wrestling shows for years, and worse still when the historically and type-cast dumb, big guy (Priest, of course) has to talk him out of it. The match itself was pretty damn good, and even while the ending might not be everybody’s cup of tea, I am left intrigued if not entirely thrilled
+ Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes (Strap Match): I genuinely enjoy Lumis, and Cameron Grimes a hundred per cent, sure fire main event player when given the chance, but I really hope this is the last match these two have. Lumis is so great when he don’t have to be the “creepy, staring man” and is let loose to actually have a wrestling match, and this was no exception. Grimes worked his ass off as the smaller , semi-comedy bad guy and overall I really enjoyed this
+ Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher: god damn I loved everything about this brawl between two of my favourites in NXT (and long time favourites in all of wrestling) — all the way up until the ending. I believe that the wrong person won this match, but I still really loved this fight, as both men left bloodied, battered and definitely bruised. This was really good, with Thatcher in particular deserving so much more from the NXT head honchos

Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai) vs Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez & Toni Storm) (War Games): this was a rough. All of the competitors are great, but the lack of experience in these big metal matches (read: cages, Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, etc) meant that a lot of this was really sloppy. I don’t usually get up on the “psychology” of wrestling matches (but, see the Men’s Elimination Match at Survivor Series), because most of the time that’s not what gets me going or gets me angry, but the story this match told was so incredibly backwards it was hard to get into any of it. Some clichés are clichés for a reason, and ignoring them for the sake doing something different only hurts when you don’t have a good replacement story

> I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I really like Wade Barrett on commentary. He adds a real air of authenticity, especially when he questions the actually dumb things some wrestlers do

Should you watch this event: Though not entirely a disaster, if you skip the first match this is a pretty good show. Thatcher/Ciampa was a great, stiff match (and my match of the show); the strap match was by no means as bad as it could have been; the triple threat was good (and if you disagree, at least interesting); and the main event was too long but still great.

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