The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover – WarGames II (11.17.18)
Live from Los Angeles, CA
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson & Nigel McGuinness
Matt Riddle is here, bro! He’s not on the format sheet, but since he was chilling in LA anyway and Kassius Ohno got up in his business on the pre-show, he must want a match.
Matt Riddle v. Kassius Ohno
Ohno charges in and Riddle hits him with the high knee and pins him at 0:05, and that’s all, bro.
NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Kairi Sane
Sane dives in with a dropkick and pounds away in the corner, then hits a neckbreaker while trying for the fast finish. Baszler bails to escape and Kairi hits her with an elbow off the apron, but Duke & Shafir interfere already and run Sane into the post behind the ref’s back, and Shayna finishes the first fall with the choke at 2:00.
Second fall and the crowd is already chanting “Bullshit” to that, and Baszler hits a knee strike for two and tries for another choke. Sane makes the ropes quickly this time, but Baszler catches a kick and wraps her up with a half crab and stomps on the face. She ties up Sane with a submission hold, but Sane cradles for two. Rollup gets two. Baszler goes for another choke and Sane reverses for two. They slug it out and Baszler puts her down with a clothesline. They fight to the apron and Sane gets a DDT out there (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!). At this point you can the ref telling Sane not to dive yet because they’re not ready, and then indeed the heels all get into position and Sane hits her dive off the top. Back in, the flying elbow evens it up at 5:10.
Third fall and Sane spears her not once, not twice, but THRICE, and they fight on the top rope, which leads to Kairi powerbombing her down for two. Whiplash slam and she goes up to finish, but the Horsewomen interfere again and this time Dakota Kai comes out to save and promptly gets her ass kicked. Io Shirai runs out and moonsaults everyone, however, and Sane drops another elbow, but Baszler rolls her over for the pin to retain at 3:00. That felt really, REALLY rushed. 10:00 total for a 3 fall match? **1/2
Aleister Black v. Johnny Gargano
Gargano as the heel who thinks he’s the good guy, who just happened to do ONE thing that SOME people think is evil, is a really interesting character direction. Even his emoji is getting a tad sinister! Johnny bitchslaps him to start and tosses him, but Black gives him some fisticuffs out there. Back in, Gargano evades the punches and mocks his pose, then slugs away in the corner while the crowd is really torn about this whole deal. Black has finally had enough of Gargano’s monkeyshines and kicks him out to the floor, but when he does his cross legged pose, Johnny sneaks in and kicks him in the head. Well that pretty much turned him heel. Johnny rolls him up for two and then rolls him into a surfboard submission in a slick sequence, but Black blocks a cradle for two. Gargano with an inverted DDT for two. They slug it out in the corner and Black kicks him to the floor and follows with a dive, then back in for more kicks in the corner. Black keeps throwing strikes and hits a quebrada for two. Gargano tries the lawn dart, but Black escapes with a high kick and sends Gargano to the floor, only to have Johnny counter with a DDT onto the floor, and back in with a slingshot DDT for two. Gargano gives him the trashtalk and punctuates it with some kicks, but Black fires back with his own and they trade shots until Gargano takes him down with the inverted rana, and then Black hits him with a running knee strike before falling down to sell. DAMN.
Gargano bails to the middle of the rings and they slug it out, and Black hits a springboard knee strike and german suplex for two. Gargano recovers with a lariat and gets a spinning headscissors into the Gargano Escape, but Black quickly escapes, so Johnny lawn darts him. Johnny sets up for the DIY kick, so Black stops him, then crosses his legs and tells him to BRING IT ON. So Johnny brings it with a running knee, and Black tries a rollup, and then Gargano outwits him and rolls back into another running knee and gets two. They slug it out and the crowd has no sympathy left for Gargano as Black whips his ass. Gargano dumps him and tries another dive, but Black hits him in the face with a knee strike to block the move and knocks Johnny out. Back in, Gargano is now begging off and looking for quarter, but I’m pretty sure Black is offering none. So Gargano asks for mercy and wants Black to put him out of his misery with Black Mass, but then he catches the leg for two and rolls him into Gargano Escape while yelling “TAP OUT! I’M THE HERO!” Black fights out and hits a SICK spinning knee to the face, then pulls down the kneepad and hits another one, then holds Johnny up with one foot, hits Black Mass and STILL WON’T LET HIM FALL. One more and Johnny is done for good at 18:00. Oh man, that shit was COLD. ****1/2
NXT title: Tommaso Ciampa v. Velveteen Dream
The Dream’s tribute of the month: Hollywood Hogan. Nice to see at least one person forgives him. Although I’m somewhat disappointed that Ciampa has music and an entrance now, him coming to the ring while possessively clutching the NXT title is very fitting. Ciampa takes Dream down, but Dream rides him and wins that battle. Ciampa messes the hair and Dream punishes him for that, but Ciampa STEALS THE HEADBAND and that’s a true heel move. Dream retaliates by going after Goldy The Gold Belt to trigger Ciampa and we’re at a stalemate. Back in the ring, Dream slugs away and gets a slam and standing dropkick, then goes up with a double axehandle and retrieves his headband. This sets up the big boot and legdrop attempt, but Ciampa bails, so Dream dives onto him.
Back in, Dream goes up and Ciampa spikes him into the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and then drops an elbow to the floor to take over. Mauro makes a reference to “more noise than a BTS concert” and we’re way out of my pop culture bubble here. Back in, Ciampa hits a running knee in the corner and Dream is OUT, but Ciampa chooses to punish him instead by necksnapping him to the floor. He puts Dream on the table and hits another shot with the knee brace, and back in for the chinlock. Dream is literally drooling and on the verge of unconsciousness, so Ciampa smears the man’s own saliva back in his face. What an asshole. Dream fights out with a backslide, however, and gets a neckbreaker, but can’t make a cover. He makes the comeback and HULKS UP, but Ciampa escapes the stupid DDT. Dream keeps fighting with the big boot and legdrop, but amazingly even three of them won’t keep Ciampa down. Spinebuster gets two. Ciampa heads to the floor and Dream hits a dive, but it feels like Ciampa is playing rope a dope with him.
Back in, Dream goes up and Ciampa is too far away, and he suckers Dream over for a DDT attempt. Dream escapes and goes for the knee with a ringpost figure-four and Ciampa taps out, but it’s an illegal move so no go. Dream keeps coming with a legal figure-four this time and drags Ciampa into the middle, but Ciampa reverses it. They slug it out while in the move and Ciampa makes the ropes, however. Back to the floor and Ciampa kicks him into the railing and back in for a suplex, but the knee gives out and Dream reverses the suplex and takes them both out to the floor with it. Back in, they slug it out and the ref nearly gets bumped, but Ciampa rolls Dream up for two and grabs the tights, which the ref actually sees! Dream Over gets two.
Dream rolls into another attempt, but Ciampa escapes and catches Dream with a knee strike for two. Lungblower gets two. Ciampa tries to retrieve his belt and call it a night, but the ref stops him and Dream gets a rollup for two and DDTs him on the belt for two. Dream goes up to finish, but lands on Ciampa’s boot, and the draping DDT gets two. Ciampa’s done messing around, so he pulls up the mats at ringside and tries a draping DDT onto the concrete, only to have Dream counter him into the table. Ciampa goes to teach Mauro a lesson, but Dream hits the Dream Over on the concrete and back in for the Purple Rainmaker, which gets two as the crowd is losing their minds. Dream bounces back up again, but misses the elbow and hits the floor this time, and Ciampa hits the draping DDT onto the ring divider, and that finishes him off at 22:22. HOLY SHIT. So this was pretty damn awesome, in a totally different way from the other awesome match that preceded it. ****1/2
WARGAMES: Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly v. The War Raiders, Pete Dunne & Ricochet.
Adam Cole starts for the Era and Ricochet for the faces. Each guy picks a ring and they talk trash at each other trying to entice the other guy to attack, and Cole wins that battle. They slug it out and Ricochet rolls into the headscissors and dropkick, and it’s over to the other ring. Ricochet springboards at him and Cole counters with a backstabber and neckbreaker. Cole with the Ushigoroshi and he drops elbows on him and works the back. Ricochet stomps him down again and dives from one ring into the other with a flying uppercut, and the timer’s actually slow by about 20 seconds.
Next in is Kyle O’Reilly and he pounds Ricochet with ground n pound as the Era proceeds with the double-teaming. Ricochet fights them off from the middle of the rings, but O’Reilly takes out the knee and they beat on him with knees and a bicycle kick from Cole into an assisted Ushigoroshi onto Kyle’s knee. Finally, Hansen comes in to even things up and he runs wild with a running splash on O’Reilly and a cartwheel into a clothesline on Cole. Corner clotheslines for both heels and he just keeps hitting them until they finally go down. Broncobuster on both guys and now Ricochet has recovered enough to help with a shooting star press off Hansen’s back onto O’Reilly. O’Reilly clips Hansen, however, and Cole pounds away on him as Strong is the third guy in.
Roddy throws elbows on the babyfaces and dropkicks Ricochet, then destroys Ricochet with backbreakers from insane angles and tosses him into Hansen. Angle Slam on Hansen and the crowd is actually cheering for the UE because this is such an awesome beatdown. O’Reilly and Strong double-team Ricochet with a backbreaker into a kneedrop and they just completely decimate the faces as Rowe heads in to even it up again. He runs wild with suplexes on the heels and manages to chokeslam Cole while O’Reilly is holding a choke on him. Then he powerbombs Strong while slamming Kyle at the same time, and that’s pretty impressive. The Raiders beat on Cole in the corner, but now Fish is the last guy in for the Era, and he stops to attack Pete Dunne and double-locks the babyface cage before stealing the key and throwing it away. So Fish grabs some supplies in the form of chairs on the way in and now the babyfaces are kind of fucked. The Era destroys everyone with chairs (custom made Undisputed Era logo chairs at that!) and Strong hits Rowe with a backbreaker onto the chair in a sick spot. The Era takes turns hurling the babyfaces into the cage.
With the 3:00 up, the idiot referees finally figure out that they need bolt-cutters, apparently not watching the match for the past five minutes or so. The Era continues destroying the faces with superplexes and the refs finally get bolt cutters and release Dunne to make the save, and he brings a kendo stick with him. And garbage cans. And tables. So now the actual match begins and Dunne starts hitting guys with the sticks and stomps on Kyle’s hand. SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. He suplexes Strong onto O’Reilly, but Cole clips the knee. The Raiders put a trash can on Cole’s head and smash him in the corner, and then Rowe slams Hansen onto Kyle O’Reilly. Fish and O’Reilly try to double-team Rowe for old time’s sake and Strong and Cole hit a double-team backstabber on Ricochet. Dunne fights alone and rolls into a kneebar on Fish’s injured knee, but O’Reilly makes the save and finds a chain, but Dunne wraps him up in a kimura with the help of the chain. Fish breaks it up with a chair and O’Reilly puts Dunne in an anklelock while the other Era guys hold off the babyfaces with chairs, but Ricochet dives over them to break it up.
Everyone goes to the top and Ricochet and Dunne take Strong and O’Reilly down with stereo ranas, and that gets two for Ricochet. Hansen puts Cole on a table and it immediately falls down, so the Raiders do the double-team powerslam for two instead. Fish spears Rowe through another table and O’Reilly catches Ricochet with a triangle on another table, but Hansen splashes O’Reilly through the table to make the save, and that gets two. Cole climbs to the top of the cage and slugs it out with Ricochet, but the Era tries to push Ricochet off the top so that they’ll win the match. Dunne makes the save and this turns into a wacky super-duper Tower of Doom with six guys and Cole getting powerbombed off the cage until everyone is out. This sets up Ricochet doing something crazy, of course, with a 450 moonsault off the top of the cage onto the pile of guys. Both sides regroup in opposite rings and yell at each other in the middle, and we get an eight-way slugfest and everyone is out again. The Raiders hit their finish on Fish, but Strong breaks up the pin, and Hansen hits Strong & Fish with a handspring elbow. Ricochet tries a double-springboard knee on Cole, but Adam hits a superkick to counter and then hits the Last Shot on Dunne for two. Another try, but Dunne hits the Bitter End into a Ricochet splash to finish at 47:06.
So overall, I dunno. It got awesome at the end, but it took a long time to get there and it felt like guys like Ricochet and Dunne didn’t really get to do all the stuff that would have benefited them. I’d say not as great as last year’s insane match, but a really fun match that was pretty damn good overall. ****
So yeah, little chance of Survivor Series topping this one, as usual. Thumbs way the hell up.
Tags: NXT Takeover, SmarK Rants, Wargames