Wrestling Review: NXT 2.0 War Games (2021)

Two rings, one cage: war is a dangerous game. For the first time, NXT 2.0 presents War Games, where two of the dangerous signature matches will take place. In the main event, it’s old school versus new guard, as four of NXT top veterans – the NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne and LA Knight – represent the black and Gold colour scheme of old as they battle four of the top up-and-comers in NXT 2.0 – Bron Breakker, Grayson Waller, Tony D’Angelo and the NXT North American Champion Carmello Hayes. Meanwhile, the women of NXT 2.0 have an issue of their own to settle inside the cage, as the championship holding trio of Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolan) team with the unhinged Dakota Kai to battle Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray and Cora Jade. Gonzalez and Shirai have been in War Games before, but will the inexperience of Cora Jade on her team cancel out that advantage against the other side of the match, who find themselves draped in gold? The NXT Tag Team Championships will also be on line as IMPERIUM (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) battle the unconvential new team of Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner, and someone will end the night completely bald as Duke Hudson and Cameron Grimes look to settle their differences for good as they each wager their hair against the other. Finally, the NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong, with his Diamond Mine team in tow, will defend the title against Joe Gacy, the latter of which is decidedly not a cruiserweight himself. The Diamond Mine’s Malcolm Bivens has waived the 205 pound weight limit for this title defence, which Gacy looks to claim in order to usher in a more inclusive era of NXT 2.0.

+ IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner (NXT Tag Team Championship): I couldn’t help but notice that the teams were in the alternate corners as usual (good guys should face┬áthe camera). This was an incredible match, thanks in large part to just how damned good Fabian Aichner is in that ring. Even Wagner impressed alongside the obvious O’Reilly and Barthel to really make this a solid tag match when I was admittedly not expecting much. All the way up to a very interesting aftermath
+ there were a lot of promo videos and the like for incoming/upcoming/soon to debut characters, and while I can’t say that they are all going to be successes, I admire the fact they are pushing for these new characters before their debut. Tony D’Angelo got himself popular from his pre-debut videos

Team Black & Gold (Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne & LA Knight) vs Team 2.0 (Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller & Tony D’Angelo) (War Games Match): overall, no, this was not a very good match. It was a overly rehearsed series of spots, but it was clear that the NXT 2.0 team was trying so hard. Carmello Hayes is really good at bumping like a madman, and Waller did a lot of crazy shit which all looked super dangerous – equal parts because Waller is still so new, and because the stuff WAS dangerous. All of the Black & Gold guys were basically playing ring general for the new guys, and once again the idea of having a show themed around what should be a big match to end a feud is taking place in the middle because that’s what the show dictates
Roderick Strong (c) (w/ The Diamond Mine) vs Joe Gacy (w/ Harland) (NXT Cruiserweight Championship): it is still crazy to me that CZW’s “Chainsaw” Joe Gacy is the ‘tolerance and respect’ guy in NXT at the moment. Roderick Strong worked incredibly hard, but this was a dumb story leading to a poor match with the worst outcome for the story. I don’t know what the point of this was
Duke Hudson vs Cameron Grimes (Hair vs Hair Match): these sort of stipulations are so easy to do, though they are usually done with competitors that have some sort of connection with their hair. This wasn’t a very good match, because despite his look and talking skills, Hudson is just not a very good wrestler. Grimes, however, genuinely gave me some real Bryan Danielson vibes in this match which is about as big a compliment as I can give
Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray vs Dakota Kai and Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin) (War Games Match): I recall having the exact same issues with this last as the same match last year. Not least of all that the heroic team had the advantage, the pacing and psychology of this match was just so entirely off. There was one crazy moment (which was really ruined by the hokey aftermath) which led directly into the horrible finish. Jacy Jayne might be one of the worst wrestlers I have seen in a long time, only made more apparent by the fact that Gigi Dolan looked somewhat competent in her role. This wasn’t good
– through no fault of the competitors themselves, the crowd was insufferable on this show, as they constantly chanted in a way that made it clear they think much higher of themselves than they should. The crowd is not part of the show, no matter what they may think

> in a general sense, the idea of good guys and bad guys teaming up to face a common enemy is very easy to get behind, but it all depends on the execution. It might not be a coincidence that this happened so soon after Survivor Series
> I cannot stand Sam Roberts on these pre-shows. Everything about him annoys me

Should you watch this event: This was a really poor show, and a damning indictment that even the worst of old NXT was better than whatever this is supposed to be. Both the War Games matches were pale imitations of what they should be, and only the Tag Title match is worth seeing, and rest assured that that is not because of the new generation talent. What a disappointment.

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